Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 15)

Does your Mom/Dad/Spouse/Significant Other work as an accountant? You might see them tomorrow! 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 Tax Day, which is a fitting time for the State Senate to discuss legislation to allow local governments to increase the minimum wage. The statewide minimum wage is $8.23 an hour, and more than 600,000 Coloradans earn less than $12 per hour. Meanwhile, Colorado Democrats are pushing to close offshore tax loopholes that could save the state millions of dollars every year.

► Ruh, roh! It’s starting to look like there was plenty of warning that the VA Hospital project in Aurora was going to get ridiculously expensive. Quick, Rep. Mike Coffman, put out a statement with some sort of military analogy!

 

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GOP Gun Law Repeal Push Becomes Circular Firing Squad

Huh?

Huh?

Yesterday’s marathon hearing in the House State Affairs Committee resulted, as expected, in the killing of all of GOP’s bills to repeal the 2013 gun safety laws passed by the Colorado General Assembly, as well as legislation to loosen concealed weapons permit standards and allow guns on school campuses. As has become the norm, the gun lobby’s threats to pack yesterday’s hearing did not materialize, and in fact supporters of the bills Republicans were trying to repeal again outnumbered opponents in testimony. The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader reports:

It was another marathon committee meeting that lasted 12 hours and was filled with emotional testimony from the family of those who lost loved ones to gun violence like the Aurora movie theatre shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the Columbine High School shooting.

On the other side countless gun owners concerned with losing their right to bear arms testified in favor of the Republican bills to overturn universal background checks, a ban on high capacity magazines, two bills that would eliminate the requirement for a concealed carry permit, a bill that would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring gun on public schools campuses throughout the state and a bill that would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to not get background checks before buying any gun.

thurlowtraitor

In the days before yesterday’s hearing, lingering tensions between the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the “corporate conservative” Independence Institute exploded into a highly public and acrimonious fight over the magazine limit bill. In hindsight, it does appear that Jon Caldara’s attack on RMGO is misguided: contrary to his insistence, there was never any appetite on the left or right for increasing the magazine limit to 30 rounds. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steve Humphrey, made it clear that he wasn’t interested in that, while Sen. Chris Holbert went a step farther and asserted such an amendment would be unconstitutional. But that hasn’t stopped Caldara from harshly calling out RMGO for their supposed intransigence, or RMGO from harshing right back (see photo top right).

In addition to red-on-red infighting between RMGO and the Independence Institute, Republican Rep. Dan Thurlow is taking fire from RMGO today after voting last night to kill the background check repeal and “guns in schools” bills. Thurlow was already on RMGO’s naughty list after voting to kill a bill to make it easier to obtain machine guns and other military weapons, and voting to preserve background checks on private gun sales surely won’t help relations between them–even though Thurlow voted in a way that the public will overwhelmingly favor. These votes would seem to indicate that Thurlow doesn’t care what the gun lobby thinks, especially after either Sen. Tim Neville or Rep. Pat Neville hamfistedly let slip that the Neville clan is driving the whisper campaign against him.

Perhaps most amusing about this whole situation is that Caldara’s intention here was almost certainly to divide Democrats, but in the end, it’s Republicans who are at each other’s throats today–and the policy goal everyone on the right started the session hopeful to achieve, repeal of the magazine limit, is dead with nothing whatsoever to show for it. Instead of using yesterday’s vote as a pretext to attack vulnerable Democrats, today the right in Colorado is pointing fingers only at each other.

Bottom line: all those Republicans who have warned over the years that Dudley Brown and RMGO is a loose cannon, more ripe for self-immolation than glory? This must be what they mean, folks.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 14)

Forgot to do your taxes? You’ve got a good 36 hours left. 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 Obama Administration says it has a plan to fund construction of the troubled VA Hospital in Aurora. Congressman Mike Coffman, the Republican Chair of the Veterans Subcommittee on Oversight, continues to bluster without taking time to suggest an actual solution.

► The State House is finished debating several more attempts to overturn gun safety laws passed in 2013. There was much debate, talking, and blustering, but in the end, nothing changed…though divisions within the Republican Party are growing, as the Colorado Springs-Gazette editorial board writes:

Forget Michael Bloomberg, Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislative Democrats for now. The bigger threat to gun rights in Colorado is Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, headed by political operative Dudley Brown.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 13)

On this day in 1743, Thomas Jefferson was born; do the math yourselves. 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 gunpalooza at the state legislature, likely for the final time in 2015. The State House will hear arguments over a plethora of bills that seek to roll back gun safety measures from 2013. Meanwhile, a new front has opened on the gun safety battle — Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) are openly fighting with Independence Institute leader Jon Caldara. You can follow the discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #coleg.

Hillary Clinton is running for President. For reals. If the rest of her campaign is anything like her well-done kickoff video announcement, she will win in 2016.

► Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is announcing his bid for President today. Can Rubio win the GOP nomination for President? Can he beat Hillary? Those are quandaries for another time, because Rubio will be dogged by one single question: Can he even beat former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his home state?

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Son of Gunmageddon: Dudley Brown’s Last Stand

Today’s main event at the Colorado Capitol kicks off at 1:30PM in the freshly-renovated Room 271, where the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs “kill committee” will debate a total of six Republican bills pertaining to guns:

gunmageddon2

Guns.

Guns.

AP via 9NEWS reports:

Republicans get their last chance of the year Monday to change Colorado’s firearm laws. Lawmakers will consider several proposals, including two bills to eliminate gun-control measures passed by Democrats in 2013…

The Democrat-led House committee hearing the bills Monday is expected to reject them. Other proposals expected to go down include bills to allow concealed handguns at public schools, and to let people to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

Today’s hearing is expected to drag on for many hours. Senate Bill 15-175, the bill that would repeal the 2013 law limiting gun magazines to 15 rounds, is expected to draw the most testimony, and being up first should be a good indicator of how long a night is really in store. We’ve been consistently surprised by the small turnout from the gun lobby and their supporters for hearings to repeal the 2013 gun safety laws–in marked contrast to the huge crowds of gun rights supporters who flooded the Capitol during the original debate. Supporters of the 2013 laws, on the other hand, have consistently mounted a strong defense, even outnumbering witnesses testifying against, and plan to do so again today. From Everytown for Gun Safety’s release:

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 10)

So it’s not technically a “Good Friday.” We’ll take it anyway. 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…

► Democrat Hillary Clinton will officially launch her campaign on Sunday, April 12, with an online video! Polling numbers are all over the place, which makes sense given that it is April 2015.

► Colorado business groups are backing a proposed ballot reform measure that would make it harder to reform the ballot — which is not a bad idea. As the Denver Business Journal explains:

Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 — introduced late Wednesday by Sens. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Pat Steadman, D-Denver — would require a majority of voters in a statewide general election to approve any proposed constitutional amendment before it is then resubmitted on a statewide ballot the next year.

It also would require that state officials conduct public hearings about any proposed amendments in each of the state’s seven congressional districts before the second round of voting on the question.

► The State House gave final approval to “The Long Bill,” despite a litany of silly objections from House Republicans. The discussion now heads back to the Senate to work out differences over the $26 billion budget proposal.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 9)

According to a scientist from NASA, we will have proof of alien life in less than 20 years; make your own joke. 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 State House will likely take a final vote on Colorado’s $25-26 billion proposed budget. 

► Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced his campaign for President on Tuesday. As the Washington Post reports, things went downhill from there:

In a series of interviews after the freshman senator from Kentucky declared his candidacy on Tuesday, Paul turned prickly — briskly sidestepping tough foreign policy questions from one journalist, lecturing another on how to conduct an interview, and testily declining to clarify his position on abortion…

…the rocky media rollout of his presidential effort highlighted a key question facing him now: whether the same tough approach that has made him a favorite among tea party activists and libertarians might be limiting in a national campaign, as he looks to build a broader coalition rich with voters from beyond his base.

At least Paul still has hope that he can change Kentucky laws to allow him to simultaneously run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

► Senate Republicans voted to kill a bill that would have stopped “Pray the Gay Away” pseudo-therapy sessions for kids in Colorado. Yesterday, President Obama denounced the idea of “gay conversion.”

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Anti-choice activists push for dangerous fetal-homicide bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

During a KNUS 710-AM radio interview yesterday, Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman said he’s “really hoping” to get a fetal homicide bill introduced “by the end of the week.”

KNUS radio host Dan Caplis, who’s a deep-red social conservative, urged Cadman to push for a law like California’s, which establishes a fetus as a potential victim of a crime.

Cadman replied that the California law is “definitely one of the models that we’re looking at.”

Pro-choice advocates, however, say the California law undermines civil rights protections of pregnant women, allowing for criminal investigations of pregnant women based on the legal rights of the fetus.

They say any fetal homicide measure is unnecessary, as Colorado’s Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act is the gold standard insofar as it mandates severe penalties for perpetrators of crimes like the Longmont attack, while protecting abortion rights and the civil rights of pregnant women.

The Longmont attacker faces charges that could result in a 100-year prison term.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Get More SmarterWe don’t care what anybody says: Today is NOT the first day of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 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…

► Anyone got an extra $1.73 billion that they aren’t using? We may need it to finish the new VA Hospital in Denver that is actually in Aurora. Also, Rep. Mike Coffman is complaining again that other people aren’t doing stuff.

► Surprise! No, wait…what’s the opposite of surprise? Colorado doesn’t have much room in next year’s budget to fund things. It’s almost like we need a new source of revenue or something.

 ► We may not have much money in the state coffers, but at least we’re offering tax refunds! Thanks, TABOR: Destroying Colorado one ratchet effect at a time.

 ► But wait, The U.S. Senate will save the fiscal day! Oh, nevermind.

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Meet RMGO’s Latest “Gun Grabber”

The hard-charging Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group has found a new target (metaphorically speaking) for their anger over Colorado’s 2013 gun safety laws:

suthersrmgo

That’s right, folks! Former Attorney General John Suthers, now a candidate for mayor of Colorado Springs, is under fire (again, metaphor) for his “defense” of the 2013 gun laws–both in court defending the state from lawsuits, and in the form of a technical memo on enforcement of the magazine limit law, House Bill 13-1224, that debunked a large percentage of the hysteria being promoted by the very same RMGO.

Former Colorado Attorney General argued AGAINST your Second Amendment rights in court, and now he wants to be Mayor of Colorado Springs. If you or someone you know lives in Colorado Springs, please don’t vote for this gun-grabber.

The detail RMGO director Dudley Brown seems to not wish to acknowledge is that as Colorado’s Attorney General, Suthers was obliged to defend the gun safety laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Suthers made no secret of his personal opposition to the 2013 gun laws, but that wasn’t enough to induce Suthers to shirk his duties as AG. We have heard that Suthers found some of the hyperbole from fellow Republicans about the gun laws to be absurd, such as their claims that the laws would ‘ban gun ownership’ or ‘ban all magazines.’ That acknowledgement of reality is a far cry from lumping Suthers in with the dreaded “gun grabbers.”

But as we know after watching RMGO these last few years, reality has little to do with it.

Mag Limit Crazy Talk: A Trip Down Memory Lane

UPDATE #2: As expected, Senate Bill 15-175 passes the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate. After one more roll call vote, the bill heads to the House to die.

—–

UPDATE: Debate now underway:

—–

Today, the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate is set to debate and pass on second reading Senate Bill 15-175, legislation repealing the 15-round limit on gun magazine capacity passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in 2013. A lively floor debate is expected to begin shortly.

As we have documented in this space, the gun lobby and allied Republicans have consistently relied on wildly hyperbolic predictions about what the magazine limit law would do in order to fire up public opposition and derail the national debate over gun safety. Today, as the Senate debates the repeal of the magazine limit, we’d like to share few clips of video about the magazine limit bill that we want to see, you know, justified.

Here’s one to start with: in March of 2013, then-Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman proposed that the Department of Natural Resources be “shut down,” since hunters will not be coming to Colorado–“because you can’t bring your weapons here.”

As we know back here in reality, the number of hunting permits issued in Colorado has surged since the passage of the 2013 magazine limit. It would appear that hunters figured out that what Cadman was saying wasn’t true in the least.

And then there’s Sen. Kent Lambert, who claimed in 2013 that “we have banned, effectively banned gun ownership, from the citizens of the state.”

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Radio host accidentally leaves clues about who wrote document trashing votes by Thurlow

(Oops! The Nevilles appear busted – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

GOP Reps. Patrick Neville, Dan Thurlow.

GOP Reps. Patrick Neville, Dan Thurlow.

On his Facebook page yesterday, KLZ AM-560 radio host Ken Clark posted a document and posed the question, “This is Dan Thurlow’s voting record so far, what do you think?”

Clark freely acknowledged that he didn’t write the piece, which criticizes Thurlow, a Republican who’s been voting against his caucus, for nine votes opposing right-wing legislation. For example, Thurlow’s vote for a ban on “conversion therapy” is noted in the document with the comment: “Thurlow thinks that is a great idea and was the only R in the entire house to vote for it.”

The document states that Thurlow is an “idiot” for voting against a bill that would have allowed the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to allow “transfers of machine guns, destructive devices, and certain types of firearms” if the transferee met certain conditions, loosening the current regulator regime. 

In describing Thurlow’s vote against the machine-gun-transfer bill, HB 1086, Clark’s secret-source states: “This was my bill, it would have mandated CBI sign off on form 4s for NFA license packets if the person passes a background check.”

So judging from this “my bill” line in the document posted, and other comments about email, Clark’s source appears to be a legislator who sponsored HB 1086.

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

And Clark acknowledges in the comment section that Clark deleted a reference in the anonymously-authored document to HB 1171 as  “my freedom of conscience protection bill.”

The sponsors of both those bills are Rep. Patrick and Sen. Tim Neville. (See HB 1171 here and HB 1086 here.)

So, while we can’t be sure, it looks like Clark’s source is either Rep. Patrick Neville or Sen. Tim Neville.

Asked about the situation, Clark said it was “an editing error on my part.”

In any case, it’s a lesson for all of us who receive leaked or anonymously-authored documents. Read them carefully before posting them to avoid disclosing your sources or giving hidden clues to bored bloggers who love to expose anonymous sources.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

Get More SmarterHere’s a sentence nobody ever wants to have said about them: It’s not technically treason. 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 Sen. Cory Gardner talked to the Denver Post (sort of) about his decision to sign his name to the now-infamous “Dear Iran” letter. Gardner’s weird, rambling response to a letter that spawned the hashtag #47Traitors did nothing to explain why he thought this was a good idea. Mike Littwin wonders who was more humiliated about this letter — Republicans or President Obama — while dissecting this political disaster for the GOP.

► Speaking of the “Dear Iran” letter, the Denver Post editorial board used a whole five sentences to opine on the issue yesterday. This is the same newspaper, of course, that endorsed Gardner for Senate in 2014.

► The anti-vaxxers in the Colorado legislature have re-emerged on an amendment offered to an otherwise uninteresting naturopathic bill:

 Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The Latest In Gun Nut Fashion?

Half-empty Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mag limit repeal yesterday.

Half-empty Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mag limit repeal yesterday.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, gun rights activists once again failed to pack the Capitol with supporters of their bill to repeal the magazine capacity limit, despite intense rallying of their base in days prior:

Republicans controlling a Senate committee on Monday passed a measure that would repeal the state’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines…

Debate was expected to last into the evening, but testimony finished early, [Pols emphasis] allowing lawmakers to take a vote, which passed on a 3-2 party-line tally.

Republicans are likely to push the measure through the Senate, where they control the chamber and have the support of four Democrats. But the bill is unlikely to make it through the House, where Democrats sit in the majority and are considering sending the measure to an unfavorable committee.

The gun lobby may not have been able to fill yesterday’s hearing, but what they lacked in numbers they appeared to make up for with…well, interesting fashion choices:

gunnutfashion

That’s Sen. Randy Baumgardner standing with a “gun guy” who came to testify in favor of Senate Bill 175 yesterday. Now, we don’t want to betray ignorance of something we’re supposed to know about–but can anyone tell us what the hell this guy is wearing and why? They didn’t have guns in Game of Thrones. Braveheart didn’t wear anything like this–at least we don’t think, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen it. We see what looks like an NRA patch on the front of his…smock, robe, whatever this is, but beyond that we really don’t have a clue.

But as with any fringe subculture with their own uniforms, we’re curious.

“Gunmageddon’s” Last Gasp Moves Today

Lots of guns.

Lots of guns.

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman:

On Monday, new GOP Senate President Bill Cadman makes good on his promise to give Democrats a chance to “correct their mistakes” on gun policy.

A Republican bill to repeal the 15-round limit on ammunition magazines gets its first hearing Monday afternoon in the senate judiciary committee.

SB 175 is likely to pass through the senate under GOP control, but it’s likely to die a quick death in the Democratically-controlled house.

The equivalent legislation on the House side has already died, in a hearing that drew surprisingly little interest from gun owners–continuing a pattern we’ve seen of the gun lobby being consistently unable to match the level of opposition to gun safety legislation seen in 2013 when they were originally passed by the General Assembly.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners tried to rally their members to the Capitol for this legislation two weeks ago, but were thwarted by heavy snow. It’s unknown how many of their supporters were able to get time off again to testify today, but most expect the debate over Senate Bill 175 to be the acid test of the gun lobby’s drawing–and staying–power.

Right before it dies in the Democratic House of course, an inevitable fact that will probably not be great for turnout–that, and the fact that fevered predictions the magazine limit would “ban gun ownership” or “ban all magazines” never came true. Reality-based debates over this law aren’t nearly as emotional, so most of the testimony today probably won’t be.

We’ll update with coverage as it comes in.