Get More Smarter on Friday (April 10)

So it’s not technically a “Good Friday.” We’ll take it anyway. 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…

► Democrat Hillary Clinton will officially launch her campaign on Sunday, April 12, with an online video! Polling numbers are all over the place, which makes sense given that it is April 2015.

► Colorado business groups are backing a proposed ballot reform measure that would make it harder to reform the ballot — which is not a bad idea. As the Denver Business Journal explains:

Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 — introduced late Wednesday by Sens. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Pat Steadman, D-Denver — would require a majority of voters in a statewide general election to approve any proposed constitutional amendment before it is then resubmitted on a statewide ballot the next year.

It also would require that state officials conduct public hearings about any proposed amendments in each of the state’s seven congressional districts before the second round of voting on the question.

► The State House gave final approval to “The Long Bill,” despite a litany of silly objections from House Republicans. The discussion now heads back to the Senate to work out differences over the $26 billion budget proposal.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 9)

According to a scientist from NASA, we will have proof of alien life in less than 20 years; make your own joke. 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 House will likely take a final vote on Colorado’s $25-26 billion proposed budget. 

► Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced his campaign for President on Tuesday. As the Washington Post reports, things went downhill from there:

In a series of interviews after the freshman senator from Kentucky declared his candidacy on Tuesday, Paul turned prickly — briskly sidestepping tough foreign policy questions from one journalist, lecturing another on how to conduct an interview, and testily declining to clarify his position on abortion…

…the rocky media rollout of his presidential effort highlighted a key question facing him now: whether the same tough approach that has made him a favorite among tea party activists and libertarians might be limiting in a national campaign, as he looks to build a broader coalition rich with voters from beyond his base.

At least Paul still has hope that he can change Kentucky laws to allow him to simultaneously run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

► Senate Republicans voted to kill a bill that would have stopped “Pray the Gay Away” pseudo-therapy sessions for kids in Colorado. Yesterday, President Obama denounced the idea of “gay conversion.”

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Senate GOP Upholds “Pray The Gay Away” Pseudo-Therapy

State Sen. Owen Hill.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the death of legislation to prohibit widely discredited gay-to-straight “conversion therapy” for children under age 18, with Republicans on the Senate State Affairs “kill committee” voting as expected:

The controversial therapy, sometimes also called reparative therapy, is something that most major mental health professional groups have denounced as harmful to children, said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who introduced HB1175 with Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, two of seven openly gay members of the Colorado Legislature.

“We are not telling people what they can preach on Sunday or what they can say on the street corner on a soapbox on Monday,” Steadman told the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which killed the measure on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Republicans on the panel voting against it, including its chairman, Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction.

“People are free to say whatever demeaning, demoralizing, judgmental things they want to say about people who are LGBT (lesbian gay, bisexual, or transgender) or questioning their sexual orientation. That’s their free-speech right. They can go be as big a jerk as they want to,” Steadman said. “But when it comes to practicing psychotherapy … the state has an interest in making sure that people are not harmed.”

House Bill 15-1175 passed the Democratic-controlled Colorado House with the support of one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction. The case against this kind of “therapy” is probably best made by experts at the American Psychological Association, which condemns gay-to-straight conversion therapy as a harmful solution in search of a problem:

The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing the effects of societal stigmatization discussed…

Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.

Religious right organizations like Focus on the Family have heavily promoted conversion therapy as “treatment” for the orientation/preference/condition/disease of being gay, even as mainstream psychology has moved away from the underlying supposition that gayness is a condition that needs to be treated. But far from being responsive to these changes, Republican politicians will probably be the last in our society to accept that being gay is not a malady:

“I am hesitant to use the heavy hand of government to take away the dignity of choice in cases where individuals want this therapy,” Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said in a statement after the vote.

What we’re talking about here, of course, is prohibiting the use of this “therapy” on children who may not have a choice at all. For whom a parent’s desire to “cure” their child may actually become abusive. We understand that this argument might not break perfectly along partisan lines with the voting public, but politically, it’s an issue that forces lawmakers to disclose how they really feel about gays and lesbians on a pretty basic level.

And folks, there’s still a lot of intolerance out there.

Laura Woods Pushes “Gregory Golyansky Assistance Act”

Sen. Laura Woods, former gun dealer Gregory Golyansky.

Sen. Laura Woods, former gun dealer Gregory Golyansky.

A bill up for debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Senate Bill 15-181, focuses on the rules for court-appointed receivers who take charge of assets during a bankruptcy proceeding or other lawsuit. Sponsored by hard-right Sen. Laura Waters Woods (R-RMGO), this legislation isn’t as interesting for what it does as who is supporting it.

The chief public proponent of SB15-181 is a figure our longtime readers will know well–although some may express surprise that he is still involved in Colorado politics at all. Gregory Golyansky, president of the conservative Colorado Union of Taxpayers, wrote an opinion piece for the Complete Colorado blog making the case for Sen. Woods’ bill:

My business of 16 years has been destroyed. I am unable to get the key to enter my own building. The court-appointed receiver is confiscating all the income from my real estate and using it, I know not how. In three years, he has not given an accounting of moneys collected, dispersed, or spent. The judge refuses to set any date for the dismissal of the receiver, and I am not even allowed to appeal any of these miscarriages of justice.

All of this has happened under Colorado’s existing receivership law, which as currently written allows both judges and receivers almost unlimited power over a person’s property.

The hopeful news is that Colorado State Sen. Laura Woods, along with nine other legislators, has introduced Senate Bill 181, which would reform the state’s existing receivership law and give the people more rights when under a receivership…

What Golyansky fails to mention here, among many other details, is the nature of at least one business he ran. An investigative report in the Denver Post revealed that Golyansky’s pawn shop business ABC Loan was a major source of illegal guns acquired by “straw purchasers” to be resold on the street and often used in crimes. David Olinger of the Post reported that an incredible 40% of multiple gun purchases traceable to criminal arrests in the state of Colorado were made at Golyansky’s pawn shop during the period it was in business. Guns sold by Golyansky were found at crime scenes from Colorado to Los Angeles. In 2005, one recipient of those guns was convicted in a triple murder in Aurora.

Despite his well-publicized connections to illegal guns and violent crime, Golyansky has somehow remained a credible player in Colorado conservative politics as the head of the CUT. And he’s been no less of a liability: in 2011, Golyansky was widely condemned, even by embarrassed Republican allies, after referring to government employees as “scum” and the “stormtroopers of communism.”

We have no idea how Golyansky manages to keep himself ingratiated with far-right conservative politicos like Ken Buck, Shawn Mitchell, and now Sen. Woods. But suffice to say, Golyansky is not someone any politician with a sense of self-preservation should be sharing a spotlight with. 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 8)

Only five games left in this disaster of an NBA season for the Denver Nuggets, but at least they have a decent chance at the #1 overall pick in the draft. 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” is on its way to the House floor as the legislature tries to agree on a $26 billion state budget.

► Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spent some time in Colorado yesterday not running for President in 2016. Though Bush hasn’t formally announced that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination, he sure picked up a lot of press for his visit to the 38th state. Colorado Republicans, meanwhile, are not sold on Bush as a candidate for President.

► Who wants to buy a $1.7 billion, incomplete hospital? Anyone? Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, suggested that the federal government might try to sell the still-being-constructed VA Hospital in Aurora.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 7)

The Colorado Rockies are still undefeated. 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…

► Colorado lawmakers are digging deeper into the issue of standardized testing in public schools. Strange things are afoot at the State Board of Education, meanwhile.

► Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul formally announced his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination today, telling supporters in Louisville (KY) that he is a “different kind of Republican” and framing himself as a Washington D.C. outsider. A “new kind of Republican,” eh? That sounds familiar… 

► Since we’re on the topic of Presidential candidates, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in Colorado today to get all chummy with executives from the oil and gas industry.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Once Again: Obamacare Audit Yes, Political Grandstand No

obamacares

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports on the signing last Friday of a bill to comprehensively audit Connect For Health Colorado, the state’s “Obamacare” health insurance marketplace responsible for significantly reducing the rate of uninsured in Colorado:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed into law a bill ordering a functional audit of Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official health insurance exchange.

SB 19 authorizes the state auditor to investigate the performance of the “operation, contract management, project management, and performance of the shared eligibility system and any other related or corresponding state systems in order to ensure a complete and thorough audit of the operation of the exchange.”

Confusion over systems that are shared between the state and the quasi-governmental exchange ran rampant as people fell into glitches that botched subsidies and canceled automatic renewals of health plans.

Although Connect For Health Colorado has been a success story overall, signing up tens of thousands of Coloradans for new health coverage and helping reduce the rate of uninsured in Colorado from 17% to only 11%, some legitimate issues have cropped up regarding glitches in the signup system that interrupted coverage for a small percentage of policyholders. There’s a continuous need to sort out legitimate issues with anything related to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, from conservative hysterics and misinformation, but investigations from 9NEWS’ Rittiman and a few others have uncovered real problems that require attention–maybe not from Republicans who want to use any pretext to destroy the system altogether, but definitely from Democrats who want to make the marketplace work.

Senate Republicans introduced the audit bill and were upset when Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives killed a companion bill which would have also given lawmakers power over bonuses paid to executives with the exchange.

Some Republicans tried to go a step beyond that and kill the exchange altogether.

Giving lawmakers and excuse to grandstand on an annual basis over bonuses for exchange employees serves no functional purpose: only a partisan political one. The difference between essentially trolling the overall highly successful health insurance marketplace every year, compared to legislation to constructively identify and solve legitimate problems that have arisen–which Democrats supported along with Republicans and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Friday–should be obvious.

If it’s not, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your motives.

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.

—–

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