Ernest Luning

Colorado Freedom Memorial project underway

The Colorado Statesman

Nearly a dozen years after the idea was first conceived, organizers, dignitaries and military families broke ground in Aurora on Saturday for a memorial honoring every Colorado member of the military killed or missing in action since statehood.

Pro-civil unions Republicans want to rebrand party image

The Colorado Statesman

A group of Republicans who support civil unions are pressing GOP lawmakers to back a bill to establish them in Colorado before the party permanently brands itself among younger voters as intolerant.

That was one message expressed on Monday afternoon at a Coloradans for Freedom gathering at the Colt & Gray restaurant in Denver. The group met to toast this session’s near certain passage of Senate Bill 11 and make a case that it isn’t too late for state Republicans to get on board — though some warned that the deadline is looming.

Volunteer lobbyists aim to teach legislators

The Colorado Statesman

Clad in bright, lime-green T-shirts, some 200 volunteers fanned out across the Capitol on Wednesday to deliver a message to lawmakers: Don’t adjourn without a plan to fix how Colorado funds education.

The 2013: Year of the Student Project, organized by school-funding advocacy group Great Education Colorado, recruited parents, students, teachers and business owners to distribute packets that included the plea backed by a petition and letters inquiring about legislators’ positions on school funding.

Inauguration of the President

Denver Dems celebrate Obama’s inauguration from afar
The Colorado Statesman

Denver Democrats cheered President Barack Obama’s second inauguration at a bash thrown locally on Monday night at an East Denver restaurant. The inaugural gala, sponsored by the Democrats of House Districts 6 and 8, featured replays of the day’s highlights in the swank surroundings at the Cork House Broker Restaurant, familiar to neighborhood denizens as the longtime home of the venerable Tante Louise.

Tancredo warns of GOP’s suicidal path

Plus, race for state chair down to just two contenders
The Colorado Statesman

The race to chair the Colorado Republican Party got a little less crowded this week.

Grassroots organizer Lori Horn announced at a meeting of the Arapahoe County Tea Party on Tuesday night that she was ending her campaign for state GOP chair and instead would be running for vice chair at the biennial reorganization meeting in March. Her move leaves incumbent state Republican chairman Ryan Call and Douglas County Republican chairman Mark Baisley as the only two announced candidates. Current vice chairman Don Ytterberg — also the head of the Jefferson County Republicans — is the other announced candidate for vice chair.

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.