At Long Last, a Qualified GOP Antidote for Jared Wright?

Yeulin Willett.

Yeulin Willett.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports, longsuffering residents of safely Republican House District 54 may yet have a chance to put an end to their lingering Rep. Jared Wright problem:

Grand Junction attorney Yeulin Willett is challenging Rep. Jared Wright to be the Republican nominee for House District 54.

Willett, who has been practicing at the Grand Junction law firm of Younge & Hockensmith since 1987, created a campaign finance account with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday, effectively announcing his candidacy. Still, he plans to make a formal announcement in the next two weeks.

“My life and my career have come to a stage where I have the time and the capacity to give back and do some public service,” Willett said. “I’m very motivated and very much interested in doing a better job for the Western Slope and the district.”

Willett said he hasn’t yet decided if he will challenge Wright for the seat in next month’s caucuses or petition directly onto the ballot and force a June primary race.

As we've had the pleasure of narrating for some time now, Rep. Jared Wright is a difficult case for Colorado Republicans. Originally a hand-picked nominee to replace the scandal-plagued Rep. Laura Bradford (R-Prohibition), Wright's candidacy nearly fell apart after revelations of "milking the clock" at the Fruita Police Department, which led to his resignation, as well as personal financial irresponsibility on a punchline-worthy scale. Since then, Wright emerged as a proud member of the so-called "clown car caucus" of stridently conservative lawmakers. And despite a large local contingent of Republicans who would still like nothing better than to see Wright gone, House Republican leadership including Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso have boosted his re-election campaign.

Democrats have wisely fielded a candidate in this race this year, winemaker Brad Webb of Palisade. Had Webb or any remotely qualified Democrat been in the 2012 race as Wright brushed with self-destruction, the outcome may have been different. Holding the advantage of incumbency going into 2014, a qualified Republican probably has the best chance of nudging Wright into retirement–though given this district's history, we can't rule anything definitively out. Perhaps Yeulin Willett is their savior…or maybe, this can be yet bungled into a Democratic pickup?

Another Gun Lobby Fail: Armed Teacher Bill Fizzles

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

AP's Kristen Wyatt reports on action yesterday in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee:

A Democratic House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to reject another Republican bill to expand gun rights. The bill would have allowed school districts to decide if they wanted to let teachers, not just designated school resource officers, carry concealed weapons…

Supporters of the idea were far outnumbered by teachers and students who packed the hearing to speak against the idea. [Pols emphasis]

"There's no reason for teachers to have guns in school when we're trying to keep guns out of schools in the first place," said Karina Vargas, who was paralyzed in 2010 from a shooting outside Aurora Central High.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Gun control advocates, who want fewer firearms in schools, not more, again packed the hearing room at the Capitol Tuesday, intent on demonstrating strength — and staunch opposition to the proposal to allow willing teachers and school staffers to serve as a first line of defense in the instance of a school shooting.

“We have officers who are trained in responding to these incidents, and now we’re adding to that people who don’t have that training,” said Michael Eaton, the chief of security for Denver Public Schools…

After all the supporters of the proposal had finished testifying, the committee continued to hear from the bill’s opponents for another two hours as gun control advocates — even knowing the committee’s vote was likely to go their way — pressed their points. [Pols emphasis]

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

​At this point, quite a number of Republican proposals to repeal the gun safety legislation passed in the 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly have been heard, but despite calls by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other groups for protests and mass testimony, nothing like the pandemonium seen at the Capitol last year has materialized. Despite excuses now being made, this does not appear to have been the intention of the gun lobby, who urged their supporters to turn out in large numbers or risk "emboldening the left." 

It doesn't matter if gun rights supporters now consider their protests "futile" in the face of Democratic control of the legislature–this is an election year, and the failure to hold together the angry momentum they worked so hard to cultivate in 2013 is a major turnaround that will hurt Republicans this November. That failure is already evident in polling that shows public support has actually grown in Colorado for universal background checks and the magazine limit law, even as the gun lobby assailed them 24/7.

As for this particular piece of legislation, allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, it's been suggested to us that the whole emotional push by Republicans for this bill in the wake of last December's shooting at Arapahoe High School may have been a misguided waste of everyone's time. In 2003, the GOP-controlled Colorado legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act of 2003. This legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Owens, appears to allow school districts to designate anyone they wish as a "security officer" (not an official title that requires any training, mind you), and the law specifically allows persons so designated to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

A permittee who is employed or retained by contract by a school district as a school security officer may carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvement erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school while the permittee is on duty;

As we understand it, this 2003 law allows school districts to designate "security officers" who can carry concealed weapons. And if they really wanted, there's no reason why that couldn't be teachers. Note that we're not making a judgment about the efficacy of arming teachers, which as you can read above, far more witnesses turned out to testify against than in favor of. What we're saying is, it appears that yesterday's debate over arming teachers, in addition to being emotionally manipulative so soon after the Arapahoe High School shooting, was superfluous.

And that kind of puts the proverbial cherry on top of their failure.

Reminder: Magpul Played Everybody Like a Fiddle

magpulheadline

As reported by the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle's Becky Orr Friday, and apropos today with a bill to repeal Colorado's magazine limit law up for certain death debate in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee:

The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board approved a $13 million grant Thursday to help a company that makes magazines and other gun accessories move to Cheyenne.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the grant to help recruit Magpul Industries, a company based in Erie, Colo. SLIB is made up of the top five elected officials in Wyoming…

The company is expected to be in temporary quarters in Cheyenne as early as this summer. The business will remain there while a new building is built.

The state and local investment in the relocation effort will reach about $17 million over 20 years. The return to the public is estimated at about $20 million.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Last Thursday, the Colorado Independent's Shelby Kinney-Lang published an in-depth look at Erie-based ammunition magazine maker Magpul's impending move to Cheyenne, and the millions in taxpayer-funded financial incentives they'll receive to do so–and as we've discussed in detail, how that move appears to have been in the offing long before Colorado passed any law limiting gun magazine capacity.

Magpul announced last month that it would be moving its manufacturing to Wyoming and headquarters to Texas, and it is now clear that financial considerations unsurprisingly dominated negotiations around the move.

Yet the expansion plan itself and the company’s financial bargaining never made news in all of the reporting around Magpul last spring during the gun-law debates at the capitol. The main narrative spinning around Magpul at the time was that the company would move as a political statement. As the conservative Colorado Observer put it, Magpul executives “announced they would leave in reaction to the Democratic state legislature’s passage of gun-control bills.”

But Wyoming and Texas offered financial incentives to Magpul in 2012, when the company began exploring how best to realize its expansion plans and long before the gun measures had even been introduced…

Magpul’s January press release announcing its plan to move to Wyoming and Texas seemed to suggest that 92 percent of its Colorado workforce would join the company outside the state. But Magpul’s Duane Liptak told the Denver Post that wasn’t the case, that most of the company’s employees would be left behind in Erie. Liptak did not respond to the Independent’s requests for clarification, though a story about Magpul in the [Casper] Star-Tribune states that “some” unknown number of employees will move with the company and that 184 positions will be available in Wyoming. A more recent AP story says Magpul will bring “90 new jobs” to Cheyenne.

We do expect that executives from Magpul will testify at today's hearing, and that the example of their leaving Colorado–expressed in plaintive terms as "jobs lost"–will be frequently invoked as a reason a central magazine limit law should be repealed. But as we've tried diligently to ensure our readers understand, there's much more to this story–from Colorado employees who may or may not move/commute to Cheyenne, to the millions of dollars Magpul was shopping other states for before Colorado's magazine limit law was ever introduced.

Debate the efficacy of the law all you want, but don't misrepresent what happened here.

This Week: Get Ready For Magazine Ban Mayhem, Maybe

Magpul PMAG and Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

Magpul PMAG and Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

​ AP's Ivan Moreno reports via the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Gun-rights advocates who want to see a repeal of Colorado's limits on the size of ammunition magazines realize their chances are slim when they go before Democrat-controlled committees next week…

Holbert's repeal attempt is scheduled to be heard by a House committee Monday, and a separate but identical proposal in the Senate is expected to have a committee hearing there Wednesday.

The magazine restrictions were among a handful of gun-related laws that Democrats passed in the aftermath of mass shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater and Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. One of those laws expanded background checks to private and online firearm sales.

A Republican attempt to undo that law has already failed.

Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, who sponsored the magazine limits and the expansion of background checks, said she believes Colorado residents support the measures, and that they'll come out in big numbers to testify against repeal efforts.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of Colorado residents, out last week, shows once again that the strongest public support among the different gun safety bills passed by the Colorado General Assembly in 2013 is for requiring background checks for all sales of guns including private sales. While support for universal background checks on guns is at no-brainer upper 80th percentile levels, the question of limits on the capacity of gun magazines is much more divisive. The latest Quinnipiac poll is in fact the first polling we've seen in Colorado showing support for Colorado's new magazine limit law at 50%, with 47% opposed. It's notable that support for this law has grown slightly, perhaps more importantly not declined, even as the gun lobby raged against it all last year.

As we indicated at the time, the committee fight over repealing last year's universal background check law, House Bill 13-1229, was anticlimactic in comparison to last year's huge mobs of opponents who flooded hearings and circled the Capitol laying on their car horns. In the Senate State Affairs Committee's hearing on the Senate background check repeal bill, many more witnesses appeared to testify in favor of background checks than against. If Republicans are going to make an election-year stand anywhere to placate the gun lobby and the issue's vocal "grassroots," the magazine limit is the place. It bears repeating–much of the anger over Democrats' "gun control agenda" last year was the product of either outright misinformation, or so-called "flanking bills" like the assault weapons liability measure that were ultimately killed. In retrospect, the flanking bill strategy was probably a bad idea, as it gave opponents fuel even after those more onerous bills were killed. But that debate is over.

The magazine limit law is, as we've been forced to spend a lot of time on in this space, a major point of public misinformation. We believe that if the media had gotten this story anywhere close to right after the passage of House Bill 13-1224, support for the new law would be considerably higher than polls suggest today. Democrats should use these hearings as an opportunity to demonstrate how basic facts have been misrepresented in the local press and by the gun lobby, every bit as egregiously as Victor Head unwittingly confessed to last week.

Hopefully, we won't learn that "removable baseplates" got him lots of signatures.

Clown-Car Preview w/o 2/10

(Whee! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are some of the bills we can look forward to seeing die this week. Special note is given to the nearly identical bills to repeal the magazine capacity limit from last year being heard in both the House and Senate committees this week. Also worth noting is Jared Wright's repeat attempt to make it illegal for any state employee to assist federal law enforcement who are pursuing terrorist threats (which is identical to the bill that failed last year).

I particularly enjoy the solution-seeking-a-problem bill proposed Renfroe to keep the governor from restricting firearms in the case of an emergency. 

Monday:

HB14-1155 Wright–Prohibit State Aid To NDAA Investigations

HB14-1106 Nordberg and Wright–Tax Deduction For Affordable Care Act Penalty

HB14-1151 Holbert and Saine–Repeal Ammunition Magazine Prohibition

SB14-111 by Senator(s) Brophy; also Representative(s) (None)–Interstate Sale Small Employer Health Benefit Plan

SB14-038 by Senator(s) Renfroe; also Representative(s) Everett–Governor Cannot Restrict Firearms During Emergency

Wednesday:

SB14-100 by Senator(s) Baumgardner and Herpin, also Representatives(s) None– Repeal Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban

Thursday:

HB14-1128 Szabo–Reduce Voter Identity Theft

 

 

A Better “Amazon Tax?”

onlinetax

As the Durango Herald's Joe Hanel reports:

Democrats are back with another attempt to tax Internet sales, and this year, they are confident the courts will be on their side.

The so-called “Amazon tax” has roiled the Legislature for the last five years. Colorado passed an Internet tax law in 2010, but its status has been uncertain after it was thrown out by a federal judge, then reinstated and currently is the subject of a new lawsuit that seeks to block it again.

Colorado isn’t alone in trying to impose taxes on Internet sales. States got a big boost in December when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a New York law passed in 2008 to tax companies such as Amazon.com…

“It’s really simple. Our brick-and-mortar businesses are being undermined,” [sponsoring Rep. Lois] Court said.

Supporters include the Colorado Retail Council, a lobbying group for local businesses.

Here's the full text of the Marketplace Fairness and Small Business Protection Act as introduced.

The fight over collection of Colorado's standard state use tax of 2.9% for online purchases has raged in the Colorado legislature, and on this blog, for a number of years. As Hanel reports, Colorado passed a bill in 2010 meant to push online retailers to remit this tax, more or less by imposing an onerous paperwork requirement if they didn't. That law was ruled unconstitutional in 2012 by a federal judge, whose ruling was then overturned on appeal. The court battle over that law continues, but as Hanel reports, House Bill 14-1269 could render the issue moot.

In the time between passage of the 2010 "Amazon Tax" and today, the question has shifted at least rhetorically in favor of taxing online purchases, with large online retailers like Amazon expressing a new willingness to remit taxes in a "fair" manner. Federal legislation has been introduced to create a nationwide system for sales tax collection on online purchases, but like so many agenda items in today's paralyzed Congress, its status today is "uncertain."

But the bottom line hasn't changed: business groups like the Colorado Retail Council support collecting tax on internet sales because local retail has been severely impacted by the switch to tax-free online buying and selling. Not only has it hurt brick-and-mortar local businesses, the state and local communities are deprived of revenue. It can't–and shouldn't in a free market–be undone, but there's nothing radical about trying to level the playing field. In fact, claims that these laws are "anti-business," generally from Republican lawmakers, could not be more wrong. This is pro-business.

That is, pro local business. Now that this is becoming a more prevalent attitude nationwide, it will be interesting to see if House Bill 1269 gets a better reception from Amazon's many previous defenders.

Mark Ferrandino Backs Alec Garnett in HD-2

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

One of the most expensive legislative Primary races in Colorado is in HD-2 (Denver), where three Democrats are running to succeed term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino. The frontrunner in HD-2 is Alec Garnett, the former Executive Director of the Colorado Democratic Party and the son of Boulder District Attorney (and 2010 Attorney General candidate) Stan Garnett, whose $48,000 war chest is more than any State House candidate in Colorado thus far.

Alec Garnett holds a sizable fundraising lead over fellow Democrats Aaron Silverstein and Owen Perkins, each of whom has raised a shade under $12,000, and he has also secured the endorsement of Denver Reps. Dan Pabon, Angela Williams, Beth McCann, Paul Rosenthal, and Sen. Pat Steadman. Today Garnett cemented his frontrunner status with the most important endorsement of the race: Speaker Ferrandino himself. Here's what Ferrandino had to say in an email announcement:

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Bill Cadman: “I Know a Lot of Clergy Who Carry [Guns]“

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman

Sen. Minority Leader Bill Cadman says he knows a lot of religious leaders who carry guns.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports on a mish-mash of gun legislation being put forth by Republicans in the state legislature, including one particularly odd quote from Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman that deserves some follow-up questions of its own:

Black and Phillips joined with 10 other clergy members at the Capitol, but Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, who led the fight against last year's gun bills, said those clergy are not representative of all faith leaders in the state.

"I know a lot of clergy who carry," the Colorado Springs Republican said [Pols emphasis].

We're not sure what to think about Sen. Cadman's claim that he "knows a lot of clergy who carry," other than to guess that he's seen a few too many Quentin Tarantino movies.

What is Cadman's definition of "a lot"? How many places of worship is Cadman aware of in which the clergy are packing guns under their robes?

If there is any truth to Cadman's claim that "a lot" of clergy are indeed carrying guns around, then Cadman has just inadvertently made a strong argument for gun control. If clergy members feel threatened enough to carry guns, then maybe we should start paying more attention to those underlying fears and problems instead of promoting legislation that would only increase the number of firearms being toted around Colorado.

Red-on-Red Action Goes On: “Amycare” Repeal Bill Introduced

Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Yesterday, House Bill 14-1192 was introduced and assigned to the House Public Health Care and Human Services and Health, Insurance, and Environment Committees:

In 2010, pursuant to the enactment of federal law that allowed each state to establish a health benefit exchange option through state law or opt to participate in a national exchange, the general assembly enacted the "Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Act" (act). The act created the state exchange, a board of directors (board) to implement the exchange, and a legislative health benefits exchange implementation review committee to make recommendations to the board. The bill repeals the act, effective January 1, 2015. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer any unencumbered moneys that remain in the exchange to the general fund.

And there you have it–legislation introduced to repeal the Colorado health insurance exchange, known as "Amycare" for the role of GOP Rep. Amy Stephens, now a candidate in the crowded 2014 GOP U.S. Senate primary in its passage back in 2011. House Bill 14-1192 is sponsored by Reps. Janak Joshi, Lori Saine, Steve Humphrey, Perry Buck, Justin Everett, Chris Holbert, Dan Nordberg, Jerry Sonnenberg, James Wilson, and Jared Wright. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Sens. Kevin Lundberg, Ted Harvey, Kevin Grantham, Owen Hill, Vicki Marble, Randy Baumgardner, Kent Lambert, and Scott Renfroe.

Earlier this week, we posted video of comments by Sen. Greg Brophy at a gubernatorial candidate forum last week, similarly advocating for the repeal of the state health insurance exchange, and strongly implying that supporters of the exchange are not 'acceptable' conservative candidates. Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post caught up with Rep. Stephens for a response:

Stephens said she handily won a tough state House primary two years ago because her El Paso County district appreciated that she took leadership on the health-care issue when President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress “shoved Obamacare” on the country. Stephens, who was the House majority leader at the time, said the business community came to her and asked that she help develop something “pro-market and close to home that we can control.”

“Amy cares,” has been Stephens’ response to the nickname.

And in a recent story about the issue cropping up on the Senate campaign trail, Stephens noted the Colorado health-care exchange was the “lesser of two evils.” The other choice was the federal government operating it.

On this point, Rep. Stephens is absolutely right–if the Connect for Health Colorado exchange were shut down, Coloradans seeking insurance would simply be sent to the federal health exchange website. And it's true that when the exchanges first rolled out last October, the state exchange site worked somewhat better–and was brought up to full capability faster–than the federal site. In short, repealing "Amycare," as many of Stephens' fellow Republican lawmakers want, would leave the state in what any conservative must find a less desirable situation.

In Stephens' case, what could have been an asset, should she survive her increasingly cutthroat primary, is sullied by her repeated attempts to redeem herself with the Republican base. During the debate over the exchange bill, Stephens tried under pressure to insert a "poison pill" amendment that would have stopped the exchange unless the state sought exemption from the ACA. She backtracked after everyone, from the Republican-aligned business interests supporting the bill to Gov. John Hickenlooper, came down on her like a ton of bricks.

Taking a step back, the red-on-red fight over "Amycare" is another example of why Republicans, including Stephens, are just plain screwed now that the Affordable Care Act's many pieces are settling into place. There is no way that Republicans, even if they were to win at every level this November, can "repeal Obamacare." Repeal attempts local and federal this year will fail, and Republicans can't kill the ACA even if they hold the U.S. House and take the Senate because President Obama will still be President. In the meantime, millions of Americans are obtaining new insurance via the exchanges, many with subsidies that can't be taken away now without enormous disruption. This is why Republicans were "desperate" enough to shut down the federal government last October in a last-ditch attempt to stop the law from going into full effect. They knew it was their last chance.

Unfortunately for Stephens, hating on Obamacare is still worth more to most Republicans than she is.

More Republican Bills “Killed” With No Witnesses

Rep. Justin Everett (R).

Rep. Justin Everett (R).

A release from the Colorado AFL-CIO celebrates the death of two bills in the House State Affairs Committee today–House Bill 14-1087 to outlaw the state's public employee union, and House Bill 14-1098, this year's version of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-authored "Work For Less" anti-union bill:

Today the Colorado House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs overwhelmingly rejected dual proposals to “Prohibit collective bargaining for public employees” (HB14-1087) and “Prohibit discrimination labor union participation” (HB14-1098).  Both proposals would strip away the right to come together for better wages and working conditions—as the Denver Broncos currently do…

In response, Mike Cerbo, the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO made the following statement:
 
Colorado’s working families applaud the members of the committee today who rejected these irresponsible policies. Republicans whine about legislative overreach and talk about preserving individual rights, yet they will not stand up for the basic rights of individuals to come together to call for better wages, working conditions and quality of life. They have been stuck in a race to the bottom. The legislature was right in discarding these proposals.

Of particular note was the manner in which the bill died. The legislation from Rep. Justin Everett — to ban public employee unions — was apparently not worth its sponsor's time, either:

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Smoke Up, Johnnie…But Not Until Age 21

Stop_Smoking_1

A bipartisan bit of "nanny-statism" headed for the state legislature, as the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports:

Anyone under the age of 21 no longer would be able to smoke cigarettes under a bill to be introduced into the Colorado Legislature in the coming weeks.

The bill, which is to be introduced by Republicans and Democrats, would raise the legal age to use any tobacco product from 18 to 21, putting it in line with other legal vices, such as alcohol and marijuana…

“It offers consistency in the law,” [sponsor Sen. Steve King] said. “Gambling’s 21, alcohol is 21, marijuana is 21. It seems to me that those potentially addictive behaviors … we should have good consistent policies about regulating that behavior.”

The yet-to-be-introduced bill reportedly has bipartisan sponsorship, Reps. Cheri Gerou (R) and Beth McCann (D) in the House, and Sens. Steve King (R) and John Kefalas (D) in the Colorado Senate. A few other states including Utah are considering a similar increase in the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years of age.

A consistent age to buy all forms of vice consumable products does make a kind of sense, and with the harmful effects of smoking clearly understood today, it's difficult to argue that the "right" to buy cigarettes at age 18 is worth defending.

The only thing we would add is that as the "Amsterdam of North America," it might indeed be a good idea for Colorado to demonstrate some public health prudence in some form.

CO Campaign Finance Law Struck Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

The Coloradoan and the Herald reported last week that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle and, by extension, former State Representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison in their suit challenging Colorado's campaign finance limits. 

In 2010, Curry ran a write-in campaign as an independent candidate. The fact that she was having to run as a write in is yet another form of discrimination against independent candidates, but that's a separate issue. 

The case involved Colorado's limit of individual contributions of $200 per election. If that number seems wrong to you, it's because that number raises to $400 if you are running as a Democrat or Republican, since you might have a primary, (but probably won't). 

In the 2010 election, despite running as a write in, Curry lost by only 359 votes. If she had been able to raise double the money, like each of her opponents, she certainly could have won. 

In the review of the case, 590 State House and Senate candidates from the Dem and GOP parties were examined and it was determined that only 63 of them had actually faced a primary challenge. Yet, all of them had been allowed to collect twice as much per individual donor and to use all of that money during months immediately before the general election. 

Colorado will now be forced to rethink it's campaign finance laws. One proposal is to copy the federal law and require separate accounts for primary and general election funds, and prohibit primary funds from being spent after the primary election date. Another option is to simply drop the charade of primary vs general funds and just let all candidates collect up to $400 regardless of party affiliation. Either way, Colorado election law is a little bit more fair today.  

Daneya Esgar announces for HD 46: “Pueblo Deserves Better”

Daneya Esgar announced her candidacy for House District 46 in Pueblo at the Steelworker’s Union Hall on January 21, 2014.  The seat is being vacated by Representative Leroy Garcia, as Garcia  will be running against George Rivera for Senate District 3.  Esgar’s competition for the HD46 seat will be, first, Democrat Stephanie Garcia (no relation to Leroy), a term-limited past President of the District 60 School Board. Local caucuses March 4 will select a Democratic nominee, and the final decision will be taken at the County Assembly on March 22nd.

The Democratic nominee for House District 46 will then run against Republican Brian Mater, a Pueblo businessman and failed candidate for Pueblo City Council at-large. Mater is not an especially strong candidate; while evidently a nice guy, he also apparently has a temper, and has not always managed money well. Mater still has a permanent restraining order against him, and was the subject of several court proceedings for questionable business dealings. Mater has not filed any campaign finance reports with the State, although they were due January 15. Mater’s policy positions, as far as they can be determined from his Facebook page for the City Council position, are closer to Stephanie Garcia’s privatizing and union-busting ways– He advocates for returning PERA funds to the City, and for a “balanced budget”. If Garcia and Mater run against each other, it may be hard to tell them apart on budget issues.

As School District 60 President, Stephanie Garcia was heavily criticized by union employees and by parents for her vote to privatize the District’s night custodians and school bus drivers. The move was supposed to cut costs for the cash-strapped district; parents cited safety concerns, and community members warned that “short-term savings could mean long-term problems.”

Daneya Esgar, the granddaughter of two steelworkers, supports “public policy that brings jobs to our community. Not just any jobs, but “jobs that come with the right to bargain for a real living wage.” Esgar spoke about her concerns about poverty in Pueblo:

“Five out of every ten families live below the federal poverty level. Our unemployment rate is still one of the highest in the state. Our city has the highest utility rates and insurance rates in Colorado…  Small and successful businesses … have left Pueblo County because of our utility rates…The good news is that there is real work that can be done at the state legislature to fix Pueblo’s high utility rates.”

Pueblo’s Black Hills utility rates are “the highest on the Front Range”, according to those who work with families whose utilities have been shut off for lack of payment. Esgar’s message will resound with Pueblans struggling to pay high utility bills.

Esgar is well-known as an advocate for LGBT issues, and is herself an open lesbian; however, her campaign is much more about economic issues which affect all Pueblans.

From her press release:

Daneya Esgar has worked closely with local families throughout the community who have sought to improve local law enforcement. She is well-known on the grassroots level for her hands-on work on issues of equality, education, justice, and poverty. Esgar has a record of listening to the community and transforming those needs into sound public policy that is good for Pueblo’s families.

Photo Credit: John Jaques, The Pueblo Chieftain, December 9, 2013

Nothing Learned: House GOP Introduces 2014′s Abortion Ban Bill

UPDATE: Karen Middleton of NARAL Pro Choice Colorado weighs in:

“It’s bad enough that this bill puts politicians and government in between Colorado women, their families, and their physicians, something Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box,” said Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “This bill could result in jailing doctors. A Class 3 felony is a minimum 4-12 year sentence.”

“This bill is  an insult to Colorado women and Colorado physicians, and out of touch with Colorado voters. Too many of our politicians still don’t get it,” Middleton concluded.

—–

A metaphor.

A metaphor.

Making even many Republican strategists cringe, while Democrats marvel at their good luck–a press release moments ago from the Colorado House Democratic Majority announces House Bill 14-1133, a bill sponsored by a large group of Republican lawmakers that very straightforwardly makes abortion a class 3 felony:

Rep. Humphrey’s bill, HB14-1133, would ban abortions in Colorado. It was  introduced today with  the cosponsorship of Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) and Reps. Perry Buck (R-Windsor), Justin Everett (R-Littleton), Chis Holbert (R-Parker), Lois Landgraf (R-Colorado Springs), Daniel Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs), Kevin Priola (R-Henderson), Lori Saine (R-Dacono), Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), Spencer Swalm (R-Centennial) and Jared Wright (R-Fruita). 

The Humphrey bill says anyone who performs an abortion in Colorado commits a Class 3 felony, making no exception in cases of rape or incest. It would ban all forms of pregnancy termination, including Plan B, the “morning-after pill.” The bill also defines life at conception and would ostensibly establish “personhood” in Colorado’s statutes…

“Been there, done that,” Rep. Court said. “Colorado is not going to deny a woman’s right to choose or allow the government to meddle in the private relationship between a woman and her doctor. And similar measures in other states have repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional. The sponsors of these bills are setting a new standard for being out of touch.” 

Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) pointed to statewide votes in 2008 and 2010 in which Coloradans decisively rejected proposed constitutional amendments to ban abortion. 

“Colorado is clearly a pro-choice state,” she said. “Rep. Humphrey and a large group of House Republicans are trying to overturn the verdict of the voters. The GOP just doesn’t get it.” 

“Colorado Republicans push extreme positions that disrespect the women of our state and trample on their freedoms,” Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) said. “And then those same Republicans wonder why they lose elections.” [Pols emphasis]

Here's the text of the abortion ban bill as introduced. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Sens. Scott Renfroe, Kevin Grantham, Ted Harvey, Kent Lambert, Kevin Lundberg, Vicki Marble, and Mark Scheffel

If you were wondering if perhaps Republicans might be thinking a little more strategically about this year's elections in light of perceived Democratic weakness, and as a result maybe considering some moderation, affected or otherwise, to maximize their chances with swing voters…well, you can stop wondering.

It appears, at long last, that they just can't help themselves.