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.

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…

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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.”

Seriously? Jeffco School District Spurns Democratic Governor

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Aguilar, here come the lame excuses:

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, said the jettisoned ceremony was particularly relevant to Jefferson County students because it would have involved the enactment of House Bill 1323, a hotly debated test reduction measure.

“The look on kids’ faces when they get to meet the governor and he has a bill in front of him that is about to become law — that experience for students is incredible,” said Kerr, who teaches at the online Jeffco Virtual Academy…

Jefferson County Schools has been through a tumultuous year, with a flood of negative headlines generated over a controversial curriculum proposal and superintendent selection process. District spokeswoman Lisa Pinto said a visit from the governor, accompanied by a potentially large media contingent, “would be difficult for our schools to accommodate,” especially on short notice.

—–

Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Even more unforced bad press for the Jefferson County Board of Education’s conservative majority, as the Colorado Independent’s Kyle Harris reports:

Jefferson County public schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee told Governor John Hickenlooper’s office and Colorado lawmakers that they’re a security risk and unwelcome to conduct bill signings in the district’s schools, says the governor’s Chief Strategy Officer Alan Salazar.

Superintendent McMinimee found his district embroiled in controversy last fall when the newly elected conservative school board proposed updating AP US History curriculum to deemphasize chapters of “conflict” — such as Native American genocide, slavery, the civil rights movement –and to downplay the way protest and civil disobedience have brought tremendous social change…

Now, with the district refusing to host the governor and lawmakers, observers are wondering if the political history of the present seems equally suspect to the board.

Top staffer for Gov. John Hickenlooper Alan Salazar vented his frustration via Facebook:

Still trying to get my head around learning last week that the Superintendent of Jeffco Schools informed legislators and our office that the Governor of Colorado could not do a bill signing at any district schools because his presence at such an event presented a “security risk” to students. Really? Seems to me that any school would welcome a governor and legislators for a real life example of our democracy in action. Apparently not in Jeffco.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s chilly reception in Jefferson County differs notably from his experience just last week at a northeast Denver elementary school:

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 15)

“When the wolf is trying to get in, you gotta stand in the doorway.” RIP B.B. King. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Pressure Builds For Veto of Interest Rate Hike Bill

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

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

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

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

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

More from the Colorado Statesman’s Vic Vela:

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

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

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

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

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 14)

Today’s forecast calls for possible sightings of the sun. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Veto the “loan shark giveaway,” Gov. Hickenlooper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Groups Ask Hickenlooper To Veto Interest Rate Hike Bill

380_image_loanshark_8662Here’s an excerpt from a letter sent by several consumer advocacy groups including the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy, and the Colorado Progressive Coalition to Gov. John Hickenlooper, requesting a veto of House Bill 15-1390last-minute legislation that shot through the General Assembly at the closing bell allowing lenders to dramatically jack up interest rates on specific types of personal loans:

We respectfully ask you to veto the Allowable Finance Charge for Certain Consumer Credit Transactions bill (HB15-1390). This bill, which was introduced in the final few days of session and did not get a full vetting in the Legislature, would raise the cost of credit for moderate- and low-income Coloradans on certain consumer credit transactions. Raising these caps would lead to more high-cost and unaffordable credit products, hurting Colorado consumers and middle-class families. We are not opposed to the loans, just to increasing the current rates so significantly.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which regulates these loans, testified in the House about how HB15-1390 would affect these loans. While neutral on the bill, the office said that it would increase the costs of an average $6,000 loan by 38.1 percent. The Attorney General’s Office also said there is nothing to indicate that this credit product is not available to consumers or that consumers are having a hard time accessing this product.

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

As we discussed last week, House Bill 15-1390 passed through the General Assembly at lightning speed with almost no debate. Consumer group opponents like the Bell Policy Center had no opportunity to mount an opposition to the bill. In subsequent days, we’ve heard that lobbyists for the lenders who would benefit from higher interest rates facilitated the late introduction of the bill, and paraded lenders through the legislature in the final days who essentially threatened to close up shop if they couldn’t increase interest rates–this despite the fact that tens of thousands of these loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars were made under the current rates last year. This threat, which sounds remarkably like the hollow arguments against payday lending reform a few years ago, evidently persuaded all but two members of the House to pass the bill. In the Senate, after opponents had the chance to get their feet under them, most Democrats voted against the bill--a telling difference.

1390senatevote

From all accounts we’ve heard, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office was not part of whatever dubious greasing of the wheels occurred here, and his signature is by no means assured. Over the coming days, we expect Hickenlooper to hear from both sides, but ultimately we think there is enough backlash forming against both the bill and the shady process by which it was introduced and passed to make a veto an easy decision.

And after that, we hope for a frank conversation within the Democratic House caucus–about how sticking it to subprime borrowers in the closing hours of the legislative session is not how you “protect working families.”

The nation has to do better than regional standards to combat methane waste

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In case you missed it, and it looks like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper may have, NASA scientists descended on the Four Corners region of the southwest to discuss the problem of natural gas waste, which is widely believed to be caused in part by venting and flaring.   

Gov. Hickenlooper deserves to be applauded for his administration’s strong commitment to tackling the wasteful methane emissions caused by resource extraction activities.  It’s great that Colorado stepped up, but his recent suggestion that the BLM shouldn’t weigh-in is misguided at best:

“I think if the states can agree, our soles are on the dirt–the soles of our boots are right on the ground. If we can agree among ourselves then I think we have a stronger case to go back to the BLM and say, “You don’t need to regulate methane emissions[.]’”

Most states with a methane waste problem aren’t doing squat and no one is coming close to what Colorado has done. In fact, Colorado and New Mexico have a big problem, as evidenced by the Delaware-sized methane cloud NASA discovered that is hovering over the Four Corners.  

Because most states haven’t been as bold as Gov. Hickenlooper’s Colorado, it’s time for strong national standards from the BLM to combat a problem that clearly crosses state borders, and the borders between federal, state, and private lands.

The BLM also has a financial obligation to the American taxpayer. Wasting methane from flaring and venting means lost tax revenue (about half of which goes to states)—and waste is something that the BLM is legally mandated to minimize. It’s clear that we need a smart, comprehensive approach to methane waste.

Once Again: Obamacare Audit Yes, Political Grandstand No

obamacares

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports on the signing last Friday of a bill to comprehensively audit Connect For Health Colorado, the state’s “Obamacare” health insurance marketplace responsible for significantly reducing the rate of uninsured in Colorado:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed into law a bill ordering a functional audit of Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official health insurance exchange.

SB 19 authorizes the state auditor to investigate the performance of the “operation, contract management, project management, and performance of the shared eligibility system and any other related or corresponding state systems in order to ensure a complete and thorough audit of the operation of the exchange.”

Confusion over systems that are shared between the state and the quasi-governmental exchange ran rampant as people fell into glitches that botched subsidies and canceled automatic renewals of health plans.

Although Connect For Health Colorado has been a success story overall, signing up tens of thousands of Coloradans for new health coverage and helping reduce the rate of uninsured in Colorado from 17% to only 11%, some legitimate issues have cropped up regarding glitches in the signup system that interrupted coverage for a small percentage of policyholders. There’s a continuous need to sort out legitimate issues with anything related to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, from conservative hysterics and misinformation, but investigations from 9NEWS’ Rittiman and a few others have uncovered real problems that require attention–maybe not from Republicans who want to use any pretext to destroy the system altogether, but definitely from Democrats who want to make the marketplace work.

Senate Republicans introduced the audit bill and were upset when Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives killed a companion bill which would have also given lawmakers power over bonuses paid to executives with the exchange.

Some Republicans tried to go a step beyond that and kill the exchange altogether.

Giving lawmakers and excuse to grandstand on an annual basis over bonuses for exchange employees serves no functional purpose: only a partisan political one. The difference between essentially trolling the overall highly successful health insurance marketplace every year, compared to legislation to constructively identify and solve legitimate problems that have arisen–which Democrats supported along with Republicans and Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Friday–should be obvious.

If it’s not, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your motives.

Fracking Task Force Falls Flat: Smart Next Steps Needed

UPDATE: Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst slows down talk of a ballot measure, in a new statement that seems to walk back her comments to the Denver Post's John Frank:

“There have been reports that I may favor a ballot initiative. At this time, I believe a ballot initiative conversation is premature and not an avenue I am interested in pursuing. I look forward to continuing conversations with all parties involved, including mineral rights and surface rights owners, industry, environmental organizations, and local governments and communities on how we can best address the tensions caused by industrial activities in local communities.”

As a reminder, here's what Speaker Hullinghorst told the Post earlier today:

“We may just have to go to an initiative on this — I’m not averse to do that,” she said. [Pols emphasis]

None of this can be considered the definitive word, but you can guess that there are some interesting conservations going on right now behind the scenes. As soon as we have new insight on the state of play here, we'll share it. Original post follows.

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Local Control Task Force About To Flunk Miserably?

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Mark Jaffe reported this week, the task force appointed last year to study and recommend proposals to improve local control over oil and gas drilling is wrapping up its work–but it's a big and open question what kinds of recommendations the body ultimately plans to make:

After deliberating for nearly five months, the governor's oil and gas task force is still marked by divisions between members seeking more local control of drilling and those representing industry.

A review of the straw-poll voting during the Feb. 3 meeting on 53 proposals made by members shows the six task force members representing industry opposing almost all local-control recommendations.

At the same time task-force members representing local interests pressed for proposals giving communities a greater role in locating oil and gas operations.

Although the panel has been able to unify around a few comparatively minor proposals to make local input on oil and gas permitting decisions a more timely part of the state's existing process, the bigger question of giving local governments a direct role in that decisionmaking has been flatly opposed by the industry's representatives on the task force. We have heard that the recommendations for Gov. John Hickenlooper coming out of this commission may not involve legislation at all, just rule changes to be carried out by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)–which would be much more limited in scope than statutory changes, and very likely will not satisfy conservationists and local governments who want a meaningful role in these important land use decisions.

We want to stress that until the task force delivers its recommendations, nothing is certain. There's a possibility that the stakeholders can still come together on a substantive proposal, operating on the good-faith assumption that the industry ever had any legitimate desire for that. But from the point of view of anyone but the oil and gas industry and their immediate circle of support, disappointment is increasingly likely based on what we're hearing.

And that means you might be voting on local control next year after all, Colorado! Stay tuned.

Once Again, “Gunmageddon” Fizzles At Colorado Capitol

Empty seats in Colorado House gun bill hearing yesterday.

Empty seats in Colorado House gun bill hearing yesterday.

Yesterday's debate over the repeal of 2013 gun safety legislation, as well as a few new bills to deregulate concealed carry permits and make it easier to transfer machine guns (yes, that's right), featured a number of interesting twists–on the way to an outcome that was more or less a foregone conclusion before the day began. As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

The family of victims of gun violence provided the most dramatic testimony Monday afternoon as lawmakers in separate House and Senate committees debated seven Republican gun bills that loosened gun restrictions, expanded gun rights or overturned gun-control legislation Democrats passed two years ago.

"My sister had a right to life," said Jane Dougherty of Littleton, whose sibling was killed at Sandy Hook. "My sister had a right to grow old. … Nobody ever died from a background check."

Many of the arguments for or against the bills are the same ones lawmakers have heard before, but this time around there wasn't the vitriol that marked the 2013 hearings. Instead of hundreds of Coloradans descending on the Capitol, forcing staffers to set up overflow rooms, there were seats available in the committee rooms. [Pols emphasis]

A total of seven gun-related bills were debated, five in the House and two in the Senate. Everyone literate in the process in the building yesterday knew the Senate bills would make it out of committee, and the House bills would die. It's likely that the Senate bills will pass on the strength of that chamber's single-seat Republican majority, after which they will be sent to die in the same House State Affairs "kill committee" that killed five bills yesterday. All of this is just a sideshow, of course, since even if gun rights supporters were to somehow get any of these bills through the House and to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk, he'll veto them and that's the end of it.

Despite this, both the National Rifle Association and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners heavily promoted yesterday's hearings to their members, urging them to turn out and testify in the large numbers seen when the 2013 laws were up for debate. Last year, the GOP introduced a similar slate of repeal bills, but lost face after the vast crowd of gun rights supporters from 2013 failed to turn out again. The excuse offered at that time by the gun lobby was that the efforts of their members were being directed to the upcoming elections.

So what's the excuse now, you ask?

Dudley Brown, head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the state's most strident gun rights group, says the reason Monday appeared fairly tame is many members felt they did their work in last year's election.

Except…they didn't.

After all the promises of vengeance against Democrats after the 2013 gun bill brouhaha, and the subsequent recall elections, it's obvious today that the gun issue did not result in the sweeping success for Republicans that Dudley Brown predicted. During a powerful Republican wave election that had everything to do with national political storylines and little to do with Colorado, Republicans took one chamber of the state legislature by a single seat–just like they did in the last Republican wave year. But they did not take full control of the legislature, and they did not elect a governor who will do their bidding. And for good measure, both Democratic seats lost in the 2013 recalls were retaken by wide margins–one of them by the former state director of the much-reviled Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

So what is this "work" that Dudley Brown has done? We know that Brown has raised tremendous sums of money agitating gun owners. But apart from winning a few more Republican primaries last year, RMGO has done basically nothing to create a political climate that could actually bring about repeal of the 2013 gun safety laws. And if that is not their "work," what is? Where is all that money going?

The fact is, yesterday was their chance: to re-energize the gun owning grassroots after the election, and show that the momentum coming out of the 2013 recalls has not been lost. The failure to even fill these hearings–let alone "overflow" areas to accommodate a larger crowd, and nothing remotely like the massive protests in 2013 in and outside the capitol–tells the story of a battle won two years ago, and a war lost today.