Marilyn Marks: She’s Everywhere You Want To Be

Marilyn Marks.

Marilyn Marks.

A name that keeps popping up in coverage of debate over a local elections bill in the Colorado legislature is former Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks, who increasingly seems to be a central player in GOP efforts to "crack down" on supposed "vote fraud." As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reported Monday evening:

One of the state's most tenacious and controversial poll watchers – Marilyn Marks – sat on the Senate floor during debate Monday in opposition to HB1164. Marks and her advocacy group The Citizen Center have been in the middle of controversies in Pueblo County and in Broomfield during election results tabulation and recounting.

Ulibarri wouldn't say whether the change in law was in response to conflicts with Marks, but he did say it was inappropriate for Marks – a lobbyist in all but official registration – to be sitting with Republicans helping to draft amendments.

"I wish I were a lobbyist because then someone would be paying me for what I'm doing," Marks said, adding she was invited to the Senate floor by several lawmakers.

"I was responding to their invitation," she said.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols adds:

Marilyn Marks, the Aspen activist known for fighting mail ballots — her lawsuit successfully challenging the election law Democrats passed last year to require that all voters receive mail ballots resulted in mail ballots being tossed out during two recall elections last September — may have been a driving force behind the sudden GOP opposition to the proposal.

Marks was seated on the Senate floor during Monday morning’s debate, as a guest of one of the Republican lawmakers.

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri's concern about Mark's murky status while a "guest" on the Senate floor Monday appears to have sound basis in Senate rules, which read thusly:

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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.

The Pueblo Chieftain Crosses The Line…Again

SATURDAY UPDATE: The Chieftain's Peter Roper attempts to correct the record in a new story today:

Colorado’s new law on background checks on individual gun sales allows family members to loan each other guns for unlimited periods, the legal staff for Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday.

A news story about a Colorado Senate committee meeting earlier this week mistakenly reported those indefinite loans were not allowed.

The reporter made the mistake based on inaccurate information given in interviews.

Roper claims that former Sen. Angela Giron "confirmed" Victor Head's false claim that House Bill 13-1229 prevented indefinite loans of guns between immediate family members. Whatever may have happened there, there is only one "confirmation" that matters, and only one that Roper should have relied on–the unambiguous language of the bill itself. We don't accept that as an excuse for yet another instance of blatantly false reporting from the Pueblo Chieftain, but we do appreciate the correction–and we sincerely hope this lie doesn't get repeated ever again.

—–

UPDATE #2: Media Matters for America rips the Chieftain's false reporting:

More than six months after two Colorado state senators were recalled over their support for stronger gun safety legislation, Colorado newspaper The Pueblo Chieftain continues to push false information to defend supporters of the recall.

Controversy in Colorado has erupted over the February 3 testimony of primary recall organizer Victor Head before the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. In calling for the repeal of a 2013 law that created a requirement for background checks on most gun sales, Head testified that he gathered recall petition signatures by telling people that the background check law would prohibit firearms loans between immediate family members for longer than 72 hours without a background check.

In fact, Colorado's background check law allows "a bona fide gift or loan" without a background check "between immediate family members, which are limited to spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles" with no time limit. State Democratic Sen. Angela Giron — one of the two senators targeted by Head for recall — was responsible for authoring this family exemption.

—–

UPDATE: A statement from the Colorado Senate Majority Office attempts to set the record straight:

Misinformation has been shared this week, by a member of the public and in a news report, regarding the 2013 law (HB 13-1229) requiring background checks for private gun transfers. To clarify, when a gun is given as a bona fide gift or indefinite loan to immediate family members, a background check is NOT required. The 72-hour limitation on loans applies to anyone who is not an immediate family member as defined in the law. [Pols emphasis]

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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

 

 

Pueblo Recall Organizer Admits Lying To Petition Signers

Victor Head.

Victor Head.

​We've edited and posted a section of audio below that everyone needs to listen to. This was recorded about four hours into Monday's testimony in the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee on Senate Bill 14-094, the bill to repeal last year's landmark universal background check law for private gun sales and transfers. Speaking this this clip is Victor Head, the plumber-turned-political organizer who "spearheaded" the successful recall of Sen. Angela Giron last September. Head is now a candidate for Pueblo County Clerk.

According to Head's own testimony, he obtained at least some of those petition signatures by lying to the signers.

Transcript follows after the jump. To summarize, Mr. Head starts by claiming that his problem isn't with background checks on gun sales, but with private transfers. Head then gives examples: of his brother and his mother, both of whom he claims he would have to perform a background check on to "loan" a gun to them for over 72 hours.

The problem is, that's just not true. Family members are totally exempt from the requirements of HB13-1229.

But it gets even worse, as Head doubles down on his mistake under "friendly" questioning from GOP Sen. Ted Harvey:

I changed a lot of people's minds by making that contrast. The statistics are potentially right, although I'm aways leery of statistics, that we keep hearing, 80% of Coloradans, you know support background checks for sales, or 90% nationwide. You talk to people and they'll say 'yeah, absolutely,' and then when you tell them, 'okay that's a sale, but what about a transfer, you know, from you to your brother or whatever, they do a 180. [Pols emphasis] Instantly. They say 'well wait a minute, you're talking just loaning it?' And I say 'yeah, that's what the legislation says.' And they would say, 'well sign me up, that's not okay.' That was the overreach…

Not only did Mr. Head admit to giving out false information in order to obtain recall petition signatures against Giron, he exposes the underlying senselessness of the whole effort. You see, folks, Sen. Angela Giron was the sponsor of a key amendment to HB13-1229, #L.028, which created the exemption in the law for family members. That is, the very issue Head claims to be upset about.

Oops.

It doesn't matter if this was simply ignorance or a deliberate deception. After garnering praise from almost everyone, even from this blog for running a tight ship with the recall petition drive, now we know that Victor Head's "success" in bringing the recall of Sen. Giron to the ballot was at least partly the result of lies. By Head's own admission, he changed minds in that recall petition drive by telling undecided voters something that wasn't true. On any objective level, that is a travesty, and every single person who lived through last year's recalls needs to understand it.

Starting with the voters in Pueblo Head lied to–and whose vote he intends to ask for again this November.

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Democrats Stand Their Ground On Background Checks

Sheriff Andy Taylor and his deputy,

Sheriff Andy Taylor and his deputy, “Crazy Gun Barney” Fife.

​FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on yesterday's all-day debate in the Colorado Senate State Affairs committee over Senate Bill 14-094, Sen. George Rivera's (R-Recall) bill to repeal last year's universal background check law for gun purchases:

Republicans, having gained two senate seats last fall from recall elections sparked by a backlash to the Democratic gun bills, are pushing several bills this year ostensibly aimed at repealing the laws enacted last year and keeping the issue front and center heading into this fall’s election, a more attainable goal.

Democrats, now holding just a one-seat majority in the state senate, sought to improve the legislative process this time around, allowing several hours for everyone in the chamber to testify on the record after complaints about last year, when Democrats scheduled all seven gun bills in two committees on the same day.

And a year after watching GOP opponents dominate debate on these bills, Democrats vigorously defended the policy itself, aggressively cross-examining Republicans looking to scrap the new law and offering a number of statistics to demonstrate that background checks on private sales are working.

“Over 100 criminals and other dangerous persons have been denied the purchase of guns in private sales,” said Eileen McCarron, the director of Colorado Ceasefire, at a press conference before Senate Bill 94 was heard by the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Last year, Senate leadership scheduled all seven of the principal gun safety bills under consideration for debate all on a single day, March 4th. This resulted in an enormous crush of witnesses waiting to testify against the bills, marshaled to the Capitol by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other pro-gun groups. Outside, more pro-gun protesters circled the building honking their horns continuously. We can't say in hindsight that jamming all of these bills into a single day's calendar was a good idea. In addition to inflaming passions in the crowd of "witnesses" set to testify, that decision gave Republicans a process-based rallying cry which allowed them to reach conservative voters who aren't as passionate about guns.

And folks, the throngs of angry, ignorant Joe Six-Packs really don't add much to the debate. Lawmakers can't say it, of course, but we will. Listening to a dozen (or hundred) gratingly inarticulate citizens recite the same fact-challenged or logically fallacious arguments from the same emailed script does, to put it charitably, very little to illuminate a discussion. If you have nothing meaningful to add, it's a waste of everyone's time.

Interestingly, however, by the end of yesterday's long hearing, pro-gun testimony wasn't even the majority.

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Background Check Repeal Hearing Monday

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Audio of the hearing here:
http://coloradoga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=5

MONDAY POLS UPDATE: A statement from Rep. Rhonda Fields today via Stand Strong Colorado:

State Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) welcomed representatives from Stand Strong Colorado to the Capitol today in support of the common sense gun laws passed in the 2013 legislative session. She thanked supporters for standing strong in support of the bill she carried to expand background checks to private gun sales.

Rep. Fields took aim at the blatant fear-mongering and lies advanced by the gun lobby. “They’re saying we’re banning private gun sales. That’s a lie,” she said. “Since the 2013 law went into effect more than 6,000 private gun sales have gone through the CBI. 98 percent of those sales went through without a hitch. Those are the facts. They’re saying we’re limiting gun transfers among family members. That’s a lie. The 2013 law explicitly says a gun owner may give a gun or loan a gun to a family member.  Those are the facts.”

We'll update with coverage from today's hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Original post follows.

—–

Senator George Rivera, having bungled the first rollout of his background check repeal bill SB 14-094 by not meeting the deadline, is trying again Monday, and is hoping that this time, the law will make it out of Committee.  

 The bill is not likely to make it out of the State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, often known as the “kill committee”. Megan Schrader reported in the Gazette that advocates for and against repeal of the background check law will be testifying tomorrow, February 3, at 1:30 PM in SB room 353. Senate President Morgan Carroll has pledged to allow everyone who shows up at committee hearings to testify.

Therefore, the Capitol is likely to be a nonstop media circus tomorrow. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is  activating its base to testify for Rivera’s bill. RMGO’s Facebook page pleads:

It’s very important that gun owners turn out for the hearing in large numbers. If gun owners don’t show up, it will only embolden the left.

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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.  

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.