So Much For Keeping That Interest Rate Hike Bill Under Wraps

FOX 31’s Tammy Vigil reports on the last-minute giveaway to subprime personal lenders that passed the General Assembly with distressing bipartisan support–at least in the Democratic-controlled House–and is now headed to the Governor’s desk, where consumer advocates hope it will be vetoed:

Only the Governor can save consumers now.

House Bill 1390 raises interest rates on personal consumer loans by up to 71 percent. It would allow lenders to raise finance rates from 21 percent to 36 percent on loans up to $3,000.

It also increases rates from 15 to 21 percent on loans more than $3,000 to $5,000.

These loans target people with some credit problems who can’t get loans from traditional banks and credit unions to buy consumer products like cars, boats and to consolidate debt…

As we discussed yesterday, House Bill 15-1390 would dramatically increase the maximum allowable interest rate on the specific types of personal loans offered by subprime lenders like Citigroup’s OneMain Financial and Springleaf Financial. Not surprisingly, lobbyists for these corporations were the driving force behind this legislation, and successfully prevailed on Democratic leadership in the House to allow the bill to be introduced late last week. Asked to defend the legislation yesterday by FOX 31, House sponsor Rep. Jovan Melton (D) made a disappointingly unconvincing argument:

“It is high risk. It has a higher interest rate of 36 percent, but it’s much better than 125 percent we see with pay day lending facilities,” said State Rep. Jovan Melton, a Democrat from Aurora.

He also said these lenders need a hand to stay in business in our state… [Pols emphasis]

The claim that these lenders need to be able to hike interest rates in order to “stay in business” is plainly contradicted by the huge success they are enjoying in Colorado today–in 2013 alone, millions of dollars in profits on over 31,000 loans of the type that would be affected by the legislation. Sure, 36% is a lower interest rate than payday loans, but the current rate caps are not hurting these lenders’ business. It is therefore completely disingenuous to claim that we must let them inflate the cost of loans they issue to consumers by almost 40% in order to “keep them in business.”

In fact, that’s the same nonsense we heard from the payday lending lobbyists and their political surrogates back in 2010, when legislation reforming that industry’s over-the-top usurious practices was signed into law. Five years later, surprise! You can still get a payday loan in Colorado with ease.

Bottom line: this was a major political mistake for Democrats who backed indefensible anti-consumer legislation, and another lesson about the constant vigilance needed at the Capitol to protect citizens from predatory corporate lobbyists. The last-minute rush to pass this bill was obviously meant to limit debate and public knowledge of what was happening, and that was a terrible decision by Democrats who should know better.

And now that the media is cluing in to what happened, it’s time for some mea culpas–and a swift veto by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Last-Minute Swindle: Personal Loan Interest Rate Hike Races Through General Assembly Ahead of Sine Die

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

Just when you thought it was safe to exhale as the end of the 2015 session of the Colorado legislature approaches today, fresh controversy is brewing at the Capitol over House Bill 15-1390: a bill that sped through the House yesterday before passing the Senate today to allow lenders to dramatically increase interest rates charged for specific types of personal loans. Passed with almost no notice or debate, the Bell Policy Center is urgently sounding the alarm–from their release yesterday before the bill passed the Senate this morning:

A late bill that is clearly bad for consumers easily passed the House and is on the Senate floor. This bill, Allowable Finance Charge for Certain Consumer Credit Transactions (HB15-1390), would raise the cost of credit for moderate- and low-income Coloradans on certain consumer credit transactions. The frenzied pace of the final days of the legislative session paved the way for this bill to sail through, and consumers stand to lose. [Pols emphasis]

The bill passed the House (62-2) last week and the Senate Finance Committee (4-1) this morning, despite strong testimony in both chambers from our Rich Jones. Jones said that raising the caps on certain supervised loans and consumer credit sales would lead to more high-cost and unaffordable credit products. We are not opposed to the loans, just to increasing the current rates.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which regulates these loans, testified in the House about how HB15-1390 would affect these loans. While neutral on the bill, the office said that it would increase the costs of an average $6,000 loan by 38.1 percent. In response to a question, the Attorney General’s Office also said there is nothing to indicate that this credit product is not available to consumers or that consumers are having a hard time accessing this product. [Pols emphasis]

In a legislative session that was supposed to be about the middle class, this bill moves Colorado in the wrong direction. We wish this bill had come up earlier in the session to allow more time for conversations with legislators…

But the extremely limited debate this bill received appears to have been a feature, not a bug. The legislation has its origin with lobbyists for OneMain Financial, a branch of Citigroup that specializes in the kinds of personal loans that would be affected. The bill was rushed through the House with almost no opposition, but the vote today in the Senate was not unanimous after Democratic Senators realized there was a problem. There seems to be an effort now that the bill is causing controversy to make excuses for its plain effect–allowing lenders to hike interest rates on personal loans. Unfortunately, it’s a one-page bill, and there’s no sugar-coating what it does.

Much like the shenanigans we’ve seen in previous years to undo hard-won reforms of the payday lending industry, what we’re seeing here is another ugly brute-force attempt by lobbyists and allied politicians to ram through an undesirable piece of legislation during the final crush. Longtime readers will recall that the payday loan reform battle was fraught with lobbyist-engineered treachery, with several attempts before success in 2010 scuttled by Democrats making “surprise” votes to kill the bills. Sen. Cheri Jahn, the Senate sponsor of House Bill 15-1390, has a long history of this kind of thing, and has little trust among consumer advocates as a result.

Bottom line: lender lobbyists are some of the most audacious under the Dome, but this bill could well be a step too far–for them, and for legislators in both parties who signed on to this ill-advised ploy. There is simply no reason to ram through legislation like this except to gouge consumers and enrich lenders. And the only reason to ram it through at the last minute is to keep it quiet.

In short, it’s one of those situations that makes voters, you know, cynical. Hopefully, Gov. John Hickenlooper will correct what appears to be a major bipartisan mistake.

Distilling the arguments against a wildly successful teen-pregnancy prevention program

(These are not misquotes – Promoted by Colorado Pols)



Much has been written about the Republicans’ tragic torpedoing of legislation that would have provided funds for a Colorado program that reduced teen pregnancy by 40 percent and teen abortions by 35 percent–or thereabouts.

But it’s worth enumerating, in short-form fashion as the legislative session ends, the various arguments Republicans used to attack the program, which involved the distribution of long-acting contraception, like intrauterine devices (IUDs), to teenagers.

Birth Control = Abortion: First, there was Colorado Republican Senate Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg saying that the arguments for the bill amounted to “poor science,” citing his inaccurate belief that IUDs work by “stopping a small child from implanting.”

The Government Shouldn’t Fund Birth Control at all. Then there was the generalized no-government argument, embodied by GOP Sen. Owen Hill, who described the the measure as a bill “we gotta kill,” explaining: “You know, there’s always a new way to start a new government program. Five million dollars for some new long-term birth control. I think that’s a personal decision people need to make. Certainly the government shouldn’t be funding that.”

The Government Already Funds Contraception. “Nobody wants less unintended pregnancy more than I do,” Sen. Larry Crowder told Nora Kaplan-Bricker, who wrote a fantastic article on the topic for the National Journal, “but am I willing to go in and ask taxpayers to fund this? I think there’s adequate funding out there.” In fact, as Kaplan-Bricker pointed out, it’s difficult if not impossible for many teens to get free IUDs and other long-acting contraception under Obamacare, and the staffing for Colorado’s successful program is not funded.

Birth Control = Promiscuity and Bad Sex.  “I hear the stories of young girls who are engaged, very prematurely, in sexual activity, and I see firsthand the devastation that happens to them,” Rep. Kathleen Conti said during a hearing on the pregnancy-prevention program, as reported by Kaplan-Bricker. “I’m not accrediting this directly to this [birth-congrol] program, but I’m saying, while we may be preventing an unwanted pregnancy, at the same time, what are the emotional consequences that could be coming up on the other side?” Conti, a Republican asked at one hearing: “Are we communicating anything in that message [of providing contraception] that says ‘you don’t have to worry, you’re covered’? Does that allow a lot of young ladies to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places, as the old song goes?”

Takeaway: The legislative fight over the teen-pregnancy prevention program spotlights the fact that most Republicans in Colorado still don’t know how to talk about birth control in a way that makes sense to normal people.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 5)

Cinco-LogoIt’s Cinco de Mayo, which translates in Denver to “Election Day.” It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► It’s Election Day in Denver. If you still have a mail ballot at home, you’re going to need to truck that sucker to a drop-off location before 7:00 p.m. Visit the website of the Denver Clerk and Recorder for drop-off information.

 ► Republican-led efforts to pass a fetal homicide Personhood bill in the legislature came to a predictable end yesterday when a House Committee axed SB-268 on a party-line vote.

 ► The U.S. Supreme Court seems a little hazy about what to do with legal marijuana, so they are asking the advice of the U.S. Solicitor General. As it turns out, we still have a Solicitor General.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Monday (May 4)

The Colorado Legislature closes up shop on Wednesday; May the 4th be with us all. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► With just three days to go in the 2015 legislative session,  it’s safe to say that there are a lot of bills that are going to be left hanging. Capping off what has been a pretty embarrassing session for Senate President Bill Cadman is this odd detail: Senate Bill 1, Cadman’s first piece of legislation and his big plan to start fixing Colorado’s budget, was not on the schedule this morning to receive its first hearing, but may finally be discussed in the Senate Finance Committee later today.

 ► Ivan Moreno of the Associated Press breaks down what we are likely to see in the final three days of the 2015 session. For another rundown, check out Peter Marcus at the Durango Herald.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Are Colorado PERA Negotiations Being Influenced by Federal Politics?

(clockwise from top): U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, State Sen. Bill Cadman, State Sen. Owen Hill

(clockwise from top):
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, State Sen. Bill Cadman, State Sen. Owen Hill

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported late yesterday on a troubling political strategy from Republicans that intertwines state and federal politics:

Intense negotiations are underway at the state Capitol to try to revive a Denver Public Schools pension bill that critics claim was killed by Republicans because of former DPS Superintendent Michael Bennet’s Senate re-election bid.

House Bill 1251 is important for DPS because it would allow the district to quit paying around $23 million more a year into the state pension fund than other school districts…

Three people with knowledge of the bill told The Denver Post that they talked about it with Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, who said national Republicans didn’t want to see a bill passed that potentially could help Bennet. Hill briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014. [Pols emphasis]

Hill responded Thursday that his chief concern is that PERA is a “real ticking time bomb,” but he acknowledged people told him they had concerns about “some bad deals that were cut” when Bennet oversaw Denver schools.

Bennet’s financial dealings at DPS were an issue in his 2010 Senate primary. “Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt,” read a headline in The New York Times. Republicans have said they plan to revisit the issue on the campaign trail next year.

For his part, State Senate “PresidentBill Cadman says that he has “never” talked to the Republican Party or “anyone in Washington” about HB-1251, although it’s difficult to say how much people are really listening to Cadman anyway.

We won’t get into the policy discussion of the relative merits of HB-1251 and PERA reforms here (Colorado Pols is a political blog, after all), but the idea that Colorado legislation might be torpedoed because of how it might harm the re-election chances of a U.S. Senator is more than a little troubling. It also speaks, again, to the leadership structure surrounding Colorado Republicans. If this story proves true, it seriously calls into question how much Senate Republicans are even making their own decisions locally.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 1)

May Day! May Day! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► So, Thursday was a weird day. There was an Ultrasound Bus outside the State Capitol, lots of terribly insensitive things were said in a Senate Committee hearing over the surprise abortion bill (SB-285), and in a move nobody saw coming, Senator Tim Neville’s last-minute legislation failed to even make it out of committee. Check out the Durango Herald for a good summary of yesterday’s events.

 ► Oversight on the VA Hospital construction in Aurora was virtually nonexistent, according to a new report. Let us remind you, again, that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is the CHAIR OF THE OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Six Baltimore police officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray, which prosecutors have ruled a homicide. Gray’s death was the prime spark that kicked off riots and violence in Baltimore.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


BREAKING: Senate Abortion Bill Dies in Committee


After all the talk about Senate Bill 285, the GOP’s surprise attempt to place new restrictions on abortion (and the Super-Friendly Ultrasound Bus), the bill failed to even make it out of committee. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

A Republican lawmaker broke party ranks and joined Democrats to reject a major abortion bill in Senate committee Thursday…

…Freshman Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, said she is concerned about the mandates on women and physicians in the bill.

“I’d like to see more work done on this, more discussion, more thought put into this,” she said. “My people have spoken to me and they don’t feel this bill is in their best interest.”

The vote came as a surprise because it is one of the only conservative bills to get voted down in the Republican-led Senate since the party took power in January. Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he was disappointed an abortion bill would fail before getting to the floor.

We’ll have more on this in the coming days, including the horribly insensitive statements and testimony from a handful of Republican Senators. This is an absolutely stunning end to a really bad idea from Senate Republicans. It is also tremendously damaging to Senate “President” Bill Cadman, who was already reeling from the obvious Republican repudiation of his leadership and now has to explain how taking such a big risk could fail so spectacularly.

We wrote yesterday that this surprise legislation “would not end well.” It couldn’t have ended any worse for Senate Republicans.

All Aboard the Super-Friendly Ultrasound Bus!

Tim Neville Bus

The Neville Nutters — State Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Partick Neville — really don’t understand why anybody would be upset with their last-minute legislation to regulate abortions. Via John Frank of the Denver Post:

Sen. Tim Neville, the bill’s sponsor, called it a common-sense bill to provide women more information about their decision and rejected the idea that it would spark rancor.

“I don’t think it has to be a divisive issue,” the Littleton Republican said. “I can’t pick what’s going to be divisive or not.”

His son, Rep. Patrick Neville, who is the House sponsor, said he began working on the bills months ago. “I think women have a right to view an ultrasound, and it’s also a safety issue, too,” the Castle Rock Republican said.

That’s right, folks. And what could be safer than getting an ultrasound on a weird bus parked across the street from the State Capitol? The flyer you see here was distributed to State Senators this morning by Tim Neville himself (who cleverly rhymed “bus” with “fuss”). We are not making this up.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 30)

The first round of the NFL Draft is tonight; are you excited for the Denver Broncos to draft an offensive lineman? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► There are just five days to go in the 2015 Colorado legislative session, and the end couldn’t come quicker for Senate puppet President Bill Cadman. Maybe Sen. Tim Neville will let him leave early now that he’s done the bidding of the far right and allowed a late bill exemption for a big abortion bill. John Frank of the Denver Post has more on the biggest matsah ball under the golden dome:

The measure gets its first hearing Thursday and probably will land on the Senate floor for a vote and heated debate in the final days before Wednesday’s adjournment.

It will bookend a session that began with a partisan tone in the Senate, where Republicans used their newfound majority to push a conservative agenda that generated controversy.

“It’s an unfortunate way to define a whole session,” said Senate Democratic leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora.


► While Colorado Republicans make a last-ditch effort to pass legislation restricting abortions, they also made sure to kill a bill that would have continued a very successful program aimed at preventing teen pregnancies. But wait, there’s more irony! As Think Progress notes:

Colorado Republicans have officially voted to eliminate funding for an award-winning family planning program that has contributed to a staggering 40 percent drop in the state’s teen birth rate over the past five years.

Ironically, the vote to deny funding from the program came just one day after it received a prestigious award from the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), which periodically honors particularly effective reproductive health initiatives at its annual conference.

► The Aurora Sentinel sums up Day 3 of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Tim Neville is the Real Senate President

Things could be worse for Senate President Bill Cadman; at least he's not a hand puppet.

Things could be worse for Senate President Bill Cadman; at least he’s not a hand puppet under Tim Neville.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Senator Tim Neville may be good at manipulating fellow Republicans, but he still can’t make this logic work:

Sen. Tim Neville, the bill’s sponsor, called it a common-sense bill to provide women more information about their decision and rejected the idea that it would spark rancor.

“I don’t think it has to be a divisive issue,” the Littleton Republican said. “I can’t pick what’s going to be divisive or not.”

No, no, you can’t. You just make Bill Cadman do it.


The State Capitol is abuzz over the surprise move from Senate Republicans to introduce a last-minute bill to regulate abortions out of existence — and what this unexpected move tells us about who is really running the show for the GOP. 

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in the text of Senate Bill 285; requiring women to undergo an ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period before a procedure is an approach that we have seen from anti-choice groups around the country for many years. Similar legislation was nearly passed in Virginia in 2012 until then-Gov. Bob McDonnell realized that it was obscene to suggest that women could be “forcibly penetrated” via ultrasound (for more background, check out this 2012 story in Slate magazine).

The big surprise, of course, is that SB-285 would be introduced in the State Senate just one week before the 2015 Colorado legislative session is scheduled to come to an end…and right on the heels of the GOP’s “Personhood” debacle. Even if Republicans controlled both chambers of the Colorado legislature, it would take a minimum of three working days to get a bill through the Senate and the House (we know this little fact because that’s what Republicans tried to do with their infamous “Midnight Gerrymander” back in 2003). As it stands now, there will barely be enough time for a House committee to spike the bill — should the GOP even manage to get it out of the Senate quickly — so how did this strange maneuver even surface?

First off, SB-285 could not have been introduced this late in the legislative session without the approval of Senate “President” Bill Cadman. Legislators can’t just toss out a new bill whenever they choose; if this were the case, the legislative session quite literally would never end. If you want to introduce a new bill later in the session, you must secure a “late bill exemption” from House or Senate leadership. That Cadman would grant late bill status for anything is a contradiction of his own words from the opening day of the session (Jan. 7, 2015), when he said in a floor speech “stop asking for ‘late bills’; I’m not kidding.”

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County)

Now, Cadman is no dummy (figuratively speaking, anyway). He knows good and well that SB-285 has zero chance of making it into law. He knows that this move will be used as negative advertising fodder against Republicans in 2016. And he’s also smart enough to understand how badly this undermines his title of “Senate President.” Obstensibly, Cadman is the leader of his caucus and responsible for making sure that things like this do not happen. From what we’ve heard today, there is a growing consensus that Cadman got rolled by the right-wing of his own party — and by Senator Tim Neville specifically.

Neville has emerged as the most prominent Republican of the 2015 legislative session, leading the charge on the controversial anti-vaxxer “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” among other lost causes. The Neville Nutters have been positioning themselves as something of a political “dynasty” in recent years, including Tim’s sons, Rep. Patrick Neville, and Joe Neville, a top lobbyist for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (whose Executive Director, Dudley Brown, thinks he owns the Senate); as well as sister-in-law Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board. It’s probably not a coincidence that all of the sponsors of SB-285 are also known backers of RMGO.

So what does Cadman get out of all this? By doing the bidding of the Neville Nutters, does he avoid a challenge from his own caucus in the fall so that he can remain “Senate President” in title only? Was Cadman subtly promised more business for his political consulting firm, Advantage Marketing? Or is there another political deal in the works, whereby the term-limited Cadman is backed by prominent anti-choice groups in a potential Congressional Primary against Rep. Doug Lamborn?

Of course, it is entirely possible that Cadman just “gave up” on trying to hold the line against the right-wing fringe of his party. He hasn’t been very good at keeping the trains running on time anyway, so perhaps this weakness in leadership should be expected.

Senate Bill 285 is not going to become law in 2015, but the political ramifications of this bizarre last-minute legislation will likely reverberate throughout 2016 and beyond. Consider the floodgates open.

One Down, One to Go In Public Lands Debate

Republicans in the Colorado legislature have been trying to figure out how to seize control of national public lands in Colorado, but they’re not having much success. 

One such effort, SB-232, failed to make it through the State Senate last night when Republicans couldn’t keep their votes intact; sponsored by Sen. Randy Baumgardner, SB-232 would have created a “Federal Land Management Commission” that would try to figure out how the state would manage federal lands. Sportsmen were not big fans of this bill, as the Denver Post’s Scott Willoughby pointed out last week:

With the clock winding down on the 2015 Colorado General Assembly calendar, the prophesy foretold by wary sportsmen alarmed by an increasingly radicalized contingent of elected officials in the West has entered the rudimentary stages of reality. To the fear and dismay of many who value the wide-open spaces intrinsic to Colorado — not to mention their tax dollars — the widely unpopular yet enduring attempt by this faction of officials to wrest control of federally managed public lands will move one step closer…

Let's start the bidding for these mountains at $100.

Let’s start the bidding for these mountains at $100.

The fight over federal lands isn’t over entirely — not yet, anyway. There’s still the matter of SB-39, sponsored by part-time militia-dude Sen. Kent Lambert and Senate President Bill Cadman. This bill, which will likely be defeated in the State House before the 2015 legislative session ends next week, seeks to give Colorado “concurrent jurisdiction” over certain federal lands. As part of an effort to draw attention to these bizarre efforts to “claim” national public lands, Conservation Colorado staged a clever “mock auction” of public lands this morning. From a press release (full text after the jump):

The auction served as a warning of the potential for public lands to be sold after the state assumes control and discovers it does not have the financial resources to properly manage current national public lands.  

“We don’t need to study or spend one moment more thinking about squandering our birthright, our shared inheritance of public lands.  We have a responsibility to preserve our outdoor heritage for future generations and not lose access to lands that support outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado.

Full disclosure: We bid $437 for Dinosaur National Monument.


Senate Republicans Drop Surprise WTF Bill on Abortion

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R), in a photo taken sometime before he went completely bonkers.

We wrote yesterday that Senate President Bill Cadman had completely hosed his fellow Republicans by pushing through a fetal homicide Personhood bill that will come back to haunt the GOP in 2016.

Guess who just doubled-down on teh stupid?

As John Frank of the Denver Post tweeted last night, Senate Republicans are rolling out a new abortion bill that seems about as pointless as an eraser:

Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Senate Bill 285, sponsored by The Neville Nutters, is an “informed consent/right to know” bill that would essentially get rid of abortion in Colorado by creating a laundry list of barriers and red tape for anyone considering an abortion. The legislation has a lot of similarities to a failed bill back in 2008 (SB08-095), which was sponsored by former Sen. Dave Schultheis and then-Rep. Kevin Lundberg; that Schultheis and Lundberg were involved should tell you everything you need to know about that bill.

This is a “late bill,” because it is being introduced well after the midpoint of the legislative session; in fact, we might need a new term for this, because the legislature is supposed to wrap things up one week from today. Sen. Cadman is not listed as an official sponsor, but because he is the Senate President, SB-285 could not have been introduced this late in the session without Cadman’s approval.

To recap, Senate Republicans just spent weeks prattering on about how SB-268 (the fetal homicide/Personhood bill) was about “justice” and not about abortion or Personhood or anything else. Cadman completely lost control of SB-268, to the point where Senators Ellen Roberts and Kevin Lundberg finally just admitted that this was an abortion bill. The legislation passed out of the Senate and will almost certainly come to a screeching halt in the State House, so the only thing that Cadman succeeded in doing was getting his caucus on-record about Personhood and making the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life fairly happy.

To follow up on that disaster, Cadman allowed a new abortion bill to be introduced that has no chance whatsoever of making it through the legislature; even if Cadman somehow picked up enough votes to move SB-285, there is no time left in the session to do it.

Is Cadman trying to sabotage Republicans, or has he just given up on trying to control the fringe elements of his caucus? Given what happened last week, it’s possible that Cadman just threw up his hands and said, “do whatever you want” to the extremists running around the Senate chamber. This will not end well.

Bill Cadman Leads Republicans Over the Cliff on Personhood

Senate President Bill Cadman leads Republicans off a cliff once again.

Senate President Bill Cadman should have hit the brakes earlier.

“Justice.” Senate President Bill Cadman said it again…and again…and again in discussing SB-268, the fetal homicide/Personhood legislation he crammed through the State Senate despite objections and proposed amendments from Democrats. Cadman has repeatedly said that his legislation, which was introduced in the aftermath of a brutal crime against a pregnant woman in Longmont in March, is about “justice” in allowing prosecutors to seek murder charges in the death of an unborn child.

But SB-268 is really a bill about “Personhood,” which would change the definition of a “person” to include “an unborn person at every age of gestation.” We’ve said it before in this space, and Cadman and his fellow Republicans proved Monday that SB-268 was always about Personhood, first and foremost. As John Frank of the Denver Post explains:

In the Senate debate, Democrats unsuccessfully sought to amend the bill to take out the language defining a person as an “unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.” Another amendment that failed would have gutted the measure to only increase the penalties in attacks on pregnant women under Colorado’s current law.

The critics cited concerns that Senate Bill 268 included verbatim sections from model legislation proposed by Americans United for Life, an anti- organization, and cited similar laws in other states where district attorneys prosecuted pregnant mothers for endangering the child.

As any political observer with half a brain could have forseen, Senate Democrats offered up amendments Monday that would have removed the “Personhood” language from SB-268. Cadman had Republicans entrenched by now, however, so the GOP refused to accept the amendments…and things got worse in the process.


Former Denver Post editor Chuck Murphy was among those (via Twitter) who noticed the GOP’s problem with SB-268.

Republican Sen. Ellen Roberts actually conceded that the real point of SB-268 was to declare a fetus a person, and Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) began droning on about the importance of extending constitutional rights to the unborn. In voting down the proposed amendments, Senate Republicans are now on record in support of Personhood, which Colorado voters have flatly rejected every time it has appeared as a ballot measure. These votes will be used often in 2016 against Republicans seeking re-election, and it’s gonna sting. The advertisements write themselves: “When Republicans gained control of the State Senate, they pushed a Personhood bill that contained similar language to ballot measures that Colorado voters have opposed on three separate occasions.”

There was never any real chance that SB-268 would make it out of the State House, and Monday’s actions only ensured as much. But Cadman’s “leadership” here may very well give Democrats everything they need to re-take control of the State Senate in 2016. This bill was going to be stuck with the “Personhood” tag no matter how many times Cadman said the word “justice.”

Colorado already has the “Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act” on the books — and has since 2013 — so there was no real practical need for Cadman to rage around the State Capitol for the last month. If Cadman truly didn’t realize that he was walking his caucus into a Personhood debate, then he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.

If Cadman did realize this problem ahead of time, but pushed forward anyway…well, he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.