Get More Smarter on Monday (April 11)

Get More SmarterThat’s “Darryl Glenn” — two “Rs” and two “Ns.” It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination turned completely upside down on Saturday when El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn shocked the Colorado political world by dominating the delegate voting and becoming the only GOP candidate to make the ballot through the caucus process. Much of the buzz at the World Arena in Colorado Springs surrounded Glenn’s stirring red-meat speech — an oratorical home run that helped Glenn generate a whopping 70% of the total delegate vote.

 

► Oh, by the way, Republicans also selected delegates to go to Cleveland in July for the purpose of selecting the GOP nominee for President…and Donald Trump is not at all happy about how things turned out. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walked away from the World Arena with a clean sweep of delegates, but Trump is (rightfully) concerned about signs that the selection process may have been biased toward Cruz. Colorado Republican delegates will likely be hearing plenty from Trump’s campaign in the coming weeks; a protest of the GOP Convention voting is scheduled for this Friday.

Let the delegate swiping begin! As the Washington Post reports, delegates could end up collecting some pretty impressive “gift baskets” before the end of the summer.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Throwing Poor People Off Medicaid: a “Moral Mandate?”

Sen. Owen Hill.

Sen. Owen Hill.

A guest opinion piece in the Colorado Statesman today from Republican Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs attempts something novel: to make an affirmative moral case for cutting back on eligibility for Medicaid health coverage. Other Republican Colorado lawmakers like Senate President Bill Cadman and Sen. Laura Woods have called for rescinding eligibility for Medicaid, but Hill takes the argument a step further by claiming that throwing poor folks off their health coverage might actually be good for them:

Medicaid is failing Colorado. For those of us who love this strong and beautiful state, the time has come for us to do something about it and align our economic and moral interests…

Shockingly, 23 percent of the American population is covered by Medicaid. This means that 73 million people are dependent upon this failing program for health care. Under Obamacare and the Democrat championed Medicaid expansion, enrollment in Medicaid has increased 77 percent in the last two years, making us the fastest growing Medicaid state in the nation. Today, almost one in four Coloradans are depending upon this failing program for daily health care.

Perhaps these complaints about the relentless growth of government-run Medicaid would be mitigated if we were gaining healthier lives, but the real tragedy is that for all this money, we are actually harming many of the people who depend on Medicaid. Yes, a growing number of studies show that for certain conditions patients’ health is found to be worse when they are dependent on Medicaid than if they had no insurance at all. [Pols emphasis]

You’re reading this right, Sen. Hill is claiming that an uninsured patient–for ‘certain conditions’ anyway–could have a better outcome than the same person with Medicaid health coverage. Hill cites a study from a “free market” health researcher named Avik Roy, who published a study pushed by right-wing interest groups that makes this startling claim.

But as health expert Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University writes of Roy’s research, he often relies on presumptions that aren’t well supported:

Roy…has his own hobby horses. He claims that people are better off being uninsured than on Medicaid and trots out a long list of studies that he claims show negative effects from Medicaid coverage. The methodology of some of these studies is problematic (as the authors of some of the studies admit), while others do not actually show what Roy claims they do. [Pols emphasis]

A little more on Roy’s research via Media Matters from a VA health economist:

My take-away from the Medicaid-IV literature review is: there is no credible evidence that Medicaid results in worse or equivalent health outcomes as being uninsured. [Pols emphasis] That is Medicaid improves health. It certainly doesn’t improve health as much as private insurance, but the credible evidence to date–that using sound techniques that can control for the self-selection into the program–strongly suggests Medicaid is better for health than no insurance at all.

The notion that someone with health coverage might have a worse outcome than an uninsured patient is, of course, counterintuitive on its face. Health insurance allows for long-term management of health problems well beyond the limited scope of care provided by emergency room visits. Obvious questions of correlation vs. causation present themselves in this study, and it doesn’t appear that Roy makes any more than a token attempt to answer them–most likely because the only people who buy this line have a pre-existing ideological problem with Medicaid.

Once you understand this, any “moral case” for throttling back Medicaid eligibility quickly falls apart. But worse than that, Hill’s attempt to justify doing so becomes something else entirely: apologetics, running shallow, pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-moral cover for doing something everybody knows will hurt real people.

And folks, that is not what Jesus would do.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 8)

Get More SmarterToday is the home opener for the Colorado Rockies. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 

► Colorado will indeed get through the week without a visit from Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, which appears to make more and more sense as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz locks up more Colorado delegates. From the Denver Post:

Ted Cruz added to his lead in Colorado, winning three more national delegates Thursday to boost his total to nine.

The Texas senator found deep support at the 7th Congressional District convention in Arvada among pledged and unpledged delegates, much like he did  Saturday when he swept all six slots award at two conventions

…Donald Trump supporters organized a slate of three candidates for the 7th District convention — the first overt signs of organization from the campaign in Colorado — but still struck out.

According to the folks at Red State, Trump may have failed to pick up support in CD-7 because some of his supporters didn’t pay the proper fees to be listed as candidates. The Post also reports that veteran GOP strategist Patrick Davis is now working for Trump’s campaign in some capacity. Davis has been playing a top role supporting Robert Blaha’s bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Elsewhere, as the Washington Post reports, the fate of Donald Trump’s Presidential hopes could be in the hands of just 200 people. His Hairness has hired Paul Manafort as his “convention manager” to help him prepare for a potential “brokered convention” scenario in July.

 

► For several months we have listed Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) as a 90% favorite to win re-election in CO-3 (check “The Big Line“). Thursday’s news that former state Sen. Gail Schwartz (D) has filed to run against Tipton convinced us to drop Tipton’s re-election odds to 60%. The Cook Political Report also wasted little time in moving CO-3 from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Senate GOP Spox Thwarted By Senate GOP (Again)

Over the past week or so the Colorado Senate GOP Majority Office has loudly promoted Senate Bill 16-148, legislation that would have required high school students to pass an exam on civics patterned on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Test. This bill had bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and Senate, but was primarily the brainchild of principal Senate sponsor GOP Sen. Owen Hill.

On Twitter, Senate Americans For Prosperity GOP spokesman Sean Paige leaned hard on this bill to attack legislative Democrats–despite the bill’s Democratic cosponsors in both chambers:

As you can see, the Senate GOP’s press office was dead-set on making the debate over Senate Bill 148 a partisan issue, regardless of how many Democrats signed on as cosponsors. But today on the Senate floor, something else entirely happened:

That’s right! Senate Bill 148 died today after two Republican Senators, Jerry Sonnenberg and Ray Scott, cited existing burdens on school districts–especially rural districts they represent in the General Assembly–as a reason to reject another “mandate.”

To be clear, our purpose today is not to debate the merits of this defeated bill. We’ve heard good arguments for and against it, and as we noted the bill had bipartisan support and sponsorship. But folks, what the hell is Senate President Bill Cadman’s spokesman doing attacking Democrats on a bill for which he obviously should have done a whip count of his own caucus before popping off?

In any other situation, we’d call this very bad spokesmanship. But the truth, as has been the inside scoop at the Capitol all year, is that Americans For Prosperity’s former spox Sean Paige doesn’t have this job to represent the Senate GOP majority.

All he did here was prove that again.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 6)

Get More Smarter‘Tis a mighty blustery day outside, Pooh Bear. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Wisconsin Primary concluded on Tuesday evening in a manner that was largely expected, with Ted Cruz winning the day for the Republicans and Bernie Sanders picking up another victory on the Democratic side. We’ve got two weeks to wait until the April 19th delegate-rich New York Primary, followed a week later by contests in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

We tend to agree with Chris Cillizza at “The Fix” that Wisconsin was not quite the defining moment of the Republican race for President that Cruz supporters would have hoped, but it nevertheless complicates things for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Perhaps the biggest loser in Wisconsin was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who wasn’t even competitive in a midwestern state in which he should have performed fairly well. Both Cruz and Trump are pushing hard now for Kasich to exit the race altogether.

 

► Eight of the Republican Senate candidates in Colorado took to the stage on Tuesday for the first televised debate of the campaign cycle. We handed out debate grades last night, with Robert Blaha appearing to be the big winner (the Colorado Statesman argues that Ryan Frazier performed best on Tuesday, with Blaha on his heels). The debate did not go as well for Jon Keyser and Peg Littleton, the latter of which somehow managed to botch an answer about whether or not she was “Pro-life.”

 

► We passed a significant milestone in the 2016 election cycle this week with Monday’s deadline to submit petition signatures for ballot access. The Secretary of State’s office announced that 20 candidates across the state submitted signatures before the deadline.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 5)

Get More SmarterEnjoy your day, Wisconsin; tomorrow we’ll go back to not caring about you. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Voters in Wisconsin take center stage today as they make their choices in the race for President. Why is Wisconsin such a big deal? First and foremost, it’s the only Primary contest on the calendar until New York voters go to the polls on April 19, so today will be the only concrete information we learn about the horserace for some time. Wisconsin is also being touted as a litmus test for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to be surging in Wisconsin, and a win tonight would give him his seventh victory in the last eight statewide contests. Unfortunately for Sanders and his supporters, Wisconsin voters can’t change the math in the Democratic Primary; because Democrats do not assign delegates in a “winner take all” fashion, it is still virtually impossible for Sanders to become the Democratic nominee instead of Hillary Clinton.

 

► Monday was the deadline to submit petitions to the Secretary of State’s office for the purpose of making it onto the June Primary ballot. In the crowded Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination, Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier submitted their petitions on Monday (Jack Graham and Jon Keyser turned in their signatures last week). Each candidate needs 1,500 signatures in each congressional district — only registered Republican voters can be counted — in order to make it onto the June 28th ballot.

 

► Texas Sen. Ted Cruz appears to be the favorite to capture Colorado’s 37 delegates when Republican voters meet in Colorado Springs on Saturday for the GOP State Assembly. Cruz is scheduled to speak at the convention on Saturday, and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is also expected to make an appearance.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 4)

Get More SmarterToday is the deadline to submit petition signatures for access to the 2016 Primary ballot. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Supreme Court dealt a significant blow to conservative challenges intended to make it easier for more Republican voters to be corralled into a single legislative or congressional district. From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that states may satisfy “one person, one vote” rules by drawing legislative districts based on total population of a place, a defeat for conservative interests who wanted the districts based only on voting-age populations.

The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, was considered to be one of biggest on voting rights this term, and a decision the other way would have shifted political power away from urban areas, where Democrats usually dominate, and toward more Republican-friendly rural areas.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority decision.

 

► Republican State Sen. Tim Neville, the favorite to win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, is not particularly happy that the Colorado Springs Gazette called him out in a weekend editorial. Neville reacted to the editorial in a manner in which most few of us can relate — he used an assault rifle to shoot holes in a piece of paper with the Gazette‘s name printed on the front. Seems reasonable.

 

► Colorado Republicans are preparing for Saturday’s State Convention in Colorado Springs, which seems likely to include appearances from GOP Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald TrumpJohn Kasich, however, will not be coming to Colorado; the Ohio Governor will instead send former New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu to Colorado Springs as a surrogate).

Meanwhile, Cruz supporters were successful in filling delegate seats being decided at district assemblies over the weekend. Sadly, this group includes former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, whom we had almost forgotten about altogether.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Homophobic Williams to run for Chaps’ old House seat

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Constituents of House District 15 in El Paso County have been represented for almost two years  by a homophobic, gaffe-prone politician with ethical challenges:  Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, aka “Dr. Chaps“. Now, unless mass sanity strikes, they will probably be represented by another gay-bashing, hot-tempered, inexperienced  politician: David O. Williams.

“Chaps” announced that he would not run again for HD15; he is now running against Bob Gardner for  SD12,term-limited Senate President Cadman’s district. Chaps’ long-suffering constituents should have had a reprieve from embarrassing stories about their duly elected representative. Klingenschmitt’s greatest hits have included claiming that a brutal assault on a pregnant woman was God’s punishment, saying that Rep. Jared Polis wants to behead Christians, and being under IRS investigation for possible  financial misconduct.

david o williams

David O. Williams, candidate for HD15

Unfortunately, House District 15’s new Republican nominee, David O. Williams, looks to be potentially every bit as embarrassing as Chaps. Homophobia? Check. Lack of elected experience? Check. Hot temper – Shoot first, then aim? Check. Dubious financial history, only ever employed in his father-in-law’s business, kicked out of the only two positions he’s ever been elected to ? Check. Add to this access to weapons and $2,000 from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in 12/2013, and EPCO HD15 voters may have another embarrassingly rocky two years ahead of them.

David Williams is the son-in-law of his employer,  Doyle McAlister, who was a registered sex offender in 2013.  McAlister’s company, MKW Global Sourcing, is primarily in the Chinese export-import business.  MKW employs Williams as Program Manager.

Williams ran for HD15  in 2014, but Dr. Chaps got the nod from the El Paso County delegates. Williams’  homophobic behavior is well known, and has included booing a “Log Cabin” gay delegate; threatening someone else with an AR15; discriminating against funding of gay clubs as UCCS Student Body President, and fostering a climate of gay-bashing and bullying during his tenure, because of which he was finally impeached.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 31)

Get More SmarterToday is the last day of March (already) and it appears that we’re going to “Go Out Like a Lion” where the weather is concerned. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Is the House of Representatives really in play this year? We’re skeptical that Democrats could win the 30 seats needed in 2016 in order to retake control of the House, but if nothing else, Democrats are hopeful that they can make a serious dent in the GOP majority thanks in part to rising voter anxiety regarding Donald Trump. From The Associated Press:

Democrats are grabbing election-season television time in eight markets from New Hampshire to Nevada as part of their longshot bid to take majority control of the House.

The House Majority PAC, a political committee that helps Democratic candidates, said Wednesday it is reserving $7.5 million worth of time for ads for the last weeks of the campaign. Ad time reserved in advance is usually less expensive, sometimes dramatically so, than time purchased at the last minute…

…The markets cover around a dozen House districts that could see competitive elections in November. They include Denver, Colorado, where GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is being challenged, and West Palm Beach, Florida, where Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy is abandoning his seat to run for the Senate.

That’s right, friends: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is once again at the top of a short list of vulnerable Republican incumbents in 2016.

Meanwhile, members of the House Republican Freedom Caucus — which counts Greeley Congressman Ken Buck among its group — are hopeful that they can add 20-30 “new” Freedom Caucus Members through the 2016 election process. In other words, both Democrats and right-wing Republicans are trying to take control of the House chambers from the rest of the GOP.

 

► The first quarter fundraising period ends tonight, and it is a milestone marker for the Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate. Not only is this the first full fundraising quarter for many GOP candidates…it will be the last full quarter until after the June 28th Primary. For candidates such as former Rep. John Keyser, only the entire future of his campaign is at stake.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been identified as one of a handful of potential “movable” Senators being targeted by the White House to help advance President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. We hate to be the wet blanket here, but the reason Gardner seems “movable” is because he goes out of his way to take every position on an issue so as to obfuscate his true intentions.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Senate GOP Kills Equal Pay Bills, Hopes Women Don’t Notice

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

The Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports on the death yesterday afternoon of two bills meant to help women in Colorado close the persistent gap in earnings between themselves and their male colleagues in the GOP-controlled Senate State Affairs Committee:

Three men voted over the objections of two other men Wednesday to kill the two major efforts of the 2016 Colorado Legislature’s session aimed at shrinking the gap in pay between women and men.

After lengthy debates the past two weeks in the House of Representatives on the subject, the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee quickly dispatched of a pair of proposals aimed at ensuring that state contractors follow federal equal-pay laws and to ban employers from asking the salary history of job applicants. Both died on 3-2 party-line votes of Republicans over Democrats…

You’ve got to love the stock photo Sealover included with his story, which tells the story all by itself:

equalpay

Although pay equity is a problem nationally even 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act in the early 1960s, statistics show the problem is in fact worse in the state of Colorado than the national average. In Colorado, women earn an average of 78 cents on the dollar their male counterparts make–a gap that advocates say can’t be explained away by the usual presumptions about the lives of women made by…well, made by men.

The Senate State Affairs Committee’s all-male Republican majority included Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the very same GOP Senator who had apologized just a couple of days earlier for referring to a female Senate colleague as “eye candy” during debate on a moribund bill to tax corporate earnings stashed away in overseas tax havens. The same female Senator in fact presented the second of the two bills that died yesterday, the irony of which dripped from the hearing even though no one had the boldness to say it into a hot mic.

Nationally, as we know from the headlines, women voters are in the process of being repelled en masse by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump just yesterday committed perhaps the worst in a seemingly endless procession of woman-alienating gaffes, suggesting and then retreating from the suggestion that women should receive “some form of punishment” for having an abortion. Trump’s gleeful sexist attacks on any woman with the temerity to question him have given him favorability numbers among women somewhere in the post-execution Ted Bundy range. Even if Trump self-destructs in the next few weeks, he has ripped open one of the GOP’s biggest scabs–and we feel pretty confident that Ted Cruz won’t be able to heal it.

Bottom line: if you can’t make the connection for voters from Trump’s over-the-top sexism to Jerry Sonnenberg’s “eye candy,” you should get out of politics. The fractured Republican presidential race is increasingly forecast to have serious downticket implications for Republicans, putting the U.S. Senate, and in some more boostery Democratic circles, even the U.S. House in play.

If we were a Republican under Colorado’s Gold Dome, we’d be every bit as nervous.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Fundraising Numbers

We're going to need a bigger jar...preferably one that isn't filled with Euros.

We’re going to need a bigger jar…preferably one that isn’t filled with Euros.

When we discuss the Senate race here at Colorado Pols, we often write that “there are more than a dozen” Republican candidates in 2016. This is, admittedly, a vaguely bizarre statement. But it is difficult to provide a more specific answer to a query that is not as precise as it may seem.

How many people are seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate this year? That answer depends on your definition of a U.S. Senate candidate. Any moron can file paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to become a “candidate” for one of the top elected jobs in the land. It is a little more difficult to convince a media outlet to run a story about your candidacy, but getting your name mentioned in the newspaper does not make you a serious candidate in and of itself.

The question we are all trying to answer is much more specific: How many serious candidates are seeking the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2016?

We may finally have a solid answer to this question in the next week or two, because the first full fundraising quarter of 2016 comes to a close on March 31. Serious candidates have serious money to play with. If you can raise money, you can cover up a lot of warts in a campaign. If you can’t raise money…well, then you’re just pretending to run for office.

There are other important deadlines up ahead – including the April 4 date for submitting petition signatures for ballot access – but the first full fundraising quarter for much of the GOP field will tell us plenty about which Republicans have a real chance at winning the nomination in 2016.

For comparison’s sake, let’s first take a look at some prior fundraising figures for Colorado Senate candidates. At the Q2 fundraising period from 2014 – the first full quarter with Cory Gardner as the GOP’s top candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall — Gardner reported raising $2.7 million compared to $3.1 million for Udall. In 2015, incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet averaged nearly $2 million in contributions each quarter, ending the year with $6.7 million cash on hand.

These figures are on the higher end of what to expect from most Republicans when Q1 fundraising numbers are released, but a $2 to $3 million quarter is not unreasonable when you consider that Colorado is a top target for Republicans in 2016 (Bennet is the only Democratic Senator running for re-election in a “winnable” state this year). If Republicans are going to make a serious run at Bennet in 2016, millions of dollars are going to be raised by somebody (or somebodies). And while Q1 is the first full fundraising period for many GOP candidates, it is also the last full fundraising period before the June 28 Primary; nobody will get a second chance to impress on the money side of things.

Here’s a quick look at the names and numbers we’re watching as we approach the close of the Q1 fundraising period…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 30)

MoreSmarter-RainNo, you were not dreaming — it really did rain last night. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We all knew it couldn’t last. During a CNN “town hall” event on Tuesday the three remaining Republican Presidential candidates backed away from prior pledges that they would back the eventual GOP nominee no matter which candidate is selected. Frontrunner Donald Trump is feeling sad because he thinks the Republican National Committee doesn’t like him (well, he’s right on that):

Trump and his team have braced for the possibility of a contested convention in recent weeks, as opposing forces have set their sights on denying him the nomination by preventing him from crossing the necessary delegate threshold.

Trump said that he believes establishment Republicans and the RNC in particular have not treated him with respect.

“I’m the front-runner by a lot. I’m beating Ted Cruz by millions of votes,” he said. “This was not going to happen with the Republican Party. People who have never voted before, Democrats and independents are pouring in and voting for me.”

Trump is apparently convinced that everybody is voting for him already.

 

► The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may eventually be shut down, but its occupants won’t be headed for Colorado anytime soon. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Tuesday that he will stand “firmly against” the potential transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Colorado because of local opposition, making his strongest statement on a  heated political issue.

The Democrat said he is hearing from residents in Fremont County — home to two prisons under consideration to house the detainees — that the community opposes the transfer.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) has also publicly opposed the transfer of any detainees to Colorado prisons. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), meanwhile, would like to see the GITMO facility expanded rather than shuttered.

 

► Redistricting proposals in Colorado are multiplying like a Gremlin at a water park (if you’re younger than 30, you’re just going to have to trust us on that analogy).

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Hospital Provider Fee: Principle or Politics?

Sen. Larry Crowder.

Sen. Larry Crowder.

Yesterday, Democrats in the Colorado House rolled out long-awaited legislation to reclassify the state’s hospital provider fee into a TABOR-exempt enterprise: a technical fix that would allow to the state to avoid painful budget choices: if not this year as revenue forecasts change than in future years. And as the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, there’s a twist:

What’s the big takeaway? That a Republican is a sponsor in the Senate, bucking both his party’s leadership and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity— on an issue that’s been framed since January as the biggest political battle of the year…

[Sen. Larry] Crowder, the Republican sponsor and an Alamosa farmer, was the only Republican to buck his party in 2013 when he voted in favor of expanding Medicaid.

In the days leading up to today’s introduction of the bill, Crowder had been coy about whether he would vote to reclassify the hospital provider fee into an enterprise if he had the chance. While he’s been clear on some aspects — he believes, for instance, unlike other Republicans, that reclassifying the fee is constitutional — he said as recently as last week that he’d have to wait and see a bill before committing to how he’d vote.

Now his name is on the bill.

GOP Sen. Larry Crowder’s very public spat with conservative group Americans for Prosperity over the hospital provider fee earlier this session turned a lot of heads–but as the Denver Post’s John Frank reports, Crowder’s support for the “fix,” which technically gives it the votes to pass the Senate, means nothing if Senate President Bill Cadman never allows it to reach the full Senate:

The co-sponsor of the bill is Sen. Larry Crowder, a Alamosa Republican who is breaking ranks to sponsor the bill. The Republican-controlled Senate remains opposed to the bill — Hullinghorst called it a “stalemate” — meaning it is unlikely to advance to the governor’s desk this session, despite Crowder’s support which gives it enough votes to pass if it made it to the floor.

Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, declined to comment on the legislation Monday.

Politically however, there may be more going on here than meets the eye. Crowder’s SD-35 seat is relatively high on the list of Democratic pickup opportunities this year, with a strong Democratic challenger in Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias. There’s a nagging possibility that Crowder’s support for the provider fee fix is nothing more than political theater, creating an illusion of “independence” from Crowder’s own GOP Senate leadership.

We would be happy to be wrong about this, and there certainly are ways Cadman and/or Crowder could prove us wrong. But if Crowder goes back to SD-35 voters with the story of how he tried to get GOP leadership to pass this fix, those voters just might realize how voting out Crowder could change Senate leadership too.

And that could make more of a difference to them than anything Crowder can say.

GOP Pundits Jump Gun on “Zombie” Climate Change Bill

Kelly Maher.

Kelly Maher.

An editorial in last Friday’s Colorado Springs Gazette celebrates the “death” of House Bill 16-1004, legislation that would develop measurable goals and deadlines for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

Colorado Senate Republicans were wise to kill a global warming bill in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Thursday. In doing so, they showed the upside of a divided Legislature that doesn’t get much done.

House Bill 1004 would have required state government to devise an annual climate action plan “to include specific measurable goals, the achievement of which will either reduce Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions or increase Colorado’s adaptive capability to respond to climate change.”

…Colorado could destroy its economy with an expensive energy revolution and still have mo measurable effect on stopping global warming. We could put every coal miner out of work and close every coal-fired electric plant. We could set extraordinary emissions standards that would raise the cost of cars. We could force electric ratepayers to finance more wind turbines and solar arrays. We could mandate tough household standards on heating, cooling and insulation.

Friday’s editorial in the Gazette appears to be based on a press release from the conservative advocacy group Compass Colorado, whose director Kelly Maher is now a Republican talking head at 9NEWS:

House Bill 16-1004, sponsored by Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, Rep. Jenni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, would have empowered a single state bureaucrat to devise and spend undefined taxpayer resources on implementing a state climate change plan. Had the bill passed, Colorado taxpayers could have been responsible for writing a blank check toward funding programs as potentially expensive as they are demonstrably useless in the conversation surrounding global warming.

Kelly Maher, Executive Director of Compass Colorado, applauded the senators who put a stop to the measure…

There’s just one small problem with all of this GOP grave-dancing: the bill isn’t dead yet.

hb16-1004

That’s tomorrow’s calendar for the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee. As it turns out, Republicans were so ready for this GOP-controlled committee to kill House Bill 16-1004 that they assumed that’s what had happened–when in fact the bill was laid over for a vote tomorrow.

Of course, nobody has any delusions about the bill’s ultimate fate. But even if the vote of this one-seat GOP Senate majority committee is a foregone conclusion, it’s important to let them actually vote first. Before you crow.

Otherwise, you know…it kind of looks bad.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 29)

Get More SmarterIt is Tuesday, once again, though this one isn’t even sorta-super; there are no Presidential primaries or caucuses today. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was taken to the Republican Party woodshed yesterday after referring to fellow Sen. Kerry Donovan as “eye candy” during a Senate committee debate about legislation dealing with offshore tax havens.

 

► Vice President Joe Biden will be in Boulder on April 8 to speak about sexual violence. From the Longmont Times-Call:

Biden will be in Boulder on April 8 as part of the Obama administration’s “It’s On Us” campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, according to press secretary Meghan Dubyak.

The time and location of Biden’s visit were not yet available, she said. In a news release, the university said ticketing information would be announced at a later date.

Biden also will visit the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nevada Las Vegas during the “It’s On Us Week of Action” next week, Dubyak said.

Shortly after the launch of the campaign in the fall of 2014, the Boulder campus embraced the idea and applauded the White House for acknowledging a serious national issue.

 

► Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham is the first Republican U.S. Senate candidate to submit petition signatures to qualify for the June Primary ballot.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)