Cory Gardner Delivers Turd (As Promised!)

Suppose someone promised you that in June 2016, they would come to your house and kick you in the shins.

Now suppose it is June 2016, and this same person has just kicked you in the shins. Would you be upset over your newly-bruised legs, or would you congratulate that person for doing what they said they were going to do one year earlier? We like it when people keep promises, in part because it helps to validate our opinion of that person, but the contents of the promise are still important. Should we still applaud someone for keeping a shitty promise?

Enter Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who introduced legislation today that he first outlined during the 2014 Senate race. As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post explains:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner today made good on his promise to push for over-the-counter contraceptives, introducing legislation to encourage drug manufacturers of “routine-use contraceptives” to file an application with the FDA to sell their products over the counter.

The Yuma Republican first brought up the idea last year in an opinion piece published in The Denver Post. At the time, the congressman was trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat…

…Planned Parenthood Votes claimed at the time that Gardner’s over-the-counter proposal actually took away coverage for birth control. When Democrats questioned Gardner on his positions about women and reproductive rights, he would point to his op-ed and say he didn’t want to place restrictions on contraceptives but expand access to them. But critics noted he still sponsored the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which would ban common forms of birth control and abortion.

Planned Parenthood was not impressed with Gardner’s idea in 2014, and they’re still not happy about it. In a press release, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, had this to say:

“This bill is a sham and an insult to women. It would give women fewer birth control options and force women to pay twice for their birth control.”

Opposition to Gardner’s bill from the left has always been about the specific proposal, and not about agreement or disagreement with increasing access to birth control. Gardner’s bill would actually end up making contraception less available and affordable for women by making it too expensive: In order to make more options available over-the-counter, the bill first removes the requirement for insurance to cover birth control. Under Gardner’s bill, you might not need a prescription for certain contraceptives — you just won’t be able to afford them. Problem, not solved.

But hey, he did what he said he would do! 

Hooray, or something.

Hickenlooper Makes Jeffco Schools Super Look Pretty Stupid

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader follows up on the story of the conservative-controlled Jefferson County school district’s snubbing of Gov. John Hickenlooper this week, denying his office’s request for a bill signing ceremony at a Jeffco public school.

Hick’s sense of humor wins the day once again:

Gov. John Hickenlooper fired back at a perceived snub from Jefferson County Schools on Wednesday after two high schools refused to let him hold a bill-signing ceremony on school property.

“The last time I was at Lakewood High School, Katy Perry was there and somehow she wasn’t a risk,” [Pols emphasis] Hickenlooper told a crowd gathered for the bill signing at a historic one-room schoolhouse owned by the city of Lakewood. “I fear, I’m not sure, but I fear that it’s a reflection that education has become more polarized and more partisan.”

Gratuitous Katy Perry photo.

Gratuitous Katy Perry photo.

The Colorado Statesman’s Vic Vela has more:

The Democratic governor recently sought permission from Jeffco schools to hold an education bill signing at Lakewood High School. Instead, his request was denied by conservative district Superintendent Dan McMinimee, who cited security and other logistical concerns.

Instead, Hickenlooper held a May 20 event to sign into law key changes to student testing policy from inside an old school house at a museum site in Lakewood. From there, Hickenlooper said he was “disappointed” with McMinimee’s decision.

“I think it introduces at least the impression of partisanship,” Hickenlooper told reporters after the bill signing, which was held on the grounds of the Lakewood Heritage Center…

Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy said the school also hosted a 2012 event with Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who at the time was a vice presidential candidate. Murphy said the city and the school district was only given a couple of days notice, but that all the necessary security was put in place. [Pols emphasis]

There’s little question about it, the negative press the already embattled Jeffco school district received for rejecting Hickenlooper’s bill signing was not worth whatever political points they may have scored with fellow conservatives. The district’s spokesperson Lisa “Big Résumé” Pinto insists that politics weren’t a factor at all, but that doesn’t square with the public’s recent recollection of political campaign events in 2012 and 2014 at various Jeffco schools–like the 2012 event for Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan at the same school. If those were okay, voters will reasonably ask, why couldn’t Hickenlooper sign a bill directly pertaining to education?

It’s doesn’t matter what excuses the district’s right-wing staffers offer up, the optics of this situation are awful. The incident underscores what a lot of Jefferson County voters already believe–that this school district has been taken over by divisive partisan political operators, who are now dispensing their own political paybacks. Even conservatives in Jefferson County should be able to see the problem with a school district alienating high-ranking elected officials with petty games, not to mention the chilling effect this could have on ordinary citizens who don’t share the board’s political agenda.

Is it their worst offense? Hardly. But it’s pretty revealing.

Congress Approves Memorial Day VA Hospital Band-Aid, Wound Still Festering

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reporting now on a last-minute deal to keep construction going at the troubled VA medical center project on the Anschutz medical campus in Aurora…for now, anyway:

On the same day Congress is preparing to leave for a Memorial Day break, House Republicans introduced a last-minute temporary patch that would prevent another work stoppage at Colorado’s new VA hospital project.

The bill introduced mid-day by VA committee chair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) would increase the current $800 million cap on the project to $900 million, which would buy another few weeks of construction work on the site until congress can come back and consider options for a longer-term fix…

Kiewit-Turner…announced in a memo Wednesday that a shutdown on Colorado’s mismanaged VA hospital project would add between $125-200 million to the overall cost of the project and delay opening until as late as 2018.

Rep. Mike Coffman and fellow Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter were reportedly prime movers for this bill, speaking on the House floor this morning in favor of speedy passage to allow construction on the project to keep going through and beyond Memorial Day weekend. While that would prevent highly unfavorable news headlines during the holiday when we honor our fallen veterans, as the AP’s Nick Riccardi alludes to in a Tweet today, it’s not really what you’d call a solution to the larger problem:

Aurora VA medical center site. (credit: VA)

Aurora VA medical center site. (credit: VA)

The fact is, this short-term deal doesn’t help that much, because there will still be tremendous uncertainty for the contractors doing the work. Construction firms need the lead time that comes with planning certainty to properly allocate limited work crews on construction projects–at this project and others elsewhere. One of the reasons this project has gone so woefully over budget is that the problems with budgets and timetables have made it harder to find subcontractors to perform so many of the tasks required. Denver’s hot construction market means that if subcontractors don’t want to deal with the headaches and political uncertainty on this project, they don’t have to.

Coffman can claim he persuaded his own Republican House leadership to allow this short-term deal to keep construction going, but we’re likely to be right back in the same position just a couple of weeks from now, so this is more of a punt than anything. Can Coffman keep the project going with the threat of a politically unsightly Memorial Day shutdown removed? What pound of flesh will Coffman’s Republican leadership demand next time to keep this hospital alive? How many times can Coffman try to be the savior before the press starts asking why the chairman of the VA Oversight Committee has done so little to solve this problem despite knowing about it for years?

Bottom line: especially after the actions of Coffman’s Republican leadership this week risking another shutdown of the project, the line between being a hero and being part of the problem here is precarious at best. This deeply troubled but necessary new hospital for our vets isn’t out of the woods yet–and neither is Mike Coffman.

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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► 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…

(more…)

Irony Watch: Stapleton Trashes Denver Post Article After Declining Interview

(Nobody shoots their own foot quite like Walker Stapleton — promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you’re a journalist, this is the kind of  irony that makes you want to jump into the raging Platte River: State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is trashing a Denver Post article as “completely misleading” even though Stapleton refused an interview request from the reporter who wrote the article that Stapleton is so upset about.

Over the weekend, The Denver Post’s John Frank reported that Stapleton caved to pressure from conservatives and withdrew his support from legislation aimed at making money for PERA, the state’s public pension system.

Frank sought Stapleton’s comments for his article, but alas, as Frank reported:

John Frank: “Michael Fortney, a spokesman for Stapleton, declined to make him available for an interview and blamed the media for spreading falsehoods about the legislation.”

So John Frank dutifully did the best he could anyway to piece together Stapleton’s best response to the substantive issues at play. But this wasn’t good enough for Stapleton, who trashed Frank’s reporting on KLZ 560-AM’s nooner show yesterday:

 Stapleton (@5:40 below): “John Frank’s reporting, which was lacking to be diplomatic, was completely misleading, never once illuminated my track record of suing the pension system, lowering the [assumed] rate of return, leading the defeat of Amendment 66, the largest tax increase in Colorado history, because the money was going to back fill obligations in the pension system. I mean, the notion that somehow I’ve become sideways, because I’m in league with the pension system–the facts don’t quite bear that out.”

That’s not what the article said at all, but Stapleton went further, telling KLZ host Ken Clark that he thinks The Post has a bias against “statewide elected Republicans,” and so he’s “really isn’t surprised” that The Post’s coverage “has been not accurate.”

Stapleton (@1:30 below): “The Denver Post, their coverage of this, has been not accurate and misrepresentative of my position from the beginning, which really isn’t surprising as a statewide elected Republican.”

You can add another layer of irony to this accusation, because one of the state’s most conservative/libertarian journalists, Vincent Carroll, wrote that Stapleton “migrated into incoherence” when Stapleton previously attacked The Post’s coverage of the PERA legislation…

(more…)

Mitch McConnell Wooing Mike Coffman at Breakfast Tomorrow

Sen. Mitch McConnell, table for two, please.

Table for two, please.

As Roll Call reports, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) will have breakfast tomorrow with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hopes to pursuade Coffman to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016. Judging from the headline of the Roll Call story (“What if Mike Coffman Says No“), somebody may have more than egg on their face tomorrow afternoon:

Republicans are trying to recruit Rep. Mike Coffman to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado. If he stays put in the House, that gives the GOP a crop of candidates who could have a harder time in what will be one of Republicans’ few offensive opportunities in 2016.

Coffman will have breakfast Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will surely make the case to convince the four-term lawmaker to try and join him across the rotunda. Asked about recruitment efforts, Coffman quipped, “Pressure, pressure, pressure.”

Coffman is taking his time. He told CQ Roll Call a decision would come “probably within the next month.”

“Still thinking. Never say never. But I haven’t ruled it out,” he said.

Roll Call says that there is a “large field of Colorado Republicans” who are waiting on Coffman’s decision, though the story just mentions a bunch of obvious names that we already know to be less of a list than a scribble on a napkin.

We’ve said for a long time in this space that we do NOT think Coffman will run for the U.S. Senate. Coffman’s troubles with the VA Hospital in Aurora certainly won’t help.

“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.

The Cost Of Coffman Comes Home To Roost

UPDATE: AP’s Nick Riccardi:

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman: mad as hell...at everyone?

Rep. Mike Coffman: mad as hell…at everyone?

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, the ongoing controversy over the wildly over-budget new VA medical center under construction at the Anschutz campus in Aurora has taken a troubling turn–and Congressional Republicans have nobody left to blame:

With funding about to run out, Congress and the administration failed again Tuesday to reach a deal on how to finish construction of a Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora that has seen its price tag soar to $1.73 billion.

The latest setback follows an offer by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to trim the hospital campus by two buildings, including a clinic for post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said House Speaker John Boehner had rejected the proposal and that Boehner wanted the cost reduced further; the VA has estimated it needs an additional $830 million to complete the facility. [Pols emphasis]

“I’ve been shuttling back and forth between (VA) Secretary (Robert) McDonald and the speaker’s office hoping that an agreement can be reached before the end of this week in order to avoid a complete shutdown at the hospital construction site,” Coffman said.

That’s right–Rep. Mike Coffman, who has chaired the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for more than two years (and served on the House VA Committee in general)–is scrambling to convince his own Republican leaders to approve the funds needed to avert yet another halt to construction. As a report from ProgressNow Colorado made clear in April, Coffman has been well aware of this looming disaster for many years yet has failed to do much more than call for VA staffers to be fired…and panic is starting to take hold. From 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman:

“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.” [Pols emphasis]

Coffman, along with the other eight members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, are racing the clock, hoping to convince congressional leaders to authorize another $200 million toward to the spending cap on the Aurora hospital project.

John Boehner.

John Boehner.

But the latest word today from Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is, well, screw ’em. Here’s Matthews in an updated story just posted moments ago:

A high-level, eleventh hour meeting meant to find a way to fund the troubled $1.73 billion VA hospital in Aurora ended in standstill Wednesday, raising the increasingly likely prospect that money for both a long-term and a short-term deal isn’t coming.

Punctuating that point was a combative floor speech delivered by House Speaker John Boehner that took aim at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the administration…

Matthews reports that if a deal to keep construction going isn’t reached, the cost of mothballing the project will itself be millions of dollars–not to mention the cost of getting subcontractors back on the job after a shutdown, workers who will be snatched up for other Denver-area construction projects as soon as they are idled. 

While no one is suggesting that Coffman is solely responsible for the huge cost overruns this project has incurred, there’s no ignoring the fact that Coffman “owns” as much of this problem as anybody. This is happening in Coffman’s own district; Coffman is the Chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee; and Coffman has campaigned for years on his military background and “support” for veterans. If the VA Hospital in Aurora was completed on-budget and on-time, Coffman would be doing pushups at the ribbon cutting.

The bottom line now is that the hospital needs to be finished or, to put it in Shakespearean terms, “all are punished.” The Obama administration looks bad, the VA looks bad, the contractors look bad — and Coffman looks worse by the day as he looks for someone else to blame or be fired.

Coffman has a lot to lose if Boehner and the House GOP leadership decide to use this project as a stick to beat on the Obama administration, and it’s difficult to see how Republicans can do this without inflicting significant collateral damage on the four-term Representative from CD-6.

We suspect Coffman is pretty nervous right about now.

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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► 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…

(more…)

Wednesday Open Thread

Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
And I decline

–REM, from It’s The End Of the World As We Know It

Rep. Chaps Says Judges “Cooperate With Demonic Spirits”

With the 2015 session of the Colorado legislature now in the books, the General Assembly’s most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Republican representative, Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs, has ended his self-imposed hiatus from his Pray in Jesus’ Name Youtube broadcasts. You’ll recall that Klingenschmitt temporarily stopped producing his Youtube shows after being punished in the legislature for asserting that the horrific attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont in March was “the curse of God upon America” for tolerating the practice of abortion. In the place of his regular quasi-political rants, Klingenschmitt uploaded a series of biblical education videos called “Discerning the Spirits.”

As Raw Story’s David Edwards reports, Klingenschmitt is in his second week of resumed PJN broadcasts, and was preaching yesterday about “discerning the spirits” all right–demons, that is. As they relate to gay people. And federal courts!

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand that upheld a New Jersey law banning the discredited practice of converting gay people into heterosexuals.

On his Monday Pray in Jesus Name broadcast, Klingenschmitt argued that Christian psychotherapists had been stripped of their “free speech rights” because they could no longer use reparative therapy, which he said was “intended to repair the character flaw inside of someone who has a character problem and that problem is homosexual addiction.” [Pols emphasis]

“The Holy Spirit of God is a healing God and he would come, perhaps, through the psychotherapist to heal the homosexual of the sinful addiction,” Klingenschmitt explained. “And yet, there is a demonic spirit inside of the addict that is controlling their voluntary choices or, at least, has contracted with them and is manifesting through them in this sinful addiction.”

“What the lower court judges are doing is they are cooperating with the demonic spirit inside of the homosexual addict, and those judges are now reinforcing the sin,” he insisted. “That’s what these bad judges have done.”

This past April, one of the many bills killed by the one-seat GOP controlled Colorado Senate was a bill very similar to New Jersey’s law banning the use of so-called “reparative therapy” on minor children. The bill died with GOP Senators like Owen Hill defending the rights of persons who “want this therapy,” even though in the case of minor children, it’s generally the parents who want it–and despite the fact that “reparative therapy” has been condemned by the American Psychological Association, along with any type of therapy “based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder.”

Fortunately, we’ve got Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R) to explain that gayness is not a “mental disorder” at all! What’s really going on here is that a demon who normally possesses gay people is also possessing judges, or at least getting judges to “cooperate” with the demons possessing gay people in order to “reinforce the sin” and prevent Godly therapists from purging (exorcising?) the “character flaw inside of someone who has a character problem and that problem is homosexual addiction.”

To which we can only say, this would have been illuminating testimony during the debate over House Bill 1175.

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.”

Another instance of Stapleton caving under pressure from righties

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton.

Walker Stapleton.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton apparently caved to pressure from conservatives earlier this month, when he claimed not to have supported legislation that he helped draft and later promoted.

It was a weird reversal–but not the first time Stapleton has walked back a moderate position after hearing from his conservative allies.

In January, in an interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, Stapleton clearly stated he was open to not returning TABOR refunds.

Asked by Warner if he would support “something that you felt was responsible and meant the state held on to the TABOR refunds,” Stapleton answered:

Stapleton: “Absolutely. TABOR is the popular whipping post, but Gallagher and Amendment 23 have also created a Gordian Knot of automatic ratchets in the budget and we need to free ourselves of automatic ratchets and get more control over where we spend dollars and more results-oriented spending for our budget going forward in the future. But I’m not opposed reflexively to anything, other than I’m opposed to anything that doesn’t give taxpayers a voice in where their money is being spent.”

Sounds kind of reasonable, doesn’t he, like he did in supporting a common-sense bill to bolster Colorado’s public retirement system. That is until conservatives got to him.

Same thing happened to his reasonable attitude toward TABOR. It disappeared.

(more…)