Pro-Gun Columbine “Backlash” Snares Aurora Shooting Victims

Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi.

Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi.

Huffington Post’s Gabriel Arana took note of a story on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show late last week that we’re surprised hasn’t received more local coverage, and we didn’t want it to escape mention. The parents of one of the victims of the 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, a case currently being tried in an Arapahoe County court, sued online gun dealers who sold the alleged perpetrator of that crime some of the ammunition and other items used in the massacre.

But a law passed in 2000 by the GOP-controlled Colorado General Assembly and signed into law by GOP Gov. Bill Owens turned Sandy and Lonnie Phillips’ pursuit of justice for shooting victim Jessica Ghawi into a nightmare:

Maddow opened her show with heart-rending footage of the Aurora trial. She highlighted the testimony of Brenton Lowak, whose friend Jessica Ghawi — a 24-year-old aspiring sports reporter — died in the shooting.

Here’s the part that set off the Outrage-O-Meter: Jessica’s parents have been ordered by a judge in Colorado to pay $220,000 to the gun retailers who sold Holmes his weapon.

The parents unsuccessfully sued the retailers whose products were used in the Aurora shooting. Colorado state law requires that plaintiffs who sue the manufacturers or dealers of gun products pay the companies’ legal fees if they lose.

“That’s not a typo,” Maddow said, adding, “The mother and father of the victim who died in the Aurora mass shooting have just been ordered to pay a quarter-million dollars to the gun retailers who sold the bullets that were used in the Aurora mass shooting — the parents of the girl who was killed.”

A Reuters blog post by attorney Alison Frankel explains what happened here:

In 2014, Ghawi’s mother and stepfather, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, sued the companies that supplied Holmes with ammunition and body armor. The suit named Lucky Gunner, which operates as and sold Holmes more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition; The Sportsman’s Guide, which sold him a 100-round magazine and 700 rounds; BTP Arms, which supplied two canisters of tear gas; and Bullet Proof Body Armor.

The Phillipses’ suit faced long odds. Both the U.S. and Colorado (along with many other states) have laws shielding guns and ammo dealers from liability to shooting victims in most circumstances. (They may be responsible, for instance, if they’ve sold a defective product or violated gun sale regulations.) The federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, has been subjected to many challenges, including allegations that it violates the constitutional separation of powers doctrine because it impinges on states’ lawmaking powers and the constitutional due process rights of shooting victims with common-law claims. According to the Justice Department, those constitutional challenges have all failed.

But the Phillipses and their lawyers at Arnold & Porter argued their case was different because the dealers sold weaponry to Holmes over the Internet, without ever seeing his face or assessing his state of mind. That made the dealers negligent, the Phillipses said, despite their protections under state and federal law. [Pols emphasis] “A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” the Brady Center gun control advocacy group said in a statement announcing the Phillipses’ suit, in which Brady Center lawyers are also involved. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes.”

Unfortunately for the Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, in 2000, the Colorado legislature passed House Bill 00-1208. This legislation was part of the intense debates over gun safety that took place in the aftermath of the Columbine High School mass shooting in April of 1999. Most Colorado residents only remember the constitutional ballot measure, Amendment 22, which closed the so-called “gun show loophole” that allowed guns to be sold at shows without a background check. But House Bill 00-1208 was part of a backlash against greater gun control, mostly backed by Republican legislators. Similar legislation was passed at the federal level in 2005. Here’s what House Bill 00-1208 says:


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 27)

Get More SmarterThe last day of school is almost here. The last day of work…not so much. 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).



► Democrat Morgan Carroll hasn’t said anything recently about her plans to run for Congress in CD-6, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from going bonkers over the idea.

► Certain undocumented immigrants can now apply for a driver’s license in Colorado; the much-discussed program finally got underway on Tuesday, though there were a few technical hiccups.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 26)

Get More SmarterHey, look at that…the sun is still there, after all. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



House Republicans may yet put a stop to a trade deal favored by President Obama, which gained initial approval from the Senate last week.

► Construction at the VA Hospital Project in Aurora will continue for about three more weeks. Congress approved a plan late last week to kick the can down the road so they could leave town for their Memorial Day recess. Meanwhile, a VA whistle blower indicates a significant lack of oversight for the hospital project. This is where we remind you that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee under the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

 Get even more smarter after the jump…


Woods sees “not a lot of difference” between political parties, raising specter of a primary

(You read it here first – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

You need only to stick your toe into Colorado’s talk-radio world to know that state Sen. Laura Woods is a superstar on the Tea-Party airwaves, regularly receiving love from KLZ 560AM’s Ken Clark, KNUS 710 AM’s Peter Boyles, and others.

The last thing these guys want is to lose Woods in a primary next year, funded by deep-pocket Republicans. So you’d think they’d want to rally their listeners to stop this before hit happens. And Woods, who previously called herself Laura Waters on the radio, seems to be hinting that it will, judging from her continued criticism of establishment Republicans.

For example, in a May 14 interview with Clark, Woods said there’s “not a lot of difference” between mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans–raising the question of whether Woods thinks Colorado Republicans will field a primary candidate against her. But Clark didn’t ask the question.

Woods (at 4:15 below): “I think that for the establishment Republicans, and there is no doubt in my mind that Cory Gardner is one of them, and Democrats, there’s not a lot of difference. Where we see a difference is between conservatives and that group of people.”

Earlier in the interview, at two minutes, she referred to “squishy Republican committees,” further showing her displeasure with the GOP in Colorado.

I’m not saying this is unexpected, given Woods’ ride to power on the back of Tea-Party supporters, but I’m surprised the radio crowd doesn’t talk openly about the obvious possibility of a primary and how to prepare for it.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 21)

MoreSmarter-RainApparently today is Red Nose Day; the first person who can find two friends who know what this means wins a prize. 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).



► Congress is unlikely to figure out a plan to continue funding construction at the VA Hospital project in Aurora, so it looks like work will shut down on the site as soon as next week. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) — the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee — took time out from blaming other people to have breakfast this morning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss a potential Coffman campaign for U.S. Senate in 2016. Hey, priorities, right?

► If funding for the Aurora VA Hospital project is halted, that doesn’t mean the government is still saving money. As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post:

According to one congressional estimate, it would cost $20 million to shutter the site and $2 million a month to keep it safe from the elements — additional expenses that would increase the price tag of a project that has been called the biggest construction failure in VA history.

That’s not all. There are concerns among Colorado legislators that another work stoppage would drive away subcontractors, who already had to live through one shutdown in December. That could further increase the price…

…”I have presented a plan,” [VA Secretary Robert] McDonald wrote. “Congress has not proposed a counter-plan. I am open to reviewing any proposal that would better serve the veterans of Colorado and the American taxpayers.

“If congressional leaders choose not to support VA’s proposals or choose not to offer feasible solutions of their own, then they will be punishing Colorado veterans today for past VA errors.”

Maybe Coffman was proposing his plan to Mitch McConnell at breakfast this morning.

 Get even more smarter after the jump…


“Loan Shark Payback”–How A Bipartisan Dirty Deed Was Done

UPDATE: FOX 31 reports on the controversy over House Bill 15-1390:


Registered lobbyist Megan Dubray.

Registered lobbyist Megan Dubray.

A big question remaining from the end of this year’s legislative session is the status of a bill passed at warp speed just as the session came to an end earlier this month. House Bill 15-1390, legislation that would allow subprime personal lenders to dramatically increase interest rates on “supervised” loans typically sought by borrowers with impacted credit histories, passed the Democratic-controlled Colorado House nearly unanimously and with almost no debate. In the Senate, most Democrats voted against the legislation after consumer advocacy groups like the Bell Policy Center managed to sound the alarm.

Yesterday, those groups joined with Senators Jessie Ulibarri and Lucia Guzman at a presser, requesting a veto of the bill by Gov. John Hickenlooper. As we’ve noted previously, Hickenlooper’s office was apparently not party to the deal that greased this bill through the legislature just before adjournment, and both sides are presently lobbying his office for and against signing the bill into law.

As these remaining steps in the process play out, many observers, including readers of this blog, have rightly asked the question–just how did this plainly anti-consumer legislation make it out of the Democratic-controlled Colorado House? Why did so many Democratic representatives, including some pretty lefty liberal types, vote for a bill directly counter to the interests of working families they are charged with defending? Especially a last-minute bill so obviously being slipped in under the wire?

The answer to this question may be as simple of the identity of the lobbyist whose job it was to pass the bill. Megan Dubray is the registered lobbyist for Springleaf Financial, one of the two major lending companies who would benefit most from House Bill 1390’s dramatic hike in subprime personal loan interest rates. If Dubray’s name rings a bell to you, it’s because she used to be the Deputy Communications Director for former Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

In short, Dubray is a friendly face to Democrats in the Colorado House majority, and we have to assume that relationship played a role in both the late introduction of House Bill 1390–which required the consent of House leadership–and its quick passage through the House with most Democrats in support. The difference between House Democrats’ overwhelming support for House Bill 1390 and the opposition encountered from most Senate Democrats can be at least partly accounted for by Dubray’s role in lobbying for the bill.

Assuming this version of events is accurate, does it excuse Democrats in the House? Absolutely not–no matter how outwardly persuasive a case was being made to pass this bill, or who was doing the lobbying, allowing such enormous rate hikes on loans made to people who are already in credit trouble is exploitative and morally questionable on its face. Especially considering the huge profits subprime lenders are raking in as the economy recovers, the argument that this industry would simply pack up and leave the hundreds of millions of dollars they’re making here on the table if they don’t get these rate hikes is simply ridiculous. And there’s just no excuse for so many Democratic lawmakers not realizing that.

Bottom line: all the Democratic votes in the world for this bill do not make it right. A Democratic lobbyist pushing this bill does not make it right. Whatever happens to House Bill 1390, soul-searching lies ahead for everyone who contributed to this ugly situation.

We’ll continue to update as the story develops.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 20)

MoreSmarter-RainThe Denver Nuggets ended up with the exact results expected in last night’s NBA Draft Lottery, which gives Denver the #7 pick in the June 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).



► It’s hard not to read the panic between the lines of Rep. Mike Coffman’s latest statement regarding potential delays at the Aurora VA Hospital project. As 9News reports, Coffman has found yet another person to blame for the fiasco:

With precious few days left to avert another work stoppage at Colorado’s VA hospital construction project, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) is making an unusual move: publicly calling into question the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner on the issue.

“I’m disappointed in the VA for their mismanagement. I’m disappointed in the speaker, for in my view, not showing appropriate leadership so far,” Coffman told 9NEWS in an interview Tuesday. “I hope I can convince [Boehner] to understand that our veterans should not be the casualty.”

We’re just going to keep repeating this because it’s so important: Mike Coffman is the CHAIR OF THE OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Guess who should have “oversaw” this coming?

► The editorial board of the Denver Post blasts the Jefferson County School District for its nonsense claims that they couldn’t host Gov. John Hickenlooper for a bill signing ceremony because of last-minute security concerns:

It is difficult to believe a school where Super Bowl halftime entertainer Katy Perry performed would have had that much of a problem hosting the governor.

Jeffco swears Hick is welcome to come any other time. But for now, this rejection looks bad.

Hickenlooper ended up signing the bill yesterday at Lakewood Heritage Center, which somehow managed to to provide a secure building at the last minute.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Progressives, Consumer Advocates Call For Veto of Interest Rate Hike Legislation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, joined today with Colorado Senators Lucia Guzman and Jessie Ulibarri, along with the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy, and other concerned stakeholders to deliver a petition to Gov. John Hickenlooper requesting a veto of House Bill 15-1390–legislation that passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session to allow lenders to dramatically increase interest rates on specific kinds of personal loans.

“Today, we’re here to deliver the signatures of hundreds of Coloradans to Gov. Hickenlooper, asking for a veto of House Bill 1390,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Lobbyists for the subprime lending industry sneaked in this last-minute bill to allow huge interest rate increases on specific kinds of personal loans used by working families in Colorado and others trying to re-establish their credit. The Colorado Attorney General’s office estimates that this legislation could mean increases of almost 40% to the total cost of a supervised personal loan.”

“Passing bills that could cost thousands of Coloradans millions of dollars at the last minute with no debate is just plain wrong,” said Runyon-Harms at today’s press conference. “There was no opportunity to properly debate this legislation–and that was by design. This bill to allow lenders to hike interest rates on personal loans was passed by both chambers in less than a week. Lobbyists for large financial corporations like Citigroup pushed this legislation for the sole purpose of enriching their clients–at the expense of Colorado’s hard working families who need access to credit.”

“We believe that once Gov. Hickenlooper has a chance to examine the issue in its entirety, a veto of this legislation will be an easy call,” said Runyon-Harms. “We support access to credit, and we want financial services in Colorado to be profitable. If the laws need changing, let’s have an honest debate–not a last-minute swindle that denies citizens a voice in this important decision.”

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 18)

MoreSmarter-RainJust in case you needed any more of a reason to stay away from motorcycle gangs. 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).



► Republican State Treasurer Walker “Wasn’t Me” Stapleton continues to show the political agility of a blind skiier. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post, Stapleton has turned a minor controversy into a major avalanche:

Days after the legislative session closed, Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is trying to distance himself from a controversial effort to issue billions of dollars of pension bonds to bolster the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association fund.

The two-term treasurer told a conservative talk radio host that he didn’t support the move, despite the fact that records show he signed up twice to testify in support of legislation that would give him authority to issue the bonds…

…Stapleton’s shift is an attempt to quell friendly fire from conservatives taking aim at him for supporting a debt venture they consider too risky. The attack threatens to undermine the 41-year-old treasurer’s conservative fiscal reputation, one that has boosted his political prospects for higher office.

We noted Stapleton’s ridiculous claims last week, which adds more evidence to our analysis from last fall that Stapleton would be an absolute disaster for Republicans if he seeks higher office.


Agriculture and business groups from around the state are pushing Republicans to do something on immigration reform. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is promising more grandstanding, if that helps (hint: it doesn’t).

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Americans United For Life Takes Credit For Colorado GOP’s Failed Abortion Rights Crackdown, Longmont Attack Exploitation

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

As controversy raged over the recent horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont woman toward the end of this year’s legislative session, we noted in late April that a bill proposed by Colorado Senate Republicans “in response” to that attack, Senate Bill 15-268, incorporated model language from the national anti-abortion advocacy group Americans United For Life. Even though Senate President Bill Cadman insisted that the legislation was not intended to restrict abortion rights, AUL proudly took credit for the bill with its members, as part of an explicit strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade “through deliberate, legal strategies that accumulate victories, build momentum, and restore a culture of life.”

In particular, language in Senate Bill 268 defining a “human being” as “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth” echoed the Personhood abortion ban constitutional amendments that Colorado voters have overwhelmingly rejected three times in recent elections. An amendment to strip the Personhood language was rejected by the GOP Senate majority, and despite Cadman’s protests to the contrary, it was clear by the time this legislation was finally killed in the Democratic-controlled House that the “ulterior motive” of chipping away at abortion rights was very much the goal–as AUL was more than happy to confirm in their member communications.

Now that the session is over, it should be noted that Americans United for Life played a role in more than just the so-called “fetal homicide” debate. In a memo distributed just before the end of Colorado’s legislative session this year, AUL includes our state in a long list of states where their organization has contributed “legislative consulting” and model bill language:

AUL and AUL Action have responded to 329 legislative consulting requests in 31 states and the District of Columbia: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, [Pols emphasis] District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

So far this legislative session, AUL has distributed 620 policy guides/model language in 33 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, [Pols emphasis] Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

In terms of specific bills AUL takes credit for in Colorado this year, it’s a lot more than just the “fetal homicide” proposal:

• Colorado is considering HB 1162 which is based on AUL model language and prohibits sex-selective abortions.

• Colorado is also considering HB 1128 which is based on AUL model language and provides licensing and safety requirements for abortion clinics. The measure includes an admitting privileges requirement.

• Colorado is considering SB 268 which is based on AUL model language and provides legal protection for unborn victims of criminal violence.

All of these bills, along with others like the bill to make abortion a felony earlier in the session, were ultimately killed in the Democratic House. The only one of these bills that ever had any hope at all was the “fetal homicide” bill, and then only because the tragic attack on Michelle Wilkins was still fresh in everyone’s minds. But to Cadman and Americans United for Life, the attack on Wilkins was an opportunity to push a big piece of a much broader anti-abortion agenda–and maybe even get it passed through a legislature partly controlled by Democrats. It didn’t matter that the alleged perpetrator in the Longmont attack faces over 100 years in prison if convicted, making the need for a new crime beyond Colorado’s existing unlawful termination of a pregnancy statute unnecessary.

These facts help explain why Democrats and pro-choice groups were so enraged by the exploitation of the attack on Wilkins by Cadman and the GOP Senate majority: they knew where this legislation was coming from, and they knew what AUL’s agenda really is. It’s widely suspected that the blowback at Cadman over the “fetal homicide” bill provoked him to allow a much crazier abortion restriction bill, Senate Bill 15-285, to drop right before the end of the session. Cadman, after all, is famously easy to piss off, and his responses are not always the most level-headed. Politically, these anti-abortion bills are highly toxic in the long term–but that didn’t even slow Cadman and the Colorado GOP down a bit.

Now that the dust has settled, hopefully the media can stop making excuses for what happened. Because it’s all out in the open now.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 15)

“When the wolf is trying to get in, you gotta stand in the doorway.” RIP B.B. King. 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).



► Work on the debacle of a project at the VA Hospital site in Aurora may stall after Congress failed to come to agreement on a plan to fund construction yesterday. Once again, we remind you, that Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Maybe he’ll actually do something about this…some day.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan finished a two-day visit to Colorado on Thursday.

► State Senator Ellen Roberts has been floating her name for U.S. Senate or CD-3. She’s also trying to draw on pro-choice credentials that she no longer possesses.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Ellen Roberts’ “Pro-Choice” Credentials Pulled

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado is calling out Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango), after Roberts abandoned reproductive choice advocates and voted for multiple pieces of legislation they consider antithetical to the words “pro-choice.”

Attacks against Republican state Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango intensified this week after The Durango Herald reported that Roberts is considering a run for U.S. Senate. If she were to survive a tough primary, Roberts would take on incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet. She has not formally announced a campaign…

[Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado] has walked back support for Roberts, disagreeing that she remains pro-choice. It points to recent votes, including her support for a measure that would have created a fetal homicide law in Colorado. The bill failed after Democrats opposed the measure, suggesting that it was tantamount to so-called “personhood,” or defining a fetus as a person.

“You cannot support fetal personhood measures and be pro-choice,” said Cathy Alderman, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “Despite what the proponents claimed, when you define ‘person’ prior to birth, you have created fetal personhood. Just saying it’s not personhood doesn’t change that.”

Sen. Roberts, who has campaigned on her allegedly pro-choice views but also faces the daunting prospect of a fierce GOP primary in any pursuit of higher office, protests vigorously:

“I do think it’s important to be vigilant and caring about the advancement of women in society in general,” Roberts said. “But if we want to talk about erosion, I would say it’s eroding credibility to try to insist that everybody is going to think in one monolithic way.”

Unfortunately for Sen. Roberts, this year’s fetal homicide debate, which ended with the death of Republican legislation establishing rights for fetuses “from conception,” drew a bright line on this issue–and Ellen Roberts was on the wrong side.

There were efforts this year to…remove a definition of “person” from the fetal homicide bill, but Roberts voted against an amendment that would have stripped the “person” language…

“We no longer believe her to be moderate, and we no longer consider her an ally on women’s health issues,” [Pols emphasis] Alderman continued. “Frankly, we are disappointed by it, but she may feel that is what she needs to do if she is going to go for a statewide race.”

Bottom line: Ellen Roberts had this coming. Back in 2012, Roberts sponsored a Colorado Senate resolution in support of the failed Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any company to deny workers contraceptive coverage. This year, in addition to supporting the fetal homicide “Personhood” bill, Roberts cast a key vote against the state’s successful long-term reversible contraception program. Today, the Herald reports separately that this program played a “major role” in reducing the rate of teen pregnancy in Roberts’ own district.

And that, dear reader, is how one loses the right to call one’s self “pro-choice.”

Pressure Builds For Veto of Interest Rate Hike Bill

loanshark2The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports on growing controversy over House Bill 15-1390, legislation passed at the very end of this year’s legislative session with almost no debate to allow subprime lenders to dramatically increase interest rates on certain personal loan products:

Gov. John Hickenlooper has three official requests on his desk to veto House Bill 1390, legislation that adjusts the cap on subprime loans allowing 36 percent on a $3,000 loan.

The bill was introduced near the end of the session and sailed through. Groups that oppose it say they didn’t have time to make their case and want a veto in order to give the proposal more debate next year…

“In a legislative session that was supposed to be about the middle class, this bill moves Colorado in the wrong direction,” states the joint veto request from The Bell Policy Center, ProgressNow Colorado, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy and the Colorado Progressive Coalition.

“We wish this bill had come up earlier in the session to allow more time for conversations with legislators and a greater opportunity for the views of average Coloradans to be heard. Your veto of HB15-1390 will help protect low- to moderate-income Coloradans from detrimental credit products. The Legislature can address this issue again next session in a manner that ensures all viewpoints are heard and more measured deliberations take place.”

More from the Colorado Statesman’s Vic Vela:

“We are not opposed to the loans, just to increasing the current rates so significantly,” the letter reads.

Danny Katz of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group said the bill benefits those that don’t need help — financial institutions.

“This bill simply takes money from Colorado family pockets and sends it to Wall Street and out-of-state investors,” Katz said. “That’s not how Colorado should do business or treat its families.”

Read more coverage of House Bill 15-1390 in the Durango Herald and Colorado Public Radio. To the dismay of lobbyists and complicit lawmakers, the word is definitely getting out.

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

As we’ve discussed in this space, the whole purpose of introducing this legislation at the last possible moment in this year’s legislative session was to limit the public’s knowledge of what was happening. Now that the press is covering it, it looks very bad–and Democratic legislators who sponsored this late bill are being forced to defend their actions. That’s not going real well, as Vela continues:

“These people have nowhere to go to get a loan,” said Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, who helped sponsor the legislation in the Senate…

“They’re trying to associate it to payday lending and it’s not,” Jahn said. “These financial institutions are willing to give loans to people with bad credit, who are trying to rebuild credit. So the interest rate is higher, but not as high as payday lending.

“These groups that come out opposing this, always say, ‘You’re taking advantage of poor people.’ No, not really. They have nowhere else to go.”

Got that? Consumers have “nowhere else to go,” so let’s jack up their interest rates! Makes perfect sense if you’re the one lending the money. Those consumers aren’t likely to be so happy about it, however.

Democratic supporters like Sen. Cheri Jahn and the bill’s House sponsor Rep. Jovan Melton argue that the number and total dollar amounts for this type of loan have shrunk in Colorado since 2005. That’s a disingenuous argument, though, since in 2005 subprime credit was incredibly easy to obtain–so much so that subprime debt nearly sank the entire U.S. economy just a couple of years later. Back in reality, as the New York Times reported in detail last fall, subprime personal loans–and the companies booking them–are doing just fine in today’s recovering economy.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 14)

Today’s forecast calls for possible sightings of the sun. 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).



► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) joined fellow Republicans in voting to approve a 20-week abortion ban. Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is one of the primary sponsors of the legislation.

► The Senate passed a measure yesterday to move forward on votes for President Obama’s trade deal. From the Huffington Post:

“The announcement [Wednesday] will drive home the importance of the message that the pro-trade Democrats sent yesterday,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who helped craft the compromise after he helped filibuster the trade bill that he supports. “That enforcement, enforcement of the trade laws is a prerequisite to a modern trade policy, a trade policy that sets aside once and for all the NAFTA playbook. Suffice it to say that was the message conveyed yesterday by pro-trade Democrats.”

► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) offered joint support for medical marijuana legislation. As Mark Matthews of the Denver Post reports:

The proposed Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act would lift federal prohibitions across the country on using marijuana strains that are medically beneficial to prevent certain seizures.

Gardner, a Republican, and Bennet, a Democrat, announced the bill with Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

Because of federal prohibitions, some families who are seeking the help are forced to relocate to such states as Colorado, where they can obtain the medicine, the lawmakers argue.

What, no cool acronym for this bill? The THMAA?

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Veto the “loan shark giveaway,” Gov. Hickenlooper

In the final hours of the legislative session last week, something bad happened.

Lobbyists for the subprime lending industry sneaked in a last-minute bill to allow huge interest rate increases on certain personal loans. The Colorado Attorney General’s office estimates that this legislation could mean increases of almost 40% to the total cost of a personal loan.

Send a message to Gov. Hickenlooper right now requesting a VETO of House Bill 15-1390.

There was no opportunity to properly debate this legislation–and that was by design. This bill to allow lenders to hike interest rates on personal loans was passed by both chambers in less than a week with almost no debate. Some lawmakers have already expressed regret over their rushed vote for this legislation. Passing bills that could cost thousands of Coloradans millions of dollars at the last minute with no debate is just plain wrong.

Tell Gov. Hickenlooper to VETO House Bill 15-1390, the “loan shark giveaway” bill. Your message will be delivered instantly to the Governor’s office.

Thanks for your timely assistance stopping this bad anti-consumer legislation. This time, the money saved could be your own.