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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The Colorado legislature reconvened on Wednesday with much speechifying from leaders in each chamber, and a renewed focus on sexual harassment charges against several lawmakers (including another thoroughly embarrassing day for State Rep. Steve Lebsock). House Democrats outlined their legislative priorities with several early bills, while Senate Republicans are pretending to be focused on transportation issues.
Elsewhere, Governor John Hickenlooper today delivers his final “State of the State” address.
► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) does not want to campaign with President Trump in 2018. Unless he does.
► The Trump administration is pushing the idea of work requirements for Medicaid recipients. From the Washington Post:
The Trump administration issued guidance to states early Thursday that will allow them to compel people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid for the first time in the half-century history of this pillar of the nation’s social safety net.
The letter to state Medicaid directors opens the door for states to cut off Medicaid benefits to Americans unless they have a job, are in school, are a caregiver, volunteer or participate in other approved forms of “community engagement” — an idea that some states had broached over the past several years but that the Obama administration had consistently rebuffed.
The new policy comes as 10 states are already lined up, waiting for federal permission to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults in the program. Three other states are contemplating them. Health officials could approve the first waiver — probably for Kentucky — as soon as Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the process.
The idea that Medicaid recipients do not already work is more of a conservative talking point than a reality.
► President Trump’s uncontrollable Twitter habit is causing new problems for Congressional Republicans. As NBC News explains:
Congress moved Thursday toward renewing a critical intelligence program despite a morning of confusion prompted by President Donald Trump’s tweets, in which he appeared to support significant changes that his administration had worked for months to rebuff.
The House voted on a bipartisan basis to renew intelligence agencies’ broad authority to monitor terrorist and foreign adversary communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA; the measure now heads to the Senate for a vote…
…Though the White House on Wednesday strongly urged lawmakers to defeat the reform amendment, Trump appeared to take a different position in a tweet Thursday morning. He called FISA “controversial” and claimed without offering evidence that the program may have been used to “so badly surveil [sic] and abuse” his presidential campaign.
For nearly two hours, lawmakers and members of his own administration scrambled to explain the comment.
Trump later backtracked on his early-morning Tweet. Earlier this week a federal judge cited several of Trump’s Tweets as part of a decision to block the administration’s attempt at phasing out the DACA program.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► According to a story in the conservative Weekly Standard, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) “has Donald Trump’s ear on North Korea”:
He applauds the Trump administration for ramping up pressure on both the North and its main trading partner, China, and for pushing for new sanctions at the U.N. “Trump has done more than President Obama ever did,” he says. But Gardner wants the president’s “maximum pressure” strategy to include even more high-level sanctions on Pyongyang’s enablers.
“The administration can do more. I’m not satisfied with where they’re at right now,” he says. “We could be carrying out tougher sanctions. We could be carrying out tougher enforcement. We could be forcing China, with every tool and power that we have, to toe the line when it comes to global sanctions.”
If you’re wondering how it is that Gardner is some sort of expert on North Korea…Gardner is the Chair of the Senate East Asia and Pacific subcommittee because, well, somebody has to do it.
► In other Gardner news, the Yuma Senator is already starting to hedge a bit on his fist-pounding declaration that he will try to stop the confirmation of new nominees in the Justice Department on account of a disagreement with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the enforcement of federal marijuana regulations.
► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has a bizarre fascination with saying the word “blackmail,” and now she has another Republican politician to commiserate with. As KMOV in St. Louis reports:
Governor Eric Greitens on Wednesday night confirmed to News 4 he had an extramarital affair, an admission a months-long News 4 investigation prompted.
In a recording obtained by News 4, a woman says she had a sexual encounter with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and that he tried to blackmail her to keep the encounter quiet.
The details were provided to News 4 by the woman’s ex-husband, claiming the sexual relationship happened between his now ex-wife and Greitens in March 2015. News 4 is not naming the woman and she has not made an on-the-record comment about the story.
► The 2018 election cycle is increasingly shaping up to be a terrible time for Republicans. There are now 32 incumbent Republicans in the House who are retiring or not seeking re-election; Democrats need 24 seats to re-take the House Majority.
► The Denver Post updates efforts to move the federal headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Colorado.
► Another Women’s March is being organized for next week in Denver.
► Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) formally announced his re-election campaign this week. It looks like Lamborn plans on petitioning onto the Republican Primary ballot, where state Sen. Owen Hill and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn both hope to unseat the six-term incumbent.
► The Mesa County Republican Party is hosting a forum for Republican gubernatorial candidates tonight in Grand Junction.
► We’ve finally completed our list of the Top Ten political stories of 2017. Coming in at #1: Cory Gardner’s Slow-Motion Career Collapse.
► According to a new poll from Quinnipiac University, an overwhelming majority of Americans support allowing so-called DREAMERs to stay in the United States. Legalization of marijuana also enjoys strong support nationwide, and there are few fans of the idea of building a wall along the Mexico border.
► As the Washington Post writes, Members of Congress have no good reasons for not reauthorizing funding for CHIP.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The much-despised tactic of gerrymandering Congressional districts got a lot more difficult with a federal court ruling striking down politically re-jiggered maps in North Carolina.