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.

They’re Just Not Serious

Sens. Ted Harvey and Greg Brophy at a GOP press conference yesterday.

Sens. Ted Harvey and Greg Brophy at a GOP press conference yesterday.

Yesterday, Colorado Senate Republicans held a press conference to complain that a "disproportionate" number of their bills are being sent to the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, known as the "kill committee" for its longstanding role in presiding over the death of bills unfavored by majority leadership. Since this is a longstanding and routine practice that in fact originated during Republican control of the legislature, it was a strange bit of political theater–even stranger on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman's bizarre freak-out, and confused non-apology, over what turned out to be his own mistake about "deadlines" for a given piece of legislation.

After the press conference, as the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover reports, the "kill committee" went to work:

[W]hile Republicans are likely to continue to scream about partisanship based on those vote numbers, there also was an interesting twist to Wednesday’s action. On both of the bills, businesses who testified sided with the Democrats.

That was slightly apparent in the case of SB 40, an attempt by Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, to let Coloradans buy insurance policies that are sold in other states. The Colorado Association of Health Plans testified that out-of-state companies that are less regulated would be able to register a subsidiary in-state and put Colorado insurers at a market disadvantage. With Brophy bringing no witnesses to speak for SB 40, it died… [Pols emphasis]

It's critical that this be fully understood. After complaining that GOP bills are being "unfairly" killed, Sen. Greg Brophy brought his legislation to gut state-level consumer protections for health insurance to the State Affairs Committee with no witnesses. Whatever Brophy may think of his legislation being routed to this committee, how can he possibly complain about his bill dying when he made no effort to pass it?

As Sealover continues, Brophy wasn't the only one:

It was even more interesting in the case of SB 35, sponsored by Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, to overturn the 2013 bill that requires rural electric cooperatives to double their renewable-energy portfolio to 20 percent by 2020. Major business organizations joined forces with several of those cooperatives in 2013 to oppose the measure — and made enough noise that when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed it into law, he also appointed a committee to examine whether there are areas in the law that need to be fixed.

On Wednesday, however, the only businesses that come to the Senate committee room to testify were renewable energy companies and industry organizations asking that the law be kept in place… [Pols emphasis]

What can be said about Republicans who hold a press conference to complain about their bills being killed, and then march into the committee hearing the bills totally unprepared to argue for them?

Republicans are right about one thing: this isn't business as usual. In only one week, this legislative session, especially for Republicans in the Colorado Senate, has descended into rank absurdity and baseless theatrics–maybe unlike anything we've seen in all our years covering "Gold Dome High School." What's worse is that these theatrics rely on their target audience not knowing the facts. How many who read the extensive coverage of Cadman's meltdown Tuesday saw the follow-up where he so grudgingly admits he was wrong? How many who heard about yesterday's press conference on the TV news or today's paper know these Senators were making no real attempt to pass the legislation they were complaining isn't getting a "fair hearing?"

The only thing "disproportionate" here is the nonsense. It's objectively ridiculous. It needs to be called out.

BREAKING: Democrats To Probably Kill Republican Bills, Republicans Very Unhappy About It

gopkillcmtewhinefestFrom left: Sens. Owen Hill, Ted Harvey, Vicki Marble, Greg Brophy, Kevin Lundberg, George Rivera, and Kent Lambert. Photo by Colorado Senate GOP

Oh my stars!

Oh my stars!

In a remarkable press conference at noon today in the Colorado Capitol press room, Republican Senators complained bitterly that many of their bills are being sent to the Senate State Affairs Committee, known as the "kill committee" for its longstanding role as the place majority leadership in both parties sends unwanted bills to die.

What's remarkable about this press conference, especially coming on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman's bizarre freak-out yesterday over what turned out to be absolutely nothing, is that Republicans are now complaining about one of the most routine practices in our legislature. Every majority in both the House and Senate regardless of party sends unfavored bills to the State Affairs committee. Sometimes a legislator does a really good job advocating, and they pass despite this–as they sometimes do in other committees. We've seen no evidence that any higher proportion of bills are being sent to "kill committee" this year than other years.

Either way, it does appear that this press conference to complain about a routine development is connected to Cadman's embarrassing tantrum yesterday. They are both petty, belligerent reactions, wholly out of proportion to actual events. Based on the response by even our fair-to-a-fault local political journalists, they are wildly overplaying their hand. Even relatively green reporters know better. If there is a strategy among Republicans to artificially ramp tensions to a fever pitch early in this year's session, they need to rethink it.

Because that only works if it's believable, folks.

Bill Cadman Freaks Out, Threatens Recall In Error Over Rules

WEDNESDAY UPDATE #3: Here's the video of what we can only describe as a rambling and not very apologetic Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman this morning, addressing his wrongheaded outburst yesterday against Senate President Morgan Carroll:

We're not sure what he's trying to say, but based on what we already know (below), it's fairly ridiculous. This is when most well-adjusted adults admit they were wrong, apologize and move on. But not Sen. Cadman. And not this election year.

—–

WEDNESDAY UPDATE #2: Cadman delivers a quasi-apology bizarre, rambling non-apology this morning, developing:

—–

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby:

Cadman caught just about everyone off-guard Tuesday when he went to the microphone in the Senate and spent more than 10 minutes haranguing Carroll and Heath for delaying the bill without telling him or Rivera that they planned to do so. Under Senate rules, however, the majority party has the right to schedule bills whenever they want [Pols emphasis] as long as they allow at least one official vote before the session ends in May.

—–

UPDATE #2: The Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader:

"Had I known that she would have done this, I would not have seconded her," Cadman said, referring to making a second motion to elect Carroll as president of the Senate on opening day of the session last week.

He even speculated some might start a recall effort in Carroll's district.

But as heated as the issue became Tuesday, the move to waive deadlines on Rivera's bill appears benign. [Pols emphasis]

Carroll said they always had every intention of introducing Rivera's bill and assigning a bill number to it, but simply wanted the flexibility to assign it to committee when there would be time to listen to what is sure to be a crush of public comment on the subject.

—–

UPDATE: We were just forwarded the scanned document you see immediately below from Senate Majority staff. This is being presented to us as incontrovertible evidence that Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman was wrong today in attacking Senate President Morgan Carroll over the introduction of a GOP bill to repeal last year's universal background check legislation.

billdeadlinesAt the top of the paper, highlighted for clarity by Senate staff, you can see two handwritten dates. These were reportedly written by nonpartisan legislative staffers. On the left is the deadline for submission by Senate majority staffers to the Senate Secretary–today at 1PM. At right is the corresponding deadline for the bill to be introduced on the Senate floor. As you can see, that deadline is tomorrow.

Presuming the validity of this document, and we have no reason not to, Cadman owes President Carroll a very humble apology. Right after that, he should explain to the House GOP, state Republican party, and all the blogs and right wing "news sites" running away with this story what really happened today.

Fat chance, we know.

—–

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on fireworks today in the Colorado Senate: it seems last Wednesday's spirit of "bipartisanship" couldn't even make it one week.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, lashed out at Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, accusing Democrats of purposefully delaying the introduction of legislation aiming to overturn the law passed last year expanding background checks to private gun sales and transfers…

“It ought to be an outrage. Maybe they’ll start a recall. [Pols emphasis] Because, frankly, if you’re willing to ignore the rules, you shouldn’t be enforcing them.”

We'll be curious to see if this principle gets invoked by Republicans on Colorado sheriffs ignoring laws they don't like. In this case, however, the problem, as Senate President Morgan Carroll responds, is that Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman's allegations simply aren't true:

Following Cadman’s press conference, Carroll told reporters that the legislation would be introduced by 1 p.m. Tuesday, which Democrats believed to be the deadline all along.

As of 1 p.m., the bill had been handed over to the Secretary of the Senate and will be officially introduced and assigned to a committee on Wednesday, according to Senate Democrats.

“Every bill’s going to get a full hearing, everyone’s going to get a chance to testify; we’ve done everything within the rules,” said Carroll, who told reporters she was surprised by Cadman’s “rant”.

 

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Are you a Tea-Party guy?

If you’re lucky enough to listen to conservative talk radio, instead of having a real job, you know that some GOP candidates are staying away from Tea-Party groups and radio shows, others are sliding up close to the Tea Party, and some Republicans are Tea-Party-Pure, fully embracing the Tea Party, without hesitation or protection.

Speaking KNUS’ Peter Boyles show this morning, GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck agreed with guest-host Chuck Bonniwell that establishment Republicans in Colorado are “clueless,” and Buck told listeners that he witnessed a “Tea Party” meeting, at which an unnamed Tea Party leader said that if Rep. Amy Stephens wins the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, “nobody in this room will vote for her, and nobody in this room will work for her.”

But Buck has his own limits as to how far he’ll go in hugging the Tea Party.

On another Tea-Party radio show yesterday, Buck stopped short of allowing himself to be called a “Tea-Party guy.”

On KLZ 560-AM’s “Wake Up” show yesterday, host Randy Corporon told Buck a story about a consultant advising a Republican candidate to stay away from the Tea Party. But, Corporan said to Buck, “you’re a Tea Party guy, aren’t you?”

Buck flinched.

“You know, I am a Republican candidate,” he answered. “I’m a conservative Republican candidate. I share many of the same values with the Tea Party, and I have to tell you, I am so disappointed when I look at DC and I see the infighting that’s going on in the Republican Party there–and some of the same tension here in Colorado. It makes absolutely no sense to me. If we fight amongst ourselves in Colorado, we don’t stand any chance of winning an election against the Democrats. They are much more disciplined and united. And so while certainly I have disagreements with other Tea-Party candidates–heck my wife and I don’t agree on what to eat for dinner–it doesn’t mean we don’t get along. But I certainly believe in the core values of the Tea Party and 9-12 groups in Colorado.

Listen to Buck (on KLZ radio) discuss whether he’s a Tea-Party candidate

Buck first doesn’t say he’s a Tea-Party guy, and then he sort of does so when he says he sometimes disagrees with “other Tea-Party candidates.”

So it seems that Buck himself might have Tea-Party identity issues. Maybe he’s not so Tea-Party-Pure, even as he attacks Stephens for ranking low on the Tea-Party scale. Who is Tea-Party-Pure?

Which Republicans will say they’re a Tea Party candidate? It’s a good question, and KLZ’z Corporon was smart to ask it.

Partial Transcript of Buck on KNUS this morning:

Bonniwell: I think the establishment Republicans in Colorado are as clueless as they are nationally. They just don’t get it, and having as their candidate someone who would push Amycare. I mean, that’s the best they can do, really? Wow.

Buck: I agree with you, and I don’t just agree with you because I’m running against Amy. I was at a Tea Party meeting several weeks ago, and Ryan Call was talking about Amy. And the head of the Tea Party grabbed the microphone and said, ‘Let me explain something. If Amy wins the primary, nobody in this room will vote for her, and nobody in this room will work for her.’ We are not going to send Republicans back to Washington DC to act like Democrats. And I think that’s just a very strong part of the conservative ethos.

Sen. Vicki Marble, Marijuana, and Public Assistance: Expliqué

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post explains, we've got it all wrong about Sen. Vicki Marble and Senate Bill 14-037, the bill to stop public assistance cards for food stamps, etc. from being used at Colorado marijuana stores:

It had the makings of must-read story: a Republican lawmaker believes a faux news report that Colorado's pot shops are accepting food stamps and introduces a bill to outlaw the practice.

Only here's the catch:

The satire was written after Colorado marijuana dispensaries opened for business on Jan. 1. Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins began working on her bill in August.

She produced an e-mail dated Sept. 4 from one of the legislature's attorneys, who was writing her bill.

After the Douglas County Republican Party helped spread the spoof story that food stamp funds were being used to buy marijuana, the introduction of Senate Bill 14-037 by Sen. Marble and a pack of Republican House members was pretty much guaranteed to provoke a round of gut-busting laughter from Democrats. The possibility, and as it turns out fact, that the legislation was authored well before spoof "news" sites began fictionalizing the consequences of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado had occurred to us. It was our understanding that adult dance clubs were already barred from accepting public assistance cards, but apparently Sen. Marble's bill addresses that as well.

As we've previously explained, federal food stamp funds can only be used to buy specific food products from approved retailers. Other assistance funds, however, like Social Security disability payments, can hypothetically be used anywhere as cash, which has led to legislation in Colorado restricting their use at liquor stores and casinos. In 2012, President Barack Obama signed federal legislation requiring all states to restrict the use of cash fund cards at "casinos, liquor stores, and retail establishments which provide adult-oriented entertainment" or face penalties. Obviously, marijuana isn't included in that list as it's already illegal under federal law.

In short, Sen. Vicki Marble, the Republican who gave the world "chicken-gate" just last year, wants to reassure the public that she came up with this legislation on her own–and not, as you may have been led to believe, as a product of a fake news story. And as it turns out, though it bears a comedic resemblance to said fake news story, her bill may not be quite as wacky as first thought–even though Marble’s motivations for leading this particular charge, in light of her history, can certainly be debated. In any event, we are obliged and pleased to correct the record.

Urban Myth Becomes “Clown Car Caucus” Legislation

ebtcard_sign

Last Tuesday, we took note of a spoof story on a satire "news site," The National Report, hilariously breaking the scandalous news of food stamps being accepted at Colorado's new retail marijuana stores:

“If you are a tax payer in Colorado, you get to pay for welfare recipients, a majority of whom are Democrats of course, to smoke pot now,” stated Denver resident Paul Horner.  ”Where will this all end?  First it was Obamaphones, then Obamacare, now Obamaweed?  Will we be paying for tattoos, manicures, body piercings, gay marriages and porn next?”

Store owner JC Franco defended his decision to accept EBT cards in an interview with National Report:  “Everyone should have access to marijuana. If a user is not able to afford their buds on a limited budget then having taxpayers help cover the shortage is only fair.  This isn’t a right only for the wealthy.”

So, as most readers of this piece were quickly able to determine, this didn't really happen. The National Report's website clearly disclaims that "all news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news." Unfortunately for the Douglas County Republican Party, as we discussed Tuesday, this story was lifted and reprinted on a number of real, non-spoof conservative websites as fact. It subsequently picked up with no disclaimer by lots of conservatives, including the Douglas County GOP's Twitter feed. It was our assumption that a little good-natured ribbing of our gullible friends in Douglas County would be the end of it.

weedopenBut as AP's Kristen Wyatt reports via CBS4, that's not the end of the story after all!

Food stamps for a pot brownie? It’s an urban myth in Colorado, but state lawmakers want to make sure that doesn’t happen. [Pols emphasis]

A bill proposed this week by several Republicans would add marijuana dispensaries to liquor stores, gun shops and casinos as places where recipients of public assistance payments and food stamps can’t use their electronic benefits cards to access cash.

There haven’t been any reports of public EBT cards being used at marijuana dispensaries. But lawmakers say pot shops should be added to the law to make clear it’s not legal.

“We need this bill, if for nothing else, as a statement,” said Rep. Jared Wright, R-Grand Junction… [Pols emphasis]

That's right, folks! Senate Bill 14-037 is actual legislation meant to ensure a satirical news story never "comes true." Senate Bill 37's sole Senate sponsor is the infamous Sen. Vicki Marble. In the House, the bill is sponsored by pretty much the entire "clown car" caucus of downright wacky and frequently-embarrassing GOP representatives: Reps. Jared Wright, Dan Nordberg, Perry Buck, Steve Humphrey, and Lori Saine. If they could just get Bob Gardner and Janak Joshi to sign on, it would be pretty much a perfect caricature.

Dispensary owners say they’ve been debunking rumors about food stamp use in marijuana shops.

According to Wyatt, the Marijuana Industry Group hasn't yet taken a position on Senate Bill 37. To be fair, they also haven't taken a position we've seen on the Daily Currant's shocking headline from last week, "Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization." There are probably a few other spoof stories about marijuana in Colorado they haven't taken a stand on. Which makes sense once you know they're fake.

Back in reality, only specific qualifying food items can be purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds. Retailers who want to accept these funds must apply and be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We feel pretty confident that any licensed retail marijuana merchant who tried to accept SNAP funds for the purchase of marijuana, or anything containing it, would be frog-marched to the federal prison in Englewood faster than you can say "pass the bong." With lines around the block full of eager buyers with pockets full of cash, the idea that any marijuana retailer would need or want to try this is simply laughable.

With that said, AP reports that recipients of Social Security for Disability and certain other assistance funds that are deposited to the same account can be used essentially as cash for those funds–our understanding is that items are allotted to different funding pools from the same card at the point of sale. This has led to legislation prohibiting these cards being used at casinos and liquor stores. Those aren't "food stamp" funds at all, of course, but the outrage a good conservative feels at the mere thought of public assistance funds being spent in such disreputable places motivated them to be absolutely certain those immoral entitlees use an ATM across the street.

We suppose that alone might give this bill some pro forma utility–a "statement," like Rep. Wright says. What urban myth do you suppose our intrepid "clown car" caucus should tackle next? We open the floor to suggestions.

Sen. George Rivera Flip-Flops On Paying For Recalls

Sen. George Rivera (R).

Sen. George Rivera (R).

The Pueblo Chieftain's Jeff Tucker reported a few days ago, and we wanted to make sure got mentioned:

Pueblo County has said the cost of conducting a recall election in November pushed past $200,000.

Now the man who replaced then-state Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, in the election is considering finding support at the capitol to help the county cover some of those costs…

On Friday, [Sen. George] Rivera, a Republican, said it makes sense to try.

You'll recall that Democrats defending former Sen. Angela Giron from her recall tried to use the cost of holding a recall special election–costs borne by the counties where the elections are held–as a reason to motivate voters to decline to sign recall petitions.

At the time, that didn't sit very well with then-candidate George Rivera:

Rivera said there has been a lot of discussion regarding the cost and need for a recall election.

“There are a lot of people out there who will say that we can’t afford it,” he said. “But what are your rights worth? You can’t put a figure on that.”

And so there's no confusion about where Rivera stood during the recall election:

Rivera claims Democrats raised a phony issue this summer [Pols emphasis] in protesting the estimated $186,000 cost of the recall election. He called that a small price for protecting the right to recall elected officials if necessary.

Well, folks, now that George Rivera has gone from insurgent recall successor candidate to incumbent Colorado Senator, it seems making nice with local government–even raising their "phony issue" at the Capitol–is the thing to do! After all, the cost of a special election is quite significant, and could certainly be a decision making factor in future recall elections. But given that recalls are supposed to be local affairs, is it possible that's the way it should be? Why should the state cover the costs of a "local grassroots" recall election? Do we really want recalls to be an easy, no-consequence free-for-all?

In Rivera's case, recall was his ticket to office–so it makes sense that he would want to see it paid for by somebody who won't notice as much. But a hypocritical flip-flop after winning one recall isn't how we'd recommend to grease the skids for the next one.

Local Media Disses Senate President Morgan Carroll

A man's the boss...

A man’s the boss, but a woman is just bossy.

Today, history was made again as Morgan Carroll was sworn in as President of the Colorado Senate after a unanimous 35-0 vote. Carroll's nomination was seconded by GOP Minority Leader Bill Cadman, and none of the once-rumored treachery against Carroll ever materialized. The Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reports this afternoon:

"We are here united to serve one goal; to diligently act as public servants to the people of Colorado," said Senate President Morgan Carroll, moments after the Aurora Democrat was unanimously voted into the position by Democrats and Republicans alike. "Our job is to pave the way so Coloradans have the freedom to succeed. I have every reason to believe that we can and will work together to accomplish that end."

…In her speech, Carroll said the Senate would be supportive of the measure and also of removing red tape so local communities can quickly repair roads and bridges.

"Who wants to pay property taxes on a home that has been destroyed?" she asked.

But for Carroll, the top bill in the Senate is one that calls for a $100 million investment in higher education. Senate Bill 1 also would pay for merit-based and need-based scholarships, Carroll said.

Listening to President Carroll's speech today, we found it to be heartfelt and constructive in tone. The agenda laid out was modest, and we didn't detect any partisan animosity whatsoever. Here's the full text of Carroll's speech courtesy the Denver Business Journal.

What we can't figure out, though, is what speech some Colorado political reporters were listening to.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

In a speech full of feminist undertones, Carroll, the second woman elected senate president, described the importance of creating opportunities, especially for women… [Pols emphasis]

Folks, in the printed transcripts of President Carroll's remarks, a speech that lasted over half an hour, the words "women" or "woman" only appear four times. Carroll does say that for her mother, "freedom was an education," and told a story about her mother being slapped for insisting she would "be her own boss." But the opportunities Carroll talked of created were not "especially for women." Affordable college tuition is not a "feminist" issue. Neither is rural broadband, or business property tax. And–this may come as a shock if you have no children–men benefit from child care too! Above all, conjuring up an image of "bra burning" radical feminism, which by the way is also an urban myth, is a ridiculous and offensive stereotype. It's even worse applied wholly undeserved to the second female Senate President in this state's history.

One of the prerequisites of a job in politics is thick skin, and since these are reporters that elected officials rely on to cover their work, President Carroll will most likely not choose to take issue with these insults. But in this case, local members of the media–even Eli Stokols, whom we generally consider to be a good reporter–let their prejudices get away from them today. And we think that should not go unanswered.

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Any Wonder Why Colorado Legislature is More Effective than Congress?

With approval ratings for Congress at an all-time low (as in, no other organization has ever been so disliked in the history of polling), it's safe to say that the public is not particularly enamored with Republican House Leadership trying to spin as a positive the fact that they don't do anything. And coming off a record year of doing-nothingness, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is actually planning to do even less. From the New York Times:

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, is quietly playing down expectations for any major legislative achievements in the final year of the 113th Congress, which passed fewer laws in its first year — 65 — than any single session on record. The calendar, drawn up to maximize campaign time ahead of midterm elections in November, is bare bones, with the House in session just 97 days before Election Day, the last on Oct. 2, and 112 days in all.

In 2013, the House was in session 118 days before November and 135 in all.

In other words, the House is not even going to end up working a full year in 24 months, which is all by Republican design. Democrat Irv Halter, who is challenging Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn in CD-5, issued a statement this week criticizing the decision:

"When I was active duty in the Air Force, I didn't work for 97 days a year and then call it quits, but that seems to be a full year for Congressman Lamborn.  Spending time campaigning instead of addressing our problems is an embarrassment for our district, our state and this great nation."

The U.S. House may end up working just 112 days in 2014. The Colorado Legislature, which opens today, is in session through early May for a total of 120 calendar days. To be clear, all legislators aren't going to work full eight-hour days on the weekends, but many probably will come close. Depending on scheduling, the Colorado Legislature will likely do more work in 4 months than the U.S. House will do in a full year.

2013′s Top Story: The GOP (Temporarily) Strikes Back

DSC00018

The 2012 elections sounded another new low for the Colorado Republican Party. Angered by the GOP state house majority's extraordinary measures to kill LGBT civil union legislation at the end of the 2012 session, voters threw out the single-seat Republican majority, restoring Democrats to full control of the General Assembly by a healthy margin. The 2010 round of legislative reapportionment is considered by most observers to have gone badly for Republicans as well, with a large number of newly competitive districts ill-suited to the staunch conservative candidates favored by the GOP primary process.

With the exception of the 2010 "Republican wave" election, in which Republicans still fell short of their goals but managed to take the state house by a single seat, the GOP has been losing elections in Colorado since 2004. The reversal of Republican fortunes from their dominance in the late Nineties through 2002 to Democratic dominance at every level of state government since then has been the subject of books like Blueprint by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer. Safe to say, the past decade has been very, very tough for the morale of Colorado Republicans.

And then last year, an opportunity to strike back presented itself.

manholdingwomensignIn the wake of mass shootings in 2012 in Aurora, Colorado and in Newtown, Connecticut, support grew among Colorado Democrats to introduce gun safety legislation in the 2013 session. On the morning of the Newtown shooting, Gov. John Hickenlooper was quoted by the Denver Post as having had a change of heart from the aftermath of Aurora in the summer–when he basically said that new gun laws wouldn't help. The news later that day powerfully reinforced Hickenlooper's new view.

As we documented in this space, the campaign to pass gun safety legislation in 2013 turned into the biggest political battle in the Colorado legislature in recent history. Democrats were besieged by pro-gun activists and agitated gun owning members of the public. Crowds of people turned out to testify against the bills, overwhelming hearings, while others drove around the state capitol continuously sounding their horns. Gun owners were in many cases duped by falsehoods about the proposed legislation, being explicitly told by GOP legislators and gun-rights activists that the bills would "ban gun ownership in Colorado." Other alarmist falsehoods, like claims that legislation to limit magazine capacity would "ban all magazines," were pushed by gun activists and uncritically reported by a thoughtless local media.

The result of this misinformed free-for-all was a bitterly angry segment of voters willing to work full time to defeat Democrats responsible for gun safety legislation. As a result of the intense campaign of misinformation by the gun lobby and allied Republicans, a huge gap emerged in public opinion between polled opposition to the vague concept of "gun control," even as they register support–in some cases overwhelming support–for the bills actually passed by the Colorado General Assembly.

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It’s 2014: Let The Gun Law Lies Begin!

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman.

As the Colorado Statesman's Peter Marcus reports, that didn't take long:

[Sen. Minority Leader Bill] Cadman supports his colleagues in a pushback against current gun control laws, pointing out that Colorado voters appear to be resistant. He said that even when it comes to background checks there is room for improvement, pointing to potential problems, such as not being able to transfer weapons within a family.

Coloradans support universal background checks by as much as 85 percent, according to polling. But Cadman said that support drops when Coloradans learn about all aspects of the law…

Meanwhile, voters may be asked to weigh in on a variety of gun control issues on both sides of the debate. One question may seek to repeal the magazine ban, while another proposal would ask voters to ban concealed weapons on college campuses.

“There are so many broken pieces along that that got deeper than, ‘We just want to stop guns from getting in the hands of criminals,’” explained Cadman. “Everybody does. We do too. But what they did was they stopped people who had a legitimate right and access to a weapon from getting to a weapon to defend themselves or defend their families. That’s the problem.”

Numerous polls have shown strong and enduring support for universal background checks on gun purchases. In Colorado, a Quinnipiac poll last November showed that fully 85% of Coloradans support the legislation, passed last year in this state as House Bill 1229. Cadman's claim that "support drops" for universal background checks with more details is based on polling done for the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation that "more fully explain" the law. In truth, these dubious pro-gun polls are engineered to produce the results desired by the gun lobby, and can't be considered reliable compared to polls by reputable outfits that consistently show background checks for all gun purchases to be very popular.

Although we believe the question of public support for universal background checks is settled, we wouldn't call Cadman's assertion about differing poll results a "lie" in itself. Here's where Cadman lied:

"But what they did was they stopped people who had a legitimate right and access to a weapon from getting to a weapon to defend themselves or defend their families." [Pols emphasis]

Folks, can you show us a law passed in Colorado last year that stopped any person with a legitimate right to buy a gun from buying one? Don't bother, because you can't. Nothing passed last year in Colorado interferes with the right of any person legally permitted to buy a gun. Universal background checks have stopped criminals from buying guns in private sales, and there has always been an appeal process for background check denials if needed. Despite the absurd fearmongering (and horribly inaccurate news reporting) about the magazine limit bill, it doesn't stop anyone from buying a gun. Cadman's "skepticism" about Senate Bill 197, which requires persons with a domestic violence restraining order against them to surrender their guns, is well known–but that bill isn't really about buying guns, as persons with a restraining order covered by Senate Bill 197 are already prohibited from buying guns by federal law. Not to mention that standing up for domestic abusers could get really ugly for Republicans really quickly. We've never understood the GOP's vocal opposition to this particular bill.

Bottom line: you're going to see a lot of Sen. Bill Cadman this legislative session. Watch for him to argue a variation of this case against last year's gun safety bills as often as possible, as Republicans in the Colorado legislature pursue their agreed strategy of forcing Democrats to talk about (and vote on) gun issues every single day. As Senate Minority Leader, Cadman is going to be the tip of that proverbial spear.

As you can see above, he is also a liar. And that needs to be in these stories too.

2013′s Top Ten #4: Democrats Don’t Overreact to “Overreach”

Earlier this week we discussed the "Lie of the Year" in Colorado politics, the persistent nonsense that Democrats were out to "take your guns" in 2013. That narrative continued into the September recall elections, the result of which saw two Democratic Senators ousted (though two other recall attempts failed to reach the ballot altogether). Following the Sept. recall results, we saw plenty of lazy analysis blaming Democratic "overreach" in the 2013 legislative session — analysis that had nothing to do with the reality of the situation.

Even Dawson doesn't cry this much.

Even Dawson doesn’t cry this much

Republicans were using the term "overreach" long before the recall elections, both during and after the legislative session in an effort to spin what was a successful session for Democrats. Following miserable losses at the polls in 2012, the GOP once again faced a legislative session as the minority party in both chambers, and the only play in their playbook was to be obstructionist. When that failed to work, Republicans turned to saying that Democrats were "overreaching" in doing their job as legislators. What really happened is a perfect example of why Democrats have continued to win elections in Colorado in the last decade: they went to work on the issues they were elected to tackle. Or as Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon told the Denver Post in late April:

Overreaching? No. I think we've been listening to the people of Colorado and they've told us, 'We put you in charge and we want you to get something done.'

This is a lesson that Republicans have not been able to grasp for more than a decade in Colorado, and it is the fundamental reason why they lost control of the legislature back in 2004: Colorado voters want their elected officials to lead and to get things done, and Democrats have figured that out. As we wrote back in May, when the GOP "overreach" spin was in full tilt:

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2013′s Top Ten #6: The Lie of the Year in Colorado Politics

The BS stops here.

One of the stories we've followed over the years here at Colorado Pols has been the steady decline in both the quality and quantity of local political news reporting. In the early years of our writing about Colorado politics, the state benefited greatly from a competitive and robust local media, most importantly the competition between the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. 

After the Rocky's closure in early 2009, the immediate and arithmetic reduction in political news coverage was obvious. The surviving newspaper of record, the Denver Post, not only had a smaller and greener staff to work local political stories, but gradually became more susceptible to partisan influence in their news coverage through a variety of means. Editing and fact-checking began to suffer. To varying degrees, the same economic pressures squeezing Denver newspapers have affected smaller media outlets across the state, many of whom we've tried to promote the good work of outside their more limited distribution. Television political journalism in Colorado has seen deleterious turnover of highly experienced and discerning staff like 9NEWS' iconic Adam Schrager.

In 2013, the paucity of good journalism in Colorado had significant and lasting effects. In the time we've been covering Colorado politics, it was perhaps the worst year ever for objective facts. Our primary interest is not media criticism, but we've found it necessary more than ever this year just to keep basic facts straight in the permanent record. Of all the bogus storylines in the Colorado press we've had to debunk in 2013, one stands out.

The central issue of this year's legislative session was gun safety, with Democrats taking legislative action in the wake of mass shooting events in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado in 2012. Colorado, a Western state with a long tradition of gun ownership, served as a test of whether very limited and modest action on gun safety could be accomplished outside traditional urban Democratic strongholds. Colorado Democrats introduced a range of proposals, and it was clear from the beginning they were not all intended to pass. So-called "flanking measures" regarding guns on campus and assault weapon liability were intended to provide negotiating space for the highest priority bills, requiring standard background checks for most private gun sales and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds.

Opponents to these bills responded with an avalanche of false claims about their supposed consequences. Colorado legislators circulated bogus National Rifle Association talking points claiming that Democrats were trying to "outlaw private transfers of guns." But the most egregious falsehood spread by opponents of this year's gun safety bills, not just repeated but actively encouraged by members of the local media, and what we today christen the 2013 Lie of the Year in Colorado Politics, is this:

"If this law passes, almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again."

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