8/20/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

Two weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency and contract workers accidentally released 3 million gallons of acid mine waste into the Animas River, federal lawmakers are gearing up for a deluge of debate over how best to solve the problem of thousands of abandoned mines leaching into watersheds all over the West.

Experts on mine waste cleanup efforts expect renewed interest in U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva’s Hardrock Mining Reform and Reclamation Act of 2015, introduced by the Arizona Democrat in January and languishing in committee since February.

8/20/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

PARKER — It seems everybody wants to talk about George Brauchler’s political future these days except George Brauchler.

As District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, Brauchler has deferred questions about his plans until after the final sentencing of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, which starts Aug. 24. But that hasn’t slowed the speculation.

As he wrapped up his remarks at last weekend’s Coffee for Conservatives annual picnic, Brauchler, dressed casually in a T-shirt and baseball cap, was beset with shouts of “Governor!” Others yelled, “No, senator!”

8/20/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Candidates are beginning to emerge in the effort to recall three Jefferson County school board members as the movement continues to clear hurdles to make the ballot.

As of Thursday evening, two candidates had declared their intentions to run for the seat held by Board President Ken Witt. The other two board members facing recall had each drawn one opponent at press time.

Ron Mitchell, a longtime Jeffco administrator, told The Colorado Statesman he will seek Witt's District 5 seat. The district represents Littleton and parts of south Lakewood.

8/12/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

With congressional Democrats still on the fence, Colorado’s pro-Israel community is making the case against President Obama’s proposed nuclear agreement with Iran, saying it will increase rather than reduce the chances of war.

JEWISHcolorado sponsored a teleconference Tuesday with David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, who warned that the deal will be dangerous for Israel by helping Iran become a nuclear-weapons power in the long run.

Politics Uncorked
8/7/2015
By Rich Mauro
The Colorado Statesman

“I think the wines this year show great balance and wonderful winemaking skills,” said famous Napa Valley winemaker, Warren Winiarski. The maker of the iconic 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon that won the 1976 “Judgment of Paris” tasting (and who has made countless great wines over a 40-plus year career) believe it or not was talking about a recent tasting of Colorado wines.

8/6/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

It is either the greatest thing since sliced bread or a drastic action that will lead to breadlines.

The debate over President Obama's Clean Power Plan left little room for middle ground this week, as environmentalists hailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s tough new climate rules, while others geared up for what could be a lengthy court battle.

The plan, announced Monday, aims to slash climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions produced by U.S. power plants.

8/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Hillary Clinton tore into Republican presidential candidates at her first campaign appearance in Colorado on Tuesday in Denver, blasting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in particular for his positions on immigration and remarks he made earlier that day about women’s health.

“I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship,” said the Democratic presidential candidate to cheers from an estimated 300 supporters inside a sweltering La Rumba nightclub. “There is no place in the United States for second-class citizenship.”

8/6/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock may not agree on everything, but they both want to see the United States fulfill its role as a global leader, not withdraw from it.

They joined foreign-affairs specialists Friday at the Ritz-Carlton Denver for a policy discussion sponsored by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which backs civilian-led efforts to promote U.S. economic development overseas, foreign aid and diplomacy.

8/5/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

After two years of failing to persuade state lawmakers to pass a felony drunken-driving bill, Deb Grenske wondered whether she could handle yet another disappointment as the legislation was being debated again earlier this year.

“I told my husband I didn't know how many times I could go to the Capitol and look at these people and not see them pass it,” she said.

The Longmont woman had been advocating for the legislation since her son, Geoffrey, was involved in a wreck with a drunken driver in 2012.

State of Health
7/31/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

It’s a question with no clear answers and a controversy that brings out passions on both sides.

The extent to which the use of antimicrobial agents in livestock production affects antibiotic resistance in the human population is one that has plagued researchers and the agriculture community for years.

7/31/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

They came to mourn, but mostly they came to laugh and to celebrate.

People from all walks of life filled Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House on Wednesday to remember Glenn Jones, the cable TV pioneer who died July 7 after a brief illness. He was 85.

They remembered a man with an impeccable sense of style, an unforgettable sense of humor and a drive to change lives for the better.

“He dreamed big dreams, achieving what others had yet to even recognize as possible,” said Mike James, a minister with Volunteers of America, one of Jones’ philanthropic causes.

State of Health
7/31/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Is Connect for Health Colorado on solid financial footing? The next 10 months could be telling.

The exchange, a state-based marketplace for consumers to get health insurance, is going through its first year without new federal support. That means the exchange has to be on the path to self-support. But a budget document for calendar year 2016 shows it’s likely to run about $13.3 million in the red, and it gets tougher from there.

7/30/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Organizers behind an effort to oust three conservative Jefferson County school board members moved one step closer to their goal Tuesday as backers turned in thousands more signatures than are required to force a recall.

But whether an election will be held in November is another story.

At a rally outside the Jefferson County clerk’s Elections Division offices in Golden, organizers claimed to have collected 37,000 signatures for each board member they seek to recall, well above the 15,000 needed.

News From Yesteryear
7/24/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Twenty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Candidates for the U.S. Senate seat up in 1996 were starting to emerge. U.S. Rep. Wayne Allard had set up shop at a Lakewood office building, smack in the middle of Jefferson County and well outside his 4th Congressional District, fueling speculation that he was planning a run for the Republican Senate nomination.

7/23/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock was sworn in for a second term standing alongside his wife, Mary Louise Lee, on Monday before a cheering crowd of roughly 1,000 at the city’s downtown Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

7/23/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

Vice President Joe Biden came to Denver Tuesday afternoon to make a case for the Obama administration’s post-recession economic policies and affordable education as a key component of the nation’s economic recovery. He also touted the White House’s push for free community college education.

7/23/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

The Biennial of the Americas Festival in Denver closed with a symposium designed to goose the interest of delegates last Thursday evening called “Legalization: The Next phase in the War on Drugs?” Gov. John Hickenlooper was joined by former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos; Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and moderator Tina Brown, former editor at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

7/23/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Two foreign-policy experts told a sold-out Denver crowd Wednesday that the Obama administration and its successor need to take a more active role in the Middle East as threats to the region’s stability intensify.

Former U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill and American Enterprise Institute visiting scholar Mary Habeck didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but they did agree that a hands-off policy toward the Middle East is not an option as terrorist groups ISIS and al Qaeda expand their influence.

7/23/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Denver voters could dictate how a marijuana consumption bill is crafted at the Capitol next year, if an initiative that allows pot use at some city businesses makes it on the November ballot.

But, regardless of what happens in Denver, state lawmakers must soon address the issue over what constitutes as public or private marijuana use, said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.

The thorniness around that issue has led to a charged debate over where pot users, especially tourists, can legally consume the drug.

7/22/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The petition effort to oust three conservative Jefferson County school board members is going so well that organizers say they are expecting to wrap up the signature gathering process by this weekend.

That comes on the heels of a robust campaign fundraising haul that left organizers energized about the recall effort, one that was recently launched by three Jeffco parents.

“We are seeing that the community is really coming together behind these parents,” said Lynea Hansen, a spokeswoman for Jeffco United for Action, the group behind the recall effort.

7/16/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

It was fitting that Denver’s third Biennial of the Americas festival launched the same day as the Legislative Audit Committee’s report of shrinking crowds attending the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. A staff of several dozen has spent the past six months finalizing the schedule of events that make up this cross-cultural festival of arts, culture and business in the New World. Nearly 300 musicians, artists, authors, entrepreneurs and academics from 25 countries have assembled in downtown Denver to tug on the threads that bind the Western Hemisphere together.

7/16/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

As the number of millennials in the work force continues to increase and technology becomes more universal, the world is shifting.

That’s according to participants at a Biennial of the Americas symposium about the generation on Tuesday night in Denver.

“This generation and the next generation expects and aspires to great things, but also demands great things,” said Univision anchor León Krauze, who moderated the talk, dubbed Generation NOW! “It is certainly a complex generation, not only in America, but in Latin America, where a remarkable number of young people await opportunities.”

7/16/2015
By Pat Duncan
The Colorado Statesman

Janet P. Buckner, an Aurora Democrat, took the oath of office on Wednesday, becoming the newest member of the Colorado House of Representatives. She was elected by a vacancy committee to serve out the term of her late husband, John W. Buckner, who died in May.

7/14/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A state lawmaker thinks he has figured out how to get Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign a bill that would curb the use of red-light cameras in the state — give the governor what he wants.

State Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, told The Colorado Statesman he is in the process of drafting a bill for next year that will include language that is “almost identical” to the kind of red-light camera and photo radar legislation Hickenlooper has suggested lawmakers take up.

News From Yesteryear
7/14/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Fifteen Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, Democratic National Convention delegates and a bevy of volunteers were planning on wearing “Denver 2004” T-shirts to the DNC in Los Angeles, part of an effort to win the coveted national convention for the Mile High City four years hence. After being named a runner-up for the 2000 DNC, Webb and other convention backers believed Denver had a good shot at winning host city status the next time around.

Courts
7/9/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

“Get a tie. A real tie!”

For Coloradans who follow the stylings of Gov. John Hickenlooper, that might sound familiar. But that’s advice Justice Gregory L. Hobbs got the day he was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

After almost two decades on the bench, the Supreme Court will lose its most respected expert on water law. Hobbs steps down on Aug. 31.

When Gov. Roy Romer decided to appoint Hobbs to the state’s highest court in 1996, it was the realization of a career-long goal for the attorney. But Hobbs jokes a little about the day he learned he would be Romer’s pick.

7/9/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

There’s not much about Colorado’s economy that Blair Richardson isn’t able to discuss.

As chairman of the board at Colorado Concern, Richardson leads the alliance of more than 100 of the state’s top executives, who work to advance the interests of the business community.

And he is excited about the state of Colorado’s economy.

News From Yesteryear
7/9/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Twenty-five Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Neighborhood activist and Statesman columnist Doug Linkhart marked Gay Pride Month as a time to “celebrate differences among people and the freedom to live as we choose,” but he noted that progress “establishing equal treatment for homosexuals” has been hampered by those threatened by change to the status quo. Some cities, including Boulder, had recently enacted equal protection ordinances to prohibit discrimination, and Denver was working on one.

7/9/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

VAIL — A large proposed land swap between a private developer and the U.S. Forest Service near Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas has rekindled the always-smoldering debate over what constitutes the “best public interest” on federally owned public lands in Colorado.

More than 36 percent of Colorado is owned by the federal government and managed under a multiple-use policy that allows for everything from outdoor recreation to timber harvesting to cattle grazing, mining and oil and gas drilling. Outright housing development is not on the list.

7/9/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A sizable crowd gathered for a Wednesday rally to mobilize support to recall three conservative Jefferson County school board members, an event where many expressed anger over a perceived lack of respect on the part of their elected school officials.

The estimated crowd of 2,000 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds included Tim Leenerts, a Lakewood parent, who had a pointed response when asked what brought him to the rally.

“You mean other than the three being out of control?” said Leenerts of the three board members. “It's like they've got no rules. They've got to be stopped.”

News From Yesteryear
7/2/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Ten Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Gov. Bill Owens and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey agreed that Texas was a great state but, beyond that, clashed over the wisdom of Referendum C, finding little common ground. Armey, the Republican head of FreedomWorks, was in town to spark a looming battle over ideology among conservatives over the best way to fix the ailing economy — more budget cuts were on deck in Colorado — by drawing the line on any tax increases.

7/1/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The record six Republican presidential hopefuls who took the stage at this year’s Western Conservative Summit in Denver are only the tip of the iceberg.

Political strategist Dick Morris predicted that Colorado will play an even more crucial role in next year’s presidential contest than it did in 2012, when state voters were besieged with national candidates and campaign ads.

7/1/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The Western Conservative Summit keeps getting bigger, more influential and, as far as John Andrews is concerned, better.

Every year, the summit breaks its own attendance record, and this year was no exception. The three-day conservative confab, which wrapped up Sunday at the Colorado Convention Center, is expected to hit nearly 4,000 attendees when the final figures are tallied, or several hundred more than the 3,500 guests who turned out in 2014.

6/27/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders's recent trip to Denver left the campaign buoyed by the buzz generated from the lively and overflowing crowd that came to hear him speak.

“There was tremendous enthusiasm at that event,” said Harlin Savage, a Sanders campaign media coordinator. “I was even surprised.”

But political analysts think the Sanders campaign ought to curb its enthusiasm.

6/27/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colardo Statesman

Neil Young's music was blasting inside the University of Denver on Saturday night — but he wasn't the rock star the frenzied crowd had come to hear.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders electrified supporters with a fiery, populist message that resonated with the thousands that packed DU's Hamilton Gymnasium.

Not long after stepping up to the podium to Young's “Rockin' in the Free World” — and to chants of “Bernie, Bernie!” — the Vermont senator took aim at a national economic system that he feels benefits the rich and leaves the poor and middle-class behind.

News from Yesteryear
6/27/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Fifteen Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Vice President Al Gore took the state “by storm” in a two-day presidential campaign visit that kicked off with a $200,000 fundraiser at a Cherry Hills Village home. Denver Mayor Wellington Webb introduced the veep and sang the praises of the Gore-Clinton administration, as some wags were calling it, owing to the nearly daily upward revision of Gore’s importance and influence.

Water's for fighting
6/19/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Bring up the topic of Colorado water just about anywhere across the arid state, and before long someone is bound to invoke the state’s unofficial motto, a saying attributed to Mark Twain: Whiskey is for drinking. Water, that’s for fighting.

But these days, if you happen to find yourself amid the kind of folks who never tire of cracking a smile when the adage is uttered, you’re just as likely to hear talk of the state’s first-ever water plan, set to unveil before the end of the year. Water, they just might acknowledge, could be for plenty of things. But in the meantime, there’ll still be whiskey.

6/19/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Republican Party was thrown into turmoil this week after three powerful Republicans attempted to persuade state GOP chair Steve House to resign.

While House initially took them up on the offer, he quickly rescinded his resignation — reneged on the deal, detractors say — and fired back at Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Republican chair Becky Mizel, the three most prominent supporters of House’s bid to run the party earlier this year.

News from Yesteryear
6/19/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Thirty-five Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, who was facing an avid crop of potential Republican challengers in his 1980 bid for a second term, sat down for an in-depth interview with Statesman editors Walt Kinderman and Miles Porter IV. Hart said that “regional representation” had become a key theme of his first term, particularly related to energy and natural resource issues while Colorado was emerging on the national and international stages. “This state, for the better part of 100 years, has been primarily an insular, somewhat parochial, introverted place where people enjoyed living, raised agricultural products and families, enjoyed themselves, worked hard, but were not all that involved in national and international issues,” Hart said.

6/19/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

A family-owned rug shop is squaring off against Glendale officials in a long-simmering controversy over development in the tiny city.

The owners of Authentic Persian & Oriental Rugs on South Colorado Boulevard are protesting what they call a brewing land grab by the city, which covers just over a half square mile in the middle of Denver. Glendale officials recently announced the Glendale 180 project, a dining and entertainment development the city says is intended to reestablish Glendale’s position “as the essential social hub of the Denver area.”

6/19/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Ska Brewing president Dave Thibodeau was stunned to learn his company was being boycotted by Colorado coal miners over its support of WildEarth Guardians — because he wasn’t aware that Ska had ever been involved with the environmentalist group.

After some digging, however, he found that Ska isn’t exactly a platinum sponsor: Rather, the Durango brewery had donated a $25 gift certificate for a WildEarth Guardians event last year on behalf of banning coyote and pigeon hunts, also known as “killing contests.”

6/11/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis may no longer be interested in running a statewide anti-fracking initiative after last year’s bruising political battle royale, but Cliff Willmeng isn’t giving up on the dream.

Six months ago, Willmeng launched an issue committee, Coloradans for Community Rights, to promote a proposed constitutional amendment on “the right to local self-government.” While he has yet to file language with the state, the effort sounds similar to his 2014 proposal, which failed to qualify for the November ballot.

News from Yesteryear
6/11/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Fifty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … U.S. Rep. Frank Evans, a Democrat, labeled some of the engineering and building under way at the Air Force Academy “a debacle,” charging that the architects didn’t have “the vaguest idea of the dramatic changes which take place in temperature in this area.” …

6/5/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Making his way from a crowded Tech Center hotel ballroom, where he had just declared Denver “the most economically vibrant city in the United States today,” Mayor Michael Hancock stopped to talk with a half dozen friends and admirers, some buttonholing him for a few moments as he sped through the hallways — he’s known for staying on schedule, his days divided into strict 15-minute increments — and others pressing items in his hands. “Michael!” they cried as he rounded a corner, broad grins and high fives in abundance.

6/5/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Denver voters elected four newcomers to City Council in a run-off election on Tuesday, bringing to seven the number of rookies who will take office on the 13-member body next month. It’s the most turnover since 2003, when term limits kicked in and shook up the city council.

6/3/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Claire Davis – an Arapahoe High School student who was shot to death by a classmate two years ago – now has a law named after her.

The “Claire Davis School Act” will allow lawsuits against school districts when death or serious injury results from preventable acts of campus violence. Schools had previously been immune from such litigation.

The Davis family contends that the school had known about prior threats the shooter, Karl Pierson, had made against a teacher and should have taken those threats more seriously.

Pierson shot Davis before turning the gun on himself.

5/29/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Wearing a red shirt declaring that she is among the “Proud Colorado Marine Moms,” Julie Taylor sat near the back of the POF Hall on Saturday in Denver among hundreds of friends, family members and fellow veterans and service members who gathered to remember the fallen for Memorial Day.

5/29/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper told a crowd of energy industry and civic leaders on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect restrictions on hydraulic fracturing and drilling to reach the ballot next year. The former geologist contended that enthusiasm for anti-fracking measures has ebbed since a year ago, when ballot measures were at the center of hotly contested political fights.

“There will be proposals,” he said, “but I don’t think there’ll be something funded to a significant extent. I don’t expect there to be something that’ll get on the ballot.”

YESTERYEAR
5/29/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Twenty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas law that put term limits on members of Congress, bringing to a screeching halt — at least for the time being — the principle at the federal level, five years after Colorado had launched the grassroots movement. Since former state Sen. Terry Considine, R-Englewood, started things rolling with a ballot initiative, 24 states had enacted similar laws.

5/22/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

It’s tough to get a room full of even a few politicians, civic leaders and public servants to agree about anything, but on Wednesday night some 2,000 of them packed a cavernous converted Air Force hanger and were united in at least one sentiment: the community has benefited immensely from the generosity of A. Barry Hirschfeld.

5/20/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week accused the Jefferson County schools superintendent of playing politics over a perceived snub by the school district's chief — a response that included a reference to a pop superstar's visit to Jeffco a couple of years ago.

The Democratic governor recently sought permission from Jeffco schools to hold an education bill signing at Lakewood High School. Instead, his request was denied by conservative district Superintendent Dan McMinimee, who cited security and other logistical concerns.

‘It’s Broke, Fix It’
5/15/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Last year, Front Range grocery store customers ate plenty of sweet corn grown at Sakata Farms. But the Brighton producer’s other major summer vegetable, cabbage, didn’t make it to kitchen tables, left unharvested in the field. And forget about broccoli, another labor-intensive crop. The farm has supplied most of the metro-area’s locally grown broccoli in recent years, but its owners didn’t bother planting last spring, because they couldn’t count on having enough workers to get it to market.

5/15/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Lone Tree city council member Kim Monson isn’t what you’d call a Hooters regular — in fact, she’s never visited the place — but she also doesn’t think it should be barred from the city because its waitresses wear skimpy outfits.

Her stance has put her at odds with a vocal swath of residents fighting to keep the restaurant also known for its chicken wings from opening a franchise near upscale Park Meadows Mall. A Change.org petition against “Hooters in our backyard” posted by Centennial resident Paul Allen was rapidly closing in on its goal of 200 signatures as of Tuesday.

5/15/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

35 Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … The race for the chance to challenge U.S. Sen. Gary Hart was heating up. Attorney John Cogswell was the overwhelming choice of state Republican Party county chairs to take on the first-term Democrat, preferred by 36 percent of the chairs surveyed by The Statesman. Former Georgia Rep. Howard “Bo” Callaway came in second, with 19 percent support, followed by Colorado Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchannan, who was the favorite of 10 percent of the county chairs. State Sen.

5/8/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman knows her way around the office. As chief deputy attorney general under her predecessor, John Suthers, and having worked for the state’s chief lawyer for a decade, she’s worked closely with employees and played a key role in decisions.

YESTERYEAR
5/8/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Ten Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman…The Legislature gaveled down the session two days early, wrapping things up ahead of schedule for the first time since the 120-day calendar was adopted in 1989, saving taxpayers some $30,000. But not before passing the Colorado Economic Recovery Act with barely bipartisan support.

5/7/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock strolled to a second term on Tuesday against a handful of mostly unknown challengers, but voters stunned two city council veterans, sending one packing by a wide margin and denying another his bid for election as city auditor.

The message in the low turnout, nonpartisan election was clear: More of the same, only different.

Voters are likely to get their wish.

5/3/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

More than 100 women gathered in Denver on Monday to watch a preview of Strong Sisters, a documentary about women in Colorado politics, and help raise money to finish the film.

“It’s about something we all should be telling our daughters and granddaughters about,” said former House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, introducing filmmakers Meg Froelich and Laura Hoeppner at a luncheon she organized at the Artwork Network gallery in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe.

5/1/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

“Build the damn thing,” was the message delivered by members of a Senate Committee and Colorado’s congressional delegation at a field hearing held on Friday in Aurora to examine the beleaguered Veterans’ Administration hospital, long under construction and way over budget.

The phrase was lifted from pins that read “B-T-D-T” handed out by Steve Rylant, president of the United Veterans Committee of Colorado, and it expressed a nearly universal sentiment.

5/1/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Ninety miles outside Las Vegas you begin to see the first indications there must be more than creosote bush and cholla cactus somewhere up ahead. Electric transmission lines start to converge on and then parallel I-15, delivering the electrons required to light up ‘The Strip’ — reportedly visible to space station astronauts at night. What better place for the Republican Jewish Coalition to meet each year than Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian hotel and casino? No other American city is as dedicated to hedonism and sin, or more likely to outrage the mullahs in Iran.

4/24/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper brought in a couple of heavy hitters this week to push back against legislative efforts that would dramatically reduce standardized testing in schools.

Hickenlooper was joined by former Govs. Bill Owens, a Republican, and Roy Romer, a Democrat, during a Capitol press conference, Wednesday, where the three men championed state testing as a vital component of a student’s development.

4/19/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Three months after being sworn in, Secretary of State Wayne Williams has mostly stayed out of the news, and that’s the way he likes it.

4/17/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

This was a tough week for Fossil Free CU, the University of Colorado’s pro-divestment student group. First its protest camp on Boulder’s Norlin Quad was snowed out, and then the Board of Regents voted against divesting the endowment from oil, natural gas and coal.

The board rejected calls for divestment in a 7-2 vote at Thursday’s meeting, citing state law and university policy that require the prudent and non-political investment of public funds. Minutes later, the board voted down a motion from Regent Linda Shoemaker to create a sustainable investment advisory committee.

4/17/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

While his positions on immigration and climate change might land Lindsey Graham outside the mainstream among Republican presidential hopefuls, the South Carolina senator says he’s got solid majorities of GOP primary voters in his corner. Add to that his years crafting a distinctly hawkish foreign policy — a favored position in early primary states — and Graham has no problem envisioning a good run in what is already a burgeoning field of candidates.

Wayposts
4/16/2015

Jennifer Rokala, the former state director for U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, was named executive director of The Center for Western Priorities this week, the organization announced.

The nonpartisan conservation group works to protect land, water and communities in the American West with a focus on what it describes as a balanced approach to energy development and strengthening local economies in the region.

4/13/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Forty years ago a 17-year-old African American youth residing in the tough Altgeld Gardens public housing project on Chicago’s Southside decided his best escape was to enlist in the United States Army. (Nearly a decade later, another young man, named Barack Obama, would arrive there as a community organizer.) Twenty-four years into his career Phil Washington had risen through the Army enlisted ranks to Command Sergeant Major, stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

4/10/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Fresh from a congressional trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said on Monday that he has “great concerns” about a nuclear deal announced last week with Iran and wants to see Congress vote on the agreement.

4/8/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

On the same day Sen. Rand Paul launched his presidential campaign in Kentucky, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another likely candidate in what promises to be a crowded field of GOP contenders, barnstormed the Colorado Front Range with a series of meetings with constituent groups and a fundraiser.

Conference on World Affairs
4/7/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Statesman will be covering the 67th Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder all week with web-exclusive updated overviews of the action each day. For live coverage throughout the day, follow our reporter Lars Gesing on Twitter @LarsGesing.

The 67th Conference on World Affairs opened Monday on the University of Colorado Boulder campus with an emphatic keynote address delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr.

4/3/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, in the midst of weighing a presidential bid, said on Wednesday in Denver that he would be willing to commit troops abroad to fight terrorists if it will keep the fight overseas.

“I can’t think of a way to defend this nation without some of us being over there,” the South Carolina Republican said at a discussion on the U.S. response to violent extremism. “Here’s the good news,” he added. “Most of the people in the region are not buying what these nut jobs are selling.”

4/3/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

Deeply divided supporters and opponents of a deal that would allow the United States to enter into a trade agreement with 12 mostly Asian/Pacific countries are not giving up any ground.

The stark disagreement was on display Monday night when U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, hosted a lively discussion on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.

4/3/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GRAND JUNCTION — A panel of seven Western Slope legislators — six Republicans and one Democrat — discussed diverse issues they’re working on in the state legislature at the Club 20 annual meeting on March 28, focusing on water, energy, the economy, TABOR and federal lands.

4/1/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

University of Colorado officials have turned over information — albeit grudgingly — on professor Roger Pielke Jr. to U.S. House Democrats on what he calls a “witch hunt” into the funding of certain climate scientists.

CU President Bruce Benson complied last week with a request by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., for Pielke’s salary, external funding sources and financial-disclosure forms as part of a probe into whether professors who deviate from the so-called “consensus” view on climate change receive fossil-fuel funding.

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.

This week's political cartoon
8/27/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman
8/26/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Thirty Colorado Republican legislators called Wednesday for a state investigation into Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and whether it is involved in “the sale and transfer of fetal body parts.”

“A civilized society cannot allow unethical and illegal medical practices such as the harvesting of aborted human organs and babies for monetary gain. I would hope that even proponents of abortion would agree to that much,” said state Rep. Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, in a press release.

Letter to the Editor
8/26/2015

Dr. Larry Wolk
Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Dear Dr. Wolk,

Videos recently released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) have surfaced showing barbaric, unethical and potentially illegal actions relating to the trafficking and sale of aborted babies, the human organs of aborted babies and other aborted baby body parts by some Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliates; including Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains right here in Colorado.

8/21/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GRAND JUNCTION — At a roundtable meeting with Club 20 on Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper called for a 10- to 12-cent hike in the state gasoline tax in order to fund road and bridge repairs.

Two newly elected Western Slope legislators, both Republicans, state Reps. Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction and J. Paul Brown of Ignacio, joined the governor calling for a ballot proposal to ask Colorado voters to approve increasing the gas tax.

8/21/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, previewed his campaign against Democratic challenger state Sen. Morgan Carroll on Sunday at the sixth annual summer barbecue fundraiser thrown by Jim and Joy Hoffman at their Greenwood Village home.

“The challenges going forward, it’s going to be tough,” Coffman told the crowd of some 250 supporters. “But I want to continue as the only veteran in the Colorado delegation, as the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq wars.”

Chatter
8/21/2015

Denver is the best place to live in the West, according to a ranking released this week by Money Magazine, but conservative gadfly Glenn Beck places the city near the bottom, on his list of cities to “avoid like the plague.”

Dubbing the Mile High City “a mecca for millenials,” Money says the “chemically induced Rocky Mountain high factor” — legalized marijuana, in the local parlance — isn’t the main reason. “You have real, legitimate urban living, then 45 minutes away you have back-packing, biking, or you can be scaling a 14,000 foot mountain,” says CU Denver professor Ken Schroeppel.

8/21/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet on Wednesday announced he’ll introduce a bill this session to protect more than 58,000 acres of public land in Eagle and Summit counties as wilderness.

Bennet made the announcement at a press event in Breckenridge attended by local politicians, area residents and business leaders. The Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act will be the Senate version of bill introduced earlier this in the House by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder.

8/21/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Activists will take another crack at passing the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, a proposed ballot initiative designed to give localities a veto over corporate activity, starting with the oil and gas industry.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s because a virtually identical measure, also sponsored by Coloradans for Community Rights, failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot last year. Even so, organizers say they are optimistic about their chances of bringing the measure before voters in November 2016.

Letter to the Editor
8/20/2015

Dear Dr. Wolk:

On August 3rd, President Obama and EPA announced the Clean Power Plan Rule. The rule requires the U.S. power sector to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 32 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels. The only mention of natural gas during the release of this plan established a disappointing false choice between clean-burning natural gas and renewables. However, we believe, and government data supports the fact, that natural gas has played and will continue to play a central role in reducing CO2 emissions quickly, cost-effectively, and safely.

8/20/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

More than $5 million in tax credits have been awarded in Colorado this year for the construction of special housing projects for the homeless and others in need.

Those incentives were among a larger pool of allocated tax credits aimed at increasing low-income housing availability in the state.

But officials tasked with creating more permanent housing opportunities for low-income residents acknowledge the state has a long way to go to meet a demand that is increasing in the face of skyrocketing rents across the state.

Columnist
8/20/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Rick Ridder and Joanie Braden, the venerable founders of Denver’s RBI political consulting firm, addressed the Downtown Democratic Forum breakfast last Friday. Asked to handicap the pending presidential campaign, Democrat Ridder brought his experience as Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign manager, and more than 40 years consulting with candidates and campaigns across the world, including a stint as president of the International Association of Political Consultants.

8/20/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

With the Environmental Protection Agency already reeling from criticism over the Animas River spill, free-market groups are taking advantage of the agency's muddied reputation to blast its recent spate of air-quality regulations.

The Denver-based Independence Institute released a poll Monday showing that the majority of Colorado voters surveyed agree that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is more likely to hurt than help the state’s environment. The poll shows residents would oppose the plan if it results in higher electricity bills and believe Colorado already enjoys a clean environment.

8/20/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Environmental groups are launching a pro-Clean Power Plan campaign aimed at Latinos, a group activists say are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Conservation Colorado has created a Latino organizing program called “Protégete: Our Air, Our Health.” Protégete, which translates to “protect yourself,” encourages greater Latino involvement in Colorado's role complying with the federal plan.

Guest Commentary
8/20/2015
By Paula Noonan
Guest Contributor

Colorado’s Republicans put the brakes on the state’s growing Democratic Party affiliation, gaining 789 more active voters than the Dems between July 2014 and July 2015. Democrats increased their active voter base by 16,217, while Republicans increased theirs by 17,006. The 789-voter difference isn’t a big number until compared with the 80,554 increase in voter registration Dems picked up between July 2012 and July 2013.

Guest Commentary
8/20/2015
By Secretary of State Wayne Williams
Guest Contributor

Earlier this month I adopted several amendments to the Secretary of State elections rules. In large part, these amendments are “cleanup” in nature; that is, they reword certain rules for grammar and clarity, they repeal some unnecessary or overly burdensome rules, and they reflect recent legislative changes in election law.

8/20/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The Denver City Council on Monday gave initial approval to a measure that would seek voter approval for a sales tax hike to support college scholarships for local students.

But if concerns expressed by dissenting councilors are shared by their constituents, backers will have some convincing to do if the proposal makes the November ballot.

The initiative would ask voters to approve a 0.08-percent sales tax hike to create the College Affordability Fund. The first-of-its-kind program would reimburse nonprofits that provide scholarships and other financial assistance for college students.

8/20/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Democratic Party’s Executive Committee approved the selection of the Budweiser Events Center in Larimer County for next year’s state convention at the committee’s meeting in Salida on Saturday.

This week's political cartoon
8/20/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman
8/14/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The sounds of jazz and flamenco music fought to be heard over the sound of well-wishers’ conversations at El Chingon restaurant in Denver Thursday evening as hundreds gathered to celebrate state Rep. Crisanta Duran’s, D-Denver, birthday.

Several members of the state House including Reps. Alex Garnett, D-Denver, Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton and Angela Williams, D-Denver attended the celebration. Also making an appearance was former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

WAYPOSTS
8/14/2015

Well-known wife and state Capitol aide to Joint Budget Committee member Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, was sworn into a public office of her own on Wednesday. Joyce Rankin was all smiles as she recited her oath of office to Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Nancy J. Lichtenstein in the lobby of the Colorado Department of Education building. On her Facebook page two days before her swearing in Rankin posted, “First meeting and swearing in ceremony..... Wednesday.

8/14/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Grand County is “ground zero” for trans-mountain diversions, and the idea that another may be in the offing raises concerns for those who live and work near the Colorado River.

Guest Commentary
8/14/2015
By Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins
Guest Contributor

At age 8, I climbed out of my wheelchair and crawled up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to convince Congress to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Twenty-five years later, Americans with disabilities are facing a crisis in affordable, accessible housing. Many properties that accept tax credits to provide low-income and accessible housing still do not comply with the ADA and other anti-discrimination laws.

This is a far cry from what I envisioned when I crawled up those steps so many years ago.

YESTERYEAR
8/14/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Thirty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … As a service to the proliferating field of candidates weighing runs for governor — incumbent Dick Lamm was stepping down in 1986 after serving three terms — the newspaper produced a Generic Gubernatorial Campaign Speech, “[s]uitable for everyday campaign use and moth swatting.” Based on pages of interviews with a half-dozen potential candidates published in the previous week’s Denver Post, the all-purpose speech, composed by Statesman theater critic Miller Hudson

#COPOLITICS DOWNLOAD
8/14/2015
By John Tomasic
The Colorado Statesman
8/13/2015
By State Sen. Randy Baumgardner
Special to The Colorado Statesman

On Aug. 3 the Obama administration declared war on the Colorado economy. In the name of saving the planet from “climate change,” Coloradans will be required to pay sharply higher utility bills while restructuring our power generation plants to implement the costly – and likely unlawful – federal mandates for lower carbon emissions.

8/13/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Carleton discusses EPA updates to emissions, ozone standards

By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Even while dealing with the wastewater spill on the Animas River, the EPA is preparing for the rollout of updated standards on carbon emissions and ground-level ozone.

It’s an issue that brought Ron Carleton, EPA’s counselor to the administrator for agricultural policy, to Denver this week.

Carleton spoke to The Colorado Statesman about the updates, and the Obama administration’s new Clean Power Plan, which was finalized on Aug. 3.

8/13/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Funding for a pilot program aimed at helping military veterans maintain employment will be awarded by the state this month.

The program is one of three new laws recently put in place to provide support for veterans or active-duty military members.

House Bill 1030 creates the Employment Services for Veterans Pilot Program. The program sets up career counseling, mentoring and job retention services for veterans.

8/13/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado towns and cities could be asked to make big reductions in their water use, under a new goal added to the state’s water plan.

The statewide plan, ordered by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2013, is now on its second draft. The first draft came out last December, and received more than 24,000 comments.

8/13/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Morgan Carroll's 6th Congressional District campaign kicked off this week and she came out swinging against incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman for his “failed leadership” in dealing with the problem-plagued VA hospital project in Aurora.

But a Coffman surrogate dismissed Carroll's “shrill” attack as ridiculous. And a political analyst questioned whether attacking Coffman — a war veteran — on the VA issue is wise strategy to win a House race that will be on the national radar next year.

8/13/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

The 24 million Americans who watched last week’s initial Republican presidential primary debate were not all Republicans. A hundred Democrats, give or take, gathered at the Governor’s Park sports bar in Denver to view what they hoped would prove an embarrassing clown car competition. If it weren’t for the closed captioning on multiple flat screen TVs it would have been impossible to understand a word of what the candidates were saying.

CHATTER
8/13/2015
The Colorado Statesman

Just recently, the friendly swotters down the street at ColoradoPols.com surmised in their usual mischievous fashion that Douglas County DA George Brauchler has been forever and irrepa-rably damaged — no, not by sending Tweets from the courtroom and fl uster-ing a blustering judge — but because he sought from a jury the death penalty for an evil, lunatic mass murderer and “lost.” He didn’t lose the case, mind you. James Holmes will be locked in a windowless micro-apartment for the rest of his life — where he belongs.

8/13/2015
By Wellington Webb

The word “retirement” is not part of my vocabulary and since leaving the mayor’s office in 2003 I have not taken more than a few days off, except for vacations with my wife and family.

But a knee replacement this summer, followed by more than a month of physical therapy, has given me time to reflect on a number of things, including the recent renewed diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba.

8/13/2015
By Florence Sebern

Colorado’s caucus system is the way grassroots activists — We the People! — participate in and impact our political system.

Caucus is a meeting of neighbors, affiliated with a political party, who come together to discuss candidates, issues, ideas, elect leadership and delegates. It’s the basic building block of our Colorado political system. It’s an open door to local political activism. It’s an opportunity for all voices to be heard.

8/13/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

MONTROSE – At an Aug. 11 town hall meeting, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., seemed to join those calling for the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency director Gina McCarthy, noting that the number of people calling for her resignation was mounting following the EPA-caused spill of three million gallons of mine waste into the Animas River near Silverton.

“If this was a private sector company, they’d be paying hell for this,” Gardner told a packed room at Remington’s, the five-star restaurant at The Bridges Golf Course.

SPOTTED
8/13/2015
By Pat Duncan
The Colorado Statesman
8/13/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Even while dealing with the wastewater spill on the Animas River, the EPA is preparing for the rollout of updated standards on carbon emissions and ground-level ozone.

It’s an issue that brought Ron Carleton, EPA’s counselor to the administrator for agricultural policy, to Denver this week.

Carleton spoke to The Colorado Statesman about the updates, and the Obama administration’s new Clean Power Plan, which was finalized on Aug. 3.

8/13/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

AUG. 13 UPDATE: There may be nothing that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper won’t drink to prove a point, including the previously neon-orange water from the Animas River.

A day before EPA administrator Gina McCarthy announced that toxicology tests show the water quality has returned to pre-contamination levels, Hickenlooper dipped his water bottle into the Animas and took several swigs in response to a request from the Durango Herald, which filmed the event.

Guest Columnist
8/13/2015
By Tony Gagliardi
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Three down and one to go.

8/12/2015
By Mario Nicolais
The Colorado Statesman

“The mob is the mother of tyrants.” – Diogenes

As true today as it was in the Greek philosopher’s time 2,500 years ago, the exponential increase in communication during the digital age has created an environment where instances of mob justice occur almost weekly. The growing prevalence threatens to undermine the formal judicial system.

8/11/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald and House Veterans Affairs Committee chair Jeff Miller are both committed to finishing the long-delayed VA medical center in Aurora, but getting to that last $604 million is proving tricky.

The top federal VA bigwigs came together for two hours before a packed crowd Monday at the Disabled American Veterans national convention at the Denver Sheraton Downtown, and while they didn’t always see eye to eye, those anticipating a brawl were disappointed.

Letter to the Editor
8/10/2015

Editor,

I would encourage my fellow liberty lovers to think of Donald Trump’s recent campaign tactics as showing up to play chess rather than simply agreeing to cooperate with the smirking carnies and their milk-bottle-toss game.

States in Play
8/10/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The University of Colorado and CNBC will serve as hosts for a Republican presidential primary debate in Boulder on Oct. 28. Colorado Statesman contributor Lars Gesing was in Cleveland on Thursday to watch the frenzy unfold around the first GOP debate.

CLEVELAND — Rosemary Flury sits on the patio of the Erie Island Coffee shop on Cleveland’s East 4th Street, where hip and trendy restaurants, watering holes, coffee shops and indie boutiques usually welcome casual strollers. Not today. The 2016 presidential election cosmos and its media entourage have descended upon Cleveland.

Letter to the Editor
8/8/2015

Editor:

The marijuana tourism industry is a burgeoning one with great potential because of its recent legalization. (See “Expert: Cannabis industry has arrived,” in the Aug. 7 Colorado Statesman.) As the negative stigmas associated with marijuana use fade away, just about every tourist visiting Colorado and the other legalized states now curiously enters recreational marijuana storefronts to see what might catch his or her fancy. People who haven’t used marijuana in years, or sometimes never before, are now putting their inhibitions aside to try cannabis. Because of the overwhelming array of edibles, tinctures, topicals, and even transdermal patches available. people don’t even have to smoke to partake in the festivities. However, with marijuana moving into more industrialized facilities for massive-scale production, it is important that consumers seek out organically grown, pesticide-free marijuana that is cultivated with the end user in mind.

Guest Commentary
8/7/2015
By Mike Littwin
Guest Contributor

Let’s all agree on this much after the opening night of the GOP debates: Donald Trump, the star of the show, did not disappoint.

He was at his Donaldian best, or worst, depending on your world view. The thing about Trump is that his best and worst are exactly the same, so it’s hard to know the difference. He was appalling and he was entertaining, and he proved, if anyone doubted it, that he had no business standing on the stage among serious candidates, which is the whole point of the Trump experience.

Letter to the Editor
8/7/2015

Editor:

I am writing in response to the article published in The Colorado Statesman on July 31, “Ranchers Differ Widely on Antibiotics Use in Livestock.” Fundamentally, to work towards a solution to complex issues we all must be willing to focus on commonalities as opposed to differences. The core of this issue lies within the confines of health. Every person strives for health and ultimately we are dependent on it; no one wants to be sick and no one wants to see loved ones sick.

8/7/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

VAIL – Getting more than 300 state lawmakers to focus on the human side of public policy might be a bit much to hope for — unless you bring them all together in the rarified Colorado Rocky Mountain air and have them stay four days at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa.

That’s what state Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, had in mind as chair of the Council of State Governments West, which held its 68th annual meeting in Vail last week. More than 500 staffers, lawmakers and other state and federal officials attended.

Chatter
8/7/2015

“A Texan Resort” abets Rick Perry, while the rest of Colorado trumps The Donald (mostly).

Letter to the Editor
8/7/2015

Editor:

I’m writing in reference to “Ranchers differ widely in antibiotics use in livestock,” in the July 31 issue of The Colorado Statesman. Rachel Alexander is to be commended for bringing light to this story. Michael Costello is to be commended for his healthy practices. He’s raising healthy cattle and raising as many as his land can sustain in such healthy practices.

8/7/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

With a yee-haw and a giddy-up, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Wednesday kicked off a campaign to persuade Denver voters to approve extending a tourism tax to fund part of a $865 million renovation and expansion of the decrepit National Western Center, home for more than a century to the National Western Stock Show.

Guest Commentary
8/6/2015
By Kim Stevens and State Rep. Max Tyler
Guest Contributors

This year is on track to extend the streak of hottest years on record for this planet. Colorado has experienced exactly the extreme weather events predicted by the science of climate change.

8/6/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling against the EPA’s mercury regulations came as much-needed good news for Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Colorado’s second-largest electricity provider.

8/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Like it or not, the cannabis industry has arrived.

One of the industry’s leading marketing gurus told a business networking group in Centennial last Thursday that regulation has made Colorado’s growing cannabis market a success — at least for now.

The Opportunity Coalition, which sponsors forums for business owners and entrepreneurs to connect, brought Dixie Elixir’s marketing chief Joe Hodas to discuss the growth of the industry in Colorado.

8/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado this week becomes the newest state to allow start-up businesses and entrepreneurs an opportunity to “crowdfund” for in-state investors.

With new rules put in place, the state’s Division of Securities also hopes to avoid some of the problems that intrastate equity crowdfunding has run into elsewhere.

Crowdfunding, which has been around for about 15 years, is a way for an entrepreneur or business to raise funds by soliciting contributions, usually over the Internet.

8/6/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

Promoting policies that support oral health for all Coloradans, on the federal, state, and local levels, is the work of Oral Health Colorado. Currently, the eight-year-old advocacy organization is focused on retaining Denver Water’s policy of water fluoridation. In an interview with Catherine Strode, executive director Deborah Foote says the Denver Water Board Commissioners’ Aug. 10 vote whether or not to continue fluoridating its water is a crucial one for Colorado and for the entire country.

Catherine Strode: Why is Oral Health Colorado supporting water fluoridation?

Guest Commentary
8/6/2015
By Jon Goldin-Dubois
Guest Contributor

The Clean Power Plan issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 2 represents the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants and is a critical step in addressing climate change.

This week's political cartoon
8/6/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt and Cecil the Boy Scout Leader."

Guest Commentary
8/5/2015
By David Schultheis
Guest Contributor

Colorado is poised to reject the best advice of the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Vote Foundation and almost every nationally known expert as the state expands Internet voting. Although voters read daily headlines of breaches of government and commercial computer systems and emails, Colorado’s email balloting expansion ignores the experts and defies common sense and lawmakers’ directives.

Letter to the Editor
8/4/2015

Editor:

Michelle Patterson had her say about the Jefferson County Board of Education in the July 24 issue of The Colorado Statesman. Now it is time for truth.

Guest Commentary
8/4/2015
By Mike Littwin
Guest Contributor

OK, it wasn’t like we weren’t warned. But here was the U.S. Senate not only voting on whether to defund Planned Parenthood, but promising that this is just the beginning of a long fight, maybe one that would last even longer than Congress’s summer recess.

As expected, Democrats successfully filibustered the bill, but the defunding exercise, in some form, will be back. And not only will it be back, but some Republicans are even threatening to attach it to this fall’s spending bills so we can — yes — face yet another shutdown showdown.

Colorado Capitol Watch
8/4/2015
By Paula Noonan
Colorado Capitol Watch

Colorado’s public K-12 education system went broke in 2008-2009. The brokenness was so bad the Legislature created the “negative factor,” the difference between the state dollars per student schools receive and the dollars they should receive.

The negative factor reached a $1,278 per student deficit in 2012-13. It’s now down to $1,000 per student. Children in public schools since 2009 have lost out on $6,006 per student, or $180,180 for a classroom of 30 kids. During the same period, education foundations poured money into the state.

Letter to the Editor
8/4/2015

Editor:

Online retail giants have been challenging Colorado’s Main Street merchants on price for nearly a generation now, unfairly helped by an out-of-date U.S. Supreme Court ruling that leaves most online sales free of sales tax. Every year, this unfair competition makes it more difficult for these stores to continue to offer the jobs, personal service, support for local organizations and other contributions only a local business can offer to a community. And it takes away tax revenue needed to pay for vital services like police, firefighters, and schools.

8/4/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Hundreds of military veterans lined up for free marijuana products in Denver on Saturday in an effort by organizers to raise awareness of the benefits of pot use to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Columnist
8/3/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Stephen Justino of Move to Amend drew a dozen voters to the Mercury Café in Denver on Sunday for a Call to Action aimed at overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling. The 2010 decision established two legal principals: Corporations are entitled to free speech protections like those extended to persons, and spending on political matters equals speech, so spending constraints constitute an improper limitation on free speech.

Guest Commentary
8/3/2015
By Wellington E. Webb
Guest Contributor

The word “retirement” is not part of my vocabulary and since leaving the mayor’s office in 2003 I have not taken more than a few days off, except for vacations with my wife and family.

But a knee replacement this summer, followed by more than a month of physical therapy, has given me time to reflect on a number of things, including the recent renewed diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba.

Guest Commentary
8/2/2015
By Mike Littwin
Guest Contributor

I don’t know what date you’ve got in your when-will-the-Donald-finally-implode pool, but there’s a lot of smart money down on Debate Night, Aug. 6.

As The New York Times put it, Thursday’s Debate Night is — in a word — huge. Huge for Trump, and maybe for the other guys, too. The thinking is that when Trump supporters actually see the Donald being the Donald during an actual debate about who leads the free world, it might just give some of them pause.

Guest Commentary
7/31/2015
By Peter Blake
Complete Colorado

Privatize the profits, socialize the losses. That’s what the Colorado Department of Transportation does with Bustang, the new state-owned intercity bus operation.

Bustang began operating July 13 with routes from downtown Denver north to Fort Collins, south to Colorado Springs and west to Glenwood Springs.

State of Health
7/31/2015
By Eric Galatas
Colorado News Connection

Coloradans are embracing the "medical home" model for health-care delivery, according to a new report from the Colorado Health Foundation.

In a medical home, the patient is the focus, and doctors — who traditionally play the “starring role” in clinics — become part of a team of professionals, all of whom step in as needed. It's also known as “coordinated care,” and Jay Brooke, president and chief executive of the High Plains Community Health Center, said meeting all of a patient's needs is what makes the medical-home approach unique.

State of Health
7/31/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

As a recipient of the State Innovation Model grant, Colorado is playing a leading role determining how the future of health care might look. Focused on integrating care and payment innovations, the grant is one of many projects targeting health care in the state. In an interview with Catherine Strode, attorney Elisabeth Arenales of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy discusses where Colorado might be headed.

Columnist
7/30/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Last Thursday the Chamber of the Americas sponsored a luncheon tutorial to explain the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement at the Palm restaurant in Denver. Chamber director Gil Cisneros invited Tyler Rauert, a trade attorney with the Polaris Law Group in Longmont, to educate members on the TPP’s potential impacts on Colorado exporters. Rauert kicked off his remarks by pointing out that “there is absolutely nothing sexy about trade agreements.

7/30/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Nobody is quite sure what happened to the 2.5 million gallons of water that suddenly went missing in Calhan, but mayor Bryan Eurich is confident there’s a good explanation.

At 29, Eurich grew up in Calhan and has lived there almost all his life. As a result, he says, it’s hard for him to imagine how a thief could spirit that much water out of town without anybody paying heed.

Calhan, located 35 miles east of Colorado Springs, has a population of about 780 people.

7/30/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Kassler, Colorado. You’ve most likely never heard of it, even if you’ve lived here all your life.

Population: No one kept track exactly how many lived in this small community but, at its peak, probably no more than 40. It never had a mayor, a government, or even police or fire departments. It did have a one-room schoolhouse, where children carried in coal on cold winter mornings to heat the stove, and near the school was a cemetery.

State of Health
7/30/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Amidst the marketplace turmoil generated by the Affordable Care Act, an entirely new entity was created in 23 states: a non-profit, member-owned health care co-op. Two of these have already closed their doors — one, covering Iowa and Nebraska, after undergoing bankruptcy and another, in Louisiana, in an orderly shutdown that will be completed by the end of the year. Several others are experiencing financial difficulties and their survival is in doubt. In Colorado, this non-profit insuror is the Colorado Health-OP, which covers 80,000 lives.

Wayposts
7/30/2015

Romer honored by CSG with Fahrenkamp award

Former Gov. Roy Romer was awarded the Bettye Fahrenkamp Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership on behalf of Western States at the Council of State Governments West annual meeting in Vail this week.

7/30/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A major jobs announcement and a top business ranking in a national publication highlighted a week of positive economic news for Denver and the state.

On Tuesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered outside the Capitol what he said was “the largest jobs announcement in the history of Colorado.”

The governor announced that San Francisco-based ZenPayroll — a Google-backed company that handles billions of dollars in payroll for thousands of small businesses across the country — will soon be cutting checks for its own workers in Denver.

7/30/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

BEAVER CREEK — In the early 1980s, Colorado’s economy was languishing and the fledgling ski resort of Beaver Creek — just a few miles west of Vail — was in serious trouble.

But the ski area — first envisioned as a venue for the never-to-be 1976 Denver Winter Olympics — had one huge backer, who never faltered in his support of the Vail Valley and the new resort that first opened with an inflatable tennis bubble as its base lodge: former President Gerald R. Ford.

Chatter
7/30/2015

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, is at it again, and so are his critics.

After the Boy Scouts of America announced it was ending its ban on gay scout leaders, Klingenschmitt took to his online show, “Pray in Jesus Name News with Dr. Chaps” this week to condemn the move. “What they’re going to do is promote homosexual men to mentoring and campaign with your boys in the woods, and it will lead to child abuse,” he said in the video. “The children are in danger.”

7/30/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Whether they knew it or not, some 40 million Americans across seven states celebrated, Colorado River Day on Saturday, marking the anniversary of the day when the river’s name was changed from the Grand River in 1921.

7/30/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

Denver has lawyered up, so to speak — and, to the average resident, in a seemingly big way. Several multimillion-dollar contracts were approved by the Denver City Council, resulting in awards to three sizeable national and international law firms. Five million dollars’ worth of contracts, to be exact, were entered into on final votes on Monday night.

Courts Columnist
7/29/2015
By Mario Nicolais
The Colorado Statesman

Two weeks ago, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Little Sisters of the Poor challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The nuns claim the law violates the organization’s right to religious freedom. Last week, they decided to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell decision is just one of several high-profile Colorado cases centered on religious liberty working their way through the courts. Whether they’re about nuns and contraception or bakers and weddings, all have sparked heated controversy.

States in Play
7/28/2015
By Lars Gesing
CU News Corps

Ask yourself this question: When you go knock on your neighbor’s door, when you see your friends in a café in town, when you pick a new place to live — how much diversity do you encounter?

Letter to the Editor
7/28/2015

Editor:

Colorado has outgrown the caucus.

There are only nine other states that employ this archaic system. The caucus is a process in which registered voters of a certain party meet. Generally it’s held on a Tuesday night in February or March to elect delegates who, in turn, attend our county and state assemblies to vote on placement of candidates on our ballots. We currently have approximately 1 million registered Republican voters in the state of Colorado. Less than 1 percent of these become delegates, yet they are responsible for electing the candidates who appear on our ballot.

Guest Commentary
7/28/2015
By Julie Fox Gorte
Guest Contributor

History offers a great many examples of individuals, groups and societies that lived too much in the moment and compromised longer term prosperity — or, in some cases (think Easter Island), even survival. It’s the same with climate change today. We’re past the point where we can debate whether to act. We can either act prudently and account for long-term risk or face catastrophe.

Guest Commentary
7/28/2015
By Ron Paul
Guest Contributor

Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the U.S. bombing of Serbia, proposed that "disloyal Americans" be sent to internment camps for the "duration of the conflict." Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, Tenn., in which five U.S. service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens during World War II who were merely suspected of having Nazi sympathies. He said: "back then we didn't say 'that was freedom of speech,' we put him in a camp."

7/28/2015

Editor:

Now that Douglas Bruce is out of the slammer, he needs to find new friends. He’s found at least one, our own beloved Gov. John Hickenlooper. At risk of making new enemies (lots of them), Hick has come to the rescue of Bruce by joining him in defense of the TABOR amendment.

Guest Commentary
7/28/2015
By Mark Larson
Guest Contributor

Dave Eckhardt’s letter in the July 17 Statesman, “Urge EPA to uphold RFS, because it’s working,” failed to recognize the real reason the EPA is paring down the Renewable Fuel Standard for ethanol. First and foremost, with gasoline demand in general (not of late) declining due to higher mileage gains from mandated new vehicle CAFÉ mileage standards and a lackluster economy, the petroleum industry has hit an “ethanol blend-wall,” that condition when the EPA-mandated blending levels cannot be achieved.

7/28/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado State University president Tony Frank has moved to limit the university’s use of fetal tissue following a national uproar over Planned Parenthood’s handling of post-abortion tissue and organs provided for medical research.

In a letter to Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, Frank said he will suspend the purchase of fetal tissue for medical research from vendors such as Stem Express, which is caught up in the furor over Planned Parenthood, pending the outcome of a congressional investigation.

Guest Commentary
7/27/2015
By State Sen. David Balmer
Guest Contributor

As People v. James Holmes, Arapahoe County Case 2012CR1522, winds down, we should reexamine sunshine disclosure rules for public defenders.

To his credit, District Attorney George Brauchler is disclosing every tax dollar his office is spending prosecuting Mr. Holmes. See the following link on his 18th Judicial website:
http://www.da18.org/DAsOffice/Finance/ArapahoeCountyCase2012CR1522.aspx.

Nevertheless, as far as I can tell, the Holmes defense team isn’t disclosing any of its expenses. Regrettably, due to loopholes in the Colorado Open Records Act, publicly funded defense lawyers are allowed to hide from taxpayers all trial costs, including high-priced consultants and expert witnesses.

Letter to the Editor
7/26/2015

Editor:

The opening paragraph of the article, "Solar experts urge more government intervention to supplant coal power,” in the July 17 issue of The Statesman, says it all. They call for a "push from local, state and federal government." If it were such a bright idea, there would be no need to push it down the throats of the public.

Guest Commentary
7/25/2015
By State Sen. Irene Aguilar MD
Guest Contributor

I read with interest in the July 3 Colorado Statesman “Déjà vu all over: a preview of government-run health care,” a misleading piece about the ColoradoCare health care proposal from “guest contributor” Michael Fields. I couldn’t help wondering how many readers saw the tiny line identifying him as the Colorado state director of Americans for Prosperity, the tax-exempt, yet extremely well-funded (by the Koch brothers) right-wing organization that has consistently opposed health coverage reform — in favor of the old, unfair system that left so many Americans uninsured.

7/24/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The group behind a proposed ballot initiative that aims to provide health care coverage for all Coloradans is considering suing the Colorado Title Board for “misleading” voters over the measure's cost.

But there is doubt as to whether organizers even have that option, especially since they did not pursue ballot language remedies in the time allowed.

Initiative 20 would create ColoradoCare, a health care cooperative that would provide coverage for everyone in the state.

Guest Commentary
7/24/2015
By Mike Littwin
The Colorado Independent

The shooter, we’re told, was a drifter, a word you rarely hear outside Hollywood westerns. But this couldn’t be a western, because in the West, they took your guns at the town limits. Or at least that’s how they did it in the movies.

Columnist
7/23/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

It was certainly a shock to me when Michael Hancock, who graduated from Manual High School with my son, was elected Mayor four years ago. Pundits like to dwell on the theory of generational change following each election. Jeanne Faatz and Charlie Brown, who left the Denver City Council this past week, were first elected to the Legislature a few years either side of 1980. They were part of the first wave of Colorado politicians who were children of the ‘60s; veterans of Viet Nam and candidates who could claim John Kennedy’s call to public service had resonated in their lives.

7/23/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

ASPEN – Bush administration deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams told a pro-Israel gathering here Wednesday the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal will likely result in the exact thing it’s intended to prevent: a nuclear-armed Iran with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

7/23/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Thrive was the word of the day at the Women’s Leadership Luncheon at the Biennial of the Americas Festival last Wednesday.

The luncheon featured a panel moderated by Alicia Menendez, anchor of FUSION’s “Come Here and Say That,” and included Patricia Milligan, senior partner and global leader for Mercer, and Danielle Saint-Lot, ambassador-at-large for the Republic of Haiti and founder of the Haiti Women’s Foundation.

The two discussed how to help women thrive, both in the workforce and in developing countries, such as Haiti.

Wayposts
7/23/2015

Hudson named PIO for AG Coffman

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman this week named Roger Hudson as the Department of Law’s public information officer and communications director.

7/23/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is running behind three top Republican presidential candidates in Colorado, according to a swing-state poll released this week by Quinnipiac University.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida leads Clinton 46-38 points among Colorado voters, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads 41-36, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is ahead 47-38 percent.

The poll was conducted by Quinnipiac in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, with similar results in the two other swing states.

This week's political cartoon
7/23/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "When will the jury weigh in?"

Letter to the Editor
7/23/2015

Editor:

On Saturday, Sen. Bennet, Gov. Hickenlooper, and Colorado residents gathered in Buena Vista to celebrate President Obama’s recent commitment to protecting America’s public lands through his designation of Browns Canyon as a national monument.

Browns Canyon National Monument, a favorite spot of many Coloradans, is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations, drawing tourists from across the world. It is a beautiful place for hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing, snowshoeing, birding, climbing and horseback riding.

Guest Commentary
7/23/2015
By Kim Monson
Guest Contributor

Great societies care about how they treat their neighbors and are concerned about the legacy they pass on to their children. Recently, Lone Tree City Council voted on three intergovernmental agreements to help fund the Southeast Light Rail Extension. The overriding issue is accepting federal money for regional projects. America was founded on the idea that projects benefitting a certain region be paid for by that region.

Guest Commentary
7/23/2015
By State Rep. Perry Buck
Guest Contributor

The United States is ready for a female president. We’re ready for Carly, not Hillary.

State of Style
7/22/2015
By Lynne Lombard-Hunt
The Colorado Statesman

Waving the flag of fashion

Colorado Capitol Watch
7/22/2015
By Paula Noonan
Colorado Capitol Watch

Citizens wonder whether lobbyists run the show down at the Capitol. Actually, the lobbying world operates like a rugby scrum, with players changing teams all the time, often just as they’re huddling up for the game.

Lobbying, in short, is not for the faint of heart.

Letter to the Editor
7/22/2015

Editor:

Thank you for your coverage of convicted felon Douglas Bruce’s recent appearance in Denver District Court, where he is facing charges that he has violated the terms of his probation since his release from jail three years ago.

7/21/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The petition effort to oust three conservative Jefferson County school board members is going so well that organizers say they are expecting to wrap up the signature gathering process by this weekend.

Lynea Hansen, a spokeswoman for Jeffco United for Action, the group behind the recall effort, said Tuesday that the group is “over half way” to their signatures goal.

And, Hansen said, there are more than 1,000 petitions still being circulated. Petition circulators are being asked to turn in their signatures soon so organizers can start verifying names.

Columnist
7/21/2015
By Morgan Smith
The Colorado Statesman

“El Chapo for President of México,” Pastor Galván says. “He’s like Pancho Villa or Emilio Zapata. They had money, but they helped the poor, something the government doesn’t do.”

Guest Commentary
7/21/2015
By Jonathan Lockwood
Guest Contributor

Big government and special interests have ganged up on Colorado drivers in an effort to fill up their own bank accounts at the expense of ours. Questionable evidence that red light cameras improve safety, coupled with charges of corruption, cast doubt on the real motivations behind the use of these devices.

7/20/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

BUENA VISTA — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell insisted over the weekend that she and other federal authorities are “doing everything we can” to stop a shutdown of the Colowyo coal mine, which could include a request for more time to finish a court-ordered review.

Jewell squeezed in a meeting on the mine’s future late Friday with a dozen northwest Colorado officials and congressional staffers, telling them that she feels confident that her department will be able to complete an environmental review by the Sept. 6 deadline.

7/20/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

VAIL — Vail Mayor Andy Daly says the ski town’s older guests, many from more conservative parts of the country, are not ready for pot shops next to their favorite fur stores and fine-dining establishments in the heart of Vail Village.

“I really believe that we’ve spent tremendous time and money developing a very definitive Vail brand, and it’s one that is based on quality and professionalism,” Daly said. “So while marijuana for the state overall is fine, what we have to look to in Vail is really protecting our brand.”

Guest Commentary
7/20/2015
By Dr. Ivor Douglas
Guest Contributor

Coloradans will go to extraordinary lengths to keep our marvelous environment, endless vistas, magnificent mountains, lakes and streams and livable urban spaces, a well-guarded secret.

Yet over the 13 years I have practiced as a lung specialist and intensive-care physician in Denver, the tangible and evolving impact of climate change has become all too apparent, threatening the unique lifestyle and opportunities for wellness that endear our state to those not fortunate enough to live here.

Chatter
7/20/2015

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn called Friday for Colorado State University to stop using fetal tissue from abortions in its research while CSU defended its work as above reproach both legally and ethically.

In a letter to CSU President Tony Frank, Lamborn cited documents released last week by the Center for Medical Progress showing that the university bought what he described as “aborted babies’ parts” on Jan. 10, 2013, from a Planned Parenthood affiliate in California.

Guest Commentary
7/20/2015
By Philip Pauli
Guest Contributor

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet only 42.3 percent of Colorado’s 267,000 working-age residents with disabilities are employed. This means fewer than half of people with disabilities in Colorado have the dignity, friendships, income and purpose that jobs provide.

Guest Commentary
7/20/2015
By Dr. Jane M. Orient
Guest Contributor

The destruction of the American family is more likely a cause than a consequence of the gay-rights movement. But what began with easy divorce and widespread cohabitation may be brought to total meltdown with same-sex “marriage” and the idea that gender is “fluid.”

Government schools have already been indoctrinating children in the “new normal” with books like Heather Has Two Mommies.

7/20/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

BUENA VISTA — Like a whitewater rafting trip down the Arkansas River, the dedication ceremony Saturday for Browns Canyon National Monument hit a few rough patches along the way.

The outdoor celebration had to be moved indoors, thanks to an unexpected storm. Two of the monument’s most active supporters — former Sen. Mark Udall and former Rep. Joel Hefley — were unable to make it, Udall due to a climbing injury, Hefley because of a death in the family.

7/17/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

Former state Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, co-sponsored several pieces of health care legislation during his four terms in the Colorado House. An attorney, Gardner is running for the Senate District 12 seat that will be left vacant by term-limited Senate President Bill Cadman. State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, is also seeking the GOP nomination in the district. In an interview with Catherine Strode, Gardner offers his views on the recent U.S.

Guest Commentary
7/17/2015
By Michele Patterson
Guest Contributor

It's not a difficult concept to understand. Serving on a school board means you are an adult in a position of trust and, as such, must uphold school district policies and laws that protect the children you serve. Yet, on May 7, 2015, the Jeffco School Board majority chose to single out, perhaps with the intent to shame and intimidate, a minor student.

Courts Columnist
7/16/2015
By Mario Nicolais
The Colorado Statesman

Big data is a big deal to more and more industries and professions.

Financial firms have crunched reams of numbers for decades. Barak Obama dedicated a whole floor of his campaign to data-driven decision-making. And of course, baseball — and every other major sport — has followed the sabermetric path blazed by Billy Beane.

So, where do we find big data being applied to the legal field? How does the criminal justice system use the vast array of statistical information it collects to increase efficiency and decrease costs?

7/16/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

This story has been corrected. Please see correction below.

Round 2 of the alleged probation violation charges against Taxpayer Bill of Rights author Doug Bruce landed in Judge Sheila Rappaport’s Denver District Court on Monday. Another round is scheduled for August 31, and yet another, complete with fresh charges, is likely to follow that.

Bruce has been under supervision for three years by the Colorado Probation Office, since he served a sentence for criminal tax evasion. Bruce wasn’t convicted of pocketing moneys for his own use. Instead, he donated his salary as an El Paso County commissioner to several tax-exempt, political non-profit organizations. Failing to pay taxes on this pass-through, prosecutors argued, cheated the state of tax revenues, while bolstering the contributions enjoyed by the recipients of his largesse. Bruce has called this an invented legal theory of “criminal philanthropy.” If a corporation had been found executing similar transfers, it almost certainly would have been handled as a civil matter, he maintained.

7/16/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Blair Hubbard's heroin addiction began with the popping of a few pain pills she was prescribed after wisdom teeth surgery.

“I accidentally took more than the recommended prescribed dose at one point and realized that I really liked the way it felt,” said Hubbard, 34, who lives in Denver.

Wayposts
7/16/2015

Senate Dems elect Guzman as leader

The Senate Democratic caucus voted unanimously on Wednesday to elect Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, as Senate minority leader, taking the place of Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, who is stepping down from the leadership post while she runs for Congress.

“Making sure every Coloradan who works hard and plays by the rules has a fair shot at getting ahead is what myself and my Democratic colleagues are totally focused on,” Guzman said in a statement.

Campaign 2016
7/16/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The third Republican presidential candidate debate will be on Oct. 28 at the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, debate sponsor CNBC announced on Thursday. The debate, one of a dozen sanctioned by the Republican National Committee, will focus on the economy and will be broadcast by the cable network.

7/16/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Department of Human Services is complying with many recommendations spelled out in audits from last year, but problems still persist at the agency that oversees child-welfare services.

That's according to department Executive Director Reggie Bicha, who on Tuesday updated a legislative panel on the progress being made toward addressing a long list of concerns found in the audits.

7/16/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Congress may finally be getting over the “chuckle factor” when it comes to marijuana banking legislation.

“When I would bring up marijuana, there would always initially be a chuckle,” Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter told The Colorado Statesman in a recent interview.

“Now, people understand that this is a serious issue.”

As Congress gets over the pot giggles, those who operate marijuana businesses hope they'll soon be laughing all the way to the bank.

This week's political cartoon
7/16/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman
Chatter
7/15/2015

Those gripes about Interior Secretary Sally Jewell making time for whitewater rafting and hobnobbing in Aspen — but not the Colowyo coal mine — appear to have paid off.

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid said Wednesday that Jewell has added a meeting with northwest Colorado county commissioners to her itinerary Friday following her speech at the Aspen Institute.

“We look forward to meeting Secretary Jewell this Friday evening,” Kinkaid said. “I hope that she will be able to give us some assurances that our miners can keep working.”

Guest Commentary
7/15/2015
By Wellington E. Webb
Guest Contributor

I’ve heard some of my friends praise Hillary Clinton for her public service but then question if we are ready for such a strong female leader.

I'm married to a strong woman, Wilma Webb, who served in the Colorado state legislature for 13 years and fought to get the Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday established long before other states came on board. With the Democrats in the minority, she also got laws passed to protect the poor, minorities, women and gays from discrimination.

7/14/2015

On Tuesday night Becky Mizel announced her immediate resignation as chair of the Pueblo Republican Party. She said in a letter to the county party's executive committee that her views on working through "administrative challenges" the party is facing are at odds with those held by most of the committee's members. The letter is reproduced below.

Dear Executive Committee and Central Committee Members:

It is with great sadness that I tender my resignation as Chairman of the Pueblo Republican Party, effective immediately. I have greatly enjoyed the many opportunities for working with you as we have successfully brought the message of the Republican Party to Pueblo. Together, we have done many things that our opponents declared impossible. That profound impact was because of our members’ unique fearless dedication to our country’s founding principles.

Letter to the Editor
7/14/2015

Editor:

If President Obama can commute the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, then why can't Gov. Hickenlooper pardon all non-violent drug (marijuana) felons? It would save Colorado taxpayers many millions of dollars each year, but that's too easy of a solution.

7/14/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

An independent study released this week provided good news for Colorado's public pension system — a little too good for skeptical Republican lawmakers.

The study determined that the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association's benefit model is more efficient and cost-effective than other types of public and private retirement plans.

And a move toward a different benefit system for public employees would cost the state up to $15.9 billion, the 211-page report reads.

7/14/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

EDWARDS — The future of solar energy in Colorado and the United States is very bright, according to a panel of experts here Monday night, but it can go supernova-bright with a much more concerted push from local, state and federal government.

All four panelist at the Vail Symposium’s “Future of Solar Energy” forum at Colorado Mountain College talked about the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels — especially coal — as the primary means of generating electricity in the United States.

Guest Commentary
7/14/2015
By Katie Fleming Dahl
Guest Contributor

A group of recent court decisions has reignited the debate over how we draw legislative districts. In a case out of Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of Americans to create independent commissions that strip politicians of the power to gerrymander districts. In a Florida case in which Common Cause was a successful plaintiff, the state Supreme Court found the Florida legislature had drawn congressional district boundaries for political gain, and ordered them to redraw eight congressional districts within 100 days. In Alabama and Virginia, the U.S.

7/14/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Republicans were quick to condemn the Obama administration’s announcement Tuesday of a nuclear agreement between six countries and Iran, urging Congress to reject the deal even as Democrats called it as a step in the right direction.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a blistering statement accusing the White House of entering into a “bad deal” to accommodate “a murderous regime led by a President who gladly marches at the front of parades shouting ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’”

Chatter
7/14/2015

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is coming to Colorado, but a visit to the Colowyo coal mine isn’t on her itinerary — at least not yet.

Jewell is scheduled to speak Friday at the Aspen Institute, just a three-hour drive from Craig, where residents are frantic over the threat of a coal mine shutting down as a result of a lawsuit filed by environmentalist group WildEarth Guardians.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and Rep. Scott Tipton have urged her to visit the area and hear from the community about the mine’s importance to the northwest Colorado economy.

Columnist
7/13/2015
By Morgan Smith
The Colorado Statesman

“Puras mentiras,” Cecilia Vazquez says to me. Nothing but lies. The other Mixteca Indians nod in agreement.

Letter to the Editor
7/13/2015

Editor:

A recent column in your publication provided a skewed portrayal of The Colorado Education Initiative, or CEI. We would like your readers to have factual information about our organization.

CEI is an independent nonprofit that works in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education, districts, schools, and other public education stakeholders to improve student outcomes in diverse communities across Colorado.

We are not an advocacy organization or a foundation. Our mission is not driven by any one local or national foundation, advocacy group, or organization.

Columnist
7/12/2015
By Morgan Smith
The Colorado Statesman

“Governor Love is a dumb bell.”

It was a Sunday afternoon and David Gaon was listening to the Herrick Roth show, when suddenly a man named J.D. MacFarlane made this comment about Gov. John Love. Gaon immediately called MacFarlane, offered to work on his campaign for attorney general, went to Pueblo to meet with Wally Stealey and J.D.’s wife, Janet. David ended up driving all over the state with them as MacFarlane pursued his first campaign for attorney general.

Letter to the Editor
7/10/2015

Editor,

As a longtime Jefferson County resident and taxpayer, I must protest the grounds of this proposed recall of three competent school board members. Let’s be totally honest about this. The real reason for the recall effort is the teacher’s association, the JCEA. Previously there was Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, the JCEA, and the rest was superfluous. Now the board has become independent and thinks for itself.

Guest Commentary
7/10/2015
By Morie Pierce Smile
Guest Contributor

Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans every day perform a great labor of love: caring for parents, spouses and other loved ones so they can remain in their homes.

Sometimes these family caregivers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week — while also holding down a full-time job — and often they can’t even take a break. They help with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, transportation and chores. Many perform complex medical tasks like wound care, giving injections and complicated medication management.

Campaign 2016
7/10/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Following more than a month of speculation after she began publicly weighing a run, Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, announced on Tuesday that she plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the competitive 6th Congressional District.

Wayposts
7/9/2015

Cable pioneer Glenn R. Jones died on Tuesday. He was 85.

Jones founded Jones Intercable, which grew to be one of the 10 largest cable operators in the country, in 1967 in Georgetown after borrowing $400 against his Volkswagon. Although his company sold in 1999 to Comcast, he was active for decades in the cable, distance education, training and entertainment fields.

Chatter
7/9/2015

Another Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate announced his run this week, but observers on both sides of the aisle — and from Colorado to the nation’s capital — are still left wondering when the “real” candidate is going to get into the race to challenge Democrat Michael Bennet.

Letter to the Editor
7/9/2015

Editor:

The EPA recently snubbed the Renewable Fuel Standard with a revision to the rule that would cut corn ethanol obligations by 3.75 billion gallons over three years — equivalent to a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand.

We can’t help but ask, "Why?”

Perhaps the EPA has forgotten the RFS is working.

7/9/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The Independent Ethics Commission’s vote Tuesday on disgraced former state Sen. Steve King might have seemed like overkill to some, but not to Kevin King.

It was King who filed the ethics complaint against the ex-Republican lawmaker almost exactly a year ago, before Steve King pleaded guilty to embezzlement and official misconduct for submitting falsified timecards to two government employers.

Columnist
7/8/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

In years past I’ve spent several Fourth of July holidays in Washington, D.C. Aside from nearly insufferable heat and humidity, you are assured a world class fireworks show. A new normal, however, appears to have emerged this year with security ramped up wherever you turned. Cops were encamped on every corner. Three miles of chain link fencing had been erected in order to funnel the crowds through metal detectors before anyone set foot on the National Mall. Torrential rains in the morning and afternoon reduced lawns to muddy sponges so no one could sit on the grass.

7/8/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation kicked off a two-year national campaign to encourage businesses to help make communities healthier with a recent forum in Denver.

“We wanted to go where there’s best practices. Denver is it,” said Marc DeCourcey, vice president of the foundation and head of its Corporate Citizenship Center.

A healthy population will help the country because a healthy workforce is vastly more productive, he said.

But it isn’t just a matter of an apple a day.

7/8/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Crackdowns on cyberbulling and homemade hash oil are now on the books in Colorado.

The laws are among 19 new statutes that took effect July 1.

Those who are guilty of cyberbulling — harassment through interactive electronic media, such as social media — will now face up to six months behind bars.

7/8/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

Dr. Corry Robinson has served as Director of JFK Partners, an interdepartmental program of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the CU School of Medicine, for the past 22 years. In this role, she provided leadership as a clinician, researcher, and educator in the fields of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders in children. At the end of June, Dr. Robinson stepped down from as director at JFK, although still continuing in her academic appointment work and her work as principal investigator on some federally funded grant projects at the program.

Courts
7/8/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips says he was exercising his right to freedom of expression when he refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but the Colorado Civil Rights Commission called it unlawful discrimination.

So the Lakewood baker took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which heard oral argument Tuesday in what has become a pivotal case nationally in the legal tug-of-war over religious freedom and same-sex marriage.

Colorado Capitol Watch
7/8/2015
By Paula Noonan
Colorado Capitol Watch

Colorado is experiencing a 7.0 San Andreas earthquake with a 1906-style San Francisco fire burning through the education world. Everywhere, education leaders are retiring, quitting, or facing recalls, as education policy pushes and pulls in opposite directions.

State Education Commissioner Robert Hammond retired July 1. Other key executives and mid-level staffers quit. The Colorado Department of Education now has three interim players on its five-member executive committee, including interim commissioner Elliott Asp.

Letter to the Editor
7/8/2015

Editor:

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which protects our country’s public lands that create economic opportunities for small businesses, is set to expire in less than 100 days unless lawmakers act quickly to reauthorize it. Small business owners understand the connection between the preservation of public lands and their bottom lines. National parks and monuments bring tourism dollars to their businesses and attract talented employees. Many entrepreneurs start businesses in communities near public lands for these very reasons.

Guest Columnist
7/8/2015
By Linda Meric
Guest Contributor

The pay gap made national news after the women’s US Soccer team won the world cup. Meanwhile, a commission designed to deal with this very inequality expired in Colorado rather unceremoniously.

7/8/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Those fighting to keep open the Colowyo mine in Craig by delaying a judge’s order will have to do so without the help of the Obama administration.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell allowed this week’s deadline to pass without filing a motion to stay the order of U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson, who gave the department 120 days to redo parts of an eight-year-old expansion permit.

Guest Commentary
7/8/2015
By Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Mike Coffman
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Like most Coloradans, the Congressional delegation was shocked and appalled in March when the Department of Veterans Affairs first informed us the VA replacement medical center in Aurora would cost a staggering $1.73 billion. The delegation had worked together to support an $800 million facility and helped authorize funds accordingly. These cost overruns and the VA’s mismanagement of taxpayer dollars are unacceptable.

7/6/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

A Colorado Republican Party panel voted overwhelmingly on Friday to support embattled state GOP chairman Steve House, who had been embroiled in controversy over efforts by prominent Republicans to persuade him to resign for nearly two weeks.

Following a grueling meeting that lasted more than six hours, the Colorado GOP’s state executive committee passed a motion expressing confidence in House by a vote of 22-1.

After the meeting, a relieved-looking House told reporters he was ready to move on and get to work helping elect Republicans.

7/2/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

For supporters of an effort to recall three conservative members of the Jefferson County School Board, the potential for an off-year election holds a mixed bag.

If enough signatures are gathered in an effort to oust Board President Ken Witt, Vice President Julie Williams and Secretary John Newkirk, a recall election will be held this November.

But will passionately held opposition to the conservative board translate into actual support from Democratic-leaning voters, many of whom sit out non-presidential year elections?

7/2/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Those hoping for a rousing pro-pot speech Tuesday from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may have been disappointed, but not pro-liberty voters.

The Republican presidential candidate whipped up the packed crowd at Chopper’s Sports Grill instead with a call for “the right to be left alone” and against the USA Patriot Act, federal spying on citizens and civil-asset forfeiture, in accord the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.

7/2/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Some people are obsessed with trains. Others can’t get enough of comic books or Star Wars. Wayne New is what you might call a community planning geek.

The newly elected Denver city council member pulls out his iPhone and starts flipping through photos from his recent visit to Atlanta, depicting what appears to be pavement — but not just any pavement. If you look closely, you can see rails from the Atlanta Streetcar system built into the concrete.

Courts Columnist
7/2/2015
By Mario Nicolais
The Colorado Statesman

In the wake created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case, there has been a rush to pick the ruling apart and compare it to past landmark decisions. Due to the inherent social-political issue — and the subsequent bitter divides — some have cited it as the “next” Roe v. Wade.

I don’t subscribe to that position.

7/2/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Denver officials got an earful from the public about problems plaguing the Denver Sheriff Department at a recent forum that addressed the need for a culture shift within the troubled law enforcement agency.

Community members rattled off a number of areas of concerns — including how inmates are treated and a perceived lack of transparency at the department — during a city-organized event in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood on Tuesday.

The meeting came on the heels of a sweeping, 300-page independent report released in May that called for systemic changes at the department.

7/1/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Coloradans love playing outdoors. But if residents want to keep on enjoying the state’s recreational bounty — and continue enjoying the $13.2 billion the recreational industry pumps into Colorado’s economy — it’s time for the state to lead the way cutting carbon pollution. Fortunately, says a report released this week, Colorado is in a good position to do just that.

That was the message delivered on Tuesday by Environmental Colorado, several outdoor recreational organizations and Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder.

Columnist
7/1/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Two very different events took place at opposite ends of downtown Denver last weekend. Colorado Christian University and its Centennial Institute’s Western Conservative Summit convened at the Colorado Convention Center, while the Arcview Investor Network’s Pitch Forum for a burgeoning marijuana industry gathered at the EXDO Center in River North. A casual observer might have had trouble telling which meeting was which.

Guest Commentary
7/1/2015
By Michael Lott-Manier
Guest Contributor

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell upholding advance premium tax credits for Americans who need help affording basic health care coverage, our nation is at a crossroads.

Our political leaders and would-be leaders face a choice of direction. They can choose to go back to the days when fewer people had access to insurance, and that insurance covered less — or go forward on the vital journey of health care reform.

7/1/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colardo Statesman

ASPEN – The first thing South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’ll do if he’s elected president in 2016 is rebuild the U.S. military and roll back defense spending cuts. The second thing he’ll do is remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, either “standing up or laying down.”

6/30/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

VAIL — Toward the end of a special reading of a new play called “Camp David” here Friday, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, played by actor Ron Rifkin, wept as he read the names of his many grandchildren inscribed on photos presented to him by President Jimmy Carter, played by actor Richard Thomas.

Courts
6/30/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a Douglas Public School voucher program violates the Colorado Constitution.

In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled that the program, the Choice Scholarship Program, violates Article IX Section 7 of the state Constitution, which prohibits the use of taxpayer funds to support any “sectarian” or religious school.

“This stark constitutional provision makes one thing clear: A school district may not aid religious schools,” Chief Justice Nancy Rice wrote in the majority opinion.

Courts
6/30/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sent a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights back to an appeals court for review. The high court first granted a petition to hear the lawsuit, then vacated an earlier judgment handed down by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and then remanded the case back for reconsideration in light of Monday’s ruling in an Arizona case that involved the power of state governments.

Guest Commentary
6/30/2015
By State Rep. Dominick Moreno
Guest Contributor

I turned 30 this year, which makes me still the youngest member of the Colorado General Assembly. But I am one of the elders of the generation known as Millennials — those born between 1980 and 2000.

Millennials are a powerful demographic. We are the largest generation in the history of the United States. We will include more than a third of adult Americans by 2020, and we will make up as much as three-quarters of the U.S. workforce by 2025.

Guest Commentary
6/29/2015
By By Laura Finley
Guest Contributor

Here we go again. Another court decision favoring businesses over human rights. Sadly, it is no shock that the Supreme Court is friendlier to business more than anything or anyone else. From its 2010 Citizens United blunder that allowed even greater corporate influence on our political process to the 2014 Hobby Lobby case affirming the “religious beliefs” of private corporations, the court’s continual siding with corporate entities over individual rights is maddening and ludicrous, but not surprising. Now, we learn that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of employers in a case that addressed whether persons with lawful medical marijuana cards can be fired for testing positive for the substance.

Letter to the Editor
6/29/2015

Editor:

In response to the piece discussing Senator Bernie Sanders’ trip to Colorado, seeing that Sanders demands to remove big money — Super PACs, large donations — from politics is a big step towards the principal of one person, one vote.

Guest Columnist
6/29/2015
By Jim Earley
Guest Contributor

There is no question that Lisa Pinto's short tenure as chief communications officer for Jeffco Public Schools was troubled from the start.

6/27/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

With Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, leaving the chamber in 2016 due to term limits, two state representatives are set to square off for the Democratic nomination to take her place representing Senate District 29.

State Reps. Su Ryden and Rhonda Fields, both Aurora Democrats, have announced their candidacies for the seat. Fields held her kick off event on June 13 and Ryden is holding hers on Sunday.

Letter to the Editor
6/27/2015

Editor:

The senseless tragedy we witnessed this week at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., is an indication that hate derived from racism is still a problem in the United States. We have made great strides in our country, but we still have a long way to go.

6/25/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholding Obamacare subsidies on federally run state exchanges had no direct impact on Colorado, which has its own state-run exchange — but you wouldn’t know that from the reaction.

Colorado supporters of the Affordable Care Act cheered the high court’s 6-3 ruling in King v. Burwell, which allows the federal government to continue providing financial assistance to consumers who purchase policies on Healthcare.gov.

Guest Columnist
6/24/2015
By Michael Fields
Guest Contributor

Is Colorado ready for yet another round of government-run health care? I know I’m certainly not.

In recent days, a campaign called ColoradoCare launched a ballot initiative for a single-payer health insurance system. It would give the state complete control over our health insurance and health care, basically by eliminating private insurance and making doctors employees of the state.

If this whole scenario is giving you déjà vu, it’s because it should. Colorado has already had a preview of what state-run health care looks like. And, thanks to the Colorado’s insurance exchange, we now know that it’s unaccountable, unreliable, and frankly unaffordable.

Capitol Watch
6/24/2015
By Paula Noonan
Colorado Capitol Watch

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was a busy legislator in the 2015 General Assembly. He sponsored 42 bills. As a new guy in the Senate after years in the House, he enjoyed the power of the majority, though 15 of those bills didn’t get through. He was able to round up support despite a passed-bill voting record of 291 Yes votes to 74 No votes, which might cause some hard feelings.

Sonnenberg saved farmer and rancher water rights by killing HB15-1259, which would have allowed non-rurals to collect rain runoff from their roofs to water gardens. Crying foul, he said collecting any precipitation was like “stealing flowers” from a neighbor’s yard. The bill’s sponsors were urban and suburban Democrats. City folk, often recipients of mockery from farming and ranching legislators, are still scratching their heads on that one.

6/24/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

Jim García founded Clinica Tepeyac 23 years ago. A community-based health center, it provides primary and behavioral health care, and health education to Metro Denver’s medically underserved, predominantly Latino population. Many patients are undocumented. The clinic’s capacity has grown to handle 20,000 patient visits annually. In an interview with Catherine Strode, García discussed how he separates the issue of health care disparities with politics.

Catherine Strode: What levels of immigration status make patients eligible for treatment?

Transportation
6/24/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

An Obama transportation department official urged Congress to pass a long-term highway funding bill during a visit to Broomfield this week.

Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez was in town on Monday to take part in a ceremony marking a milestone in the massive, ongoing U.S. 36 construction project.

Speaking outside Broomfield's First Bank Center, Mendez said the politics in Washington, D.C., “are very difficult right now” when it comes to funding the country’s roads and bridges.

Courts
6/24/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado court watchers are waiting with bated breath for the nation’s highest court to say whether it will consider a case challenging the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t considering the merits of a 2011 lawsuit, brought by a group of current and former elected officials, including state Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder. Instead, the court is expected to announce whether justices are granting certiorari and will hear the case or whether they’re sending it back to a lower court.

6/24/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

Denver is rapidly becoming a hub of international violence prevention — a growth industry, according to an influential peace index released at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday.

“There is a Denver discourse around peace and security, and I think people are starting to take notice of that, including IEP [Institute for Economics and Peace],” said Conor Seyle, deputy director of the Broomfield-based One Earth Future Foundation.

Guest Columnist
6/24/2015
By Christine Alonzo
Guest Contributor

Last week the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization (CLLARO) hosted a luncheon for faith leaders to discuss the moral implications of the Pope’s climate change encyclical and what Colorado’s faithful can do to support efforts such as the Clean Power Plan to alleviate the carbon pollution that is fueling global warming.

Guest Columnist
6/24/2015
By Marc Zarlengo
Guest Contributor

Conservatives can breathe easy. Pope Francis’ recently released encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, was expected by many to be a progressive environmentalist manifesto where Francis would reveal himself to be a true man of the left, injecting a new progressive force into the halls of the Vatican. Unfortunately for leftist progressives, who routinely cherry-pick and mistranslate his statements to serve their political agenda, Pope Francis once again demonstrated himself to be, well, a Catholic after all.

6/24/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado's economy is performing so well, the state's upcoming budget is expected to suffer.

Wait, what?

That's according to budget forecasters who told state lawmakers last week that Colorado could end up with a $180 million budget shortfall at the end of 2016 fiscal year, in spite of the state experiencing its seventh consecutive year of economic expansion.

Columnist
6/24/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

The 268 cities and towns that belong to the Colorado Municipal League returned to Breckenridge last week for the organization’s annual summer meeting. More than a thousand elected officials and municipal officers were registered for a weeklong schedule of training sessions, and issue forums. (Several years ago, one of Denver’s investigative TV reporters ambushed delegates around the swimming pool, asking why they weren’t attending the scheduled educational seminars.

6/24/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

With Colorado almost out of the drought, state water officials are planning for the day when the state’s water supply will have to provide for twice as many residents.

State water czar John Stulp told the Colorado Municipal League last week that land use and water planning will be more closely tied under the state’s first-ever water plan, which is nearing completion.

Energy
6/24/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The oil and gas industry isn’t exactly known as a bastion of equality between the sexes. According to an industry study the workforce in 2010 was 81 percent male nationwide. Tracee Bentley, the new executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, is leading the group’s effort to bring more women into the industry with the Women in Power program.

“This is so exciting if you are a woman in Colorado, I believe,” Bentley said. “The oil and natural gas industry in Colorado is a great place for women to thrive, regardless of their career paths.”

Guest Columnist
6/24/2015
By Ken Toltz
Guest Contributor

Nearly everyone would agree that convicted, violent criminals should not be able to purchase guns. Everyone, that is, except for first-term U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who is now advancing NRA-supported legislation to reinstate a federal “guns for felons” program that has been shut down for decades.

6/24/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The newest justice of the Colorado Supreme Court will be Judge Richard Gabriel, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday at the Capitol.

“He has a reputation for hard work and determination, but also for integrity and generosity,” Hickenlooper said. “We’ll take a bright star on our Court of Appeals and allow it to shine even more brightly on our Supreme Court.”

He will fill the seat of retiring Justice Gregory Hobbs, who leaves the high court on Sept. 1 after serving there since 1996.

6/21/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Neil Young's music was blasting inside the University of Denver on Saturday night — but he wasn't the rock star the frenzied crowd had come to hear.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders electrified supporters with a fiery, populist message that resonated with the thousands that packed DU's Hamilton Gymnasium.

Not long after stepping up to the podium to Young's “Rockin' in the Free World” — and to chants of “Bernie, Bernie!” — the Vermont senator took aim at a national economic system that he feels benefits the rich and leaves the poor and middle-class behind.

Letter to the Editor
6/20/2015

Editor:

I applaud The Colorado Statesman for giving ex-senator Evie Hudak the opportunity to express her opinion [in a letter to the editor in the June 19 edition, "Hudak disputes phrasing in article on SD 19 race"]; even though she was wrong with virtually every statement.

Letter to the Editor
6/20/2015

Editor:

In the article in the June 12 Colorado Statesman, “Woods, Zenzinger plan for ’16 rematch,” you say that I resigned "to avoid a looming recall election." This is not accurate, because the petitions had not been turned in, and there is no way of knowing whether the recall election would have occurred.

Guest Columnist
6/20/2015
By Sean Conway
Weld County Board of Commissioners

On June 15, the Weld County commissioners organized the first Transportation Summit for Northern Colorado in almost a decade. Transportation planning entities from across the state joined with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Department of Transportation Director Shailen Bhatt and several state and local elected officials from across the state to address the transportation infrastructure funding crisis that has developed in our state over the last decade.

Guest Columnist
6/19/2015
By Lisa Pinto
Guest Contributor

A prominent strategist told me to get a CT scan of my head when I mentioned my plan to work in the communications department at Jeffco Schools. Six months later I admit that I had my share of headaches, but it was worth taking a few Advil for the battle to improve student achievement. Our team was privileged to highlight the efforts of dedicated educators working long hours to create vibrant classrooms for thousands of students.

Courts
6/19/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice spoke to a group of high school and college-aged girls Thursday at the first Women Rocking the Rockies conference.

“I am trying to figure out who you are, because I am used to giving speeches to groups of lawyers, and I don’t think that’s you,” she said. “Is that right? So if you’re not a bunch of lawyers, who are you?”

6/19/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

For the Colorado Board of Education, one member’s zeal is another’s dysfunction.

One week after board Chairwoman Marcia Neal blasted the board's “destructive behavior” in a strongly-worded resignation letter, board members say they are trying to move forward to do good work for the state's children.

But can they really?

Courts Columnist
6/19/2015
By Mario Nicolais
Statesman Columnist

One person, one vote.

For 50 years, those four words have been shorthand for the constitutional protection afforded Americans’ right to vote from improper dilution. The slogan is easy, elegant, and simple. It implies basic fairness and democratic rights. The meaning of this principle has seemingly been beyond dispute.

But some Texas voters think otherwise, and they’re taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month the Court shocked many observers when it agreed to review Evenwel v. Abbott, a Texas case that challenged the basis for redistricting of state senate seats. The heart of the case rests in what “one person” means when applied to voting rights.

Guest Columnist
6/19/2015
By By Rep. Jared Polis
United States House of Representatives

Those who live here know that the sunrise from atop Quandary Peak, the alpenglow of the Gore Range, and mountain valleys flush with Columbine are at the core of Colorado’s character. Coloradans and tourists alike flock to our mountains and open spaces to ski, hike, mountain bike, hunt, and fish, among many other activities. In the process, they add billions to our state economy each year. It’s important that we sustain this natural resource and economic driver.

Columnist
6/19/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statessman

You can read about someone else’s commute, but you can’t fully appreciate it without making the trip yourself. A 6:30 a.m. drive up U.S. 85 from Denver on Monday to the Northern Colorado Transportation Summit in Greeley proved instructive. Incoming traffic approaching the Queen City of the Plains was bumper-to-bumper for miles. The northbound lanes were crowded with a solid phalanx of 18-wheelers rumbling towards the gravel pits, industrial parks and construction sites abutting the highway in Adams and Weld counties. If you are wondering whether Colorado’s economy has truly recovered, the billboard employment ads along this highway, promising blue collar career opportunities, answer that question. On a recent drive to Mead on I-25, I witnessed even heavier traffic.

Courts
6/19/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

The Legislature’s use of the so-called negative factor to determine school funding is at issue in a lawsuit that was argued before the Colorado Supreme Court earlier this month.

The suit, Dwyer v. State of Colorado, alleges the state violated the intent of Amendment 23 by using the negative factor to decrease school funding, effectively rendering the constitutionally mandated increases in per-student funding meaningless.

6/19/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A state lawmaker this week wrote a powerful letter in response to the recent massacre that took place at a black South Carolina church — one he feels “every white person” should also write.

After news broke on Wednesday night that a white gunman had walked into a historic black church in Charleston, state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, drove to a Denver church in the middle of the night and taped a hand-written letter to the front door.

Letter to the Editor
6/19/2015

Dear Gov. Bush:

I read, with some dismay, your announcement yesterday that you are running for president. Not that it was unexpected, mind you — you’ve been putting off this declaration for six months, apparently to skirt campaign finance laws. That makes sense since you are looking to gain the backing of this country’s elite Republicans, who feel entitled to make such decisions as who our nominee should be on behalf of all us “little people.” But it was still dismaying that you are choosing to run, not as a conservative that respects the Republican Party Platform, but as one who wants to fundamentally transform our party.

Letter to the Editor
6/19/2015

Editor:

In response to Ernest Luning’s Colorado Statesman article on May 15, “Business, Agriculture Groups Call for Immigration Solutions from GOP,” I have a very simple solution.

Instead of bringing people from other countries to work in the U.S., we need to put U.S. citizens to work first. There are over 93 million citizens looking for work.

This week's political cartoon
6/18/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "On the attempted GOP coup d'etat: Lawyer Up."

Guest Commentary
6/18/2015
By Jack Stansbery
Guest Contributor

How did Cynthia Coffman go from being Steve House’s very public mentor and champion to pulling the knives out for him 3 months later?

Guest Commentary
6/17/2015
By Randy B. Corporon
Guest Contributor

With apologies to fans of the iconic TV series As the World Turns, I realized today during our morning radio show that the drama unfolding around recently-elected Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House has all the elements of a daytime soap opera: melodramatic, tragic, morbidly humorous, shattered hopes and the capacity to last a long, long time.

6/16/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Medical marijuana users in Colorado will risk being fired if they test positive for THC in violation of their employers’ policies.

In a 6-0 decision Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling that in the state’s lawful activities statute, the “term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law.”

Because marijuana use — medical or recreational — is illegal under federal statute, the court held that employers can fire workers who violate a company drug policy, despite marijuana being legal in the state.

6/16/2015

State GOP Chair Steve House just issued the following statement:

Letter to the Editor
6/16/2015

Editor,

I really enjoyed your "Yesteryear" column on 6-11-15.

The 1965 quote by Democratic State Senator Roy Romer of Denver saying Republican U.S. Senator Gordon Allott was "inadequate" and would be "rejected" for reelection because Allott supported Barrry Goldwater for president in 1964 is very interesting and ironic given what did happen in the 1966 election.

Guest Commentary
6/16/2015
By Greta Klinger
Colorado Department of Health and Environment

Few things change a person’s life more than becoming a parent. Moving in together, making the choice to commit to a partner for life, changing jobs or rerouting career paths, even buying a car or a home are all huge commitments that certainly change lives in major ways, but there is a major difference between these and getting pregnant. These other things rarely, if ever, happen by accident or without prior planning.

What does happen on accident are nearly half of all pregnancies in Colorado. So why do so many people find themselves dealing with an “oops” pregnancy?

Guest Commentary
6/16/2015
By Lino Lipinsky and Joel Pratt
McKenna Long & Aldridge

On June 15, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, No. 13SC394, 2015 CO 44 (2015), that employers with a drug-free workplace policy have the right to take adverse action against employees who test positive for marijuana, even if the employees fully comply with the state’s medical marijuana laws, do not use marijuana at the workplace, and are not impaired on the job. This landmark decision affirms the right of employers to require that their employees comply with all federal drug laws, regardless of their states’ marijuana laws.

6/16/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A law set to take effect this summer will ease marketplace restrictions for new taxi companies in hopes of creating more ride options for a Denver metro area that is booming in population.

But some feel the measure doesn't go far enough, while others worry it will lead to greater congestion on city streets.

6/16/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

Colorado’s insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar, wants state residents to know where they can go for greater understanding of the benefits offered in insurance policies, and, where to file complaints when they are not satisfied with an insurance company’s practices. She says the Division of Insurance relies on consumers to know when something at an insurance company isn’t working for the consumer’s benefit. In an interview with Catherine Strode, Commissioner Salazar also discussed the future of Colorado’s Health Exchange, predicting more financial viability in the years ahead.

6/12/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Just in case, Edgar Antillon stocked up on extra food and brought in additional staff Thursday for his barbecue restaurant’s first-ever White Appreciation Day.

It turns out that was a wise decision. He said Friday that business tripled at the Rubbin Buttz BBQ in Milliken as a result of the publicity surrounding the event, which started as a joke but ended up as a statement against racial division and in favor of American unity.

6/12/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

The Big Dog returned to Denver for the second year in a row this past week with his domestic policy edition of the Clinton Global Initiative — part Davos-style deliberation of important issues by important people, part tent revival where true believers are called forward to attest to their personal or organizational commitment to achieve good things. And it’s all served up with a dash of New Age earnestness by the carnival barker who was our 42nd president.

Guest Commentary
6/12/2015
By Natalie Menten
Guest Contributor

The Regional Transportation District recently approved a 2016 fare structure that some think unfair. The agency held public hearings over several months and listened to concerns and adjusted the proposal. Still, multiple protests were organized, and even Occupy Denver decided to beat their drums.

I believe by reducing expenditures on high-cost services, RTD can better serve those who are truly transit-dependent with reasonable fares.

6/12/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s cautious response last week to two new laws foreshadows the budget constraints lawmakers will be dealing with next year.

Last week, the governor declined to sign one bill aimed at boosting college preparedness for under-served youths and another that increases penalties in assault cases involving emergency care providers.

Instead of signing or vetoing the bills, the governor sent them to the Secretary of State, and they will become law without his signature.

Letters to the Editor
6/12/2015

Editor:

Thank you for the article in the June 5 Statesman regarding the over-use and dangers of antibiotics in factory farming. This is such an important issue for our state and our country at this time! Superbugs are real and are a direct result of the over-use of antibiotics on our factory farms, with antibiotics being given routinely to healthy livestock as a so-called preventive measure.

6/12/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The race for one of Colorado's most competitive state Senate seats is more than a year away, but the potential candidates are already in throw-down mode.

Former Democratic state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger told The Colorado Statesman this week that she is “seriously considering” a rematch with incumbent Republican Sen. Laura Woods for the right to represent Arvada’s Senate District 19 for a four year term.

Chatter
6/12/2015

Last Thursday Conservation Colorado honored Tom Steyer, the California investment billionaire and environmental political donor, at its 2015 ‘Rebel With A Cause’ dinner at the Convention Center Hyatt in Denver.

At the gala event — the state’s “green-side-up” glitterati were in full force — boasting half an inch of snow white stubble, on its way to becoming a beard, was former Gov. Bill Ritter, coiner of the “new energy economy” catch phrase that now echoes in nearly every discussion about global warming, and he had a story to tell. Or not quite tell yet, but with a wink and a grin, he confirmed what we’d been hearing for weeks.

Guest Commentary
6/12/2015
By Sam Schabacker and Ron Ruggiero
GUEST COLUMNISTS

Courage is a rare attribute in today’s political climate. Indeed, with millions of dollars of dark money flooding Colorado to buy elections and unparalleled partisan bickering, it’s no wonder that so many Americans do not feel our federal elected officials actually represent their interests. Congressman Ed Perlmutter has a unique opportunity to change this perception this Friday.

6/11/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Imagine taking a family member to an urgent care clinic for a simple sore throat only to watch them die a few days later.

That was the story told by one of the people who joined Food & Water Watch in a meeting with Sen. Michael Bennet’s staff on Wednesday. The environmentalist group was asking the senator to commit to sponsoring Senate legislation called the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act.

Letter to Editor
6/11/2015

Dear Editor,

I appreciate Mr. Hudson’s coverage of Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) Summer Conference. As the lead lobbyist for CCI on the legislation that granted counties excise tax authority on marijuana, I can tell you that our success had little to do with out-maneuvering the Colorado Municipal League (CML).

6/11/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week outlined the first steps in a conservation and outdoors recreation initiative that ultimately aims to enable every Coloradan to live within a 10-minute walk of a “vibrant, green space.”

“Our goal would be to get the majority of Coloradans to, on a regular basis, appreciate that space,” Hickenlooper told reporters.

This week's political cartoon
6/11/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "Another Colorado Freak Storm."

6/11/2015
By David O. Williams
The Colorado Statesman

Luis Benitez has encountered all sorts of hardships as an elite mountaineer. He’s scaled the highest points on all seven continents 32 times and helped to rebuild a climbing company devastated by the 1996 Into Thin Air Mount Everest disaster.

But some of his most daunting challenges could come in his new role as director of the fledgling Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, where he’ll have to tackle environmental issues, transportation concerns, growing pressure on public lands and conflict with other industries.

6/11/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

“Have at it.”

Bill Clinton responded with those three words to an opening question from Bloomberg TV anchor Betty Liu in her one-on-one interview with the former President on Wednesday at the Fifth Annual Clinton Global Initiative America meeting at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel.

Statesman Columnist
6/11/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Two weeks ago I received an email from Sameer Parekh Brenn of Boulder containing the following appeal: “My family is being threatened with losing our healthcare coverage because Connect for Health is broken. Would you like to cover the story?”

6/10/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

With Native Americans 23 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, U.S. Rep. Dianna DeGette, D-Denver, chose Denver Indian Health and Family Services as the location to announce new legislation on diabetes research focused on minority populations.

6/10/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The timing of an Obama administration trip to the Denver area this week to talk about the threat of wildfires might have seemed odd, given the recent, record-breaking precipitation around Colorado.

But officials warn that the green that currently coats the state has the potential to feed blazes throughout what is expected to be a hot and dry summer.

6/10/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Lori Gillam isn’t a coal miner — she owns a liquor store in rural Moffat County — but she’s doing her part to help save the Colowyo mine after a federal judge’s ruling in a lawsuit filed by the environmentalist group WildEarth Guardians.

Gillam said Tuesday she has removed beers from a half dozen Colorado breweries at Stockmen’s Liquor because their companies support WildEarth Guardians, whose lawsuit resulted in a May 8 order from a federal judge that threatens to shut down the mine and take 220 jobs with it.

Guest Commentary
6/9/2015
By Tom Tancredo
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Rep. Mike Coffman advocates opening U.S. military service to young illegal aliens who have qualified for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty (“deferred action” means deferred deportation). Under the Obama DACA program, those young men and women are given a two-year legal status and a work permit, but they do not have permanent legal status or a path to citizenship. Rep. Coffman’s proposal would give them both.

Guest Commentary
6/9/2015
By U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Let me tell you the story of a constituent of mine named Humberto. His parents brought him to the United States at the age of 2, moving to Colorado when Humberto was 6. A few years ago, Humberto graduated from Aurora Central High School, the high school I attended before leaving after my junior year to enlist in the Army.

6/5/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Fifteen Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Republicans should have had a routine state assembly and convention — there were no major statewide races splitting delegates, George W. Bush had sewn up the presidential nomination, and the GOP was safely in control of the congressional delegation and Legislature — but tensions were high, and Gov. Bill Owens was the target of much contention over guns, an issue that split delegates fiercely.

6/5/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Prairie dog supporters outraged over Castle Rock’s decision to proceed with an outdoor mall have solicited a plan to sweep out the town council by recalling three members this year and targeting the other four for defeat in 2016.

A five-page document obtained by The Colorado Statesman lays out a detailed campaign strategy, including canvassing, phone banks, bulk mail and earned media, for replacing the seven-member council by forcing a recall this year and then backing opposition candidates in November 2016.

6/5/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Counties, Inc., better known as CCI, the lobbying organization that works on behalf of county interests, held its annual summer workshops at the Keystone Conference Center last week. While several sessions were so technical as to frighten away all but those who already had a handle on the issues under discussion — try “Measuring Culvert Pipe Durability Based on Environmental Conditions” for example — there were also more accessible venues where economic development, marijuana enforcement, regionally shared services and workforce development received a hearing.

Wayposts
6/5/2015

Former Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher is joining the Keystone Policy Center as a senior policy affiliate, Keystone president Christine Scanlan announced this week.

Buescher, a former state representative from Mesa County, was one of former Attorney General John Suthers’ chief deputies and served as a member of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force, which was facilitated by Keystone.

6/5/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Patrons at Fluid Coffee House in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood were greeted on Tuesday by smiling little faces asking them to save the bees.

Kindergarteners from Downtown Denver Expeditionary School have begun a campaign to save the honeybees after spending the school year learning about insects.

Teacher Jillian Williams said the kindergarten program at the charter school has spent the year studying all kinds of insects, using reading, writing and art. Late in the year, the children examined the roles insects play in the environment, including bees and other pollinators.

6/5/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Hanson’s second floor bar, at the corner of Louisiana and Pearl, was packed elbow-to-elbow election night as small bands of seemingly feral children swept back and forth slightly below belt level. The din was deafening and the crowd upbeat following an initial vote count from Denver Clerk Debra Johnson reported Jolon Clark with a 56-44 advantage over Alex Greco. Not much actually separated these two candidates, both young men with families and only minor policy differences — an apparent, coin flip call for voters.

6/5/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Several hundred Colorado veterans rallied in front of the unfinished Veterans Administration hospital under construction on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora last Sunday. At least half arrived on motorcycles, filling the lot alongside Children’s Hospital with rolling thunder just across the street from the troubled project.

6/5/2015
By Dr. Larry Moore and Dr. Kajsa Harris
GUEST COLUMNISTS

Antibiotics have transformed the practice of medicine over the past century, allowing doctors to cure bacterial infections that once meant amputations, disabilities and often death. Now doctors are increasingly seeing patients with infections like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) that are not responding to usually effective antibiotics. Widespread misuse of these curative medicines undermines their effectiveness. In recognition of this fact, healthcare providers are increasingly protecting antibiotics by moving away from prescribing them preventively.

6/5/2015
By Steve Fenberg
GUEST COLUMNIST

If you only knew how much your new car was going to cost, but not what kind of car or the quality of the car, would you go ahead and make the purchase? Most people would not consider that kind of transaction.

That’s exactly what supporters of HB 15-1057 that would require a “fiscal note” or the estimated cost of a proposed ballot question to be on circulated petitions. They refer to this as “transparency” and more information! But there will be no mention of the long-term benefits of petition proposals.

This week's political cartoon
6/4/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "But I'm riding a Segway." An illustrative look at biased policing and the ridiculous ways some police departments attempt to make themselves appear more "community oriented."

To read more about the behind the scenes making of this cartoon, click here.

6/4/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A bill that would have altered the interest rate structure on high risk personal loans died on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk on Thursday.
The governor vetoed House Bill 1390 after consumer groups blasted the bill as being unfair to the poor and one that would have resulted in higher-cost loans.

Supervised loans provide borrowing options for those who may not qualify for other loans. Because they are considered high risk, the loans tend to come with higher interest rates than other lending options.

6/4/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

There’s a line in the Grateful Dead’s “Born Cross-Eyed” that Colorado voters can relate to when it comes to votes on marijuana taxes:
“Seems like I’ve been here before.”

Voters have already given the state the OK to keep taxes collected from the sale of recreational marijuana. But a glitch in state law requires the issue to go before voters again.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday signed a law to create a November ballot measure that deals with the pot tax collection issue.

6/3/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week vetoed bills that sought to curb the use of red-light cameras and photo radar systems across the state.

But bill sponsors vowed to continue efforts to rein in the use of automated vehicle identification systems that they believe Colorado voters would reject if given the opportunity.

House Bill 1098 would have required voter approval for cities to use the technology. Senate Bill 276 served as an outright ban of the systems.

Hickenlooper wasn't fond of either effort, saying through a June 3 press statement that the bills “go too far.”

6/2/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

John Suthers was sworn in Tuesday as mayor of Colorado Springs, a turn of events that still has some state politicos scratching their heads.

The former two-term attorney general had been on the short list of potential Republican challengers to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, a list that became even shorter Monday with Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s decision not to seek the nomination.

6/2/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

For Alma Sanchez of Denver, it's the everyday things, like when she enjoys a good meal, when memories of her late cousin, Juan Carlos Dominguez-Palomino, are stirred.

“Juan was a voracious eater,” she said. “He enjoyed eating Mexican food like no other. He was big and tall, so even when I have a meal, it brings back memories of him.

“They should be happy memories, but you feel sadness.”

Meanwhile, Frank Martinez of Loveland still grieves the loss of his 37-year-old nephew, Gilbert Martinez, and the late father's two young boys, who were killed in January.

6/1/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Nothing says “welcome to Colorado” like Denver Broncos swag, as far as state Rep. Kathleen Conti is concerned.

She presented a Peyton Manning NFL jersey to Jack J.C. Yang, director general of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, at Friday’s reception at the Brown Palace to celebrate TECO’s relocation from Kansas City to Denver.

Such Broncos wear is necessary “in order for you truly to understand what it is to be a Coloradan and a Denver citizen,” quipped the Republican Conti.

6/1/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

On the final Friday afternoon of the school year last week, the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) scheduled a “Rally to Take Back our Schools” in Clement Park. Scheduled for 4 p.m., hundreds were still searching for parking spaces as the skies opened at 4:15 and the crowd sought shelter beneath the picnic pavilions that surround the amphitheater. Sheets of rain, driven by gusts of wind drenched those along the periphery of the shelters. Umbrellas had to be clenched in both hands. After 30 minutes, the rain eased and a crowd of perhaps a thousand began to migrate towards the stage.

5/29/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

He made a career out of teaching kids the ABCs, but Rep. John Buckner liked to refer to himself as OMB.

“He always talked about being older than us and he would call himself 'OMB' for 'Old Man Buckner,” said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora.

Melton said Buckner was in pure OMB form during a trip to Colorado Springs last year, where they and Rep. Angela Williams of Denver canvassed support for former Rep. Tony Exum.

5/29/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

New federal land use regulations to protect a threatened bird species were met with mixed reviews on Thursday, as environmentalists praised the new rules while the oil and gas industry expressed concerns about potential economic impacts from drilling restrictions.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced new protections for the greater sage grouse, a spiky-feathered and animated bird that inhabits western Colorado and other Western states. The species has dwindled in numbers over the years due in part to energy and mining development.

5/29/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that an injunction will stand against President Barack Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration reform. While the decision was made 1,300 miles away from Denver in the historic John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court Building in New Orleans, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in the case, State of Texas, et al v. USA, et al, provoked immediate response from Colorado and national decision-makers and activists.

This week's political cartoon
5/29/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

Thoughtful, visual, political commentary or un-artful trash? You be the judge with this week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "King Chaffetz and the Gyrocopter Peasant."

5/29/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The potential U.S. Senate candidacy of a Durango lawmaker could pose a problem for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016 — if she can survive her own party’s primary, according to a veteran political analyst.

And if Republican state Sen. Ellen Roberts does jump in the race, it’s already become apparent that she’ll have to deal with abortion politics from both sides of the political divide.

5/29/2015
By Catherine Strode
Advocacy Denver

Over 1 million Coloradans are now receiving their medical care through enrollment in the Medicaid program. That figure represents 20 percent of the state’s population. In an interview with Catherine Strode, the director of Medicaid, Gretchen Hammer, explains how the cost of care is being contained with the rising enrollment rates.

CS: How is the Medicaid expansion impacting enrollment and costs?

5/29/2015
By Bill Cadman
GUEST COLUMNIST

“Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

I’ve thought often of that maxim while reading bleacher seat critiques of the 2015 legislative session, given how they differ from what I saw, and where I sit, as one leader of the Republican effort. So let me share my own (admittedly-insider) perspective on how things went, as a corrective to some of the distorted end-of-session reviews I’ve seen.

5/29/2015
By Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst
GUEST COLUMNIST

Now that the dust has settled a bit, we have a clearer view of what we accomplished in the Colorado General Assembly in the 2015 session. I’d like to begin this retrospective by dispelling the notion that this was a do-nothing legislative session. Contrary to the pundits who have been arguing since Opening Day that the Republicans who control the Senate and the Democrats who control the House would cancel each other out, we actually got some important things done with strong bipartisan support.

5/29/2015
By Gov. John Hickenlooper
GUEST COLUMNIST

Colorado may have a divided legislature with Democrats leading the House and Republicans leading the Senate, but that doesn’t mean we have a divided state.

Colorado’s Office of Legislative Legal Services — which houses many of the brightest, nonpartisan folks in the Capitol — reported that 682 bills were introduced this legislative session. About 55 percent of those bills cleared the legislative process and made it to my desk.

This may have been one of the lower passage rates in recent years, yet we saw many important policy achievements.

5/29/2015
By Sen. Morgan Carroll
GUEST COLUMNIST

Right now, the Colorado economy is working for the wealthy few, not for everyone. This session Senate Democrats fought against the widening disparity between the top 1 percent and everyone else who works hard, plays by the rules, but cannot get ahead. In Colorado the problem is all too familiar. Between 2009 and 2012 all income growth occurred in the top 1 percent, leaving millions of Coloradans in its backwash.

We worked to mend the growing disparity, provide opportunity, and ensure the adage — a rising tide lifts all boats — is true.

5/29/2015

Dear Editor,

Colorado is known for its wealth of outdoor activities, from hiking one of our beautiful mountain ranges to kayaking our mountain streams. Try to imagine our state with more than 73,000 miles unavailable for safe enjoyment. This is a reality that may be realized sooner than Coloradan’s know.

5/29/2015

Dear Editor,

Re: the guest commentary “Keep TPP in the Sunshine” in the May 22 Colorado Statesman:

Sorry, George Leing, but you’re wrong on this one.

Fast track authority does not deprive Congress of the ability to approve or disapprove a fully defined trade agreement. What it does do is establish an agreement between the legislative and executive branches that the final compromise will receive an up-or-down vote, without amendment.

5/28/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

There was a charade-like quality to the proposed fare increase debate at RTD headquarters this week. Board members had tipped their hands during a work session “mark-up” the previous week, indicating the votes were there for approval of the proposed plan.

5/28/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The Environmental Protection Agency’s newly finalized rule on clean water unleashed a flood of criticism Wednesday from Colorado Republicans, who accused the Obama administration of engineering a federal power grab.

The agency’s hotly contested “Waters of the United States” rule expands the list of waterways covered by the federal Clean Water Act, which EPA officials said would ensure that more Americans gain access to drinking water from streams, wetlands and rivers protected by the law.

5/28/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week lauded Colorado Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha and his staff as being “among the best in the United States” after an overwhelming majority of lawmakers recently blasted Bicha's job performance.

And Bicha vowed to meet with all 84 legislators who signed a letter addressed to Hickenlooper that laid out a long list of leadership concerns inside the agency that oversees the state's child welfare and mental health system.

5/22/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

On Monday, contractors lowered the massive brass chandelier that hangs above the Colorado House of Representatives onto a platform and began taking it apart. It’s the start of the second phase of a three-year project designed to restore the legislative chambers to their historic appearance.

“We like to say we’re lowering it, not that we’re dropping it,” quipped Gary Behm, owner of St. Louis Antique Lighting Co., as assistants began dismantling the chandelier, which dates to the 1890s.

5/22/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Mayors and governors infrequently sack appointees. And when it does occur, the culprit has usually committed some embarrassing personal indiscretion, or publicly objected to an administration policy or decision. These “Plum Book” jobs are all about loyalty. Rarer still is the appointee who submits his or her resignation in evident protest against the boss’s decisions.

5/22/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

The word “lose” isn’t in Rep. Angela William’s vocabulary. A Democrat representing Colorado’s House District 7 seat since 2010, she has never lost any of her three campaigns for public office. William’s declared she intends to maintain that winning record, announcing her candidacy for Colorado Senate District 33 in an email sent to supporters and the media on May 12. To date, Williams is the only candidate from any party to file papers with the Colorado Secretary of State's office to seek election to SD 33 in 2016.

5/22/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado students will be able to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time — and be prepared to work in a technical field — under a bipartisan bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law on Monday.

That measure, along with a separate bill the governor signed at a Capitol ceremony, is among a package of bills aimed at boosting workforce development in the state.

5/22/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

With Colorado’s cannabis industry becoming well established, entreprenuers from all walks of life are finding their way in to push it forward.

Women in the industry face some of the same challenges that have been faced by women in business for decades.

That’s where Woman of Weed comes in.

The group is a sub-council of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. Woman of Weed (referred to in meetings as WoW) held its second monthly meeting last week. Its mission is to empower women who are getting into the industry and to become its future leaders.

YESTERYEAR
5/22/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Ten Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman ... Former three-term Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter officially filed his paperwork for a run for governor, though he made clear that a formal announcement would come later. “With four children, 10 brothers and sisters and 32 nieces and nephews, I have a huge stake in the future,” said Ritter. Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley was Ritter’s treasurer. Other early endorsers included Frank and Martelle Daniels, Bruce Alexander, Dr.

5/22/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A new law will allow Colorado voters to know the fiscal impact of a ballot measure before petitions are circulated — a heavily debated effort that seemed doomed in the final hours of the recent legislative session.

The state had already been required to provide voters with cost-impact estimates of ballot measures, prior to an election. But House Bill 1057, which was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday, accelerates that process so that voters will know a proposal’s cost before they are asked to sign a petition.

5/22/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A stroke of a pen this week pumped $250 million into renovations for the National Western Stock Show complex, an enormous project that supporters say will create the “Silicon Valley of agriculture” in northeast Denver.

But officials admit there is still work left to do to secure the majority of the money needed to fund the $856 million project and that its realization will depend on Denver voters.

OPINION
5/22/2015
By George Leing
GUEST COLUMNIST

This week, Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked a proposal to “fast track” President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP”). I, for one, am glad that they did.

OPINION
5/22/2015
By Sen. Pat Steadman
GUEST COLUMNIST

Going into the 2015 legislative session no one knew what to make of the new Joint Budget Committee. With an even split, three from each party, would anything get done? With so many new people would the JBC get bogged down? Looking back on 2015, it’s clear now that the JBC was one of the most productive, driving forces of the session.

In the first regular session of the 70th General Assembly, 682 bills were introduced: 290 in the Senate and 392 in the House. However, only 54 percent of those, or 367, were passed. That’s the lowest percentage and number of bills passed in many years.

OPINION
5/22/2015
By Tamra Ward
GUEST COLUMNIST

The days of playing “20 questions” with petition circulators about the fiscal facts of a proposed ballot initiative are coming to a close thanks to a landmark law Gov. Hickenlooper signed into law this week. House Bill 1057, which passed with solid bipartisan support, will give voters a clear and unbiased fiscal impact statement on the petition form, allowing Coloradans access to critically important data as they consider if they will sign their names in support.

This week's political cartoon
5/20/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "Cooking with the State Treasurer."

To see more cartoons, click on the image below:

5/15/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Smoking outdoors on Main Street in Cañon City could become a fineable offense if the city council there moves forward with a proposal to ban the activity in its historic downtown.

The issue was brought to the council by Kathy Schumacher, a Main Street business owner, and was discussed at the city’s General Government Committee meeting on May 6.

Councilman Jimmy Characky was the most vocal council supporter of a full ban — he initially advocated banning smoking in the entire Central Business District of the city, an area extending well beyond Main Street.

5/15/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Democrats in the Colorado Legislature began pushing the state’s election process toward all-mail balloting several years ago. Their premise was that easing voting would, over time, benefit Democratic candidates. Evidence supporting this hypothesis was thin. Oregon, the first state in the nation to adopt an all-mail, all-the-time ballot process had experienced growing Democratic majorities. Republican legislators resisted these Democratic proposals, but the success of Cory Gardner’s U.S.

5/15/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week signed into law a bill that aims to boost economic development in rural parts of the state.

Senate Bill 282 has been dubbed the “Jump-Start Program for Economically Distressed Counties.” The bill seeks to help economies in struggling parts of the state by creating tax-friendly zones in hopes of luring new businesses to those areas.

5/15/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

They couldn’t be more different.

She’s a Denver Democrat. He’s a Greeley Republican.

She’s a businesswoman. He’s a former sheriff.

She’s a veteran lawmaker. He’s in his first term.

But together, Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley and Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, forged a partnership that will change law enforcement in Colorado. Of the six law enforcement reform bills that went to the governor, Cooke and Williams were co-sponsors on four.

5/15/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

State lawmakers may be patting themselves on the back for their recent bipartisan work to reduce testing in Colorado schools, but education activists aren’t popping any champagne corks in celebration of those efforts.

“I don’t see much a change for next year,” said Cheri Kiesecker, a Fort Collins mother and an advocate for the overhaul of state student assessment policies.

WAYPOSTS
5/15/2015

Former CU Regent Joe Neguse was named director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies by Gov. John Hickenlooper this week, the governor’s office announced. He takes over for Barbara Kelley, who has led DORA since 2009. He starts work on June 1.

Neguse, an attorney with Holland & Hart, the state’s largest law firm, was the Democratic nominee for secretary of state last year but lost to Republican Wayne Williams.

CHATTER
5/15/2015

A political candidate’s Twitter post turned into a Facebook skirmish this week, gyrating Colorado’s social media webs oh so ever just a touch. Not that social media wars are all that uncommon, rarely are they as entertaining as this one.

At the source of the exchange of words? None other than media glutton (whether by choice or genetic byproduct), Colorado House District 15’s very own “Dr. Chaps,” or as more non-politico (mere mortal) types know him, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

This week's political cartoon
5/15/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "From Deflategate to President."

To see more cartoons, click here.

5/15/2015
By Catherine Strode
AdvocacyDenver

“It’s been lots of fun.” That’s how Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, characterizes the role she played during the 2015 legislative session. In an interview with Catherine Strode, Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, acknowledged that fewer bills were passed this session as compared to last, but says she is proud of the legislature’s bipartisan work results.

CS: It’s estimated that roughly 50 to 100 bills fewer were passed this session as compared to last session. Do you think fewer bills being passed this Session is a reflection of the split legislature?

5/15/2015
By Lee Hamilton
Guest Editorial

There have been encouraging signs on Capitol Hill of late that Congress’s long slide into irrelevance may be slowing.

5/15/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The chairman of the Republican National Committee vowed on Tuesday to increase the GOP’s efforts to engage and sway Hispanic voters in Colorado, building on an approach taken last year he said proved the party can appeal to the fast-growing population.

“We’re going to win Colorado in 2016. That will be our pathway to the White House, right here in this room,” Reince Priebus told several dozen members of the Colorado Hispanic Advisory Council at a Mexican restaurant in north Denver.

5/15/2015

Dear Editor,

A year has passed since the scaffolding was removed from the Colorado State Capitol building, and the result has Denver residents still scratching their heads. The cast iron dome tower is a distinctly darker, bluer shade of gray than the granite used to construct the body of the building, and like a mismatched suit jacket and trousers, something seems off.

5/15/2015
By Rep. Dominick Moreno
GUEST COLUMNIST

I’ve only ever served in the majority. Getting used to a split legislature has been an adjustment. Some maintain that having split control is a recipe for success. Extreme policies from both parties inevitably go up in smoke, and what rises from the ashes are good policies that have broad, bipartisan support and appeal. Although I applaud areas where Democrats and Republicans were able to find common ground this session, I’m frustrated that some really good policies never made it through.

5/14/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The nation's education chief said during a Denver visit this week that he continues to support efforts to reduce testing in public schools, while ensuring high standards and accountability.

And U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview with The Colorado Statesman that he hopes this is finally the year that Congress fixes what he believes has been a long-broken federal program — No Child Left Behind.

5/13/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A late legislative session bill aimed at maintaining loan access for customers with bad credit is leaving consumer interest groups concerned that the measure will result in a higher cost of borrowing.

Those same groups are calling on Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto the bill, which they see as a harmful piece of legislation that flew under the radar during the recent session's final days.

5/12/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

On the same day last week the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill giving Congress a vote on an anticipated nuclear agreement with Iran, three Democrats from the Colorado delegation signed on to a letter expressing support for the ongoing negotiations, urging President Obama to “stay on course.”

5/11/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

This year’s construction defects bill may have died in the state Legislature, but housing developers ended up gaining a bit of what they wanted last week in the form of a court decision.

The day after the 2015 General Assembly adjourned, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled against a condominium association that had filed a construction defects lawsuit against a developer after voting unilaterally to remove a section from the bylaws mandating arbitration before suing.

STATE OF STYLE
5/8/2015
By Lynne Lombard-Hunt
The Colorado Statesman

Dropped the F-bomb recently? Sure you have… I won’t tell. Closing out another session has had everyone stressed out and running on all cylinders with words like fiscal notes, fiduciary responsibility and filibuster repeatedly on the tips of everyone’s tongue around the Dome. What did you think I was talking about? Speaking of F–words, fashion, specifically spring fashion is in full bloom.

Four Fundamental F’s of Fashion:

Fabric: When it comes to fabric, no one makes it like mom makes it… Mother Earth that is.

Function: Sweat stains and discomfort scream Nay!

5/8/2015
By Jared Wright
The Colorado Statesman

This week's political cartoon by editorial cartoonist and Statesman Publisher Jared Wright, "Colorado Scooby-Doo Sine Die.

To see more cartoons, click here.

5/8/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

It has been 36 years since Northwest Denver dumped an incumbent City Council member. In December of 1978 I was still savoring my “surprise” election to the Colorado House and waiting to be sworn into office when I received a call at home from Dutchess Scheitler. She asked whether she and her husband Bill could visit me at home. I hadn’t met either of them during my campaign and had no idea why they wanted to see me. Realtor Larry Perry had represented North Denver on City Council for several terms.

5/8/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

The anti-fracking movement’s momentum ground to a halt in this year’s legislative session as Democrats opted to present a united front rather than aggravate a party schism by igniting a debate on oil and gas development.

The General Assembly took the safe route by approving funding for recommendations made in February by the governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force. Those include new inspectors and monitors for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Department of Public Health and Environment.

5/8/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The person exhaling the biggest sigh of relief one day after the 2015 legislative session came to a close was perhaps Colorado’s executive-in-chief, Gov. John Hickenlooper.

5/8/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GRAND JUNCTION – Approximately 200 Western Slope residents – men, women and children – gathered on Saturday, May 2 at the Bureau of Land Management’s western Colorado headquarters to protest the BLM’s policy of closing as many as 60 percent of historical county roads, ATV trails and dead-end routes on public lands that have been used for generations.

5/8/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Two bills that seek to curb the use of red-light cameras in Colorado may have emerged from the Legislature on May 6, but they are likely to hit a stoplight at the governor’s desk.

One bill, House Bill 1098, would require cities to seek voter approval for the use of red-light cameras and other photo radar systems. Another measure, Senate Bill 276, would ban the use of those systems altogether.

5/8/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

In a laborious Capitol battle over student testing between the “good enoughs” and the “not enoughs,” the former prevailed.

After digging through the weeds for months on the biggest education issue of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers finally emerged with compromise legislation that will reduce the number of assessments that students are required to take at Colorado’s public schools.

But it sure wasn’t easy.

5/8/2015

Dear Editor,

In Miller Hudson’s May 1 op-ed, his first three paragraphs can be summarized in one sentence: “Rich Jews meet in Sin City to hear Republicans, support Israel and hate the press.” He ignores the recent comments of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, admitted liar. The political money from George Soros, backer of every leftist cause. And the ever-expanding Clinton, pay-to-play scandal with missing emails that may expose far more than 17 minutes of tape.

5/8/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

A dozen years ago the Colorado Legislature imposed a “pay-for-performance” compensation plan on state workers — no more merely going through the motions on the job and then collecting a guaranteed pay raise on the part of the alleged “deadbeats” burrowed within the ranks of state government. This plan has never really been implemented due to budget shortfalls over the past decade. The executive branch goes through the motions of ranking individual performance. However, the few times the JBC has found a few dollars for raises, they’ve been funded as flat, across-the-board pay hikes.

CHATTER
5/7/2015

Republicans wasted no time taking aim at state Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll when news broke this week that the Aurora Democrat is weighing a run against U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the swingy 6th Congressional District.

Deploying the adjective “liberal” multiple times — including three times as part of the “ultra-liberal” epithet — the National Republican Congressional Committee blasted Carroll as, well, a liberal lawmaker in a release on Thursday.

WAYPOSTS
5/7/2015

Former Denver Post editorial page editor Dan Haley was named president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, the trade group announced on Wednesday. Haley takes over from Tisha Schuller, who announced in May she would be departing the post after heading COGA for five years.

Haley is currently vice president of communications, development and strategy at the public affairs firm EIS Solutions. Prior to that, he was director of communications for Denver-based CoBank.

5/7/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The final day of the legislative session featured a fierce debate over the reauthorization of a consumer watchdog agency, one that resulted in most Senate Democrats refusing to vote on a Republican-backed measure for its continuance.

“This will be one of the things we've done that I'm not proud of this session,” Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said of a Republican bill that would strip a key component from the purview of the Office of the Consumer Counsel.

5/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A late-session priority for Gov. John Hickenlooper fell by the wayside Tuesday.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Tuesday put an end to a bill the governor had hoped would help provide financial space for the state under the TABOR revenue cap.

5/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

While the General Assembly spent much of their last three days killing bills right and left, they did decide to give a pay hike to future legislators, and state and county elected officials.

Currently, Colorado’s lawmakers make $30,000 per year. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado’s pay ranks at about the mid-point for all state legislatures.

5/6/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

A bill that would have allowed Coloradans to collect rainwater died in the Senate late Tuesday night. But as with many major bills that died in the last three days of the session, this too, will return.

House Bill 15-1259 would allow Coloradans to collect up to two 55-gallon rain barrels of water that drains off their rooftops. The water could then be used for outdoor purposes, such as lawn and garden irrigation.

The bill became the center of one of the last great behind-the-scenes battles of the 2015 legislative session.

5/6/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

After several failures in recent years, an effort to create a felony drunken-driving charge in Colorado is finally on its way to becoming law.

But House Bill 1043 comes with a price tag that will only increase in the coming years, which could impact future legislative priorities, warns a key budget lawmaker.

The bill would create a felony for drivers who receive their fourth DUI conviction. Current law counts a DUI as a misdemeanor, regardless of how many offenses a driver racks up.

5/5/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Don’t go buying those rain barrels just yet. A bill to allow Coloradans to collect rainwater got a last-minute reprieve, but anything can happen in the next 24 hours.

Despite the best efforts of its committee chair to delay a vote until Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee Tuesday voted 6-5 to send House Bill 15-1259 to the Senate floor. Whether it will come up Tuesday evening for a second reading vote, however, is still a big if.

5/5/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Democrats fought off a Republican-led effort to create a murder charge for the killing of an unborn child during a May 4 House committee hearing, ending a partisan Capitol debate that often centered around abortion.

The Democrat-majority House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee rejected Senate Bill 268 on a party-line vote. The bill had previously emerged from the Republican-majority Senate, also along party lines.

The measure would have allowed prosecutors to file charges that include murder in cases where pregnant women are attacked.

5/4/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Don’t go buying those rain barrels just yet. Colorado law isn’t going to change this year to allow you to collect rainwater that falls off your roof.

A stubborn Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, is blocking any opportunity for House Bill 15-1259 to get to the Senate for a vote. The bill would allow Coloradans to collect up to two 55-gallon rain barrels of water that drain off their rooftops. The water could then be used for outdoor purposes, such as lawn and garden irrigation.

5/4/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The Senate Thursday morning approved two bills that would streamline the testing process for marijuana in the state.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 15-1283 on second reading in a voice vote. The bill would require the department of public health and environment to establish a reference library that serves as a guidepost for all marijuana testing in the state by the end of the year.

5/3/2015
By Catherine Strode
The Colorado Statesman

Former four-term State Representative and two-term Speaker of the House, Andrew Romanoff, took over the helm of Mental Health America of Colorado this month. As its new president and CEO, Romanoff will steer MHAC’s efforts to make Colorado a national leader in addressing mental health disorders and its movement to end the stigma of mental illness. In an interview with Catherine Strode, he explains how the battle against the stigma of mental illness has become a personal one for him, and, for his family.

CS: Where do you draw your passion for mental health issues?

5/3/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Dennis J. Gallagher is leaving his post as Denver city auditor after 12 years, and he’s going out with a bang. Which for Gallagher is entirely appropriate.

In one of his last acts of office, Gallagher dealt a broadside to the Denver International Airport Hotel and Transit Center in the form of a “white paper,” in which he said that the project is 44 percent over budget at $721 million.

Chatter
5/1/2015

Primary challengers are circling and sniffing in the 5th Congressional District, we hear. U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who has only sidestepped a primary once on the way to five terms representing the heavily Republican district, could be facing a bid by former House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, though that might not be the extent of it.

Wayposts
5/1/2015

Connect for Health Colorado this week named Kevin Patterson as interim chief executive officer of Colorado’s Health Insurance Marketplace, better known as the state exchange. Patterson is currently chief administrative officer for Gov. John Hickenlooper and has served as interim executive director for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Governor’s Energy Office. He starts at the new position on May 8.

Yesteryear
5/1/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Twenty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Denver voters sent Wellington Webb, the city’s first African-American mayor, a “somber message” on Election Day, handing a win to City Councilwoman Mary DeGroot in the first round of balloting. DeGroot edged the incumbent by a whisker, just 0.1 percent of the vote, though she had been running far behind Webb in polls, with less than 30 percent in surveys.

5/1/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

There is a traffic jam of bills related to red-light camera technology inside the Capitol these days as a third bill has been introduced on the controversial issue.

That bill would create a study to measure the public safety impact of the use of red-light and speed photo enforcement cameras. The study also would look into claims that cities using the technology are motivated by the revenue collected from tickets.

“We want to make evidence-based decisions when making public policy decisions of this magnitude,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, who is sponsoring the study bill.

5/1/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A wild ending to an April 27 House panel vote on increased public rights for the homeless capped a hearing that resulted in the bill’s failure.

A handful of unruly audience members voiced their displeasure over committee members’ no votes on a bill that would have allowed the homeless to eat, sleep and panhandle in public without harassment.

Some had to be removed from the hearing room for shouting down members of the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee after the panel rejected the measure on an 8-3 vote.

5/1/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

The use of American Indian mascots by Colorado public schools can continue unfettered after a bill requiring tribal approval of their use died on a party-line vote during an April 29 Senate committee hearing.

House Bill 1165 would have created an approval committee made up of representatives from American Indian tribes for schools seeking to use Indian-themed mascots.

5/1/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The 2014 legislative session ended with a whimper, not a bang, on the condo construction defects issue. This year’s session on the same issue will end the same way.

But supporters of the efforts vow they will be back next year.

Last week, Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, assigned the Senate’s major construction defects bill, Senate Bill 15-177, to the House’s “kill” committee, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. They voted along 6-5 party lines to kill the bill after a five-hour hearing Monday.

5/1/2015

Dear Editor,
 
Please identify the organization Americans for Prosperity. It is the voice of the Koch Brothers. It is not a grassroots organization. It has no roots in Colorado. It should not be able to present its agenda in a public forum without disclosing its ownership. 

Every columnist should be identified by his employment as a starting point. 

Good luck on your new venture.
 
Dolores Kopel

Dear Editor,

5/1/2015
By Rep. Kevin Priola

Today, we live in a society of instant gratification — with one click, you can order just about anything online and have it delivered to your door. Seemingly endless information is shared via the web and social media with just the touch of a button. As a father, business owner, and legislator, I like getting fast results just as much as the next person. But during my seven years in office, I’ve learned that good policy is one area where we can’t afford to hope things happen overnight, especially when it comes to educating Colorado’s kids.

5/1/2015
By Sen. Michael Merrifield

Next time you’re at the grocery store, keep track of what $8.23 will buy. Maybe it’s a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and some vegetables. Whatever the choices, the money won’t go far — and the point here is that thousands of Coloradans work hard and try to make ends meet on $8.23 per hour, the current minimum wage. They have to find a way to pay for housing, food, health care, transportation, shoes and clothing, and the ever-growing cost of child care.

5/1/2015
By Jon Caldara

We at the Independence Institute take on bullies. It’s what we do.

Bullies like to use the coercive power of government to take away individual choices, like teachers’ unions work to limit educational choice. 
Nothing exemplifies this more than the current effort by Dudley Brown, of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, who is using intimidation and threats to squelch a growing movement to re-legalize 30-round magazines, winning back 99 percent of all the gun magazines we lost in the 2013 ban.

4/29/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Any chance for a late bill to double the ammunition magazine limit to 30 rounds this year appeared to disintegrate when GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville revealed Wednesday that 26 Republican legislators have signed a letter opposing the idea.

The letter to Independence Institute president Jon Caldara, who has championed the 30-round limit in a high-profile media campaign, urges him to advocate instead for a full repeal of the 15-round limit passed in 2013 with no Republican support.

4/29/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

There will be a traffic jam of bills related to red-light camera technology as a third bill is now expected to be introduced on the controversial issue.

That bill, which could be introduced in the House as early as today, would create a study to measure the public safety impact of the use of red-light cameras and speed photo enforcement cameras. The study also would look into claims that cities that use the technology are motivated by the revenue collected from tickets.

4/29/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

In a chastening letter posted to his website late last night, Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, didn't mince words about his displeasure with Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, and his perceived role supporting of "anti-gun legislators" regarding the ongoing magazine limit debate.

Read the text of the letter below:

Mr. Jon Caldara

Independence Institute of Colorado
727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
Dear. Mr. Caldara,

4/28/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The Senate Judiciary committee Tuesday morning unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would make repeated drunk driving a felony offense in the state of Colorado.

House Bill 15-1043, with Senate sponsors John Cooke, R-Greeley, a member of the Judiciary committee, and Mike Johnston, D-Denver, got a 5-0 nod after several victims of accidents involving drunk driving and their family members had delivered emotional testimony.

4/26/2015

Thank you for reporting on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in your recent article, Trans-Pacific trade agreement supporters, opponents spar.

I would like to make an important clarification to that article, which references the ability for foreign countries — through state-owned enterprises — and foreign companies “to sue the U.S. government”. That lawsuit provision, referred to as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), already exists in previous trade deals, such as NAFTA.

ELECTIONS
4/24/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

When ballots are counted in the Denver municipal races on the night of May 5, the city is almost certain to wind up with familiar faces in citywide and district offices while at the same time greeting an unusually large number of newcomers to city government.

4/24/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

When it comes to marijuana taxes, Colorado voters will probably be asking themselves in November — “Haven’t we done this already?”

Twice voters have approved ballot measures having to do with marijuana pot taxes and how they would be used. But the Taxpayer Bill of Rights requires that voters will have to take up the issue once again.

“Well it is deja vu all over again,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. “But TABOR is forcing us to vote again.”

4/24/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Temple Emanuel in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood was filled nearly to bursting despite a wet, snowy evening last Thursday for the 34th Anti-Defamation League’s Mountain States Regional observance of the Shoah. Several dozen survivors of the camps were recognized together with a bi-partisan smattering of Colorado’s elected officials in attendance, including a strong showing from Denver candidates for municipal seats. The keynote speaker, Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of Joseph Mengele’s demented medical experiments with twins, proved a tiny yet feisty, funny and inspiring keynote speaker.

4/24/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The 2015 legislative session began with Gov. John Hickenlooper touting the state’s economic successes. It may end with him lamenting the economic problems that couldn’t be solved.

Last week, the governor sent lawmakers a letter, suggesting how they could resolve contradictory fiscal laws that limit the state’s ability to fund certain infrastructure priorities.

4/24/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A bill that would create a murder charge for the killing of an unborn child cleared its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday, following a committee hearing that often centered around abortion.

Senate Bill 268 would allow prosecutors to file charges that include murder in cases where pregnant women are attacked.

The bill is a reaction to the gruesome March 18 attack on Michelle Wilkins of Longmont, whose 7-month-old fetus died after being cut from her womb.

OPINION
4/24/2015
By Dustin Zvonek
GUEST COLUMNIST

“The check is in the mail” used to be the go-to excuse for those hoping to keep their debtors at bay. And, if Gov. Hickenlooper has his way, Colorado taxpayers will be hearing that line a lot more often when they look for their Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) refund checks.

4/23/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

In the wake of cases of apparent police brutality dominating headlines from Ferguson to North Carolina, Baltimore and all the way to Denver, lawmakers in Colorado this week took further action on a package of 10 bills aimed at restoring the public’s trust in the work of law enforcement.

A portion of the two handfuls of legislative proposals got unanimous support across chambers and aisles.

WAYPOSTS
4/23/2015

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, announced on Wednesday that he’s running for the Senate District 12 seat that will be left open when term-limited Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, steps down after next year’s election.

4/23/2015
By Sen. Chris Holbert

Editor's Note: Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, is contributing a column to this week's print edition. The Colorado Statesman is publishing the column in serial form online this week.

4/22/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Sponsors of a student assessment opt out bill are worried not only about a veto by Gov. John Hickenlooper, they fret that lawmakers won't have an opportunity to override the possible action.

That's because Senate Bill 223 won't receive a hearing in the House Education Committee until April 27, less than two weeks before the Legislature adjourns.

That gives the House plenty of time to pass the measure, but past the deadline for a vote to override a potential veto from the governor. April 24 is the deadline for any bill that passes the General Assembly to receive a veto override vote.

4/22/2015
By Sen. Chris Holbert

Editor's Note: Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, is contributing a column to this week's print edition. The Colorado Statesman is publishing the column in serial form online this week.

4/22/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado’s legislature has jumped into the middle of the West’s renewed Sagebrush rebellion, with the state Senate this week debating whether Colorado should take a bigger hand in managing its federally-owned public lands.

But opponents fear what that would mean for everyone who uses them.

One year ago, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy squared off against agents of the federal Bureau of Land Management. Bundy refused to pay about $1 million in grazing fees for his cattle to graze on public land, fees that had accrued over a 20-year period.

4/21/2015
By Sen. Chris Holbert

Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, is contributing a column to this week's print edition. The Colorado Statesman is publishing the column in serial form online this week.

4/20/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

A group of 13 elected officials from Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins has sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, asking him to oppose expedited Congressional approval for the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The policymakers, worried the TPP deal would undermine local control, announced their action at a press conference organized by the consumer rights advocacy group Food & Water Watch in Boulder on Friday.

4/20/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

It’s now up to Gov. John Hickenlooper to give his final say on the 2015-16 state budget.

The $26.4 billion budget, as contained in Senate Bill 15-234, got its final approval from the Senate Friday. The vote was to accept the compromise version proposed by the Joint Budget Committee, acting as the bill’s conference committee. The budget was re-passed on a 31-2 vote, with Sens. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder and Matt Jones, D-Louisville, voting no. The House had voted on the compromise on Thursday, re-passing the bill on a 45-20 vote.

CHATTER
4/20/2015

The war of words over gun control escalated on Friday between two conservative titans who are staking out starkly opposed stances.

4/20/2015
By Sen. Chris Holbert

Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, is contributing a column to this week's print edition. The Colorado Statesman is publishing the column in serial form online this week.

4/17/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

House Republicans attempted to challenge the authority of Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, on Wednesday morning. It was a procedural move that long-time Capitol observers said they’d never seen before.

The move came during the reading of the previous day’s House Journal. The Tuesday journal contained the report of the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee from its Monday marathon hearing.

4/17/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

With the major construction defects reform legislation now in the House, the heat is on the speaker of the House to put the bill into something other than the “kill committee.” And that pressure is mounting from both sides of the aisle.

But the House may turn the whole discussion on its head, by introducing its own bills on affordable housing and construction defects, possibly as soon as next week.

Opinion
4/17/2015
By Rep. Joann Ginal

Recently in Colorado, an underage girl from another state was brought by her legal guardian to a county office to marry a Syrian National living in Saudi Arabia.  The groom wasn’t present and they are now legally married.  Neither had any ties to the county where they acquired the marriage license or to Colorado.

In 2013 a man residing in Luxembourg obtained a proxy marriage to marry a woman residing in France. A third party, a Colorado resident, through an executed power of attorney acted as proxy for the woman at the marriage ceremony.

Opinion
4/17/2015
By Rep. Bob Rankin

Last week the House of Representatives debated and ultimately passed Senate Bill 234, the annual budget bill, also known as the Long Bill. As one of six members on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the Long Bill process and Colorado’s fiscal year 2015-16 budget.

4/17/2015
By Catherine Strode
The Colorado Statesman

State Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, readily admits that he is not a fan of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), a constitutional amendment restricting the spending of state tax revenues. In these last few weeks of the session’s duration, he will be introducing a bill in the Senate to allow the state to retain the revenues from marijuana tax income.

In an interview with Catherine Strode, Sen. Steadman says his bill will ask Coloradans to forego their TABOR tax refunds in order to put the Marijuana Tax income to good use across the state.

4/16/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

George “Skip” Noe’s job is safe for now, but the Aurora city manager may want to think twice before ordering any 2016 season tickets.

Aurora city council members pushing for his resignation agreed to drop the issue — at least temporarily — after nobody budged during Monday’s executive session. Despite a series of closed meetings on complaints about his job performance from five council members, Noe continues to come out on the winning side of a 6-5 split.

4/16/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

Doug Bruce was back in Denver District Court last week, proving once more that he remains the one Coloradan most likely to precipitate a fistfight at a Quaker meeting house. Whether you believe the California transplant received the language for his TABOR amendment on engraved tablets delivered by a host of conservative archangels or that it was drafted during a fevered dream fueled on psychedelic fumes, Bruce remains one of the more interesting political personas in our state. He may be an angry man, but he is not a stupid one.

4/16/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

A House panel on April 15 was transformed into the “There but for the grace of God go I Committee” as several current or former homeless persons — including a former lawmaker — testified on behalf of a bill that would provide the homeless with more public rights.

House Bill 1264, which has been dubbed the Homeless Bill of Rights, or the Right to Rest Act, would allow the homeless to eat, sleep and panhandle in public without being told to leave.

The bill would provide civil remedies for the homeless when their rights are violated.

4/15/2015
By Vic Vela
The Colorado Statesman

Given the recent start of the Colorado Rockies season, it was appropriate last week for state Rep. Jim Wilson to use a baseball metaphor to describe the polarized debate at the Capitol over how best to reduce student testing in our schools.

“We have a lot of folks here today who are trying to hit the home run; just step up and hit the long ball,” the Salida Republican said in an interview with The Statesman. “And my experience playing ball is that was exciting until it was caught in the outfield.”

CHATTER
4/15/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

The organizers of this year’s Western Conservative Summit — billed as “the premiere summer destination for Americans who still believe in freedom, family, faith, and the future” — this week told a Republican organization devoted to advocating for gays and lesbians that it can’t formally participate in the June conference in Denver.

4/10/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The House finished its work on the 2015-16 budget Thursday, returning it to the Joint Budget Committee to work out differences with the Senate version.

But last-minute drama could have sent the budget back $20 million out of balance.

The annual budget bill passed on a 45-20 vote Thursday morning. Eleven Republicans voted for the 2015-16 budget along with the House’s 34 Democrats.

The day before, the House went on a bit of spending spree, approving a dozen amendments to the $26.4 billion budget.

4/10/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

A businessman and a planner won the Glenwood Springs city council at-large seats in Tuesday’s municipal election, and in Grand Junction the victors were a self-proclaimed forward-thinking progressive and a former corporate executive.

In Glenwood Springs, businessman and homebuilder Steve Davis won the Ward 1 election with 59.38 percent of the vote and Planning and Zoning Commission chair Kathy Trauger won the at-large seat with 62.32 percent.

Both victors are in agreement that the narrow, dangerous Hwy. 82 bridge through central Glenwood Springs needs to be replaced,

4/10/2015
The Colorado Statesman

Davidson leaving Clerks Assoc.

Former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson announced this week that she is stepping down as executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association on June 30.

Yesteryear
4/10/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Twenty-five Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Construction companies handed Denver Mayor Federico Peña a “giant skeleton key, finished in brilliant gold” to the new Colorado Convention Center, which was set to open on time and on budget. “Each of you need to share in the celebration,” said Phelps Construction president Jerry Morgensen as he handed the enormous key to Peña.

4/10/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GRAND JUNCTION — James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, told Club 20 in late March that the “seven points of consensus” thus far approved as a preliminary step in finalizing the Colorado Water Plan requested by Gov. John Hickenlooper represent a “new paradigm” in Front Range and Western Slope relations regarding water, but it’s really the same old paradigm: The Front Range wants and needs the Western Slope’s water.

Six of the seven points mention a “TMD,” short for transmountain water diversion.

4/10/2015
By Rep. Pete Lee
The Colorado Statesman

It was 1987, and Chris Gibbons had a big problem. He was the business affairs director for the city of Littleton, and the biggest employer in town, Martin Marietta, had just announced that it was closing its Littleton operation and cutting 7,500 jobs.

To fill that huge hole in the local economy, Gibbons could have tried the traditional economic development strategy, focusing on luring another giant out-of-state company by offering it tax incentives, utility rebates and workforce training subsidies.

4/10/2015
By Miller Hudson
The Colorado Statesman

The 67th annual Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder campus kicked off with a provocative keynote address by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist (2004) Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald. In a century when our first African-American president has called for a vigorous national dialogue on race and his African-American Attorney General, Eric Holder, has suggested we are all too cowardly to engage in an honest discussion of race, Pitts stands out as a voice that regularly addresses racial issues.

4/10/2015
By Rachel Alexander
The Colorado Statesman

Writing about politics is what I’ve always wanted to do.

There was a time when I would have said I wanted to be the next Helen Thomas, front row center at the Presidential press conferences. Granted the first and last question. Ending the conference with the tried and true phrase “Thank you Mr. (or, let’s be honest, Madame) President”.

Conference on World Affairs
4/10/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

Almost two years after Edward Snowden brought to light secret government surveillance practices, a panel of three privacy proponents met Thursday morning to discuss, “Cyber Security and Privacy We’re All H@cked.”

Investigative journalist and civil liberties advocate Chip Berlet joined Malou Innocent from the libertarian think tank Cato Institute and Mother Jones co-editor Clara Jeffery. In the absence of a supporter of the NSA programs, the panel embarked on an 80-minute journey to point out how online data security affects everyday lives.

Conference on World Affairs
4/9/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Statesman will be covering the 67th Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder all week with web-exclusive updated overviews of the action. For live coverage throughout the day, follow our reporter Lars Gesing on Twitter @LarsGesing.

***

There wasn’t much that three panelists agreed on when they filled CU- Boulder’s Center Ballroom to capacity during their debate of “Negotiating Nukes with Iran” Wednesday morning.

In fact, the only thing they didn’t exchange were actual jabs.

CHATTER
4/9/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado Democrats and their allies are demanding that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman give back $20,000 in campaign contributions from former Rep. Aaron Schock’s political action committee following the Illinois Republican’s ignominious fall from office.

A Coffman spokesman said the Aurora Republican has already donated the Schock contributions to a veterans organization and dismissed the furor as left-wing hysteria.

4/9/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Aurora city councilwoman Molly Markert wants to see city manager George “Skip” Noe gone, and she’s willing to run for mayor to make it happen.

The Aurora city council has been locked for months in a 6-5 split over whether Noe should stay or go. Markert stands with the five-member, all-female minority pushing for his resignation. Those on the majority side who want to retain Noe include Mayor Steve Hogan, who’s seeking reelection in November.

4/9/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has slipped dramatically in match-ups against potential Republican rivals among Colorado voters in a swing-state poll released Thursday morning by Quinnipiac University. Clinton is in a statistical tie with all seven of the GOP candidates polled, marking a drop from leads she held in a previous poll released in mid-February.

Conference on World Affairs
4/8/2015
By Lars Gesing
The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Statesman will be covering the 67th Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder all week with web-exclusive updated overviews of the action. For live coverage throughout the day, follow our reporter Lars Gesing on Twitter @LarsGesing.

***

If you assemble an “Our Tangled Drug Policy” panel in the state of Colorado, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that people — both on the stage and in the audience — will mostly talk about marijuana. Tuesday morning, neither the three panelists nor the audience were surprised in that regard.

4/8/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace will square off in a May 19 run-off election for Colorado Springs mayor after emerging as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s balloting.

Neither candidate hit the 50 percent threshold needed for an outright win, but Suthers, 63, came the closest. He picked up about 47 percent of the vote in the city election, while Makepeace, 74, came in second with 23 percent.

Suthers, the former 10-year Colorado Attorney General, said he wasn’t surprised, given the crowded field of six candidates.

4/7/2015
By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman

Democrats condemned Monday's late-night vote allowing the Colorado Pay Equity Commission to expire as "indefensible," even as Republicans dismissed the panel as a do-nothing solution in search of a problem.

The Senate Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs voted 3-2 along party lines to defeat House Bill 15-1133, sponsored by Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, which would have extended the five-year-old commission’s charter before its sunset clause kicks in July 1.

4/7/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Battle lines are being drawn in the House over the annual budget bill, with some of the same disagreements over priorities as was seen in the Senate last week.

The House Appropriations Committee this morning reviewed the Long Appropriations Bill, Senate Bill 15-234, and its accompanying 18 budget-balancing bills. All were approved and sent to the full House for debate.

4/6/2015
By Tom Tancredo
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Maybe political correctness can’t kill you, but in progressive Boulder County it is protecting a baby killer from prosecution for murder.

On March 18, Michelle Wilkins, a woman 34 weeks pregnant, was lured to a private home in Longmont to purchase baby clothes. Wilkins was attacked, her abdomen cut open and her healthy unborn baby, a daughter she had already named Aurora, was violently removed from her womb.

4/3/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Just weeks into his tenure as head of the Colorado Republican Party, former gubernatorial candidate Steve House says he’s shaking up the way the party runs things.

In his first public appearance since winning the chairmanship, House told a group of Douglas County Republicans last Friday that he’s forging ahead with one of his campaign promises, organizing the GOP to run like a business, with key positions operating under a “team of rivals” principle.

4/3/2015
By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Statesman

Ten Years ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … State Rep. Kevin Lundberg called the debate over a ban on same-sex marriages in Colorado “the most significant domestic issue of the decade.” The Berthoud Republican wouldn’t budge when House Democratic Caucus Chair Angie Paccione asked if he really meant that the issue trumped the state’s fiscal crisis, health care, education or jobs. “Either marriage is between a man and a woman exclusively or anything goes,” he said.

4/3/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A single issue — replacing the narrow, decades old Highway 82 bridge that connects the north side of town with the south — dominates the two contested races in the Glenwood Springs city council election, with mail balloting underway now.

It’s not that the issue is controversial — all the candidates agree that the dangerous bridge must be replaced while the Colorado Department of Transportation is offering funds to complete the project.

4/3/2015
By Rep. Angela Williams
Special to The Colorado Statesman

Last fall, the West Steps of the Capitol were the scene of almost daily demonstrations by students and others motivated by what they saw as racial bias in deadly police encounters with minorities.

Those demonstrations were mainly motivated by incidents in other states. But they resonated here in Colorado because our state, unfortunately, has had problems of its own.

The trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve is damaged. Without public support, law enforcement — a difficult job but one that’s essential to a free society — becomes even harder.

4/3/2015
By Rep. Polly Lawrence
Special to The Colorado Statesman

In December 2013, a heartbreaking event occurred in Colorado when a student entered Arapahoe High School and proceeded to shoot and kill one of his classmates before turning the gun on himself. This tragedy, which shook communities across Colorado, revealed significant gaps in the laws requiring schools to report violent incidents. Due to a clerical error in the reporting process for these types of incidents in schools, this shooting did not appear on Arapahoe High School’s school violence report for the 2013-14 school year.

4/3/2015
By Ron Bain
The Colorado Statesman

GRAND JUNCTION — Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is vigorously, if reluctantly, defending Colorado’s legislation regulating marijuana against a lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma, stating to Club 20 that a recent indictment of 32 people pretending to be medical marijuana growers shows that Colorado is striving to prevent illegally grown pot from entering other states.

4/3/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

Ten hours, almost 90 amendments, and in the end, a balanced budget left the state Senate Thursday on its way to the House.

The Senate, Thursday morning, voted 21-14 to approve the state’s $26.4 billion 2015-16 budget. The approval came after a marathon session that lasted until almost 11 p.m. the previous night. But the budget did not leave the Senate chamber without rancor from Democrats who claimed their priorities were ignored.

The budget changed little during Wednesday’s debate, despite dozens of efforts by both caucuses.

4/3/2015
By Marianne Goodland
The Colorado Statesman

The General Assembly this week took action on six bills that are part of the law enforcement “Rebuilding Trust” package. All but one passed, but it became clear Tuesday that law enforcement agencies are not on board with the whole package.

4/1/2015
By Marilyn Marks

Dear Editor:

Ask almost any “man on the street” whether voters should cast ballots in their town’s mayoral race through unregulated “electronic transmission.” They will scoff at email and Internet voting — especially with no rules! Yet, over 95 percent of Colorado’s lawmakers voted “yes” for this bizarre idea, untried by any other state. How did HB1130 get to third reading in the second chamber without any publicly expressed concern by lawmakers?

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.