Ernest Luning

Controversial civil unions bill clears first hurdle in committee

Legislation likely to sail through Democratic chambers
The Colorado Statesman

A Senate committee waved ahead a bill to establish civil unions for gay couples in Colorado on Wednesday over objections that it infringes on the religious rights of adoption agencies and bakers.

“When two people are fortunate enough to have found someone that they want to share the rest of their life with, why should the state of Colorado stand in the way?” asked state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, one of four openly gay lawmakers sponsoring Senate Bill 11 this year.

Salazar to leave Cabinet in March

The Colorado Statesman

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar plans to return along with his trademark cowboy hat and bolo tie collection to Colorado in March after four years heading the department, he announced on Wednesday.

“I have had the privilege of reforming the Department of the Interior to help lead the United States in securing a new energy frontier, ushering in a conservation agenda for the 21st century, and honoring our word to the nation’s first Americans,” said Salazar in a statement.

Dem legislators set on ASSET bill this year

The Colorado Statesman

The seventh time could be a charm, backers of the proposed Colorado ASSET bill say.

If Democratic legislators get their way this year — and their solid majorities in both chambers make that exceedingly likely — Colorado high school graduates who aren’t legal residents, but who meet certain other criteria, will soon be able to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

Incumbent GOP Chair Call announces for reelection

DougCo chair Baisley and grassroots organizer Horn plan to challenge
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call will face at least two challengers in his bid for a second term, which he made official this week. Douglas County GOP Chairman Mark Baisley plans to announce his run on Tuesday, The Colorado Statesman has learned, and Centennial-based grassroots organizer Lori Horn is also running for the top spot. State Republicans pick their leadership team in early March at the party’s biennial reorganization meeting.

House opens with historic new leadership as Ferrandino takes over as Speaker

The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado House elected state Rep. Mark Ferrandino as its first gay speaker on Wednesday as a new Democratic maj-ority took over the gavel amid calls for cooperation and comity on the opening day of the 69th General Assembly.

“This is the greatest honor of my life, and I am humbled to stand here before you today,” said the Denver Democrat, whose family — including his husband, Greg Wertsch — sat in the front row of a packed House chamber. Ferrandino’s niece and nephew, Abbey and Owen McWhirter, led the assembled lawmakers, staff and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Governor delivers third State of the State address

Calls for renewed efforts to curb gun violence
The Colorado Statesman

On the heels of “a hard year” in Colorado — punctuated by rampant wildfires and a mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater — Gov. John Hickenlooper urged lawmakers on Thursday to respond to adversity the way westerners always have.

‘Twas the swing-state election…

The Colorado Statesman

’Twas the swing-state election, and all through the year
Colorado was crucial, or so ’twould appear.
From the peaks to the plains there was no place to hide:
Undecided electors hung on for the ride.

Colorado’s electors go for Obama

“A very special part of Colorado history,” Gessler acknowledges
The Colorado Statesman

Although President Barack Obama won the popular vote in Colorado last month, it didn’t officially count until Monday when nine Democrats convened at the State Capitol to cast the final ballots for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the constitutionally mandated ritual of the Electoral College, a formal step toward filling the highest office in the land. It was the second time in four years that Colorado’s electors had voted for Obama and Biden.

Hick talks pot, fracking, ed reform at Denver Young Dems holiday party

The Colorado Statesman

A boisterous crowd of Democrats had plenty to celebrate at the Denver Young Democrats’ annual holiday party on Dec. 11 at the Boettcher Mansion — better known as the Governor’s Residence — amid festive decorations from local artists marking Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa.

“Here’s to Obama. That stuff doesn’t happen by accident, and I realize how hard you all worked,” said Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, raising a toast to the record number in attendance, estimated at roughly 120 by party organizers.

Colorado Repubs revel at Christmas party

The Colorado Statesman

Republican lawmakers told members of the Colorado Republican Business Coalition at the organization’s holiday party last Thursday that, even though Democrats will be in control at the Capitol next year, the minority legislators will have their backs.

“Next year, even though we are outnumbered, we can still stir a pretty mean pot,” said state Sen.-elect Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, who drew cheers from the party-goers when she declared, “I am a capitalist pig, and I’m damn proud of it!”