3/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Democrats this week began what is likely to be a multi-year effort to persuade fellow lawmakers and the public to support a hike in the minimum wage.

Monday, supporters held a rally on the west steps of the state Capitol, with a crowd numbering well over 250, to show support for two measures scheduled for hearing later that day.

House Concurrent Resolution 15-1001 seeks to raise Colorado’s current minimum wage of $8.23 per hour to $9.50 per hour, starting Jan. 1, 2017. The minimum wage would increase annually until it reaches $12.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020.

3/27/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

Six Colorado sheriffs, including two from the Western Slope, have joined the Drug Free America Foundation’s lawsuit against Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.

The goal of the lawsuit, according to Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee, is to force the U.S. Supreme Court to finally rule on whether states can defy federal law to legalize marijuana within their state borders.

“I believe the issue needs to be resolved,” Sheriff McKee said. “I think it needs to be debated in court by Constitutional attorneys.”

3/27/2015
By Valerie Richardson
Special to The Colorado Statesman

COLORADO SPRINGS – The burning question surrounding the Colorado Springs mayoral race isn’t whether John Suthers will win. It’s whether he can garner the votes needed to avoid a post-election run-off.

Even Suthers agrees that’s probably not going to happen. Given a packed field of six contenders plus a write-in candidate, it’s unlikely anyone will come away with a majority on April 7. If no candidate tops 50 percent, then the two leading vote-getters will square for a May 19 run-off election.

3/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A bill that has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the House for the past two years got a very different response recently, and Republicans are crying foul.

Senate Bill 15-064 is the third in a three-year effort to tell the federal government that they do not have the right to demand water rights from ski resorts in exchange for renewing their leases for federal lands.

3/27/2015

While The Statesman reported in the March 20 Yesteryear, 10 years ago that Republican Sam Zakhem said he was running for Republican National Committeeman, in part, because he objected to a letter sent out by former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer taking fellow Republican state Rep. Ramey Johnson to task over a vote against school vouchers, the letter didn’t urge voters to opt for Johnson’s Democratic opponent.

3/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Twenty-five years ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Precinct caucuses were approaching, but attendance at the neighborhood gatherings would be vying against feverish interest in the NCAA Final Four championship games set for the same night in Denver. Although scalpers were demanding upwards of $2,500 for seats, “A lot of people still think they are miraculously going to get tickets,” said Arapahoe County Democratic chair Gale Drexler.

3/27/2015

A water expert opposed a bill allowing rain barrels testifying that he accounted for every molecule of water in the South Platte Basin.

I was quite stunned. With these deity-like powers, we could have saved taxpayers money and time by forgoing the hassle of drafting and passing HB12-1278 and paying the Colorado Water Institute to study high groundwater areas blooming along the South Platte which are ravaging private property and destroying farmland with salinization.

3/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Budget writers this week finished their work on the annual state budget and turned their attention to what to do about a $58 million projected TABOR refund.

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, took the lead on coming up with a proposal for the Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday.

The $58 million refund was triggered by tax revenue received by the state through excise and sales taxes on marijuana, and which pushed the state over its allowable TABOR revenue cap.

3/27/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

Thursday was a good day for tobacco distributors in Colorado, or at least a step in the right direction. Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, presented her bill, HB-1301, to the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. The bill known as the “Cigar Online Sales Equalization Act” would permit distributors to claim a credit for taxes they currently have to pay to ship to out-of-state consumers.

3/25/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colardo Statesman

Declaring that “60 is the new 40,” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman welcomed some 150 guests to his birthday party on Saturday at the Summit Steakhouse in Aurora. “I hope that’s true, I really hope that’s true,” he said with a smile before dropping to the floor and doing 100 pushups at the urging of the crowd.

3/25/2015

MON., MARCH 30


(R) Larimer County Republican Breakfast – 7-8:30 a.m., Johnson’s Corner, 2842 SE Frontage Rd., Johnstown. Cost: $10. Info: Donna W. Gustafson, 970-213-7314 or happytrails2u.dwg@gmail.com.

3/20/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs is retiring from the bench on Aug. 31, after 19 years of service, and the Supreme Court Nominating Commission is taking nominations to fill his seat. The commission plans to meet on June 8 and 9 to interview candidates and forward nominees to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will make the appointment.

Hobbs, considered an expert in water law, was appointed by Gov. Roy Romer in 1996 and has been retained by voters twice. His current term expires in 2019.

3/20/2015

Attempts at bipartisanship at the Capitol on Tuesday over a law enforcement package instead exposed a divide between the two chambers on major legislation that has dominated the 2015 session.

The issue: a package of bills that House Democrats claimed would help “rebuild trust” in law enforcement. Despite claims of bipartisan support for most of the bills, never the twain did meet when it came to making the announcement. House Democrats and Senate Republicans held separate news conferences on Tuesday to discuss the bills they plan to sponsor.

3/20/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Republicans on Saturday elected former gubernatorial candidate Steve House as state party chair, ousting two-term chair Ryan Call by a comfortable margin at the party’s biennial reorganization meeting in Castle Rock.

Republicans were restless at the meeting, also replacing the party’s vice chair and secretary. Derrick Wilburn, the founder of American Conservatives of Color, defeated incumbent vice chair Mark Baisley, former El Paso County chair Eli Bremer and former Summit County chair Debra Irvine. Moffatt County chair Brandi Meek beat incumbent secretary Lana Fore.

3/20/2015

FOLLOWUP:

Magazine Ban Repeal — The Senate on Tuesday gave its final approval to Senate Bill 15-175, which would repeal 2013 legislation limiting the size of ammunition magazines. SB 175 passed on a 21-13 vote, with one senator (Michael Johnston, D-Denver) absent. Three Democrats, who had already been announced as co-sponsors, voted with the Republican majority: Sens. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail; Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo; and Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge.

3/20/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Republicans celebrated victories in last fall’s election and turned an eye toward next year, when the swing state will again be in play and at the center of national attention, at the state party’s annual Centennial Dinner on Friday in Greenwood Village.

3/20/2015

Colorado is growing older. One in four Coloradans will be over the age of 60 by the year 2035. That is only 20 years from now. The aging of the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, combined with advances in science and health care, will allow us to live longer, more fulfilled lives. This unprecedented demographic shift causes several challenges for Colorado. As leaders, we must make preparations to ensure our older residents thrive. We must plan and invest wisely. Our seniors deserve nothing less.

3/20/2015

Dear Editor,

Senator Bennet must not have researched the science and the experts behind the science rejecting the KXL pipeline.

The following scratches the surface:

3/18/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Perhaps the most popular Capitol event of the session, Colorado Ag Day, did not disappoint hundreds of hungry legislators, staffers and Capitol visitors on Wednesday.

The fourth annual Farm to Fork competition, which highlights Colorado agricultural products, took place on Wednesday, and is sponsored by the Colorado Chefs Association. This year’s competition showed off dishes made with Colorado bison, lamb, bass, beef, eggs, potatoes and desserts, and fed long lines of those eager to sample Colorado cuisine at its best.

3/13/2015

As Speaker Hullinghorst outlined in her opening address, growing Colorado’s middle class is the top priority of Colorado General Assembly Democrats. Part of our commitment to the middle class means making sure that Colorado’s women, who make up half the state’s workforce, are earning what they deserve so they can do what middle class workers do: provide for their families, send their kids to college and save for the future.

3/13/2015

The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee last month voted to terminate the Colorado Pay Equity Commission, which was established in 2010 but needs an affirmative vote of confidence by the general assembly to avoid statutory “sunset” termination on July 1. Here’s why we think this dysfunctional, unnecessary, do-nothing board should be allowed to disband when its term expires this summer.

3/11/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

While Senate Republicans this week celebrated bipartisan support for a bill repealing a 2013 law limiting the size of ammunition magazines, Governor Hickenlooper hinted a veto may be in the cards, should the bill reach his desk.

3/11/2015
By Michael Carrigan
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Leader. Mentor. Public Servant. Philanthropist. Friend. Susan Kirk. This month the City of Denver and the University of Colorado lost one of its great advocates with the passing of Regent Emerita Susan Kirk.

Susan served on the Board of Regents from 1992 to 2004 and she commanded the respect of all who encountered her: from colleagues of both political parties on the board to the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the university who she frequently engaged. Her intelligence, passion and insight earned her the respect of all.

3/10/2015

Our sources tell us rookie GOP Rep. Dan Thurlow’s recent votes have already incited talk of a recall among the hard-cores, a full three months before the move can start up. Seems the Mesa County lawmaker has been throwing in with — gasp!

3/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Rick Palacio won reelection to a third term as chair of the Colorado Democratic Party on Saturday at the biennial meeting of the party’s state central committee in downtown Denver, fending off challenges from campaign consultant David Sabados and former congressional candidate Vic Meyers.

Palacio won on the first ballot with 53 percent of the vote. Out of 468 votes cast, the incumbent received 248, Sabados got 182 and Meyers had 38.

3/6/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his address to both chambers of the U.S. Congress last week to denounce the kind of concessions the Obama administration is seeking from Iran regarding its nuclear program as a “bad deal.” Before Netanyahu even uttered one word of his speech, his visit had already caused ample controversy. So much controversy, in fact, that many seats reserved for Democrats remained empty during the joint session on Tuesday.

3/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

In the most bipartisan manner since the start of session, legislators Thursday announced a package of 10 bills on workforce development, ranging from internships to assistance with student loan payments and helping the unemployed find jobs.

More than two dozen legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle were on hand to announce the package; some bills are already in the process of moving through the legislature while others are not yet introduced.

3/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

An effort to provide relief to small businesses from fees they pay to banks for the authority to use credit cards has been watered down from “relief” to a study, but even as a study it turned into a big fight on Wednesday. In the end, members of the House Finance Committee voted the bill down on a 2-9 vote, citing concerns expressed by the agency that was likely to do the study as the reason to kill the bill.

As introduced, House Bill 15-1154 would ban credit card companies and banks from assessing the credit card fees to the state and/or local sales tax portion of a transaction.

AN OPEN LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL CYNTHIA COFFMAN
3/6/2015
By Tom Tancredo
GUEST COLUMNIST

Twenty-six states including 22 state Attorneys General and three governors have joined the Governor of Texas — that’s 26 states in total — in suing the United States government to halt the Obama administration’s 2014 “DAPA” amnesty program, which aims to award legal status and work permits to an estimated 4.4 million illegal immigrants.

Colorado should become the 27th state in that lawsuit, and you, the Attorney General, can do so at the stroke of a pen.

3/6/2015

Focus
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie,
DB Wong, Gerald McRaney, Adrian Martinez; directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

With Focus, we get to see the planning, tricks and strategies of the con. It’s like pulling back the curtain, angling the mirrors, or opening the box or cage to show the audience how the trick was accomplished. For some, that can be a let down — one may not want to witness how the sausage is made.

3/6/2015

Ten Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Senate Minority Leader Mark Hillman opined that “loudmouth” CU Boulder professor Ward Churchill ought to lose his taxpayer-funded pulpit. Hillman mocked that the “lanky white kid of distinctly European ancestry” had transformed himself into a “longhaired Indian wannabe” in his quest to line his pocket with taxpayer dollars, blasting the controversial prof for arguing that the Sept. 11 terrorists “owe no apology” for their attack.

3/2/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Rick Palacio won reelection to a third term as chair of the Colorado Democratic Party on Saturday at the biennial meeting of the party’s state central committee in downtown Denver, fending off challenges from campaign consultant David Sabados and former congressional candidate Vic Meyers.

Palacio won on the first ballot with 53 percent of the vote. Out of 468 votes cast, the incumbent received 248, Sabados got 182 and Meyers had 38.

2/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Who will chart the course?

The three candidates for chair of the Colorado Democratic Party agreed that the state party needs to chart its own course distinct from Washington, D.C., at a forum on Sunday in Denver. But the candidates disagreed sharply over whether stunning losses in last year’s election mean it’s time for a change in party leadership or that experience counts more than ever as next year’s presidential election looms.

2/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The task force established by Gov. John Hickenlooper last summer to resolve conflicts between the oil and gas industry, local governments and environmentalists over drilling in Colorado voted Tuesday to deliver a handful of proposals to the governor but fell short of producing the sweeping compromise some had anticipated.

HUDSON: DOES THE SENATE MAJORITY HAVE A STRATEGY?
2/27/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

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.

2/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

“This is an example of a life well-led….”

The Colorado State Senate on Wednesday memorialized the life and service of one of the titans of the state Senate in the 20th century, former Sen. Regis Groff, who passed away in October at the age of 79.

Groff served 20 years in the Senate, from 1975 to 1994, including four years as minority leader.
Wednesday’s memorial saw a long line of current and former legislators eager to share their memories of Groff and the impact he had on Colorado.

HUDSON: TWEEDLE DEE OR TWEEDLE DUM?
2/27/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

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.

2/27/2015
By Leroy Garcia
GUEST COLUMNIST

Growing up in Southern Colorado, I was fortunate to experience many of the activities that make Colorado wonderful. From farmer's markets to dude ranches, whether it's the Colorado State Fair or picking fruit at an orchard, agritourism is critical to Colorado's agrarian lifestyle and economy.

2/27/2015

Dear Editor,

President Obama spoke in his State of the Union address of the need to shape a new, “middle class economics” for America. Then he introduced his budget, which contained a host of tax increases that would pound the middle class.

His budget raises taxes on oil and gas companies by $44 billion. Plenty of people in Congress share his view that average Americans will be helped if “the rich” or “big corporations” are made to pay confiscatory tax rates. But the economy doesn’t work that way.

2/20/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

On the morning after a federal judge in Texas stalled President Barack Obama’s executive orders to defer deportation of some undocumented immigrants, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and representatives of groups that support the policy change gathered in Denver to urge immigrants to stay calm and carry on.

2/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Two lawsuits filed in federal court Thursday seek to force Colorado to end the legalization of marijuana.

The Safe Streets Alliance, along with a Frisco hotel and two Lakewood residents are suing the state, the local jurisdictions that zoned marijuana operations, and several marijuana distributors.

2/20/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

In the wake of the controversial shooting death of a Denver teenager by police and howls of outrage over protesters defacing a monument to fallen police officers, state Rep. Angela Williams brought together Democratic lawmakers, law enforcement officials, faith leaders, students and others from the northeast Denver community to talk about easing tensions and rebuilding trust.

2/20/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Endorsements are piling up in the race for state chair of the Colorado Republican Party, which will be decided at a meeting of the GOP’s state central committee on March 14 in Castle Rock. Chairman Ryan Call is seeking a third two-year term leading the party, while former Adams County Republican chair and former gubernatorial candidate Steve House is challenging him.

HUDSON: HONOR THE WARRIOR, NOT THE WAR
2/20/2015

For those too young to remember the treatment of Vietnam veterans as they returned to civilian life, a reminder is in order. There is a reason why so many veterans subscribe to the admonition that, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” whatever their opinion of the wisdom of our current conflicts. I left the U.S. Navy in July of 1970. That fall I attended a party where a schoolteacher discovered I had recently returned from a tour keeping Southeast Asia safe for democracy. She assaulted me with disparaging accusations regarding my decision to serve.

2/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The General Assembly’s rural caucus began its 2015 activities Wednesday, hosting a meeting with the Colorado Ag Council to find out how they can help the ag community in the coming months.

Concurrent committee hearings kept some rural members from taking part in the Feb. 18 lunch meeting, although a dozen legislators were able to attend, some for the entire meeting and some for just a few minutes. One-third of the legislators are new members this year.

HUDSON: NOVELIST KENT HARUF WAS RURAL COLORADO’S POET LAUREATE
2/20/2015

Born in Pueblo in 1943, Kent Haruf has emerged as the premier chronicler of life on our eastern plains through the vehicle of his fictional creation: Holt, Colorado. Based on his years as a schoolteacher in Yuma, also Senator Cory Gardner’s hometown, Haruf published three novels that earned him critical acclaim as the Plainsong Trilogy. Joining them later this year will be Our Souls at Night which will make for a quartet of paeans to the satisfactions of small town relationships, caring and mutual respect.

2/13/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

What is expected to be the landmark bill of the 2015 legislative session was introduced Tuesday. Senate Bill 15-177 would amend Colorado’s construction defects law, first passed in 2001. Supporters, including four bipartisan lawmakers, say the bill will help address a dearth of affordable middle-class housing in Colorado, primarily in the condo market.

SB 177 is the third attempt in as many years to address what supporters claim is an inability of developers to build affordable condos because of fear of class-action lawsuits.

2/13/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

When everything was said and done, all Katie Behnke and Kristin Strohm could do was wait. Wait and see what a string of caffeine-fueled, sleep-deprived months of endless phone calls, conversations and a flurry of hastily written checks would translate to in percentage points.

Would Cory Gardner clear the 50 percent hurdle? What about Mike Coffman? And his wife Cynthia? Wayne Williams?

The night turned into a triumphant whirl.

2/13/2015
By Miller Hudson
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.

Buck: Spending cuts, not tax increases are the answer
2/13/2015
By Ken Buck
Contributing Columnist

As a member of Congress I have the opportunity to tackle what I view as our nation’s most dangerous threat, the $18.1 trillion debt. We face serious threats from bad actors on the international stage, from Iran to ISIS, but my greatest concern is the debt. It is fast approaching economically damaging levels, and both political parties are culpable.

2/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock launched his bid for a second term on Tuesday, boasting that the city has rebounded from the recession and has “a vibrant economy firing on all cylinders,” with every reason to be optimistic about the future.

2/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The three candidates in the race for Colorado Democratic Party chair agree that the party needs to retool in the wake of defeats in the last election but differ sharply on how much change is necessary and who to blame.

Democrats will decide at the end of the month whether to elect chair Rick Palacio to a third term or to hand over the reins to David Sabados, a Denver-based campaign consultant, or Vic Meyers, the Trinidad rancher who lost a congressional bid in November.

MILLER: TERM-LIMITS, CAUCUS SYSTEM IN NEED OF REPAIR, SAYS PANEL
2/6/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

Jim Griesemer, former Aurora City Manager, who now serves as Director of the University of Denver’s, Strategic Issues Program recently launched another of his panels examining the workings of Colorado government and politics. This year the focus is legislative accountability, including an exploration of who gets elected. The Strategic Issues Program uses a non-partisan, consensus-based process for developing its recommendations.

2/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

A Republican vacancy committee on Saturday named former Navy fighter pilot Lang Sias to fill the House District 27 seat left open when former Assistant Minority Leader Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, was appointed earlier in January to fill a vacancy on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.

Calling himself “very pleased and very humbled” by the appointment, Sias said he planned to carry “a sense of humility and a desire to get smarter” to the Capitol.

2/6/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

Republicans experienced a political aftershock at the state Capitol Monday morning that exposed a difference of opinion among members on leadership qualities, leadership roles and the caucus members most fit to lead.

2/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

It’s always about water in Colorado, and the present Legislative Session is no exception. A bill headed for the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee will attempt to make sure Colorado doesn’t wind up with the same water pollution problem as other states.

House Bill 15-1144 will be heard on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 1:30 p.m. in the public health committee. Its sponsor is Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Broomfield, the committee’s chair.

GESING: OUTSIDE THE BOX
2/6/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

U.S. House Republicans are poised to push their legislative pet issue, the Keystone XL pipeline bill, down Pennsylvania Avenue and onto the President’s desk this week after a 62-36 Senate majority okayed the amended measure on Jan. 29.

The White House has consistently hurled veto threats at lawmakers. But the GOP-led Congress has rolled up its sleeves and clinched its fists, ready to pick a marquee fight.

WASDEN: DEBT PROBLEM CAN ONLY WORSEN
2/6/2015
By Jeff Wasden
Contributing Columnist

“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” – Herbert Hoover

While Congress and the President will find no shortage of issues in the coming year that will require their attention, one that needs to be front and center is our nation’s crippling debt. While here in Colorado we have experienced low unemployment rates and a strong economic recovery, that doesn’t dampen the fact that the national debt is a serious, crippling issue we must address.

1/30/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

More than 150 friends, family members and fans of Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher gathered to watch the premiere showing of a documentary film chronicling the storied North Denver Democrat’s life and political career on Wednesday night at the Oriental Theater.

1/30/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A deal to deregulate CenturyLink and get broadband services into unserved areas has hit a snag: the Public Utilities Commission.

CenturyLink filed a lawsuit against the PUC earlier this month, challenging the way the agency decided to allocate funds tied to two of five telecommunications reform bills passed by the General Assembly in 2014.

1/30/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Next week Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia will sit down with the joint House and Senate Education Committees to explain how the General Assembly will fund higher education for the foreseeable future.

The conversation will deal with House Bill 14-1319, which changed the decade-long funding formula that some claimed lacked transparency and didn’t meet state policy goals.

1/30/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The Erie board of trustees’ 4-3 decision last week to not put a one-year hold on any new oil and gas drilling permits may very well have saved the city from some looming financial backlash.

Two bills currently floating through the ranks of the Colorado legislature propose that if a local community wants to put in place a ban or moratorium on energy development, in return it has to compensate mineral owners who would stand to lose money from that decision.

1/30/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The same day a state agency reported Colorado’s unemployment rate had dropped to its lowest level since October 2007, Gov. John Hickenlooper told a civic group that he plans to increase efforts to combat joblessness by expanding to additional populations a recently launched program intended to assist the long-term unemployed find work.

1/30/2015
By Jody Hope Strogoff
The Colorado Statesman

As the election dust finally settles from 2014 and we enter headlong into a new year, I can’t help but recall that old adage about the more things change, the more they stay the same. The proverb was used initially by the French novelist Alphonse Karr in the late 1890s but certainly is applicable in today’s world. It came to mind several times these last couple of weeks as I was editing stories for the newspaper.

HUDSON: A TRAVELING CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN
1/30/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

Two weeks ago Los Angeles celebrity attorney Gloria Allred brought the traveling press conference that provides muscle to her law practice into the basement of Denver’s Crawford Hotel at Union Station. Any doubt that Americans live in a fame-obsessed culture was erased by 10 video cameras squeezed into a tiny meeting room. Allred’s website declares she is the “most famous woman attorney practicing law in the nation today.” Critics argue she more accurately operates a reparations racket, rather than a law office, shaking down the bad boys of Hollywood.

CARNO: CRUSHING THE AMERICAN DREAM
1/30/2015
By Laura Carno
GUEST COLUMNIST

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 29, the House passed House Bill 1031, sponsored by Rep. JoAnn Windholz, R-Commerce City, on second reading. The bill delays the sale of powdered alcohol in Colorado until the state can implement an adequate regulatory framework. While powdered alcohol is not currently legal for sale here, it can be purchased online.

3/31/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The state Senate Monday issued its first votes on the 2015-16 state budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass the budget bill, Senate Bill 15-234; and a package of related budget bills.

The biggest budget fight may come from one of those related bills. SB 255 takes $20 million from the state’s severance tax fund and transfers it to the general fund. The bill passed on a 4-3 vote with bi-partisan opposition.

3/30/2015

In the Old Testament, they didn't elect prophets. They stoned them. I didn't come here to be a career politician. I came to speak truth.

Long before I was elected HD15's State Representative, I served as an ordained minister, former Navy Chaplain, and I still preach two hours every Sunday in my private ministry on our national TV show.

When I decided to run for office, I thought I could keep doing both jobs. Most State Reps have two jobs. I thought I could wear two hats. Perhaps I was mistaken.

3/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Declaring that “60 is the new 40,” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman welcomed some 150 guests to his birthday party on Saturday at the Summit Steakhouse in Aurora. “I hope that’s true, I really hope that’s true,” he said with a smile before dropping to the floor and doing 100 pushups at the urging of the crowd.

3/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The Legislature could be on the verge of approving sweeping changes to the way most municipalities conduct elections in the state, but not until a lawmaker intends to introduce last-minute changes before the final Senate vote on the legislation.

3/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Some who wept in sorrow, later cheered in joy.

An attempt to persuade Colorado schools from using American Indian images as mascots got through a tumultuous hearing Monday, sparked by tears from some who recounted the abuses suffered by American Indians, and the two-hour absence of a lawmaker who walked out after a presentation by the sponsors didn’t go as planned.

3/27/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

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.

3/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The 2015-16 state budget, under a divided General Assembly and equally divided Joint Budget Committee, is scheduled to debut on Friday

With a divided legislature, it was certain that no one would get everything they wanted. “This was a difficult balancing act, but we did it with bipartisan support,” according to Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley. “We have a balanced budget that lives within our means and within our budgetary constraints.”

3/27/2015

The Colorado Statesman sat down this week to talk to Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, about everything from legislation to dancing. Duran is currently serving as House Majority Leader.

CS: Where were you raised and can you tell me a little about your family and some memories growing up?

3/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

More than 400 well-wishers gathered to celebrate Colorado’s Jewish community and bestow honors at the Jewish Community Relations Council’s ninth annual luncheon last Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver.

“The one unique thing about the JCRC is, it truly is the only single consensus voice for the Jewish community in representing our point of view to elected officials,” said JEWISHcolorado president Doug Seserman, welcoming the over-capacity crowd.

3/27/2015

Follow up:

Gun Bills: The Senate Wednesday gave final approval to Senate Bill 15-086, which would repeal 2013 legislation requiring background checks for transfer of firearms. The bill passed along party lines, 18-17, and now heads to the House where similar legislation has already been rejected this session.

3/27/2015

“I can’t breathe.”

In 2014, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old African American man, spoke these now well-known words with his final breaths as New York City police officers apprehended him with a chokehold for selling single cigarettes. This came after Garner was breaking up a fight on the street before officers were able to arrive.

The officers were not held responsible for his death.

3/27/2015

For decades, securing a nonstop flight to Asia — Tokyo, specifically — was one of Denver’s top priorities. It was under the leadership of Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock that the vision finally became a reality on June 10, 2013, with the inaugural nonstop flight from the Mile High City to Tokyo-Narita International Airport. This summer marks the second full year of United Airlines’ daily nonstop service between the airline’s hubs in Denver and Tokyo — and there’s much to be excited about.

Politiflix
3/27/2015
By Doug Young
The Colorado Statesman

Merchants of Doubt
A documentary about how corporate interests cloud public health and environmental issues by creating doubts about scientific findings through the use of pundits and those claiming to be scientists; directed by Robert Kenner
 
An Honest Liar
A documentary about James “The Amazing” Randi, an illusionist who became a celebrated skeptic and debunker of paranormal and other pseudo-scientific claims; directed by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein
 

3/26/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman
Gov. John Hickenlooper gets close and personal with a jar of microbeads, brought to him by House Bill 15-1144 sponsor Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora. Hickenlooper signed HB 1144 into law on March 26.
3/26/2015
By Miller Hudson
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.

3/25/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

In perhaps a moment of uncommon brevity for an elected official, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-CD2, had just two words to say to Glenn Haggstrom, the embattled construction executive for the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs, who today announced his resignation from the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction. On Haggstrom's watch, the new VA medical center in Aurora recently shocked many with its projected price tag for completion of $1.7 billion — more than two times higher than the project's initial $800 million budget.

3/23/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Andrew Romanoff has been named president and CEO of Mental Health America of Colorado, succeeding Don Mares, who was named Denver’s Executive Director of Behavioral Health Strategies by Mayor Michael Hancock in December 2014.

3/23/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman
Rico Turner, 6, of Denver was among more than 250 people at a rally outside Colorado's State Capitol today to show support for raising the minimum wage in the state.
3/20/2015
By Miller Hudson
GUEST COLUMNIST

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.

3/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

After some delay, Senate committees this week finally debated two bills that seek to make the state’s construction defects law more industry-friendly. The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, on a 3-2 party-line vote, approved Senate Bill 15-091 on Monday. The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, on a 6-2 vote, passed SB 177 on Wednesday.

3/20/2015
By Patrick Neville
GUEST COLUMNIST

During the past decade, the assault on our liberties in Colorado — fueled by liberal Democrats pouring millions into our state elections — was made possible by a lack of leadership. Many weak, so-called Republicans who have retreated from battle time and time again due to self-preservation have maintained their positions at the expense of liberty and freedom for future generations.

3/20/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GRAND JUNCTION - There are two contested races in this year’s Grand Junction City Council election, which concludes April 7; ballots were mailed on March 16.

Running for a four-year term are Dennis J. Simpson, a certified public accountant who describes himself as “a fiscal conservative and lifetime Republican,” and Chris Kennedy, a telecommunications executive who secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for House District 55 in 2014.

3/20/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

Two Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday presented a bill in the House Education Committee that would lay the groundwork for an enhanced high school degree program serving as a pipeline from the classroom to mid-level jobs.

3/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday reached a compromise on a 2014-15 spending bill that would allow the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to clear off a backlog of requests for driver’s licenses from people in the country illegally.
The supplemental bill has been on the legislative docket for more than six weeks, an unusually long time for a bill that seeks to finish out the spending year for a state agency.

But Senate Bill 15-161 was controversial even before it was introduced.

3/19/2015
By Catherine Strode
Special to The Colorado Statesman

State Representative Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, has introduced a bill to set a new range of sentences for juveniles convicted of first degree murder. Under current Colorado law, juveniles convicted of first degree murder face a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. In an interview with Catherine Strode, Representative Kagan says he believes Colorado’s juveniles should be sentenced based not only on their crime but on their individual characteristics and involvement in the crime they committed.

3/19/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Ten years ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … On the heels of their best performance at the polls in decades, Colorado Democrats decided to deny state chair Chris Gates another term, voting instead for “relative newcomer” Pat Waak by a margin of just three votes. Just months earlier, Democrats had taken control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in memory and the Salazar Brothers had taken a U.S. Senate seat and a congressional seat from Republican hands.

3/19/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's cartoon is a humorous take on a combination of two big-ticket news items from this week - one local and one national: The new VA hospital being constructed in Aurora being massively over budget and the Hillary Clinton email "scandal". But what if the two issues are actually part of one much more grand conspiracy? ...

3/19/2015
By Miller Hudson
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.

3/19/2015
The Colorado Statesman

The jockeying and posturing is in full force for the chance to run for the Colorado Springs Senate seat, SD 12, being left open by term-limited Senate President Bill Cadman.

3/18/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

Can you say “Namaste?” The House Education Committee on Wednesday gave its approval to SB 186, which would remove yoga teacher training from the oversight of the Department of Regulatory Agencies. While the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, told The Colorado Statesman he is not into yoga, his wife is, and she can also do the “crow” position demonstrated by Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, when the bill was in the Senate Education Committee earlier this month.

3/17/2015
The Colorado Statesman
3/11/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A bill banning the manufacture and sale of personal care products with synthetic plastic microbeads achieved final Senate approval on Wednesday, but not without a science lesson from one of the bill’s opponents.

House Bill 15-1144 sailed through its Senate committee hearing and final passage without amendment but not without challenge.

3/10/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A two page, single spaced letter from one legislator became the talk of the Capitol this week.

On Tuesday, the House voted 35 to 29, with Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, siding with the Democratic caucus, to pass House Bill 15-1175. The bill would have prohibited state-licensed therapists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals from providing gay conversion therapy for minors under the age of 18.

3/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Democrats celebrated last year’s wins and lamented losses while urging party members to keep it together ahead of next year’s election at the state party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Day fundraising dinner on Saturday in Denver.

The ballroom at the Marriott Denver Downtown had only cleared out hours earlier after a bruising election for state party leadership, when state chair Rick Palacio won election to a third, two-year term over challengers David Sabados and Vic Meyers.

3/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

This week marks the halfway point of the 120-day legislative session, and House and Senate leadership called upon the press to show off their accomplishments and talk agendas for the next 60 days.

Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, kicked off two days worth of meetings with reporters on Wednesday morning, discussing the budget and bills that will set up the last half of the 2015 session.

3/6/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

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.

3/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The House blinked on Wednesday and decided to save their fight over background check funds for the Department of Public Safety for another day, and another budget.

Senate Bill 15-159 got unanimous support Wednesday from the House and is now on its way to the governor’s desk.

3/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Some Colorado Republicans are hopping mad over an organizational meeting that took place in the small town of Fort Garland last Sunday. Others, however, counter that it’s much ado over simply following proper procedures.

The dispute centers around the Republican Party of Costilla County, an organization that didn’t exist for most of the last year, in a sparsely populated expanse that rests on the state’s southern border with New Mexico.

3/6/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

Former Republican House Majority Leader Amy Stephens is blazing a new trail in the private sector, joining the Denver office of McKenna Long and Aldridge LLP, an international law firm with 500 attorneys and public policy advisors in 15 offices and 13 markets.

Stephens was tapped by McKenna Long and Aldridge to lead the Colorado Government Affairs practice as the Denver office’s newest managing director. Her engagement with the firm was formally announced in a press release Feb. 25 with a formal event hosted Tuesday night to welcome Stephens aboard.

3/6/2015
By Wellington Webb
GUEST COLUMNIST

I served as Mayor of Denver from 1991 to 2003 and was the only mayor in U.S. history to serve as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and the National Conference of Black Mayors. Through my experiences, I have seen Americans go through hard times, but I have also seen the power that strong economic policies that drive investment, create jobs, and bring hope to Americans can have on our communities.

3/4/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

During an interview with KUNC last week, new Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown commented that he didn't own a cowboy hat.

During the Feb. 26 Governor's Forum on Ag, he got a chance to try on a new one, owned by his boss, Gov. John Hickenlooper. The governor took off his new Stetson, a gift from Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and dropped it on Brown's head.

3/4/2015
By Reps. Dan Nordberg and Angela Williams
Special to The Statesman

At a time when the United States and our allies face unprecedented security issues and nuclear proliferation throughout the world, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has never been more critically important. Clearly, the bond between our nation and Israel is strong, and has been for generations.

3/3/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday voted to dramatically scale back a request from the Governor for a state scholarship program that he mentioned in the 2015 State of the State address.

The JBC is in figure-setting this week for the 2015-16 budget. On Tuesday, the committee took up the budget for the Department of Higher Education. Gov. John Hickenlooper had asked for $30 million for the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) for its second year of funding.

3/2/2015
State Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, demonstrates his yoga expertise with a particularly difficult position called "the crow". Hill struck the pose after a hearing last Wednesday on Senate Bill 186, which would exempt yoga teachers from the authority of the Division of Private Occupational Education.
2/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

This post has been updated to include comments from Palacio.

Some Democrats are crying foul after incumbent Colorado Democratic Party chair Rick Palacio announced plans late Thursday to appoint 46 men to the state central committee in order to achieve gender balance the day before it meets on Saturday to select party leadership for the next two years.

WRIGHT: CHANGE, TRANSPARENCY AND A RENEWED EXCELLENCE IN POLITICAL REPORTING
2/27/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

“The only thing you can count on to stay the same is change,” my late grandfather used to tell me. I have found throughout my life that his simple analysis of the human condition has been pretty accurate.

The Colorado Statesman is a Colorado establishment — not just a news source, but an enduring institution and reliable messenger of all things politics. Founded just 39 years after Colorado’s first newspaper, the since-closed Rocky Mountain News, The Statesman is one of our state’s most enduring news franchises.

2/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

More than 75 die-hard conservatives braved a blizzard on Wednesday night to hear Colorado Republican Party chair Ryan Call, who is seeking a third term heading the party, and his challenger, former gubernatorial candidate Steve House, discuss their visions for the GOP at a forum in Greenwood Village.

2/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Follow up:

Bill deadlines — Wednesday marks the first deadline for bills to move out of their original chambers, unless they are granted late bill status or otherwise had deadlines extended. This session looks to be off to a slow start in getting bills to the governor, highlighting the divisive nature of this year’s General Assembly.

2/27/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

“We want to regulate our industry.”

Have you ever heard a businessperson utter those words?

2/27/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The Democratic-led House on Wednesday sent a supplemental bill back to the Republican-led Senate that will start another round of dueling press releases around ideological differences over driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

2/27/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

When Sen. Cory Gardner unseated Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in the 2014 midterm elections, he was the first challenger to boot a sitting Colorado U.S. senator out of office since 1978. The highly competitive race topped priority lists on both sides of the aisle. But on election night, only the Republican camp celebrated. Not only did Gardner pull off the upset. A majority of races south of the Gardner/Udall contest on the ballot also went into the conservative column.

After dominating Colorado politics for most of the 2000s, Democrats had to ask themselves: How did we get here?

2/27/2015
By Rep. Justin Everett
GUEST COLUMNIST

Apparently this legislator has a “reputation” for a few things around the Capitol (some we can’t mention), that apparently has made me unapproachable in some Capitol circles. One of the reputations I allegedly have is for voting “NO” for no apparent reason (not true). Another is that I follow marching orders from outside groups or organizations that rate bills (also not true). Yet another is that I’m completely philosophically driven (not true either). The reputation that is true, is I do read all of the bills before I vote.

STROGOFF: THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES
2/20/2015

After more than 35 amazing years at The Colorado Statesman, I have made the difficult yet exciting decision to turn over the reins to allow me to focus on some other writings and to build on my relationships to further shape our community. These years have been filled with incredible experiences, political drama and deep friendships that I shall always treasure.

2/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

As local governments wait for the General Assembly to begin its work on Senate Bill 15-177, the construction defects bill, others continue to make decisions about their own ordinances, in hopes of attracting more affordable multi-family construction.

Tuesday night, the Lone Tree City Council, located in the south metro area, unanimously passed an ordinance partly based on one passed late last year by the Lakewood City Council. The vote came after about two hours of testimony from representatives of the Community Associations Institute and several Lone Tree realtors.

2/20/2015
By Jared Polis
CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST

Next week in the House of Representatives, we’ll consider the most significant piece of federal legislation for K-12 schools: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In non-Congressional speak, it’s known as No Child Left Behind.

HUDSON: POLITICIANS & TECHNOLOGY — A MATCH MADE IN HELL
2/20/2015

Several years ago while visiting Los Angeles, I found myself trapped on a gridlocked freeway, not an unusual predicament in America’s strip mall utopia. The car idling immediately in front of mine sported a bumper sticker that suggested, “FOR A LISTING OF ALL THE WAYS TECHNOLOGY HAS IMPROVED YOUR LIFE, PLEASE PRESS 3.” The voice on my car radio was reporting that the computer controlling local streetlights had crashed. Traffic was moving at a crawl everywhere. Time to reach an exit, crawl to a sports bar and quaff a cold beer or two or three.

2/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Senate Republicans flexed their muscles this week in a big way, shooting down a supplemental bill for the Department of Public Safety that seeks to provide more funding for background checks.

2/20/2015
By Policy Outreach Specialist with Advocacy Denver
Catherine Strode

A bill requiring health plans in Colorado to provide health care services delivered through telehealth has passed through the House. House Bill 1029, sponsored by Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor. The bill would provide coverage for telehealth in any area of the state. Buck has called the bill “revolutionary” for the delivery of health care in the state.

Ben Price, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans, the trade association of the state’s private insurance carriers, says his organization is throwing its support behind the bill.

2/20/2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford; directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

Kingsman: The Secret Service

2/20/2015

Dear Editor,

This bill would require taxpayers to reimburse owners of mineral rights for the property value lost where hydraulic fracking has been banned or limited.

My name is on two US patents for hydraulic fracking technology. I worked as a consultant to major oil companies, DOE, DOD and major corporations. I own stock in Schlumberger and most major oil companies.

2/18/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The political consultant appointed last year by the Colorado Republican Party to run its independent expenditure committee pleaded guilty last week to illegally coordinating contributions between a political action committee he ran and a campaign he managed in a 2012 congressional race in Virginia.

While the Virginia-based consultant, Tyler Harber, is no longer at the helm of the Colorado GOP’s super PAC, prominent state Republicans say his involvement raises questions about the entire operation and are demanding answers.

2/13/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Note: This story has been updated with breaking news on new candidate endorsements for Friday, February 13.

The race to head the Colorado Republican Party is heating up this week as county parties pick officers and bonus members to the state central committee, which will cast its votes for state chair and other positions next month.

2/13/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The race for Colorado Democratic Party chair is nearing the home stretch as county parties wrap up reorganization meetings and contenders for the leadership position lob charges at one another.

2/13/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A bill to reduce the burden on small businesses that handle credit card transactions is pitting businesses against credit card companies, banks and the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

House Bill 15-1154 is sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, and Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver.

Current law requires businesses to send sales tax to the states. When those businesses accept credit cards, they are charged a percentage, usually 2 to 3 percent, as a fee by the credit card companies and banks. That fee is charged not only on the purchase but on the sales tax as well.

Hudson: Recalling a time when vaccines were a godsend
2/13/2015
By Miller Hudson
Contributing Columnist

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.

2/13/2015
By Catherine Strode
POLICY OUTREACH SPECIALIST WITH ADVOCACY DENVER

An interview with Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder

Birth control, in the opinion of state Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, is an economic issue that impacts the health and social wellbeing of women, children and families statewide. That’s why she is sponsoring House Bill 1194, which would appropriate $5 million in state general fund dollars to distribute long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to low-income women across the state. The funds would allow for the continuation of a four-year, grant-funded pilot project, implemented by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2009, to family planning clinics in 37 counties throughout the state.

2/10/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

To the layperson accustomed to what might seem a steady stream of partisan bantering between elected politicians, an event Monday night in Denver may have come as a surprise. Had they walked into the Vine Street Pub at 6:30 p.m., they would have encountered a very bipartisan group of state representatives and state senators assembled around a large table, smiles on their faces, drinks in hand and lively conversation underway.

The Bipartisan Israel Caucus convened its first ever official meeting Monday to discuss just one topic: Israel and its important relationship with Colorado.

2/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

An effort to deregulate licensing requirements for childcare providers who serve up to nine children has run into trouble in its first committee in the Senate.

Thursday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee reviewed Senate Bill 15-070, sponsored by its chair, Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

The bill would remove licensing, registration and other regulatory requirements for childcare providers who serve fewer than 10 children. Current state law caps the number of children cared for by an unlicensed provider at four or fewer.

2/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

This week, the General Assembly began the process of dealing, once again, with legislation that seeks to repeal some of the controversial 2013 gun control laws.

Six legislators in the 2015 session can tie their 2014 elections either directly or indirectly to the 2013 gun debates. All of them own guns, some with lifelong histories with firearms, and three were part of Monday’s hearings in the House and Senate.

2/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Two-thirds of the Colorado General Assembly live in the state’s population centers along the Front Range. Over the last several years, rural legislators outside the Front Range have complained that some of their urban cousins don’t understand the rural way of life, which has led to heated battles over gun rights, energy and agriculture. It has also led to the formation of a caucus that, its members hope, will lead to a better understanding of rural issues.