Current News

Jill Q. Citizen does D.C. — A local Democrat’s diary of the inauguration

Guest Contributor

Editor’s Note: Denver Democrat Halisi Vinson attended President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony and many of the festivities surrounding the event along with her husband, Ricardo Crawley, and chronicled the historic occasion for The Colorado Statesman. A delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, she is the assistant secretary of the Denver Democratic Party and is the only announced candidate for secretary at next month’s reorg. She is one of the owners of A New Dawn, a local media and marketing company.

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.

Committee passes bill on collective bargaining

The Colorado Statesman

The Democratic-controlled legislature on Wednesday began debate on a labor union bill that would ensure collective bargaining rights for Colorado firefighters, pushing the measure through the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a party-line vote of 3-2.

Legislature seeks health care reform prescription

Mental health, Medicaid expansion at top of list
The Colorado Statesman

State lawmakers agree that a simple Band-Aid fix is not enough to address health care reform. But how to go about expanding Medicaid and mental health services, launching a health benefits exchange and discussing women’s health care rights is proving to be a difficult and divisive task.

There is consensus that the state needs to make advancements in mental health, but advocates are fearful that connecting the conversation to recent incidents of gun violence will only add to negative stigmas.

Lawmakers are proposing:

District Court sides with county clerks over Gessler

Ruling favors so-called “inactive” voters in state
The Colorado Statesman

Denver District Court Judge Edward D. Bronfin on Monday struck a blow to Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler by ruling against the secretary and in favor of county clerks who want to mail ballots to so-called “inactive” voters.

Gessler’s office in 2011 filed a lawsuit against Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson for mailing ballots to inactive-failed to vote (IFTV) voters. Shortly after, Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz joined the lawsuit in support of Johnson.

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.

Judiciary issues take center stage

The Colorado Statesman

Judiciary issues could become the most difficult and contentious topics facing the legislature this year. Lawmakers will tackle the uncharted world of recreational marijuana regulation, a troubled child protection system and polarizing discussions on gun control.

But it is also the bigger judiciary picture that lawmakers will need to focus on. Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender — in his last annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the legislature on Jan. 11 — described the judiciary in Colorado to be “alive and well.” That’s not to say, however, that there isn’t still work to be done, Bender implored legislators.

Battle brewing over beer in supermarkets

Priola bill would expand licenses from one to five for retailers
The Colorado Statesman

Another legislative brouhaha is brewing this year over whether to allow more supermarkets and convenience stores in Colorado to sell full-strength beer, wine and liquor.

The battle is nothing new to the legislature. This year would mark the fifth most recent attempt at allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer. The last effort was in 2011 when two bills that would have allowed the sale died.