Democrats Will Filibuster Gorsuch–All Eyes on Michael Bennet

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) hasn’t responded to the growing calls within his party to try to block President Donald Trump’s first pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer promised a filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation vote, which sets the stage for Republicans to use the so-called “nuclear option” to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority…

“Michael has not decided on how he will vote on the nomination or a potential filibuster,” Bennet spokeswoman Laurie Cipriano told 9NEWS. “He is closely watching this week’s hearings and carefully reviewing Gorsuch’s record before he makes a decision.”

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

Washington Post via Denver Post:

As the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing from witnesses for and against Judge Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nomination was delivered a critical blow: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced he would oppose Gorsuch and join other Democrats in filibustering the nomination, making it likely that the judge will struggle to find the support needed to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

Gorsuch “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on President Donald Trump, Schumer said in a Senate floor speech.

Gorsuch is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” Schumer added. “He was groomed by the Federalist Society and has shown not one inch of difference between his views and theirs.”

The resolve by Senate Democrats to proceed with a filibuster of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination sets off a battle that may end in the long-feared “nuclear option,” short-circuiting Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote requirement to end debate on a Supreme Court nomination. Or, it’s possible that Republicans could blink–the “nuclear option” is already a fact of life for Senate-approved nominations other than the Supreme Court, but to take this step for the nation’s singularly important lifetime appointment would be a radical step with portentous consequences.

And the one question that Colorado needs answered, right now: will Sen. Michael Bennet join his fellow Democrats? This is the question that will drive the news in our state today (well, aside from that healthcare thing).

And depending on what Bennet does next, maybe across the nation. Stay tuned…

Serious Political Damage for GOP After Trumpcare Debacle

onetwothreeyoureoutHouse Republicans were supposed to pass Trumpcare today. President Trump himself promised that the bill would get through the House because of his super awesome negotiating skills. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was publicly promising that Trumpcare would pass the House as recently as this morning.

And then…bupkis. House Republicans couldn’t even get enough support for their own legislation to put the bill to a vote. From the Washington Post:

House leaders postponed a vote Thursday on their plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system, as they and President Trump struggled to meet demands of conservative lawmakers who said they could not support the bill.

House Republicans planned to meet behind closed doors later Thursday to figure out their next steps. Leaders have told the rank and file to be available Friday in the event a vote can be scheduled then.

House Republicans don’t have the votes now, and they’re not likely to turn around some 30-40 Republican opponents by Friday morning, despite what the White House continues to shout (White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made this absurd statement on Thursday afternoon: “We’re very confident that the bill will pass tomorrow morning.”)

Senate Republicans want nothing to do with this legislation even if the House were to magically send it to the floor for a vote. Polling results show that vast majorities of the American public don’t want Trumpcare to happen. It’s certainly possible that House Republicans could still salvage a vote on the American Health Care Act at some point, but missing their own much-hyped deadline today leaves the GOP with absolutely zero momentum on the issue.

The political damage for Republicans will be massive. Republican candidates across the country have spent the last six years running on a promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare; now that they have a Congressional majority and the White House, there is nobody left to blame for their inability to get anything done. Here’s how today’s GOP disaster will impact three key Republican politicians in Colorado:

 

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)
Senator Gardner basically owes his entire Congressional career to opposing Obamacare…and he may ultimately lose his job for the same reason. This entire process has made an absolute ass out of the freshman Senator from Yuma. Gardner tried to talk in generalities about health care and avoided saying whether he supported or opposed Trumpcare, but smiling and dancing around the issue doesn’t work in this case. Dozens and dozens of Republicans in Congress are publicly opposing (or supporting) legislation that has been the lead story in the news for weeks; nothing looks weaker than refusing to take a clear stance. It’s even worse than that for Gardner because he has already previously supported most of the key features of Trumpcare.

Fumbling on Trumpcare, which was a big reason Gardner refused to meet with his constituents, has cost him already. Gardner’s approval rating is abysmal — even among Republicans.

 

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)
As poorly as Gardner has dealt with this issue, it could have been worse. He could have been Mike Coffman.

Coffman has said plenty of ridiculous crap about Trumpcare. He was a fervent supporter of the legislation before he was wary of it, and his awful timing was downright Shakespearean. Coffman gave a full-throated endorsement of the House legislation literally hours before the Congressional Budget Office dealt it a mortal wound with its estimate that 24 million Americans would lose coverage under Trumpcare. There’s a saying for that in Colorado: It’s called “getting out over your skis.”

 

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)
Buck may have had his problems with the messaging part of this debate, but you could make an argument that he actually benefits from today’s carnage. Buck is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group that had enough juice to essentially cancel today’s healthcare vote when they wouldn’t commit to its support. Buck represents a pretty safe Republican district, so his biggest political problem was convincing the GOP base that he was still a true conservative even if he didn’t back Trumpcare. Being a part of the House Freedom Caucus gives Buck perhaps the only political way out of this mess, and his conservative club now has more power on Capitol Hill than ever before.

 

The Trump Budget: 15 Threats to Opportunity in Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Trump released his “Skinny Budget” March 16, a broad outline of his priorities for the federal budget.  He proposes to increase spending on defense by $54 billion and pay for it with cuts to other areas.

Based on our initial review of the data provided, we find his budget to be shortsighted.  It chokes off investments that promote opportunity for moderate- and low-income Americans and shifts the costs from the federal government to the states and families. It hurts many of the people who Trump claims to represent and, when coupled with his other proposals on health care and tax reform, will exacerbate income inequality.

While there’s not much data in the skinny budget – he put more details in some of his tweets –Trump’s vision for America is clear.

About $8 billion or 30 percent of Colorado’s $27 billion total operating budget for this year comes from the federal government, most of it going to health care, human services, education and transportation.

While important, federal funding to the states has been declining for decades when measured as a percentage of the overall economy. Nationwide, federal spending on grants to the states is lower today than it was over three decades ago in 1980.  It is substantially lower than it was in 2010, with discretionary spending down by about one-third since then.

Here are some of more egregious proposed cuts and how they make it difficult for Coloradans to get ahead economically.

(more…)

Trumpcare’s Day of Reckoning

Watch this space throughout the day as new information becomes available on a potential House vote on Trumpcare.

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1:28 pm: The House punts:

 

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1:23 pm: The House has not even begun the process of moving Trumpcare toward a vote on the floor — which by itself can take several hours.

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12:45 pm: The “Freedom Caucus” may have killed Trumpcare — at least for today. As Politico explains:

President Donald Trump and conservative House Freedom Caucus members failed to strike a deal on the GOP Obamacare replacement Thursday, endangering the prospects of passage and all but assuring any immediate vote on the measure would fail.

Negotiations between Trump and the arch-conservatives opponents of the bill reached at least a temporary standstill after Freedom Caucus members were told recent concessions to the far-right were a final offer. The group rejected that, wanting more.

Trump’s inability to clinch an agreement means that Speaker Paul Ryan does not likely have the votes needed to pass the measure. [Pols emphasis] The Wisconsin Republican can afford to lose only 22 votes on the floor. The House Freedom Caucus, however, has three dozen members, who have vowed to block the bill unless they get what they want. Roughly a dozen centrist Republicans also have come out against the bill.

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11:39 am: The conservative House Freedom Caucus says “no deal!”

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11:30 am: New polling numbers continue to show widespread public opposition to Trumpcare. From TPM:

American voters oppose the GOP health care bill by a three-to-one margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

The poll found that 56 percent of respondents opposed the American Health Care Act, compared to only 17 percent who supported the bill. Twenty-six percent did not know or had no answer.

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10:02 am: Opponents of Trumpcare are literally lining the halls outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office today.

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9:55 am: The Washington Post sets the stage for today’s healthcare battle:

The Republican health-care overhaul faces its greatest test ever Thursday as President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) work feverishly to persuade enough Republican lawmakers to back the measure and push it to a floor vote.

Late Wednesday, the White House and House leaders were still scrambling to boost support, and signaled at the 11th hour a willingness to rework the measure to mollify conservatives. On Thursday morning, House leaders postponed a 9 a.m. meeting of the entire GOP Conference, signaling that negotiations were still underway.

As of late Thursday morning, 36 House Republicans — mainly conservatives — had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

After insisting for weeks that the changes sought by hard-right members would render the bill unable to pass the Senate, White House officials and GOP House leaders appeared to shift their thinking — and opponents agreed to keep working on a deal with the goal of holding a floor vote in the House by Thursday night.

 

Ken Salazar Out for Governor; Perlmutter Run Looks Closer

UPDATE: Peter Marcus of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is expected to announce a run for governor as early as the end of the month, ColoradoPolitics has learned.

“If it was up to me, we would announce sooner rather than later,” confirmed Perlmutter campaign consultant Steve Welchert, a high-profile Democratic strategist.

Perlmutter’s pending announcement was pushed up by news that former interior secretary and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar will not pursue a run for governor in 2018 on the Democratic ticket.

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Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Late last night, the Denver Post published an editorial from former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in which Salazar makes clear that he will not run for governor:

The 2018 election for governor of Colorado is a keystone to the future greatness of Colorado. Several individuals, both Democratic and Republican, have expressed an interest in serving as governor. I will not be among them.

This has been a difficult decision, because I love Colorado. I believe I would have won an election for governor, and that I would have been a successful governor for all the people of Colorado. However, my family’s well-being must come first.

Salazar had been contemplating a run for governor for many months. Just a few weeks ago, Salazar told the Denver Post that he thought he could wait until the end of the summer to make a decision on 2018 — a timeline that was not at all realistic.

In the meantime, there has been a growing chorus of voices pushing for Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) to run for governor. Perlmutter had said publicly and privately that he was not interested in challenging Salazar in a potential Democratic primary, but now that this is no longer a concern, the chatter surrounding Perlmutter should start to grow exponentially.

Yes, there are other Democrats already in the race or contemplating a run — including Mike Johnston and Cary Kennedy — but Perlmutter is the juggernaut candidate that Democrats have been hoping for in 2018. Perlmutter currently represents the single most important electoral county in Colorado (Jeffco), and he has won every one of his six races for Congress by at least double digits.

Former GOP state chair, charged with voter fraud, does the right thing and resigns from radio show

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chairman Steve Curtis.

The morning after voter fraud charges were filed against KLZ 560-AM morning host Steve Curtis, there he was, on the air, interviewing William Gheen, who’s on a “mission” against illegal immigration.

But things changed during the day, as you know if you were one of the lucky people listening to KLZ’s afternoon show, where host Dan Meurer announced the resignation of the former GOP state chair:

Dan Meurer: All over the news is our morning show host Steve Curtis. So Steve has been brought up on charges, as we all know. And Steve resigned this morning. And basically that’s all we are going to say about it. It’s all we really know. And as a friend of Steve’s I wish him the best of luck. Prayers are with him. And there we go.

In an email today, Don Crawford of KLZ’s owner, the Crawford Broadcasting Company, confirmed Curtis’ resignation.

It appears that Curtis resigned on his own volition, because Crawford Broadcasting was prepared to keep him on the air until he was found guilty, according to Fox 31 Denver:

Curtis’ bosses at Crawford Broadcasting in Dallas said Curtis is innocent until proven guilty and it has no intention of taking disciplinary action unless and until he’s convicted.

Crawford Broadcasting clearly should have suspended Curtis, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings, because the serious nature of the allegations stripped him of his credibility.

Strangely enough, a couple years ago, Crawford Broadcasting quickly suspended interviews with Tom Tancredo, after the former Congressman teamed up with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to try to oust GOP state chair Steve House. The temporary Tancredo-interview-ban led to the resignation of Randy Corporan, who hosted KLZ’s morning show prior to Curtis’ tenure there.

Crawford’s innocent-until-proven-guilty approach to Curtis was not used by Clear Channel, the owner of Denver’s KHOW 630-AM, when it immediately suspended host Peter Boyles after he reportedly grabbed the lanier of producer Greg Hollenbeck during a violent exchange. Boyles was immediately suspended and later fired.

Listen to KLZ’s announcement of the resignation of Steve Curtis:

Tom Tancredo Behind Racist Joe Salazar Smear?

UPDATE #2: Salzman still on the case:

For our part, we stand by our original assertion that the Salazar/ISIS graphic was made by the same person who made various graphics for Tom Tancredo shown below. This shouldn’t be that hard to figure out.

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UPDATE: Via Jason Salzman, Tom Tancredo denies being the source of this graphic:

So, maybe he needs to call his graphic guy.

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House Bill 17-1230, the Ralph Carr Freedom Protection Act, passed the Colorado House yesterday after debate turned nasty–with freshman Rep. GOP Phil Covarrubias defending the internment of Japanese-Americans as a way to disparage Democrats’ choice to name the bill after Colorado’s wartime Gov. Ralph Carr. Carr, as local history students know well, stood up for Japanese-American internees arriving in Colorado under threats of violence.

Today, the bill’s sponsor Rep. Joe Salazar was subjected to a rather shocking racist and xenophobic attack from an anonymous social media source. Pardon our reposting, which isn’t meant to endorse its objectionable message:

So, this graphic appeared on the Twitter #copolitics channel, posted by an anonymous account that seems to be devoted to attacking Rep. Dan Pabon. But if you take a look at the colors and font used to make this Photoshopped image, there’s somebody else out there posting graphics that are strikingly similar–and not anonymously at all:

You can see clearly the same typeface being used in these Photoshopped graphics, produced either by former Rep. Tom Tancredo personally or someone working for him. Also, that’s the same pic of Rep. Salazar in the image above as is Photoshopped onto the ISIS commander in the latest image. All things being equal, this is about as close to being caught red-handed as the anonymous internets allow without a court order.

As anybody who knows his history knows well, Tancredo doesn’t shy away from controversial statements–he’s made a career of them, after all. So it’s interesting to see Tancredo hiding behind an anonymous Twitter troll to lob this kind of nastiness at Rep. Salazar.

Maybe even Tom Tancredo realizes when it’s going too far? Because this latest insult against Rep Salazar certainly does.

Thursday Open Thread

“It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”

–Louis D. Brandeis

Developing: State Rep. Defends Japanese-American Internment

UPDATE: Release from Colorado House Democrats on today’s debate:

In the first real floor fight of the session, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act by Reps. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar earned initial approval from the House on second reading this morning. The bill protects Colorado state agencies from being forced to participate in overreaching federal programs targeting religious or ethnic communities…

Through several attempted amendments, the House Republicans tried to weaken or alter the bill and to exempt undocumented Coloradans from the protections under the Ralph Carr Act. Had the amendments passed, it would have been a stark departure from settled law that establishes that the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution apply to everyone in the country, regardless of immigration status.

“The reason that we, the USA, are a beacon of hope for the rest of the world, is because the rights of the United States apply to everyone,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. “Every single amendment in the Constitution applies to everyone in the United States of America.”

Close to the end of the debate, Rep. Phil Covarrubias, R-Brighton, seemed to excuse the internment of Japanese Americans, including U.S. citizens, during World War II. “We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people—for anyone that has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all of that was going on—there’s no time to ask questions and find out who is a citizen and who’s not,” he said.

The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act prohibits state and local governments from giving information about a Coloradan’s race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation to the federal government unless it is for a legal and constitutional purpose.

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We’re monitoring debate today on the floor of the Colorado House over House Bill 17-1230, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act, a bill to protect “Colorado residents from federal government overreach based on a person’s status.” The bill draws its name from Gov. Ralph Carr, the Republican governor of Colorado who stood up for the welfare and dignity of Japanese-American internees during World War II, and gained new urgency after President Donald Trump began making good on his threats to ban travel to the U.S. from certain Muslim nations and rounding up immigrant mothers.

Debate on this bill today in the House has been fierce and ugly. Republicans have led a drive to pull Gov. Carr’s name off the bill, and to insert language from Rep. Dave Williams’ failed bill to penalize so-called “sanctuary cities”–both actions that Democrats found highly objectionable given the bill’s intentions and namesake.

And then freshman Rep. Philip Covarrubias, Republican of Adams County, took it a step beyond:

“We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people. For anybody who has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and all of that was going on, there’s no time to ask questions about who’s a citizen and who’s not.

“You don’t have that moment in time. You need to regroup. It’s easy to sit up here and say this stuff now. If you’re in that moment, it looks a lot different than being able to be in a nice suit and tie. I hear people saying that we need to respect other people’s rights, and I agree with that. But what about THEM respecting OUR rights, our country and our laws? Because I’m not hearing that up here.”

 

You heard that correctly. That’s Rep. Phil Covarrubias defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

And then a little while later, he did it again:

“I’m wondering why the need for the Ralph Carr to explain Japanese-Americans [sic]. What happened prior to this that kicked this all off? I think we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. We need to look at the Americans that are in fear from terrorism, and all of things that we’ve seen over the last few years especially.

“Everybody’s talking about the ‘immigrants’ being in fear, or the other people being in fear. But what about our own people? What about Florida? What about San Bernardino? What about the things that we need to protect and we hold dear here in our own country? We need to take care of our home here and realize that we have plenty of citizens that are in fear. Yes, do we need a better path? Maybe so. But for right now today the way that the law is and the way that it stands, this is where we’re at. I want to protect us. Thank you.”


And with that, Gov. Carr can fairly be said to be rolling in his grave.

Cynthia Coffman Trolls Race for Governor

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is almost certainly not running for governor in 2018, but she would really like it if you would pretend that she might. This is very, very lame…

“You know I am at least looking at governor” [Pols emphasis]. This is what Coffman told Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews today in Washington D.C. If you are unaccustomed to the language of politics, please allow us to translate:

I don’t actually plan on running for governor, but please float my name so that I can use these rumors to generate support for my re-election bid for Attorney General. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

We noted back in January that Coffman was trying to gin up interest for a potential bid for governor. From everything we’ve heard, that effort didn’t go anywhere and Coffman has since indicated privately that she will seek re-election as Attorney General. That won’t stop her from continuing to troll the rest of the potential field for 2018, however.

Coffman may not particularly like her current job as AG, but there is no path for her to win a Republican primary for Governor. Coffman is not what you’d call a beloved figure in the Colorado GOP — certainly not enough to elbow her way into a Republican Primary that is already expected to include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler (in addition to a wealthy self-funder in former legislator Victor Mitchell). It’s also important to note that Coffman’s biggest financial backer in 2014 was the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that obviously doesn’t care about the Colorado race for Governor.

Now, if Coffman could figure out a way to create an office of “Chief Troll” for Colorado, she’d have to be considered a frontrunner.

“The Price”–Powerful New DSCC Ad Gut-Punches Trumpcare


The Hill reports on a powerful new ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee–playing on TV in 2018 Senate race states and with a nationwide digital buy:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has launched a new ad targeting the GOP ObamaCare replacement plan.

The 30-second ad, titled “The Price,” looks to highlight the increased costs middle-class families could pay for healthcare under the Republican proposal.

The beginning of the ad shows a couple selling their belongings. At the end of the ad, the couple is shown sitting next to a child in a hospital bed.

“What will the Republican health care bill cost you?” writing at the end of the ad says.

Without a word of spoken dialogue, this is one of the most compelling ads against repeal of the Affordable Care Act we’ve seen in all the years the law has been on the books. Much like the resurgence of popularity for “Obamacare” as it faces repeal under President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, it’s possible that the country just wasn’t ready to handle this gut-punch of a message until the worst actually became likely.

At the 11th hour, America may finally be ready to hear it.

Hickenlooper: Dems Should “Slow Down” Gorsuch Nomination

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Quotable quotes from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper today via the Denver Post’s Brian Eason, in which Hickenlooper shows a flash of contempt for President Donald Trump–and the treachery that led to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court that former President Barack Obama tried to fill over a year ago:

“If someone commits an offense against you, generally, if there’s no consequence — if you just walk away and there’s no consequence — if you have another opportunity, you can be pretty much assured that he’ll do that same thing again,” Hickenlooper said during a press conference. “I don’t think I would hold it against Democrats to say, ‘Maybe we should slow this down.’ Because there are real questions about what happened to Merrick Garland, and I think that those actions — just like elections — have consequences.”

But he stopped short of taking a position himself on the nomination, saying he was “honored” that Colorado had someone as talented as Gorsuch nominated to the nation’s highest court…

Hickenlooper also suggested that the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia could give Democrats another reason to hold off. [Pols emphasis]

“We’re already beginning to hear people say, ‘Hey, if this is a legitimate cloud about the legitimacy of this president, should he be appointing the next Supreme Court, until we get this resolved?’” Hickenlooper said. “Somehow it was OK to wait 10 and a half months without having a candidate stand for the Supreme Court — maybe we should wait another four or five months and see what this investigation proves.”

Shorter Hick: if you let the bullies win, all you’ve done is ensure the bullying happens again. Oh and by the way, Trump’s presidency is just a headline away from full-blown constitutional crisis, so maybe you don’t have to be so, you know, deferential? In terms of Gorsuch’s nomination, this is a message that seems to be directed at one particular U.S. Senator from Colorado.

Democrats should like this tougher side of Hickenlooper, and ask for more.

Wednesday Open Thread

“History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.”

–Alexis de Tocqueville

The Get More Smarter Show: March 21, 2017

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: your hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk through the latest in Colorado politics, followed by a detailed interview with Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman on the state of the legislature. Welcome back to Ernest, the first-ever repeat guest on the Get More Smarter Show!

To skip directly to Luning’s interview, jump to -26:05 in the video.

Click here to catch up on our past episodes, and thanks for watching.

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