Get More Smarter on Friday (January 27)

Donald Trump is finishing up his first full week as President. Things are not going well in the White House. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► President Donald Trump is embarking on what could end up being a full-scale trade war with Mexico. As the Denver Post reports, this makes plenty of Coloradans very nervous:

The Trump Administration on Thursday raised the possibility of imposing a 20 percent levy on Mexican imports to help pay for a border wall, a move that could cause Mexico to retaliate.

But any kind of trade war would put Colorado’s ranchers, manufacturers and natural gas producers most at risk, while also raising costs for U.S. consumers, trade experts said Thursday.

“Colorado firms rely on North American supply chains, and this import tariff will ultimately be passed on to the American consumer. Worse, it could lead to Mexico enacting retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods going into Mexico,” said Karen Gerwitz, president of the World Trade Center Denver.

The Denver Business Journal has more on the potential impact on Colorado businesses should relations with Mexico continue to deteriorate. But it’s not just Colorado where concern is rising; newspapers across the country are panning Trump’s proposed tariffs with Mexico. Trump spoke by telephone today with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto less than 24 hours after Nieto cancelled a planned meeting with the White House.


► Congressional Republicans are privately fretting about actually repealing Obamacare since they don’t have a plan to replace the legislation. As the Washington Post explains:

Republican lawmakers aired sharp concerns about their party’s quick push to repeal the Affordable Care Act inside a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post.

The recording reveals a GOP that appears to be filled with doubts about how to make good on a long-standing promise to get rid of Obamacare without explicit guidance from President Trump or his administration.

Senators and House members expressed a range of concerns about the task ahead: how to prepare a replacement plan that can be ready to launch at the time of repeal; how to avoid deep damage to the health insurance market; how to keep premiums affordable for middle-class families; even how to avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood, the women’s health-care organization, as many Republicans hope to do with the repeal of the ACA.

“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”


► Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans are moving forward with plans to eliminate the State Health Exchange and direct Coloradans to a Federal Health Exchange that may or may not exist in the near future. As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, GOP Sen. Jim Smallwood doesn’t quite have his talking points in order, however:

Still, Smallwood, who said he doesn’t oppose all aspects of Obamacare, said he couldn’t guarantee that eliminating the state exchange and forcing people to use the national exchange would help lower their premiums or give them more options. [Pols emphasis]

“Unless we have parallel universes, we’ll never know what would have been better one way or the other,” he said. “I think we can look to other states that made the transition, like Kentucky and Nevada, where they have seen a slightly improved marketplace because of that transition. The way I look at it is, I don’t think that it could be any worse.”

The bill is scheduled for its first hearing on Tuesday.

This might actually make things worse, but let’s do it anyway!


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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 26)

Happy Australia Day! You may want to start getting more familiar with foreign holidays considering the way things are going in the Trump administration. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► President Donald Trump is going to have trouble “Making America Great Again” if he can’t even manage to find loyal and competent people to work for him. Less than a week into his Presidency, Trump is already facing massive leaks from the White House categorizing him as a “clueless child.

Trump can’t be happy about his leaky ship, but at least people are still actually working in the White House. There’s breaking news this morning of a mass exodus of senior leadership from the State Department as many career officials are choosing the great unknown paycheck over toiling under Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In the meantime, Trump continues to push the canard that his Inauguration was witnessed by gazillions of people.

Oh, and for good measure, Mexico’s President has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Trump. Mexico probably just wants more time to write that giant check for the border wall that Trump is promising.


► The Denver Post reports on President Trump’s efforts to clamp down on so-called “sanctuary cities” with a look at the potential impact on Denver and Aurora.


► For the third consecutive year, state lawmakers have killed legislation from Republicans designed to allow people to discriminate based on religious views.


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Schrader column should inspire more aggressive reporting on Medicaid

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reporters covering the Medicaid debate at the state Capitol should read Denver Post opinion writer Megan Schrader’s column today and act on it.

Schrader: “It’s simply disingenuous to imply that there are easy cuts to be made in the Medicaid portion of the budget, or to blame the state budget’s woes on the expansion pushed by Obama and adopted by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”

Translation for journalists: When Republican leaders blame Medicaid for state budget woes, reporters should ask them how they want to cut the state-federal program, which offers healthcare for children, elderly, the disabled, and other poor people.

Last year, Republicans, led by then State Senator Bill Cadman repeatedly claimed Medicaid was siphoning money from “every other program” in the state budget, including roads and schools.

Cadman told 9News: “[Democrats] have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the Constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program.

But in an epic fail, journalists never really reported how Cadman or other Republicans proposed cutting Medicaid or saving money on the program through higher fees or the like. They reported the attack on the program but let the details slide by.

In her column, Schrader encourages Democrats and Republicans to try to find savings, and she acknowledges the difficulty in talking about them–which is precisely why reporters should be asking for specifics, especially from Republicans, who, unlike Democrats, are arguing that Medicaid cuts are a major part of the path out of Colorado’s budget woes.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 25)

Today’s “Get More Smarter” is being read by more people on earth than any other website ever. EVER! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► Got concerns? Calling the office of Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will only get you to a voicemail box…if you are lucky enough for the voicemail to even pick up. Senator Gardner seems rather nonplussed by the fact that his constituents can’t reach his office. Jonathan Romeo of the Durango Herald has a detailed story on the rising anger of constituents who are flabbergasted that they can’t even reach Gardner’s office.

The Denver Post has a primer on how to go about trying to contact your Congressional representatives.


► President Donald Trump is proving to be the world’s sorest winner as he continues to make completely unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump plans to ask “for a major investigation” into allegations of widespread voter fraud, as he continues to claim without providing evidence that he lost the popular vote in November’s election because millions of illegal votes were cast, according to tweets posted Wednesday.

The White House has yet to provide details, but Trump said in back-to-back tweets that the investigation would cover “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal” and “those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” Trump used all capitals — VOTER FRAUD — for emphasis.

“Depending on results,” Trump tweeted, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

So, uh, you know how people call you President Trump now? That’s because you won. You can’t win the 2016 election again.

Election officials in Colorado, meanwhile, continue to reiterate that there is absolutely no reason to suspect large-scale voter fraud.


► President Trump was set to sign Executive Orders today that would theoretically lead to the beginning of construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Mexico totally isn’t going to pay for in any way whatsoever. Trump is rolling out a few other immigration-related measures today.


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Rep. Tim Leonard Works Out His Personal Problems Legislatively

State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) in his off-season attire.

Last December, GOP Rep. Tim Leonard had the unusual dishonor of being an incumbent state legislature sent to jail for two weeks on a contempt of court charge–a ruling that reportedly stemmed from Leonard’s defiance of court orders giving his ex-wife full educational decisionmaking authority over their minor children.

Well, as the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports, Leonard is working the “problem” that resulted in his incarceration from an end most citizens don’t have access to–the legislative end:

State Rep. Tim Leonard, who spent a couple weeks in jail last month on contempt charges stemming, in part, from his effort to opt his children out of certain state tests, has introduced a bill to eliminate some of those same tests for all Colorado public school students.

The tests are known as the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, or CMAS. They are given to students in grades three through 11.

Leonard’s bill would eliminate CMAS testing in social studies and do away with all CMAS assessments for ninth-graders…

House Democrats have not yet made a decision on whether to sanction Leonard for his problems in family court. He was Colorado’s first sitting lawmaker in at least four decades to spend time in jail.

They have, however, protested that Leonard was appointed to the House Education Committee, pointing out that he would be making decisions about public education despite the fact that he is barred by court order from making educational decisions for his own children.

After Rep. Leonard was ruled in contempt of court last October, he complained bitterly about the supposed problems in state law he blamed for the situation, such as the fact that “the school requires two signatures on a form” to opt children out of state tests. Of course, the real issue was Leonard refusing to comply with the court order to stay out of his kids’ educational matters, including his wife’s decision to not opt his children out of testing.

Isn’t Leonard a lucky guy to have this kind of recourse after being sent to jail? The questions this chain of events invites are why some observers speculated that Leonard might not want to be a lawmaker anymore after his release. But as Joey Bunch at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, Leonard apparently feels no conflict about voting on education policy, even now:

[Rep. Sue] Lontine is sponsoring a bill to impose a statewide ban on corporal punishment in public schools, state-licensed child care facilities and specialized group homes. House Bill 1038 passed the House Education Committee Monday afternoon, 11-2. Republican Reps. Justin Everett of Littleton and Tim Leonard of Evergreen voted against it.

With all due respect, here’s hoping that vote was not motivated by experience.

Colorado Latin@ Lawmakers Tell Trump To Leave DACA Kids Alone

Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran.

A release from Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran a short while ago asks President-elect Donald Trump for some compassion for undocumented students in the United States through no fault of their own:

Speaker Crisanta Duran, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and the seven other members of the Latino Democratic Caucus issued a letter this morning to President-elect Donald Trump asking that he declare Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients will be allowed to remain in the U.S. under his administration.

“We are simply asking that the president-elect put an end to the fear and uncertainty of the 742,000 men, women and children, and the millions of our fellow Americans that know them as our friends, neighbors, family members and coworkers,” stated Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, the first Latina Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. “We are talking about keeping families—children and mothers and fathers—together. This is their home and they are a part of us.”

“Hard-working Coloradans, from the Front Range to the San Luis Valley, have made so many positive contributions to the communities they grew up in. Yet, now they live in fear of being torn apart from their families. The President-elect must send a message that the American dream is open to them, and commit to keeping DACA in place,” said Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

In Colorado, undocumented students who have graduated from our state’s high schools are able to attend state colleges and universities at essentially in-state rates–a privilege undocumented students don’t enjoy everywhere. The program is a rough equivalent to the federal DREAM Act, which stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress and is now a non-starter under Trump. Colorado’s ASSET law eliminates a formidable barrier to these kids maximizing their contribution to the American economy.

Which is of course all they want to do. It’s worth noting that children who registered under the DACA program did so in good faith, under the promise that they would be spared from deportation and given work authorizations. Unfortunately for DACA registrees, they are now the best-documented undocumented residents of the United States. Which means if Trump decides to throw them out now, they’ll be much easier to find than most undocumented immigrants. In that event, those trying hardest to play by the rules would pay the highest price.

About the only thing we can say confidently is that whatever happens won’t be long now. We hope it’s an outcome that all Americans can be proud of.

GOP Shower Stall Showboating Backfires

UPDATE: Denver Post reporting, Jerry Sonnenberg says let ’em hang:

The three GOP lawmakers who voted against the project were Sonnenberg, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, and Rep. Jon Becker, R- Fort Morgan.

The department’s request is part of an ongoing suicide mitigation program and came after a patient unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide last year using a pair of pants and the shower head in a bathroom at the Pueblo facility.

Moments after the committee meeting ended, Gherardini said the agency remains committed to the project and will continue to push its case to the Joint Budget Committee, despite the negative recommendation from the Capital Development panel.


Rapper Birdman’s golden toilet.

The Denver Post’s Jennifer Brown reports on a Colorado budget line-item raising hackles among Republican lawmakers:

A request for $235,109 to make nine bathrooms at a state mental-health hospital suicide-proof is prompting outrage from Republican lawmakers who suggest it is evidence of wasteful government spending.

The reaction to the proposal in the context of a $28 billion budget illustrates the intensity of the spending battles expected in the 2017 session as Colorado lawmakers negotiate a deal to find more money for big-ticket priorities, such as a potential $500 million bond to improve roads and transit…

“Are you using the same contractor that the feds and military does that costs us a million (dollars) a toilet?” asked Sen. Jerry Sonneberg, R-Sterling. “You simply do the math, it’s $20,000 a shower. Couldn’t you remodel a whole bathroom for that?”

Sonnenberg later took to Twitter to say of the request: “You can’t make this stuff up.” He included a photo of the budget request document and wrote “NO” at the top.

As the Post reports, this budget request stems from a suicide attempt last year at the Pueblo state mental hospital. That attempt identified a need to change the design of showers at the facility to make it harder to tie off a noose. Of course we’re not talking about your home bathroom, which would likely cost less than $20,000 to remodel. These are bathrooms in a secure facility, designed to be tamperproof and to protect mentally ill Coloradans from self-harm. The changes would continue existing suicide-proofing that has already occurred at other state facilities.

Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, suggested the price tag is too much and remains unconvinced it is necessary, even as he acknowledges that preventing suicide “is a great thing.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven’t heard yet if this request was approved today by the Capital Development Committee, but we’ve heard that Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg’s public disparagement of this line-item is making at least some fellow Republicans politically uneasy. The amount may sound excessive at first glance, but in the proper context it’s not really unreasonable at all.

And suicide prevention is just not something we would advise grandstanding against.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 19)

It’s your last night in the White House, so you know what that means…who is picking up the keg? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► Congressional Republicans continue to push ahead in trying to repeal (and possibly replace, maybe) Obamacare despite the fact that public opinion polls regularly show rising support for the Affordable Care Act. As the Washington Post reports, this has led to a political strategy whereby GOP elected officials go out of their way to avoid talking about the issue to other people:

After Sen. Thom Tillis said he would be talking to constituents live on Facebook Wednesday, more than 200 people submitted questions — many of them pointed queries about his views on health care.

While Tillis’s office had advertised a 30-minute event, the senator ultimately appeared on camera for 11 minutes, answering eight questions read to him by a staff member…

…Tillis did not acknowledge any of the follow-up questions that popped up in the comments alongside his video, including requests for more details on the GOP replacement plan. But he did avoid the sort of viral spectacle that many of his fellow lawmakers have encountered over the past week as the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act got underway in Washington…

…Seven years after unruly Democratic town halls helped stoke public outrage over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans now appear keen to avoid the kind of dust-ups capable of racking up millions of views on YouTube and ending up in a 2018 campaign commercial. Only a handful of GOP lawmakers have held or are planning to host in-person town hall meetings open to all comers — the sort of large-scale events that helped feed the original Obamacare backlash in the summer of 2009.

There is definitely a very good plan somewhere, so don’t you worry about that. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) wouldn’t lie to you, now would he? Jason Salzman calls on Colorado media outlets to be specific in their questions for Republicans about actual replacement specifics.


► Congressman Tom PriceDonald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, took a heavy grilling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday in his first batch of Senate confirmation hearings — with a good deal of discussion focused on Obamacare and the mythical Republican “replacement plan.” Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) sounded fed up with this vacant talk of a replacement plan and absolutely went off on Price.


► If you are planning on attending the “Women’s March” in Denver on Saturday, the Denver Post has some suggestions for navigating the event. More than 40,000 people are expected to descend on Civic Center Park on Saturday morning.


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Um, What? Legislature to Consider Legalizing Switchblades

Musical theater enthusiasts know full well the dangers of switchblades.

After last week’s pomp and speechifying, members of the Colorado legislature will finally start getting to work on tackling issues of vital importance to the citizens of our great state.

Also…legalizing switchblades.

Over the weekend we were forwarded a constituent newsletter sent out by state Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), in which the two-term Republican explains his legislative priorities for the 2017 session. “There are three bills I am working on right now with the help from our community,” writes Hill before launching into details about legislation surrounding school funding, legalizing self-driving cars, and his approach for dealing with the “construction defects reform” issue.

State Sen. Owen Hill contemplates a world where switchblades are legal.

Curiously, Sen. Hill fails to make any mention of a fourth bill that he is sponsoring: SB17-008, which seeks to legalize switchblades and “gravity knives” in Colorado. Here’s the title of that legislation, which is co-sponsored by state Rep. Steve Lebsock (D-Northglenn):

The bill legalizes the possession of a gravity knife or switchblade knife by removing such knives from the definition of “illegal weapon”.

Okay, but…why?

According to the draft legislation, the term “illegal weapon” refers to a “blackjack,” “gas gun,” OR “metallic knuckles.” Hill and Lebsock want to change state statute so that switchblades and “gravity knives” aren’t included in that same definition. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last February to legalize switchblades in Cheeseland, following similar efforts in states such as Oklahoma and Nevada that aim to fight back against the perception of “the misunderstood switchblade.” No, seriously, this is an actual argument made by adults.

But what of the switchblade comb?

Last fall, Colorado Republicans spent millions of dollars holding onto their one-seat majority in the State Senate. Presumably, this effort was not undertaken so that people like Hill could engage in discussions about the usefulness of spring-powered knives; on the other hand, Senate Republicans are introducing this as one of their first 10 pieces of legislation of the 2017 session.

Did the GOP just run out of new ideas for a commemorative license plate?

Look, if you are too embarrassed to mention your “legalizing switchblades” bill in your constituent outreach materials, then you probably should be spending your time working on something else.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 17)

This was not a good weekend to be named “Mike Coffman.” It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) made national news over the weekend thanks to an ill-advised decision to bolt out the back door despite dozens of constituents waiting to talk with him about his support for repealing Obamacare. Coffman’s staff tried to play up the Saturday fiasco as a “political stunt” driven by Obamacare supporters, but this appears not to be an “astroturfed” event but rather an organic display of local anger and concern about how Congress is dealing with health care issues. As the Denver Post reports:

During a celebration Monday for civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Coffman was heckled by protesters who were upset by his vote Friday that laid the groundwork for a repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act. At one point, a steady refrain of “No repeal” almost drowned out his words.

The chants followed a flare-up during a weekend meeting Coffman took with constituents, a get-together that ended in disappointment for many as Coffman held small conferences rather than a large town hall…

…David Flaherty, a Republican pollster in Colorado, said it’s possible the politics will boomerang against his party.

“They are really playing with fire,” he said. “I think the Democrats will probably score some points. It’s not easy to replace this thing.”

This is the new reality for Republicans who continue to push forward on gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Polling results are now consistently showing widespread opposition to a blind repeal of Obamacare…while Republicans continue to be elusive about specific plans for ACA replacement options. Hundreds of people showed up for a rally on Sunday in Denver to voice their opposition to repealing the ACA.


► Congressional Republicans have plenty of other problems when it comes to repealing Obamacare. President-elect Donald Trump tossed in his own monkey wrench on Saturday when he Tweeted out cryptic nonsense about a new health care plan being formulated by his administration. Today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a sobering report on what is at stake in health care talks:

At least 18 million people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan, estimates a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The number of people without insurance would grow to about 32 million within the first decade if congressional Republicans follow a 2015 plan to repeal the health-care law without an alternative, the new report says.  It also estimates that health insurance premiums for people buying individual non-group coverage would double within a decade, further complicating GOP promises that people will not lose coverage under their plan.


► Senate Democrats are voicing opposition to Donald Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary. As CNN reports, Tom Price may have broken the law by buying stock in a company that stood to benefit from legislation he sponsored:

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also called for an investigation of Price after CNN reported that Price bought up to $15,000 worth of stock in Zimmer Biomet — a medical device maker — and then introduced a measure that would have directly benefited the company. One week after Price bought the stock, he put in a measure that would have delayed a new regulation that would have harmed the company.


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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 13)

Superstitions like “Friday the 13th” seem like they belong in a simpler time — when reality wasn’t so scary. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


►As the Obamacare repeal-and-we-swear-we-have-a-plan-for-replacement debate rages on in Congress, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is finally getting a bit more attention from local media outlets. Gardner is fully onboard with plans to repeal Obamacare – replacement be damned — and is doing his best to pretend that his constituents in Colorado actually want this mess…nevermind the fact that constituents are not able to get through to Gardner’s office at all. As the Associated Press reports today, Senate Republicans still seem to be no closer to even having a plan for replacement.

Polling results are continually showing that repealing Obamacare without a replacement in place is HUGELY UNPOPULAR with Americans. From The Hill:

Only 18 percent of voters think Congress and President-elect Donald Trump should fully repeal ObamaCare, a new poll released Thursday finds.

Another 47 percent said only some of ObamaCare should be repealed, while 31 percent said it should be left untouched.

According to a separate poll from NPR/Ipsos, only 14% of Americans support repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. 


► When President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated next week, he will assume office as the most unpopular incoming President in modern history. From “The Fix”:

Just four in ten people polled by Gallup say they approve of the way Trump is handling his transition — a stand-in for presidential approval in this odd three-month interregnum.  Those are the lowest marks ever measured by Gallup for an incoming president. They are also half — yes HALF — as high as the 83 percent of people who approved of how then President-elect Barack Obama handled his own transition in late 2008/early 2009.  And Trump’s numbers even track well below those of George W. Bush, whose transition was cut short by an extended recount that left lots of the country unconvinced that he had actually won! [Pols emphasis]

Wow. Worse than Dubya?

The Colorado Springs Independent has a handy list of local events related to the January 20th Inauguration.


► In his State of the State address on Thursday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called on the legislature to ask voters to approve a tax hike for transportation and infrastructure needs.

“We’ve had this debate for too long. If talk could fill potholes, we’d have the best roads in the country.”



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Uncut: Speaker Crisanta Duran’s Opening Day Remarks

With so much political news flooding the proverbial zone this week, we wanted to make sure that one particular bit of history didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Yesterday, Colorado formally elected the state’s first-ever Latina Speaker of the House, Crisanta Duran. The Denver Post’s Brian Eason reports:

New House Speaker Crisanta Duran kicked off the 71st Session of the Colorado House of Representatives with a call to keep “Washington-style politics” — marked by cynicism, divisiveness and broken promises — out of Colorado.

“We must rise above ugly politics to forge a new path forward,” said Duran, a fourth-term Democrat from Denver. “The people of Colorado are depending on us to make a difference beyond the talking points, the Twitter feeds and the headlines.”

…[I]n her opening remarks, Duran paid tribute to the leaders that came before her, recognizing the first Latino Speaker, Ruben Valdez, and her predecessor, former Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, before turning to her own story — that of a sixth-generation Coloradan from working class roots.

“It’s the American story,” she said, “but not one that we can take for granted.”

Watch Speaker Duran’s remarks in their entirety above.

The State of the 2018 Governor’s Race

Who wants to follow this routine?

It’s that time of year in an off-year election cycle when the rumors and name-dropping are coming from every direction. On the same day that Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address, we thought it would be a good time to takes a look at what we’re seeing, reading, and hearing when it comes to jockeying for Colorado’s top job in 2018…


Noel Ginsburg (D)
As of this writing, there are seven candidates who have officially filed with the Secretary of State’s office to run for governor in 2018. Ginsburg is the only relevant name here; the other six are just gadflies who apparently think it would be fun to run for governor. We’ve written a bit about Ginsburg already, though it’s far too early to gauge whether the Denver businessman can really make a dent in this race.


George Brauchler (R)
Walker Stapleton (R)
Cary Kennedy (D)
Mike Johnston (D)
Brauchler and Stapleton are both going to run for governor; the only suspense is about when they will make an official announcement. Kennedy and Johnston have been moving toward a run for governor for many months now, and it would be more of a surprise at this point if they chose not to enter the race — although that could change depending on what happens with Ken Salazar and Ed Perlmutter (see below).



Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 12)

The State of the State is…pretty good, we guess. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.


Congress took a step closer to repealing Obamacare late Wednesday evening/Thursday morning, though Republicans are still fighting about whether anybody actually has a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with something else. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was tracked down by Grey DC and promised that Republicans will definitely have a plan for replacing Obamacare. That’s the plan, anyway:

 “When it’s repealed it will be replaced there is no doubt it will be replaced with an idea that is better than the disastrous results of Obama care,” Gardner (R-CO) said.

Uh, yeah. How about giving the rest of us some actual details about this big plan, eh Sen. Gardner?


► Governor John Hickenlooper delivers his State of the State address today with an eye toward securing his legacy. From John Frank at the Denver Post:

The Democrat’s list of accomplishments is lengthy, but many of his biggest challenges remain — notably how to address what he calls the state’s “fiscal thicket” of spending rules tied to TABOR, an issue he identified in his first address after being re-elected.

Other unfinished business includes implementation of a generational water management plan, a tax hike to improve the state’s roads and transit, a crackdown on the illegal marijuana market and a push to reduce homelessness — one of the issues that led him to public office 13 years ago.

His 11 a.m. speech to a joint session of the General Assembly will diverge in tone from a year ago, when he peppered his remarks with a pop-culture montage and basked in the glow of a new marriage. Instead, he will focus more soberly on the challenges ahead and the need to tackle the most complicated political questions.


► Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was less than thrilled with some of the answers provided Wednesday by Rex TillersonDonald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State. As Politico reports:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is narrowly divided, with the GOP holding just a one-seat advantage. And most Democrats, if not all, sounded skeptical about Tillerson’s performance before the panel. So Rubio may determine whether Tillerson’s nomination can successfully win committee approval — or come to a floor vote after being given an “unfavorable” recommendation by the panel.

On Wednesday during multiple rounds of questioning, Tillerson largely failed to satisfy Rubio’s obvious desire for tough talk on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Tillerson, the former chief executive at oil giant ExxonMobil, wouldn’t call Putin a “war criminal,” or criticize reports of extrajudicial killings by Duterte’s police forces, leading a seemingly exasperated Rubio to repeatedly ask Tillerson what it would take for him to do so.

The clashes forced Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to step in several times, in an effort to get Tillerson to clarify that if he had access to classified information detailing atrocities by Putin or Duterte he would endorse Rubio’s critiques. And remarkably, at one point Tillerson protested that he and Rubio had gotten off on the wrong foot and insisted they share the same values.



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Bill would protect Colorado residents and immigrants, not provide “sanctuary”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Joe Salazar.

A Channel 7 story Monday alleged that a bill, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Salazar (D-Thornton) would “make Colorado a sanctuary state.”

In its piece, titled “Proposed bill aims to make Colorado a sanctuary state,” Channel 7 reported:

If state Rep. Joseph Salazar, D-Adams Co., gets his way, Colorado could be the nation’s first sanctuary state…

Salazar says the passage of this is bill would be timely due to the president’s elect rhetoric on immigration.

“I’m going to take him for his words and actions in terms of his cabinet appointments, and we are going to prepare state of Colorado to defend ourselves against it,” said Joseph Salazar.

Salazar’s bill (here) never uses the word “sanctuary,” for good reason.

No local jurisdiction can provide “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants.  No state or city can prevent the federal government from arresting undocumented immigrants–or enforcing federal immigration law.

But states don’t have to help Trump arrest undocumented immigrants. They don’t have to assist the feds in racial or religious profiling. States don’t have to help Trump develop a registry of immigrants or residents based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation.

And that’s what Salazar’s bill would do, basically.

So it’s a mistake for journalists, who pride themselves on precise language, to refer to Salazar’s bill as making Colorado a “sanctuary state.”

It won’t. And, if you’ve watched conservatives and bigots, like Trump, use the term “sanctuary city,” you know that it inflames people. Which would be okay if it accurately described what cities are doing when they pass laws protecting citizens and undocumented immigrants from over-reach by the federal government.

That’s what Salazar’s bill would do–and that’s how journalists should describe it.