Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

We’re almost Klingenschmitt-free today. Almost. 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The State Senate has approved a $26 billion budget for Colorado, despite complaints from Democrats that they were largely shut out of the process. The “Long Bill” now heads to the State House, where Republicans will inevitably complain about the process when they don’t have the majority.

A top official at the Veterans Administration has apologized (again) for the long list of problems in building a new hospital in Aurora. But Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson thinks Rep. Mike Coffman’s suggestion to cancel all bonuses until the hospital is complete is a bad idea.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Fetal Homicide: Let No Tragedy Go Unexploited

UPDATE: Speaking of exploiting tragedy, Personhood USA is now sending out requests invoking the crime to raise funds for another attempt at banning abortion in Colorado. From their recent email to supporters:

The suspect in a gruesome unborn baby-killing case, Dynel Lane, will only be charged with unlawful termination of pregnancy and other crimes against the mother, according to Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett.

These inadequate charges do not recognize Michelle Wilkins’ daughter Aurora as a victim of the attack, and do not recognize that a crime was committed against her that resulted in her death…

The preborn must be recognized as persons and victims, or else the perpetrators of these crimes will not be adequately punished. How many more pregnant women and unborn children will have to suffer until Colorado changes its laws?

[Y]ou can help us recognize the personhood of preborn babies and put an END the senseless dehumanization of these precious children. Make a donation today toward our continued personhood efforts.

Original post follows.

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Image vis CBS4 Denver

Image vis CBS4 Denver

The New York Times’ Jack Healy reports on the debate headed for the Colorado legislature over an horrific crime committed in Longmont last month, and an opportunistic response from anti-abortion interests to this story that could get ugly:

Voters in Colorado have overwhelmingly rejected three “personhood” measures that sought to include the unborn as a person or child for legal purposes. Opponents said the redefinition would have criminalized abortion and birth control, and the measure last year failed to gain support of prominent Republicans like Senator Cory Gardner, who was then a Senate candidate, or the party’s nominee for governor, Bob Beauprez.

But the unfathomable crime against Ms. Wilkins, 26, in Longmont stunned people across Colorado and the country, and has revived an emotional debate in heated commentaries online and in the halls of the Capitol here, giving abortion opponents what they hope will be an opportunity to change local criminal laws…

But the effort to pass such a bill could face stiff opposition from Democrats, who control one chamber of the legislature, as well as from reproductive-rights supporters who fear such measures lay a path toward outlawing abortion or birth control. [Pols emphasis]

Democratic lawmakers here and a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said they could not comment on the Republican efforts because a bill had not yet been introduced. But Democrats said the push for one was a rushed reaction to a rare and horrible crime that could not be applied retroactively to Ms. Wilkins’s case.

As Healy reports, Colorado passed a compromise measure in 2013 making “unlawful termination of a pregnancy” a felony crime. Our state’s long history with proposals intended to confer rights on fetuses at any stage of development has made defenders of abortion rights here wary of fetal homicide legislation. In addition to the “Personhood” abortion ban ballot measures that Colorado voters have rejected over and over, Republicans have regularly introduced fetal homicide legislation in the Colorado General Assembly in recent years. Such bills usually contain no language disclaiming an impact on abortion law–and even when they do, the basic intent of making the fetus a secondary corporeal victim of a crime sets a dangerous precedent. It’s not that pro-choice advocates are unmoved by horrific crimes like the one committed in Longmont, it’s that this legislative answer from known abortion opponents has an obvious ulterior motive.

The disastrous abortion-themed response to this crime from one Colorado Republican lawmaker, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, has already pushed would-be fetal homicide opportunists off their message. The fact that there is already a felony statute in Colorado law directly pertinent to this crime calls motives for passing yet another law making a fetus a separate victim into question.

Bottom line: Republicans inject failed “Personhood” politics into this tragedy at their peril.

One More Anti-Vaxxer Showdown In The Colorado Senate

Measles.

Measles.

Yesterday’s action in the Colorado Senate featured an hours-long debate over a host of amendments to the state’s Long Appropriations budget bill, commonly known as the “Long Bill.” As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports today, one of those amendments represented a last-ditch attempt by anti-vaccination Republican legislators led by Sen. Tim Neville to defund the state’s public health immunization tracking system:

A Republican proposed stripping more than $1.2 million from a program tracking immunizations, another hot-button issue that has not seen progress by the split Legislature. The amendment failed.

“This amendment rolls back … hiring four more bureaucrats to expand a program that basically tracks vaccinations, even though your doctor already does that … your school system already does that,” said Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, sponsor of the amendment.

But Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, a physician, said she was offended to hear about a lack of faith in the medical community after breakthroughs in vaccinations that eradicated many diseases.

“I’m disappointed that the integrity of physicians has been questioned here as a whole,” Aguilar said. “To imply that an entire profession … is playing a hoodwink game on people and lying to them … is purely offensive.”

We’ve edited down the lengthy debate yesterday over Amendment 39 to the Long Bill to this four minutes of video–video we believe every voter in Colorado should watch. The heart of this clip is a lengthy rant from GOP Sen. Kevin Lundberg against tracking immunization data, followed by Democratic Sens. Irene Aguilar (a doctor) and Rollie Heath. The contrast between Lundberg’s angry, arm-waving paranoia and the defense of modern medicine offered by Aguilar and Heath is…well, for us, it’s pretty fundamental. Watch for yourself:

The biggest battle over immunizations in Colorado this year has already concluded, after the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights” died in a House committee following a high-profile battle that did disproportionate political harm to Senate Republicans who backed it.  The immunization debate resurfaced in Colorado just as a measles outbreak in California was making headlines, and called attention to our state last-place ranking nationally for immunizations against key preventable diseases. “Moderate” Senate Republicans like Ellen Roberts were angrily called out by their local editorial boards for supporting the bill, and fellow Republicans like Lundberg and Sen. Laura Waters Woods undermined Roberts’ protestations that this was not an “anti-vaxxer bill”–by continually bringing the subject back to the very immunization paranoia Roberts denied was the motive.

In an off-year legislative session full of empty rhetoric, with split chambers of the General Assembly noisily battling to draw after draw, the fight over Colorado’s already-lax immunization policies is something we do believe voters will remember–or will at least make for powerful talking points in the next election. Irrational fear of vaccinations doesn’t always break cleanly along partisan lines in popular culture; but at least in Colorado, Republicans have taken clear political ownership of this fringe movement.

And that’s going to cost them.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Only 364 more days until you can use that April Fool’s Day prank you just thought up last night. 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► They don’t call it “the Long Bill” because they are being ironic. The State Senate gave initial approval to a $25 billion state budget after more than 6 hours of bickering. Republicans insist on continuing to debate the issue of immunizations for children.

► California is drier than a sandpaper sandwich, and Gov. Jerry Brown is calling for mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history. Ten bucks says water conservation is going to be the issue of the summer.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Dr. Chaps Gets National Slot on FOX News

UPDATE: Say what you will about Dr. Chaps (and we’ve said plenty), but we’ll give the man a little  credit for being able to laugh at himself. Via Facebook:

Chaps-Pols

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original April Fool’s Day post follows…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 1)

As far as we know, all of the information that follows is accurate and not part of an elaborate April Fool’s joke. Or is it? 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Debate begins today in the State Senate on Colorado’s annual budget, which is a proposed $26 billion.

► Politico looks at the “terrible, terrible jokes” that politicians are using this April Fool’s Day.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 31)

March is going “out like a lamb” in Colorado, but April is waiting to kick our ass. 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► State Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt is the gift that keeps on giving…if you like really, really ridiculous gifts. Somehow former Congressman Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin even merits a mention. Is a recall in the works?

► The State House approved legislation (HB-1300) to allow local governments to increase the minimum wage from Colorado’s current level of $8.23 per hour. A separate proposal, HCR-1001, would have placed a minimum wage increase on the 2015 ballot, but failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority needed for ballot measures. 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Are Klingenschmitt’s campaign endorsers standing by him now?

Now that one State Representative, Justin Everett, is arguing that Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt should not lose legislative clout for comments he’s made outside of the legislature, reporters should track down Klingenschmitt’s endorsers from his campaign last year and find out what they think of their embattled friend.

Their words of praise for Dr. Chaps, as Klingenschmitt calls himself, can be found on his campaign website:

“Gordon Klingenschmitt has demonstrated to me strength of character and resolve to maximize our individual liberties.  He is definitely a warrior who will fight the constant intrusion of government which constantly erodes our freedoms.  “Thank You,” Gordon for your willingness to represent us.”  — Fmr. Colorado Senator Dave Schultheis

“I like Gordon Klingenschmitt!  His Academy and military experiences have nurtured a mental toughness to stand and fight for conservative principles when others don’t.  We need that in the Colorado General Assembly.”  — Colorado Senator Kent Lambert

“Gordon Klingenschmitt is a proven leader who has the principles and values we need in the Colorado legislature.” — Colorado Senator Kevin Lundberg

“Today, we are living in a climate of moral and financial confusion.  Gordon Klingenschmitt will help direct the State back to principled conscience and economic prosperity.” — Colorado Senator Vicki Marble

Justin Everett is Mad as Heck About Dr. Chaps — But Not Like You’d Guess

Republican Rep. Justin Everett got out of bed early enough this morning to make it to the House floor, where he used a motion of personal privilege to chastise Republican House leaders for removing Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt from a House committee yesterday.

You may recall that Everett was removed by Republicans from two committee assignments last March, when Everett was having trouble making it to the State Capitol on time and staying awake when he did arrive. With that background in mind, it is interesting to listen to Everett complaining about a House decision to punish Dr. Chaps over something he said while away from the Capitol.

Here’s Everett’s speech from the floor in its entirety. Whether he’s right or wrong, Everett does succeed in proving that there is still a very large rift in the Republican Party:

 

 

Cadman promotes bill previously torpedoed by anti-abortion forces in GOP caucus

(Those who don’t learn from history…something, something. — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Republican Senate President Bill Cadman took to the radio yesterday to announce plans to introduce a bill allowing prosecutors to treat a fetus as the victim of a crime but, apparently, with specific language allowing for abortion.

Cadman told KNUS 710-AM that his bill “does provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires.”

Colorado already has a law, passed in 2013, allowing prosecutors to file additional charges, but not murder, in a crime involving the destruction of a fetus.

To ensure that the law does not turn into a back-door abortion ban, the measure specifically identifies the pregnant woman as the victim of the crime and states that nothing “shall be construed to confer the status of ‘person’ upon a human embryo, fetus or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”

This anti-personhood language enraged anti-choice Republicans, like Sen. Scott Renfroe, who during a 2013 committee hearing, called the legislation the “Let’s-Go-on-Killing-Babies” bill.

In 2011, a bipartisan attempt to pass a similar bill was killed over similar objections by abortion foes.

Yet, when asked on the radio yesterday about why these types of measures did not become law, Cadman blamed pro-choice legislators.

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Dr. Chaps Attacks Reporters, Praises Todd Akin in Sort-Of Apology

UPDATE: Via Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post:




Republican Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt has been getting hammered over the last several days because of comments he made in the aftermath of the Michelle Wilkins attack in Longmont. Now, he’s speaking out about speaking out, and it’s not going well.

Today, Dr. Chaps posted a special edition of his “PIJN News” that offered a sort-of apology for his statements last week about the shocking attack of a pregnant woman in Longmont. In a video lasting nearly 29 minutes, Dr Chaps goes “Full Klingenschmitt” on a variety of subjects — including his clarification of what the word “this” really means — before saying that he was wrong about everything he did (but not really) and apologizing to “anyone who was offended.”

Dr. Chaps on MondayAs 9News reports, Dr. Chaps’ cries of “dishonest reporting” aren’t earning many sympathetic ears…though he is doing a heck of a job in continuing to promote his own idiotic remarks:

9NEWS reporting on the subject included Klingenschmitt’s exact quote, with the source video being played multiple times on television.

Klingenschmitt’s words in the original video are:

“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb. Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.” [Pols emphasis]

In an interview with 9NEWS on Thursday, Klingenschmitt declined multiple opportunities to offer an alternate interpretation of his remarks.

Many Colorado Republicans were upset last week when Dr. Chaps used his weekly PIJN News show to discuss the attack on the pregnant Michelle Wilkins and attempting to link the crime to a call for policies restricting abortion access. Dr. Chaps even earned a rare rebuke of his own GOP Caucus on Friday.

Nothing that Dr. Chaps says in his video really comes across as a heartfelt apology — particularly when the first 20 minutes are spent on ripping his critics. Dr. Chaps also spends a lot of time talking about being misquoted, before later putting on-screen the words that he said (which are almost exactly how he was quoted). In the end, the only real benefit here is to promote himself and to keep advancing a story (the story about Dr. Chaps, not about the crime)  that is not helpful to him or Republicans in general.

You can watch the entire video after the jump, and here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll find:

♦ 4:14: Dr. Chaps says he will apologize later in the video
♦ 5:30: Says Mike Littwin of the Colorado Independent is a “dishonest reporter.”
♦ 7:00: Calls Brandon Rittiman of 9News a “dishonest reporterand demands a retraction.
♦ 9:00:
Fox 31’s Eli Stokols is added to Dr. Chaps’ list of “dishonest reporters” of whom he demands a retraction.
♦ 11:27: Attacks El Paso County Republican activist Laura Carno and calls her a “pro-homosexual activist.”
13:31: Dr. Chaps praises former Missouri Congressman Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin.
♦ 13:47: Claims to have beaten Westboro Baptist Church in a debate, or something.
♦ 14:42: Talks about Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader and praises her for being an “honest reporter” because she issued some sort of retraction.
♦ 16:26: Praises Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels for being an “honest reporter” because she quoted him directly?
19:26: Tries explaining what he actually said, with specific pieces of quotes aired on-screen. Watch this part of the video and see if you can make sense of what he just said about the word “this.”
23:20: The apology at last? Dr. Chaps says, “I do want to apologize for my words last week,” after saying that he would not apologize for things he didn’t say. Uh, okay.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 30)

Your NCAA Tourney bracket is officially worthless. 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The “Long Bill” will begin to suck up all the oxygen out of the State Capitol this week. The Associated Press previews the arguments and decimal points. The Senate is expected to vote on the budget by Thursday before passing it along to the House. John Frank of the Denver Post has more on the budget battle.

► Aurora City Manager Skip Noe needs to make a good impression in a closed-door meeting with the Aurora City Council today.

► Indiana Republicans are working on legislation to clarify previously-approved legislation that would make it easier for businesses to discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people. Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the original bill, and he swears he actually read the language first.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Steve House’s First At-Bat: Swing and a Miss

Steve House.

Steve House.

As the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports, newly elected Colorado Republican Party chairman Steve House got right to work last week, firing up the Republican faithful to oppose the rascally agenda of those villainous “Denver Democrats” in the state legislature.

The problem is, House’s appeal for donations to the Colorado GOP to stop the “Denver Democrats” appears to rely on making stuff up.

House, who beat Ryan Call for the chairman’s post earlier this month, outlined the “common sense conservative bills” that “Democrat obstructionists” in the state House have killed. (Republicans control the Senate; Democrats the House.) The chairman included in the list of dead bills Senate Bill 1 from Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, “which puts TABOR money into the pockets of the working families.”

Really? That’s news to everybody else at the Capitol:

Senate Republicans are waiting until the legislature passes the budget before taking up the measure which, by the way, the left-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute actually likes. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? Not only is Senate Bill 15-001 still alive, there’s bipartisan support for it. That means not only does Steve House look foolish to mourn the bill’s death prematurely, he could be making it harder to pass by needlessly injecting partisanship into the debate over the bill. Either way, it’s an inauspicious start for the man who just kicked Ryan Call to the proverbial curb on a wave of “we can do better.”

Because “better” should include having your facts straight.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

We’re not going streaking! 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The state Senate has approved a school vouchers bill that would also give tax credits to home-schoolers. FOX 31 News gives a brief rundown, with everything you need to understand about this bill wrapped up in one sentence:

As public schools continue to lose funding, many Republicans are now looking to subsidize parents who choose to send their kids to a private school or home-schooling.

That makes…no sense whatsoever. Even if Sen. Kevin Lundberg muscles this nonsense through the Senate, the grown-ups in the State House will almost certainly reject the idea.

► Reporters at the Colorado Springs Gazette could be fired for speaking out against a 4-part series in the Gazette that is little more than a long, extended, editorialized rant against voter-approved legal marijuana. The Colorado Springs Independent has been doing a good job following the controversy from various angles:

According to national media reporter Jim Romenesko, employees at the Colorado Springs Gazette are being told to sit down and shut up when it comes to its recent marijuana series, “Clearing the Haze,” which, as we reported, is plagued with ethical problems.

Learn more about this growing controversy (pun intended) from longtime Pols reader Zappatero.

► Congressional Republicans are nearing final votes on a budget plan that has no hope of becoming law, but they’re doing it anyway because otherwise they’d have to, you know, govern or something. National media outlets are calling this a “make-or-break” week for Republicans; the smart money is not on the “make” side.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Dems, Common Sense Score Small Victory

drivers-license

AP reports via the Fort Collins Coloradoan on the sort-of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to sort-of fund the existing program for driver licenses for undocumented immigrants on Colorado roadways:

A compromise to fund a Colorado program granting driver’s licenses to immigrants regardless of their legal status is heading to the governor’s desk…

The Senate gave unanimous approval to the deal Monday, sending it to Gov. John Hickenlooper. The House had already approved it.

The revenue department initially asked for $166,000 to keep open five offices that handle the licenses, and potentially expand the program. Lawmakers readjusted the request to $66,000, allowing for three offices to be open.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

The dispute over funding this program, in the end, was hurting Republicans politically more than it was helping them. After the Joint Budget Committee Republicans led by strident anti-immigrant Sen. Kent Lambert blocked the funding request for this program, the debate shifted from one of immigration policy to one of functional government. Because the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses was already on the books, and Republicans did not have the majority needed to repeal it, starving the program of funds was broadly condemned as improper and out of character for Colorado. By reducing the number of driver license offices that could process these applications to one for the entire state, an intentionally broken process would have resulted. Responsible lawmakers aren’t supposed to do that, even if it seems like the norm in Washington, D.C. these days.

So what you have here is a partial win for Democrats and immigrant rights groups, salvaging something like a functional program, and giving hope that the clear public safety benefits of licensing undocumented immigrants–with the attendant testing and insurance compliance requirements in order to drive legally–can still be achieved. Whoever it was among the Republican legislative leadership who decided to pull the plug on this ill-advised grandstand made a wise but belated decision.

Because it would be a lot better to do that before getting beat up in the press.