“Every Dollar Counts”—Special District Pain Stories Begin

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham.

After last week’s failure of a special session of the Colorado General Assembly to correct a drafting error in a fiscal policy bill passed earlier this year, an error costing special tax districts millions of dollars combined in lost revenue from marijuana sales taxes, the next phase of reporting is starting to come out—documenting the harm being done to some of these districts due to lost revenue that everyone agrees was not intended.

CBS4 reported this weekend on one such case, the Summit County Combined Housing Authority:

Summit County is a place where affordable housing is nearly impossible to find and every dollar to subsidize housing counts.

“Every dollar does count,” said said Summit County Combined Housing Authority spokesman Jason Dietz. “We are moving forward, we have a lot of projects in the works with our jurisdictions.”

…In July, those pot taxes slated for Summit County added up to about $11,000. That means new housing projects and resources for people desperate to find a home will have to be reevaluated.

Before and during the special session, Republicans tried all kinds of rhetorical ways to minimize the harm that would be done from failing to correct the error in Senate Bill 17-267 responsible for special district marijuana tax revenues going uncollected. RTD Denver could take the hit, they said. The booming economy compensates, they said. Everyone knows that the $500,000 hit RTD is taking every month these taxes go uncollected is not going to shut RTD down. It’s a question of services lost or improvements delayed around the margins. An incremental hardship.

But for the Summit County Combined Housing Authority, $11,000 a month means some people might not get the help they need with affordable housing. The incremental loss counts for much more. For reasons we expect could fill a blog post all by themselves, many special tax districts affected by the loss of marijuana tax revenue seem to be heavily in Democratic-represented areas of the state, one notable exception being the Colorado Springs transportation district. For ideological and perhaps also geographic reasons, Senate Republicans decided that making these special districts feel the pain of a bipartisan drafting error was good politics for them.

Every story like this one, aired in Republican and Democratic legislative districts alike, makes that calculation harder to justify. The only thing that has prevented the failure of the special session from becoming a serious liability for Colorado Republicans is the onslaught of national political news squelching everything else. With that said, the common themes of political treachery and incompetence from Colorado’s special session mesh seamlessly with public perception of Republicans in Washington.

And it’s not a good look.

Cory Gardner Smiles Helplessly As Stephen Bannon Eats GOP

CNN’s Eric Bradner reports–since the victory of hard-right former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in that state’s special election GOP primary, one of the prime movers in that insurgent win, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, ambitiously looking beyond that state to other 2018 Senate races in which a strident conservative could oust an incumbent Republican:

In the two weeks since Bannon-backed former judge Roy Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican primary, Bannon has expanded his map of targets in the 2018 midterms and ramped up his efforts to establish a donor network to fund his slate of insurgent candidates.

Bannon has added Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to the ranks of incumbents he plans to take on.

He had already put in motion efforts to oust Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. Bannon also plans to get involved in the primaries in West Virginia and Missouri, two of Republicans’ top opportunities to pick off Democratic-held seats next year.

And that’s “just a partial list,” a source familiar with Bannon’s plans said.

There is no one in America who should be more worried about Bannon’s insurgency against Republican incumbents that the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. The NRSC supported Moore’s appointed incumbent opponent Luther Strange in the Alabama primary, but after Moore emerged victorious Gardner immediately pledged the NRSC’s support–and has stayed aboard even after national exposure of Moore’s highly controversial record left moderates across the country aghast.

Bannon’s recent meetings with prospective Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo were reportedly followed up last week by reported meetings with Erik Prince, the Blackwater mercenary corporation founder and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as he considers a run for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming. But the real threat to the GOP Bannon poses is in swing states like Nevada, where incumbent Sen. Dean Heller needs to run to the center in order to survive–and won’t be able to with an insurgent challenger flaming him from the right.

And if Heller loses to a far-right Bannon-backed challenger, it’s 2010 all over again.

As we noted after Moore’s victory in Alabama, President Donald Trump is furious after being caught on the wrong side of that primary. We could easily see Trump deciding to run against the NRSC’s anointed candidates, even against GOP incumbents–an unthinkable prospect before Trump took office. The combination of Bannon energizing far-right primary candidates and the possibility of an unpredictable Republican president going rogue is a nightmare scenario for Gardner and the NRSC.

But if it goes down that way, the last person you’ll hear complain is Cory Gardner. Whatever happens, Gardner’s job will be to put a smile on the situation all the way through Election Day 2018. As quickly as Gardner became an apologist for Roy Moore, he’ll be forced to do the same for every one of Bannon’s insurgent candidates who win their primaries. As the GOP is driven farther into the fringe, Gardner’s job as the chair of the NRSC is to cheer it on.

Win or lose, this will not end well for Colorado’s junior Senator.

Get More Smarter On Monday (October 9)

Have a nice Columbus Day/ Indigenous People’s Day. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump said last month that he would not require funding for a border wall with Mexico to be tied to DACA legislation. Of course, President Trump says a lot of things. As the Washington Post explains, that was then, and this is now:

The Trump administration released a list of hard-line immigration principles late Sunday that threaten to derail a deal in Congress to allow hundreds of thousands of younger undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally.

The administration’s wish list includes the funding of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a crackdown on the influx of Central American minors and curbs on federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” according to a document distributed to Congress and obtained by The Washington Post.

As Politico notes, Trump’s Sunday demands are likely to stop DACA legislation before it even gets moving:

On Sunday, Trump called on Congress to build a wall along the southern border — a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, which was premised on tougher immigration policies. But Democratic leaders left the dinner believing that Trump would not demand a border wall in exchange for signing legislation to provide legal status to immigrants who obtained protection from deportation and work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program…

…The list will certainly turn off Democrats and even Republicans — many of whom have endorsed providing a pathway to legal status for “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors. The White House said Sunday it was not interested in providing citizenship to DACA beneficiaries, even though the main proposals for Dreamers on Capitol Hill would allow a pathway to citizenship.

 

President Trump inexplicably picked a fight with retiring Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker in a Twitter tirade on Sunday — a head-scratching decision that highlights Trump’s apparent inability to govern.

Corker did not hold back in his response:

Corker was also prompted by Trump’s tirade to speak out in an interview with the New York Times about concerns that Trump could be pushing the U.S. closer to war:

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”…

…Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.

According to Corker, his views on Trump are most certainly not a minority opinion:

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

 

► As part of efforts to influence the 2016 election, Russian wrench-throwers spent big money on advertisements on Google platforms. Facebook has previously disclosed that Russian-connected groups spent heavily on misinformation ads during the 2016 cycle.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Monday Open Thread

“The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

Deja Vu: Redistricting Campaign Defections Begin

Former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports–eerily similar to the way a similar effort collapsed in a heap ahead of the 2016 elections, cracks are rapidly appearing in the well-publicized “coalition” backing a measure to make byzantine changes to the state’s process for congressional redistricting and legislative reapportionment–in the name of making the system “fairer,” a popular national refrain going into 2020, but in reality moving Colorado in the opposite direction:

Two former Democratic politicians, former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and ex-lawmaker Abel Tapia, have pulled their names as supporters of a campaign that seeks to change the way Colorado draws its political boundaries…

Garcia told The Colorado Independent it became clear to him that the Fair Districts campaign and its efforts are “more controversial and potentially partisan” than he realized. [Pols emphasis] As president of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, Garcia said he has taken pains to avoid public involvement in partisan issues.

The campaign, announced in early September and spearheaded by the League of Women Voters of Colorado, came under immediate scrutiny, Critics say it is little more than a rebranding of an effort that failed to make the ballot last year, and that it did not do enough meaningful outreach to communities of color. The group, anticipating the backlash, says its members did more outreach this time than last.

But critics of the group pointed to a lack of minority support on the Fair Districts webpage of endorsers, which lists more than two dozen supporters. None are black, but four listed on the page were Latino, including Garcia, Tapia, GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff and former lawmaker Larry Trujillo.

That was until Garcia’s and Tapia’s names disappeared.

Organizers responsible for this latest redistricting campaign in Colorado spent considerably more time and money on the roll-out than in 2015, and clearly hoped the new effort would not be tainted by the failure of the previous initiative. Unfortunately, the fact that it is essentially the same campaign fronted by the same Republican usual suspects like former House Speaker Frank McNulty and ex-Rep. Rob “The Blueprint” Witwer was impossible to conceal–and once other white dudes working for the campaign like Sen. Ron Tupa started publicly lecturing former Sen. Jessie Ulibarri about how great their “minority outreach” was, the proverbial writing was on the wall.

We fully expect that the pullout of former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and Sen. Abel Tapia will lead to further disintegration of the so-called “Fair Districts Colorado” campaign. If it does reach the ballot now it will be hobbled by the same taint of political insider game-playing as the Initiative 55 campaign was in late 2015. If this isn’t the death knell for this campaign going into 2018, it’s a very bad prognosis.

Although the issue of gerrymandering is of major importance across the nation after a decade of huge GOP legislative gains and the next round of district-drawing coming up fast, in Colorado the story of the state’s current legislative and congressional maps is very different. Although certainly improvements can be made to the status quo, the emphasis on fair and competitive districts that prevailed in the 2011 redistricting/reapportionment process in Colorado has given the state many close races where candidates had to earn their seats–and division of power that accurately reflects the state’s diverse and evenly divided electorate. That’s not the way it works everywhere, but it’s critical that Coloradans understand that this is yet another way things are different here politically.

Different, and better.

And as long as that’s the case, political usual suspects looking to tinker with the system for their own advantage should be viewed with the suspicion they deserve. Once again, that suspicion is turning out to be entirely warranted.

Weekend Open Thread

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

–Albert Einstein

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 6)

Enjoy your weekend — snow is coming on Monday. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is making it easier for companies to deny contraception coverage to female employees on “religious” grounds. As the Washington Post reports:

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

Several religious groups, which battled the Obama administration for years over the controversial requirement, welcomed the action.

Women’s rights organizations and some medical professionals portrayed it as a blow to women’s health, warning that it could lead to a higher number of unintended pregnancies.

This is the part where we remind you that elections matter.

 

► Is the United States about to start a new military conflict? Tune in next week…

From CNN:

While taking photos alongside military leaders and their spouses before a dinner at the White House, President Donald Trump made an ambiguous statement, citing “the calm before the storm.”

“You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” Trump said at the photo op Thursday night, following a meeting with his top military commanders.
When reporters present asked what he meant, Trump replied: “It could be, the calm, the calm before the storm.”

As Chris Cillizza elaborates for CNNPresident Trump continues to act as though this is all just one big reality TV show.

 

► A group trying to change the redistricting/reapportionment process in Colorado is losing some of its key supporters, as the Colorado Independent reports:

Two former Democratic politicians, former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and ex-lawmaker Abel Tapia, have pulled their names as supporters of a campaign that seeks to change the way Colorado draws its political boundaries.

The campaign, called Fair Districts Colorado, comes as multiple other states look to reform legislative and congressional redistricting and reapportionment and as the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case about whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution

In Colorado, the movement is trying to get three measures on the Nov. 2018 statewide ballot to create a new, more independent commission that would draw legislative and congressional district lines, among other changes.

Garcia told The Colorado Independent it became clear to him that the Fair Districts campaign and its efforts are “more controversial and potentially partisan” than he realized.

 

► The U.S. House passed a 2018 budget resolution on Thursday, the first step in advancing a nonsensical Republican tax reform plan.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

ICYMI: 20-Week Abortion Ban Passes U.S. House

Let’s hear it for the boys.

It would be impossible to wrap up this frenetic week of political and other riveting news without mentioning this week’s vote by the GOP-controlled U.S. House to pass the so-called Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act–a measure that bans abortions after an arbitrary 20 weeks of gestation. As The Hill reports, the measure is moving to the U.S. Senate after passing the House with all four Colorado Republicans voting yes:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate on Thursday with the support of 45 GOP senators, two days after a similar bill passed the House.

The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which faces long odds in the upper chamber, would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with the possibility of five years in prison, fines or both…

The legislation is likely to face a tough sell in the Senate. A similar bill passed the House in 2015 but was blocked by Democratic senators.

With only a 52-seat majority, it would be unlikely Senate Republicans could gather the 60 votes needed to move the legislation to President Trump’s desk. Graham still said he’s “100 percent confident” Senate leadership would bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

President Donald Trump has said repeatedly he would sign this bill if it made it to his desk, so it’s only the Senate requirement of 60 votes to pass most legislation keeping this bill from becoming the law of the land. Trump has also called many times for the Senate to do away with the 60-vote requirement, but an abortion ban bill is probably not the right vehicle for such a radical change, assuming Mitch McConnell ever works up the nerve to try. The bottom line is that the policy is not supported by authoritative science, no matter how many times supporters claim otherwise.

Nevertheless all four Colorado Republican House members voted for the bill, though only the two safe GOP seats issued statements about their vote. Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley was ebullient:

“Science shows us that unborn children not only experience pain but also may have a chance to survive if born at 20 weeks,” Congressman Ken Buck stated. “We have a responsibility to the unborn babies, our families, our communities, and humanity to end the injustice of late-term abortion.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn managed to get just about every canard into a single quote:

“Babies born at 20 weeks are one step closer to protection from abortion now that H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed in the House. I am pleased to vote “yes” on legislation that defends the most vulnerable people in our society. The United States is in the unfortunate company of only six other countries, including China and North Korea, in allowing elective abortion so late in a pregnancy. Science has proven that babies in the womb feel pain more acutely than even adults, and a bill that is estimated to save close to 3,000 lives a year is worth fighting for.”

As The Hill reported above, the legislation has 45 GOP cosponsors. Interestingly that list of cosponsors does not include the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado as of this writing! That won’t be good for Gardner’s flagging credibility with his Republican base, but it does show how Gardner’s repeated stumbles on the issue have forced him into a more muted position–this, after all, being a man who once bragged about having circulated petitions for Colorado’s failed “Personhood” amendments at his local church. So that will be another interesting angle on this to see resolved. Or in Cory’s case, see him dodge right up to the vote.

And no, it’s most likely not going to pass. But it’s going to come closer than ever to passing, with only a Senate rule already under threat keeping this abortion ban bill from becoming law. Therein lies an important lesson about the fragility of abortion rights in America today. And if it doesn’t instill a sense of urgency in supporters of abortion rights going into the 2018 elections, it’s tough to see what could.

Friday Open Thread

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

–Henry David Thoreau

The Greatest Tax Reform Proposal in the History of Never

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to press the ‘NO’ button on the budget today.

The House of Representatives today passed its 2018 budget resolution in a party-line vote, the first step for Congressional Republicans are they endeavor to mold some sort of amazing tax “reform” policy. Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Doug Lamborn (R-Imbecile), and Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) voted in favor of the budget; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to vote ‘NO,’ where he was joined by all three Democrats from the state’s delegation.

As The Hill reports:

In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate…

…The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections.

Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated. [Pols emphasis]

Trouble? Wait…you mean to say that Congressional Republicans aren’t unified about how to overhaul the nation’s tax laws?

The problem Republicans are facing with tax reform legislation is strangely similar to what they ran into with repeated attempts at repealing Obamacare: Lawmakers are starting to understand that what they’re being sold by GOP leadership is vastly different than what the tax proposal would actually accomplish. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Trump are in general agreement on a set of talking points that are about as authentic as a Rex Tillerson press conference. Trump and friends are trying to sell a 1988 Ford Taurus with talking points from a Ferrari dealership, and Republicans aren’t buying it:

Senator Paul is far from the only Republican confused by this new tax proposal. As NPR reports:

President Trump and congressional Republicans have pitched their tax plan as a boost for the middle class.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with lawmakers in mid-September.

But analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who studied the proposal reached a very different conclusion. They predict that nearly three-quarters of the savings from the tax overhaul would go to the top 20 percent of earners — those making more than $149,000. More than half the savings would go to the top 1 percent — people who earn more than $732,800. [Pols emphasis] The tax breaks are even more tilted to the wealthy by the 10th year of the overhaul, when the Tax Policy Center projects nearly 80 percent of the savings would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

Republican leaders want to sell this proposal as a huge — YUGE! — benefit to the American middle class, but the math doesn’t add up. It’s no wonder that Senate Republicans are trying to get rid of a rule that requires a CBO score of legislation to be made public for at least 28 hours before a vote. Again, from NPR:

The tax benefits for the rich in the GOP plan are direct, obvious and easily quantified. Many of the promised benefits for the middle class, on the other hand, are indirect, speculative and uncertain…

So how do the tax plan’s supporters claim that it’s focused on the middle class? By highlighting speculative, indirect gains that are supposed to result from economic growth…

…Rather than simply promise that the government will cut the tax bill for working families — many of whom pay little income tax already — the GOP is arguing that its tax plan will promote growth, which in turn will boost employment, and over time result in higher wages. Break any link of that chain and the middle-class “winnings” end up in someone else’s pocket. [Pols emphasis]…

And so on, and so forth, until the middle class becomes so obscenely wealthy that they have to start lobbying for another round of tax cuts for rich people like them. This theory of “supply side economics,” or as it came to be known in the Reagan era, “trickle-down economics” does not work. We don’t have to speculate about whether or not it could work. It doesn’t. There is plenty of data to prove this. It is (again) no wonder why President Trump’s administration recently suppressed a 2012 report from the Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) that essentially lays bare the fact that this tax proposal would do the exact opposite of what Trump claims would happen.

The NPR story we cited above is an excellent resource for understanding the ins and outs of the Republican tax plan, but it’s a bit of a long read. For an even more briefer-er look, we put together this graphic to help you understand Republican math on healthcare and tax reform. If any of this makes sense to you, then you might be a Member of Congress:

At Least He’s Not Your Soon-To-Be Ex-Congressman

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA).

Politico reporting on the fate of GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, up until very recently one of the U.S. House of Representatives’ most vocal on the matter of restricting access to abortion–who apparently didn’t want to practice what he preaches when his own girlfriend got knocked up:

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), the embattled anti-abortion lawmaker who allegedly encouraged his lover to terminate a pregnancy, on Thursday announced his plan to resign from office later this month — just 24 hours after announcing his plan to retire after 2018…

The Pennsylvania Republican’s about-face came after House GOP leaders and senior Republicans upped the pressure on Murphy to step down. GOP sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married man initially believed he could weather the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story revealing he had encouraged an abortion in texts he sent to his girlfriend, a psychologist half his age.

From that story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in which Rep. Murphy makes it painfully evident that there is a wide gap between his public and private views on abortion:

“And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options,” Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist in Pittsburgh with whom the congressman admitted last month to having a relationship, wrote to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25, in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare…

A text from Mr. Murphy’s cell phone number that same day in response says, “I get what you say about my March for life messages. I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”

Presumably so Murphy could thread the needle (no pun intended) a little better in his stridently anti-abortion public message! As always, and we say so every time the allegedly pious let their floppy bits do the thinking for them, we don’t have problem with people who, for whatever reason, have an extramarital affair. That’s their business. We’re not so comfortable with the idea of men pressuring women to have abortions, since in either case it should be up to the woman to make that choice.

But above all, don’t be a total damn hypocrite. That’s when it’s time to clock out and go home.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 5)

The Colorado Rockies made the playoffs this year, but you missed it if you didn’t catch Wednesday’s game in Arizona. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Tens of thousands of Colorado children are in serious trouble if Congress does not renew funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program that expired at the end of September. The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday took the first step toward renewing CHIP funding with a bill sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

► Today is the last day for DACA recipients to renew permits before the process is closed under a policy shift announced last month by the Trump administration.

 

► Colorado Senate Republican leaders pledged not to do their jobs when the legislature convened for a brief session to fix an unintentional legislative error this week, and they succeeded in doing nothing once again. But the decisions of Republican leaders such as Senate President Kevin Grantham are looking even worse with the news that legislation to fix SB-267 would have passed in the Senate had a floor vote been permitted.

State Sen. Chris Holbert is among those Republican leaders whose reputations took a hit this week. Holbert was quoted by the Denver Post saying that he “did not swear an oath to uphold the opinion of a court” and preferred to follow his constituents’ interpretation of the State Constitution rather than, you know, facts.

 

► Former Judge Roy Moore, who easily defeated Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican Primary in Alabama last month, showed up unexpectedly in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and caused quite a stir. As the Washington Post reports, Moore apparently met with NRSC head Cory Gardner, despite the best efforts of both men to pretend othewise:

Rather than meeting with McConnell, Moore was on the House side of the Capitol on Wednesday. In a brief interview as he left the office of Rep. Robert B. Aderholt in the afternoon, Moore said he had no meetings set up with McConnell or members of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate majority’s campaign arm, which spent millions trying to defeat Moore in the primary.

“Nothing confirmed,” he said casually, as an aide tried to head off questions. Asked why he decided to come to Washington, Moore simply replied: “Beautiful place.”

In the evening, Moore met with the NRSC chairman, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), according to a Republican close to Gardner and a second Republican familiar with the talk who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door session. Moore’s campaign declined to comment.

The meeting appeared to be hastily arranged, given Moore’s afternoon remark and Gardner’s uncertainty earlier in the day, as he and other Republicans struggled to save face.

“I haven’t looked at the schedule — I don’t know that yet,” Gardner said around midday, when asked whether he planned to meet with Moore.

The entire story is worth a read; Republicans who feared Moore and his right-wing supporters seem to have plenty of reason to be nervous. Moore’s Senate campaign was also a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Alabama nominee has openly criticized.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Bennet Backs “Bump Stock” Ban While Dudley Brown Fumes

UPDATE: Via KOAA-TV Colorado Springs, Sen. Cory Gardner has a fat wad of nothing to say:

“I know there’s a tendency by some to immediately jump into the debate over gun control, but we have constitutional rights that we have to protect,” Sen. Gardner said. “I don’t believe that’s the right answer.”

Gardner said he wants to wait for more information surrounding the shooting to come out.

“Let’s get the facts, let’s find out exactly what happened, let’s have a discussion about this. But I don’t believe gun control is the solution. I don’t believe trampling on constitutional rights is the right answer.” Gardner said. “We have to make sure we’re protecting the rights of every American. Let’s have a discussion about what we can do to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”

Okie dokie then.

—–

Dudley Brown

Denver7’s Lance Hernandez:

Social media is lighting up with discussion about “bump stocks,” which are after-market accessories that make semi-automatic weapons fire faster.

There are calls to ban them, on Twitter, following revelations that the Las Vegas shooter used them in his deadly spree.

Senator Diane Feinstein, D-California, introduced a bill to do just that, saying her daughter had planned to attend the ill-fated concert in Las Vegas, but had a change in plans.

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports via Twitter that Colorado senior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet was quick to sign on to the effort:

Most of the world–outside the culture of gun enthusiasts in the know about all the various ways modern guns can be modified–only learned what a “bump stock” is in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre. The bump stock is designed to bypass the “biomechanical limit” of how fast in individual can pull the trigger on a semiautomatic weapon by allowing the weapon’s recoil to push the trigger into the shooter’s finger at a speed closer to the action of the weapon. The result is a weapon that doesn’t quite match the rate of fire of a fully automatic assault rifle, but those on the business end would have trouble telling the difference.

For example, the dozens killed and hundreds wounded in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

With all of that in mind, you might think that defenders of the “bump stock” would be hard to find right now–or at least biding their time for a better moment to make their case than while everyone is still in a state of relative shock over the worst mass shooting in American history.

But if you think that, you obviously don’t know Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners!

Dudley Brown, the head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said Feinstein’s proposal won’t do anything to limit crime…

Brown told Denver7 that bump stocks are relatively uncommon.

“Many people call them a poor man’s machine gun,” he said. “It’s mostly for people who just want to go to a range and try to see what automatic fire sounds like.” [Pols emphasis]

“What automatic fire sounds like?” Sorry Dudley, but after last Sunday, everybody knows “what automatic fire sounds like.” Thousands of people who were at the Route 91 Harvest concert on Sunday night in Las Vegas will never be able to forget “what automatic fire sounds like.” And for 58 of them, it could have been the last thing they ever heard.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been left jaws agape by Brown and RMGO’s shocking indifference to the suffering caused by the products they are lavishly funded to endorse. No matter how “uncommon” bump stocks may be–which you’d like would make banning them less of a problem–their use in the Las Vegas shooting to multiply the casualties, creating a situation indistinguishable from machine guns in a war zone with legally obtainable products, is enough to merit getting rid of them. Right there. Case closed.

And if Dudley Brown doesn’t understand that, for the safety of the American public he needs to be ignored.

Thursday Open Thread

“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.”

–W. H. Auden