The Legislative Health Benefit Exchange Implementation Review Committee convened last week with a new leader serving as its Chair, Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango.
Five Democrats and five Republicans from both chambers have met sporadically over the past few years to monitor the progress of the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange, Connect for Health Colorado. As it designed, constructed and launched an Obamacare Insurance Exchange for Colorado residents, the review committee asked few probing questions, permitting Executive Director Patty Fontneau to proceed pretty much as she saw fit.
The Colorado Statesman
A somewhat diminished DUI felony bill (HB-1043), sponsored by Lori Saine, R-Weld, and Beth McCann, D-Denver, passed unanimously out of the House Finance Committee this week. Colorado is one of only four states where DUIs remain a misdemeanor no matter how many times an offender has been detained. It nearly defies belief, but there are apparently many Colorado drivers with 20 or more DUI arrests. For more than a decade bipartisan sponsors have attempted to impose mandatory prison sentences on these scofflaws.
It was a crisp Colorado morning at Union Station last Saturday. A waning moon offered a sliver of light in the still dark at 6:15 AM. Even at the early hour, Denver’s Mayor, Michael Hancock, and both of Colorado’s U. S. Senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner turned out to stand in front of an Amtrak train composed of two diesel engines and eight passenger cars waiting to whisk 450 passengers to Winter Park for the first time since 2006.
The Colorado Statesman
Before last week’s celebration of Colorado’s worker compensation 100 year anniversary, it is doubtful that one in four legislators could have guessed the age of the program. It seems more likely that three out of four would have guessed it was some kind of New Deal legislation from the 1930s or ‘40s. In fact, it was a product of the Progressive movement, first established by Maryland in 1902. President Theodore Roosevelt created a federal version with the consent of Congress in 1906.
Democratic State Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp of Westminster and Republican Senator Ellen Roberts of Durango have submitted legislation (House Bill 1129) that speaks to one of the fundamental responsibilities of government — public safety. Even the most virulently anti-government zealots will usually acknowledge that policing, fire prevention and disaster recovery are appropriate functions of government that cannot be effectively left to individuals. There are economic efficiencies in consolidating these responsibilities that spread risk and protect against catastrophic losses.
No matter how cynical you get, it’s never enough to keep up,” the comic Lily Tomlin once observed about politics.
I had originally intended to open this column with a quip something like the following: “Colorado Democrats pulled a stunt at their reorganization meeting over the weekend in a manner that would make Vladimir Putin blush.” That comparison, however, became inappropriate following the brutal assassination of Putin critic Boris Nemtsov.
HUDSON: DOES THE SENATE MAJORITY HAVE A STRATEGY?
If you’ve been watching “House of Cards” on Netflix, you might be misled to believe legislative politics requires sophisticated strategic planning. Alas, this is rarely the case. In most instances, our solons make it up as they move along — playing their cards pretty much when and as they are dealt. If that strikes you as shortsighted, you wouldn’t be wrong. NFL coaches earn millions of dollars for developing winning game plans.
HUDSON: TWEEDLE DEE OR TWEEDLE DUM?
Four years ago both the Colorado Republican and Democratic Parties elected unusually young chairmen. Historically, both parties often turned to senior donors or business heavyweights for whom this recognition was, in part, a reward for long service and/or a readiness to pull out their own checkbooks in support of party candidates.
Hudson: Recalling a time when vaccines were a godsend
In recent years no matter how dismal Colorado’s performance might be on most public policy measures — whether they be high school graduation rates or taxpayer support for schools and roads — we could generally rely on the fact that one or more members of the old Confederacy, frequently Mississippi, would slip between us and the bottom of the heap. Consequently, it was startling to learn that Mississippi leads the nation in measles vaccinations among its school children at 99.9 percent while Colorado stands dead last among the states at somewhere between 82 and 85 percent, depending on who’s doing the counting.
The Colorado Statesman
Robert “Bob” Edward Allen was only 26 years old and Chairman of the Young Democrats when he persuaded Denver party leaders to place his name on the Democratic candidate list for election to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1950. It would be the 60s before state legislators ran from individual districts rather than on county slates. Allen would serve for a decade in the House before moving to the Senate, where he served a single term from 1961-65.