Everybody Gets a New Mayor! (feat. Alan Salazar)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk again with legendary Colorado politico Alan Salazar to preview the June 6 Denver Mayoral election and discuss his final days as Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Later, we discuss how and why Republicans are losing municipal races across the country — including a shocking upset in Colorado Springs by Yemi Mobolade. Senator John Hickenlooper, seems to share our ranking for our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado — and he has a banger of an OpEd in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel to prove it. State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms, who is either our 18th or 19th favorite Republican in the Colorado House, gives up the game on GOP obstruction. And someone with a podcast less popular than ours is lying to his audience, himself, or more likely…both.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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The Jig is Up: Republicans Detail Legislative Obstruction Efforts

Throughout the 120 days of the recently-concluded Colorado legislative session, House Republicans generally stuck to a strategy of trying to waste as much time as possible in order to prevent a Democratic supermajority from accomplishing some of its goals. Relegated to a leaderless micro-minority, the House GOP caucus had no realistic policy plans of their own. Its members spoke at length about virtually any legislative proposal – even those that they otherwise supported – pausing only long enough to trot out absurd accusations that Democrats were actually the ones slowing down the legislative process. 

There’s no debate about any of this; Republicans talked openly about their obstruction efforts before, during, and after the session. They were proud of not governing… 

…So proud, in fact, that they can’t stop talking about the thing that they shouldn’t be talking about. In fact, freshman State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs) couldn’t wait two days before blowing up the entire GOP narrative about accusing Democrats of ignoring their concerns.  

We’ll get to that in a moment, but first a little background…


Performative Obstruction

House Republicans were particularly pleased with themselves on the final day of the session, when they stormed off the House Floor as part of a pre-planned stunt intended to cement an end-of-session narrative that Democrats were steamrolling over them and refusing to work in partnership. Multiple members of the House GOP caucus claimed credit for the walkout – most notably Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta), whose thirsty “look at me” tweet was among the saddest of the entire session. 

Dick Wadhams

In the days that followed, Republican pundits have worked hard to support the narrative of “Democrats Gone Wild!” Writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette this week, former State Republican Chair Dick Wadhams did his best to continue the spin:

Despite being woefully outnumbered, the Colorado Republican legislative leadership offered strong, substantive opposition to the Democratic agenda throughout the session.

They did? You mean, like this? Or maybe this? Surely not this. Definitely not this.

They were so effective that Democrats decided to censor Republican legislators from speaking by cutting off debate. Democrats claim Republicans were filibustering for no reason other than to delay the process, but the real truth is that big majorities breed arrogance and intolerance of any opposition. [Pols emphasis]

Sorry, Dick, but the cat’s out of the bag on this one.

Democrats cut off Republicans not because they made “effective” arguments, but because they clearly had no intention of having a serious discussion about legislation. This includes the issue that prompted Republicans to walk out of the House in the last hours of the final day: Senate Bill 23-303, which placed a measure on the 2023 ballot to allow voters to decide on a proposal for reducing property taxes. Republicans claimed that Democrats were refusing to allow them to argue for amendments to the bill; in reality, the House GOP was just trying to run out the clock on the 2023 legislative session in order to kill the bill outright. 

And how do we know that House Republicans weren’t operating in good faith?

Because Scott Bottoms told us all about it.   


Started (and Finished) at DeBottoms

Bottoms was barely a month into his first legislative session when was interviewed by Sherronna Bishop on her “America’s Mom” Facebook/FrankSpeech online show…thing (click on the link if you like Netscape-inspired website design). Bishop was Congressperson Lauren Boebert’s first campaign manager in 2020 and later a close adviser of disgraced Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, so you know what you’re going to hear if you accept an interview invitation. 

During a conversation about lawmakers preparing to hear committee testimony from Bishop’s archenemy (Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold), Bottoms spoke haughtily about the amazing legislation’ skills of he and fellow Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf (“The Unambiguously Lame Duo”):



BISHOP: I can’t wait. Who needs Netflix? We’re going to go watch the Colorado legislative session and watch Rep. Bottoms beat up on Secretary of State Jena Griswold. I can’t wait.

BOTTOMS: Well, I can tell you…Ken and I are really good at this. [Pols emphasis]

“The Unambiguously Lame Duo” of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf

Bottoms is a pastor in his other life, though his Bible knowledge apparently does not include Proverbs 26:12:

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

To this point in the 2023 legislative session, Bottoms had already shown his “talents” by breaking decorum with a dumb challenge of House Speaker Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon) and the introduction of a personhood-style abortion bill that was quickly dismissed in a committee hearing. A few days later, Bottoms wasted time on the House Floor by making biblical references related to his opposition to any proposed effort to regulate the use of gas stoves (a popular right-wing grievance of the moment). His buddy DeGraaf was equally worthless, though both men certainly monopolized the microphone unlike any of their colleagues. 

Bottoms now fancies himself to be the “real” leader of the House GOP caucus (it’s true – just ask him), which is not great news for Republicans. Two days after the end of the 2023 legislative session, Bottoms spoke to his congregation at the Church at Briargate in Colorado Springs AND COMPLETELY DESTROYED THE REPUBLICAN NARRATIVE THAT DEMOCRATS WERE REFUSING TO HEAR THEM OUT.

Bottoms acknowledges that House Republicans were only interested in killing SB23-303 (which is exactly why House Democrats stopped them from discussing amendments), but he also implicates Senate Republicans in the same scheme – including efforts to kill a “land use” bill pushed by Governor Jared Polis. Bottoms also makes sure to crap on “three or four” unnamed House GOP colleagues for not doing enough to obstruct legislation.

You can watch the video yourself, or read our transcription that follows…




The Get More Smarter Podcast Legislative Wrap Up

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, the First Regular Session of the 74th General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die and it was a despicable failure, or a resounding success, or somewhere in between, depending entirely on how much time you spend putting money into Elon Musk’s pocket. Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii break down the results.

To wrap up the session in style, Christy Powell returns to play “Legislating with Crayons,” and we check in on our 6th and 8th favorite members of congress from Colorado to see what in the hell they’re up to (spoiler alert: nothing good).

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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The Republican Weather Forecast: Persistent Snowflakes

With the 2023 Colorado legislative session now in the books, there have been lots of stories in the media assessing what did or did not get accomplished. We posted our own “Winners and Losers” of the legislative session on Wednesday, which included analysis of the same Republican ineptitude that other news outlets have noted.

House Republicans ended the 2023 session with a ridiculous march out of the House Chambers — a pre-planned stunt that was apparently designed with the sole purpose of providing themselves a reason to talk about why they can’t play nice with Democrats. After a session filled with pointless filibusters and nonsense legislation, Republicans are very sensitive to the obvious conclusion that they accomplished absolutely nothing over the last five months.

Amidst all of the recent rain in Colorado, you might have missed that the Republican snowflakes continue to fall. Roger Hudson, a spokesperson for the House Republican caucus, is apparently so sensitive about the GOP’s childish antics that he was triggered by a social media post from Andy Kenney of Colorado Public Radio that had nothing to do with either political party:


This, Roger, is what psychologists call “projecting.”

Here’s more hand-wringing from Republican State Rep. Matt “Civil War” Soper, who decided to compare his experience in the legislature to domestic violence:



Matt Soper preparing to sail the Colorado River

This is the same guy who was so proud of himself for walking out of the House Chambers that he posted a very sad “look at me” Tweet to take credit for the idea.

But here’s the thing: Republican legislators said over and over and over again that their sole goal in 2023 was to disrupt Democratic legislation by wasting as much time as possible. They are complaining about being silenced by Democrats when both parties know that Republicans weren’t actually trying to debate in good faith.

To Soper’s specific point, if you went back and added up all of the speaking time during the legislative session — particularly in the State House — you would unquestionably find that Republicans spoke at greater length than Democrats even though the latter holds a 46-19 majority. Seriously — it wouldn’t even be close.

The reason is simple: Democrats weren’t going to the microphone merely for the sake of talking. Democrats would make arguments and suggest legitimate amendments that they believed would improve whatever piece of legislation that was on the docket, and then they would sit down.

Republicans, on the other hand, did what they said they would do: Waste time. For example, State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms spent 45 minutes in early April reading aloud definitions of Pharmacy Benefit Managers. It wasn’t uncommon for Republicans to even filibuster legislation that they ultimately supported by voting ‘YES.’

Colorado Republicans had plenty of time to speak throughout the 2023 legislative session. In fact, Democrats probably should have cut them off sooner on multiple occasions. The reason that Republicans are still whining about not being allowed to waste everyone’s time is because they have no strategy beyond being a pain in the ass. This is the only thing they know how to do…and Colorado voters have figured that out.

This is why Republicans have historic micro-minorities in the state legislature. Colorado Republicans are like the friend you stopped meeting for drinks because all she ever talked about was her grievances with neighbors and co-workers. Colorado voters saw that Republicans weren’t actually trying to accomplish anything, so they voted for Democrats. Republicans responded by doing the same nonsense, and then voters chose more Democrats. And so on, and so forth.

This perpetual victimhood routine isn’t doing anything for the GOP. How it is that Republicans still haven’t figured this out is a question we can’t answer.

Winners and Losers from the 2023 Legislative Session

We’re free! Run!

With the 2023 Colorado legislative session now in the books, it’s time for us to hand out some grades.

As always, we focus more on the politics than the policy here at Colorado Pols (for a more policy-centric “Winners and Losers” list, check out ProgressNow Colorado or Axios Denver). 




Colorado Families (For Real)

Politicians always claim to be helping families, but that help is not always as significant as it is made out to be. That’s not the case in 2023. The legislature did two very important things for Colorado families that flew under the radar a bit: 1) Increasing the child tax credit, and 2) Amending the school finance bill in preparation to REALLY fully-fund K-12 public schools for the first time in decades

The latter is a particularly big deal. As Erica Meltzer reported for Chalkbeat Colorado last month:

Legislators have toyed with the idea of fully funding Colorado schools several times in recent years, but always held back amid economic uncertainty. While Colorado’s constitution requires school funding to go up each year by the rate of population and inflation, lawmakers haven’t met that requirement since the start of the Great Recession. 

Since 2009, Colorado has withheld more than $10 billion from its schools.

Now the school finance act that passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee Wednesday includes a provision that would require the state to fully fund K-12 schools starting in the 2024-25 budget year. 

The school finance act also includes a significant funding increase for state-authorized charter schools beginning with the 2024-25 school year. 


Cat Herders

House Majority Leader Monica Duran

Democrats were thrilled in November when voters handed them a historic 46-19 majority in the State House, but it’s no small task to work with such a huge number of lawmakers. House Speaker Julie McCluskie dealt with some internal hiccups in her first session holding the gavel, but overall she handled her caucus well considering that some friction is inevitable with such a large and diverse group of people. McCluskie could be the first person since Andrew Romanoff to serve as House Speaker for four years. 

House Majority Leader Monica Duran played a significant role in helping McCluskie to keep the legislative calendar on track despite regular filibuster tantrums from House Republicans. No caucus is ever going to get everything across the finish line, but Duran helped to make sure that the top-ticket items kept plugging along. 


Anybody Who Wants to Pay Less for Health Care

Reducing health care costs has been a regular mantra for Democrats and Gov. Jared Polis, and the legislature made big gains on the front in 2023. Lawmakers capped the price of EpiPens (HB23-1002); created limits on hospital “facility fees” (HB23-1215); set Medicaid reimbursement rates for Community Health Services (SB23-002); capped the interest rate for medical debt at 3 percent per year (SB23-093); and reduced the cost of prescription drugs by taking on the middleman (Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs) with HB23-1201 and HB23-1227.



Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf

The “Unambiguously Lame Duo” of Republican Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf grabbed the House Floor microphone early in the session and then never really let go. The largely-idiotic rants from the Colorado Springs duo didn’t help House Republicans to accomplish anything, but in speaking to the MAGA Republican base and regularly grabbing headlines, the two freshmen raised their name ID significantly and became the go-to cranks for the House GOP. They’ll spend the next few months fighting it out over which one of them is “Batman” and which one is “Robin.”


People Who Don’t Want to Be Killed by a Firearm

The highlight of the 2023 session is undoubtedly a host of gun violence prevention bills passed by the Democratic majority despite filibusters and other nonsense opposition from Republicans. We wrote about this at length earlier, so we won’t repeat ourselves on the details.  


Tom Sullivan

Sullivan moved to the State Senate this year after a couple of terms in the State House, but his new legislative address didn’t change the fact that he is the legislature’s conscience on gun violence prevention. Sullivan’s artful explanation for why Democrats shouldn’t be focusing on an assault weapons ban helped clear the path for other important gun violence prevention bills. As Sullivan wrote in a constituent newsletter:

Since 2019, we have passed 11 common-sense GVP bills that have elevated Colorado to the top of statewide legislation in this space nationwide. The country is watching and applauding our success. We have elected the largest Democrat majority in 60 years and that is in part because of the actions we have taken when it comes to the public health crisis that is gun violence. We can be very proud of that.

Indeed we can, sir.


Dave Williams

Calling Dave Williams a “winner” may be a dubious honor, but we dare anyone to find a softer landing for someone so undeserving. The former State Representative and current Chair of the State Republican Party spent most of the session working “remotely” as a legislative aide to Republican Rep. Brandi Bradley. Williams was paid for a 40-hour work week despite the fact that his position as State GOP Chair is also supposed to be a full-time job. When details about his seemingly no-show job became public in late April, Williams miraculously appeared in the chambers of the State House. This didn’t make his fellow Republicans very happy, but it made Williams some money. 


Brianna Titone

Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada)

The third-term Democratic lawmaker from Arvada took a star turn in 2023 that was capped by a long, glowing profile in The Washington Post. Colorado’s first openly-transgender lawmaker made headlines for her firm but fair speech on the House Floor following some typically-disgusting comments by Republicans regarding transgender people. Titone followed that up by directing a first in the nation “right to repair” bill for Colorado farmers that was so impressive that Republicans tried to take credit


Wildfire Resources

This also flew under the radar, but the passage of a couple of wildfire-related bills will no doubt prove prescient later this summer. Senate Bill 23-161 and HB23-1288 among others will provide much-needed resources for fighting wildfires, including the purchase of a new helicopter, and protections for homeowners


Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

House Republicans proved during the legislative session that they are apparently no longer going to pretend to moderate their viewpoints. For example:

♦ State Rep. Matt Soper threatened civil war if Democrats proceeded with gun violence prevention legislation;

♦ Several House Republicans used the introduction of a simple Equal Rights Amendment resolution to demean transgender people and attack abortion rights;

♦ House Minority “Leader” Mike Lynch said this in response to a question about how he would manage a House majority: 


Republicans also had no problem acknowledging that they will oppose any gun violence prevention legislation for any reason (even dumb ones). Scott Bottoms unashamedly told his church congregation that Republicans “don’t care” about the impact of gun violence on Coloradans, and Rep. Mary Bradfield told 9News that she would never support gun regulations because “I’m a Republican.” Given that the overwhelming majority of Americans – and Coloradans – support increased gun regulations, these comments won’t be very helpful for the GOP in 2024.    



Check out our “Losers” after the jump below…



Beclowning Themselves to the Bitter End

UPDATE: Apparently House Republicans walked out…so they could talk about walking out.


Why isn’t anybody taking me seriously?

The 2023 legislative session in Colorado came to a close late Monday evening, but not before House Republicans took their months-long complaining and filibustering to a new level of ludicrous.

In a final day full of frayed nerves and flaring tempers on both sides of the aisle, the House GOP spent most of the remaining hours of the session whining that legislators were doing too much legislating and expressing horror that some bills would include more words for them to read.

People expect us to work on the last day of the session?!? Egads!!!

After failing to filibuster everything on the calendar, Republicans reverted to their 10-year-old selves and ran away from home – only to stand on the steps outside and fume while Democrats moved ahead without them.

State Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta) was extremely proud of his caucus himself for what was a completely pointless maneuver, rushing to Twitter with this embarrassingly thirsty take:



And what did this walkout achieve?

Absolutely nothing.

As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Colorado General Assembly approved on Monday a measure that will ask voters to forego part of their TABOR refunds in exchange for providing tax relief to property owners.

Republicans — angered by what they described as the bill’s attempt to bribe Coloradans to vote for the ballot measure — walked out of the House chambers in protest and refused to vote on Senate Bill 303.

The bill passed that chamber on a vote of 46-0, with 19 excused. [Pols emphasis] It was then approved in the Senate on a 23-12 party-line vote, and now heads to the governor…

…with the final vote on tap, Republicans walked out. All 19 were marked as “absent” rather than “excused.”

The Republican caucus then gathered on the west side of the Capitol and waited for the final vote to take place. [Pols emphasis]

You sure showed them!

Will somebody PLEASE look at Matt Soper?

As Jesse Paul and Elliot Wenzler of The Colorado Sun explain, Republicans were complaining about a proposal that will still need voter approval:

Colorado voters will decide in November whether to approve a 10-year plan to rein in skyrocketing property taxes, as well as whether the state should distribute about $2 billion in Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds checks next year in equal amounts rather than linking their size to people’s income level, with more money being sent to higher earners.

The questions were placed on the November ballot Monday by Democrats in the Colorado legislature as the General Assembly wrapped up its 120-day lawmaking term. The legislature worked until about 10 p.m., just before its 11:59 p.m. deadline, to complete its work, when the Capitol carriage back into a pumpkin…

…The property tax plan, pushed for by Gov. Jared Polis, will appear on the ballot as Proposition HH and would work by tamping down the effect of rising residential and commercial property values on the tax burden for homeowners and businesses. 

Colorado Public Radio and Colorado Newsline have more details on SB23-303 and Prop. HH. Marianne Goodland has more on the House GOP’s temper tantrum:

And with the final vote on tap, Republicans walked out. All 19 were marked as “absent” rather than “excused.”

The Republican caucus then gathered on the west side of the Capitol and waited for the final vote to take place.

A frustrated House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, told reporters they left because they’ve been silenced…

…He added the final straw was that House Democrats were allowed to introduce their amendments but Republicans were denied.

“We’re just done with how they have jammed this agenda through. They have two thirds of majority and they’ve used more rules than they’ve ever used before in the history of this state,” he said. “We don’t know what we can do to get the voices of our people heard. We’re sad for the people of Colorado that are about to get the biggest tax increase in their life.”

“Our votes don’t matter,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

House Republicans started the 2023 session with their sad faces and never changed

Again, VOTERS WILL HAVE TO APPROVE THIS FIRST. The legislature can’t just increase taxes because of TABOR. Republicans know this, but they don’t let facts get in the way of their whining. 

House Democrats denied Republican efforts to introduce amendments because Republicans were not acting in good faith. The GOP plan was to run out the clock on the legislative session, which is the only tune that they have played since January. Democrats were trying to finalize a proposal to lower property taxes and provide TABOR refunds that didn’t unfairly reward the wealthiest Coloradans. Republicans just wanted to go home.

House Republicans have proved throughout the session that they had no intention of working in good faith with Democrats. Just last week, Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf was THANKING Democratic leaders for trying to work with Republicans despite their persistent wrench throwing. 

Monday’s political theater was just the final act in the same play that began as soon as the curtain was raised in January:

1) Democrats propose legislation;
2) Republicans try to filibuster (even when they actually support the bill,);
3) Democrats let Republicans yammer on for awhile and then end debate and move forward;
4) Republicans make sad faces and accuse Democrats of ignoring them.
5) Rinse, repeat.

It’s absurd that Republicans demanded – up to the final hours of the session – that Democrats work with them in good faith when the GOP absolutely refused to do the same. If anything, Democrats gave Republicans too much time this session – long after it had become clear that the GOP wasn’t really interested in having a practical discussion.

Remember: Republicans did this to themselves. Colorado voters have rejected their nonsense in one election cycle after another, and the GOP never changes its approach. If you’re going to act like fools, don’t be surprised when you’re treated as such. 

Democrats Celebrate Historic Legislative Session

House Speaker Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon)

The end of every legislative session in Colorado is accompanied by a familiar narrative no matter which political party is in charge at the State Capitol: Did lawmakers do enough in their 120-day session?

This year is no different. As The Colorado Sun reported in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter on Friday:

As the 2023 legislative session in Colorado winds down, Democratic leadership at the Capitol is pushing back against the notion that this year’s lawmaking term was just a continuation of the status quo or that it should be viewed as a disappointment for progressives.

Democrats have a supermajority in the House and a near supermajority in the Senate. The party is enjoying more sustained power in Colorado than ever before.

Still, some headline-grabbing bills pushed by progressives failed in the legislature this year, including ones that would have banned the sale of so-called assault weapons, lifted the prohibition on local governments enacting rent control measures, and let cities authorize centers where people could openly use illicit drugs under the supervision of health care workers or others trained in reversing overdoses.

House Speaker Julie McCluskie countered the “status quo” argument by pointing out the importance of legislation that didn’t make headlines – such as bills on affordable housing and education policy – that nevertheless represent significant changes for Colorado. Senate President Steve Fenberg noted legislative victories on gun violence prevention:

Fenberg said the four gun measures Democrats passed, and a fifth banning so-called ghost guns, are “bright spots” in the work the legislature accomplished this year. “Those are policies that I think Democrats and progressives have been wanting to get across the finish line for a very long time, if not decades,” he said.

McCluskie argued that those bills alone — which mark perhaps the biggest shift in Colorado’s gun regulations in state history — contradict arguments that it was a do-nothing session.

After the November 2022 election, there was debate about what the Democratic rout meant. The same was true at the beginning of session when large Democratic majorities from districts of all stripes rushed to define the agenda, including policies that did not feature prominently statewide during the campaign. So it was inevitable that some Democrats didn’t move everything that other Democrats might have wanted to get across the finish line. But Democrats can also celebrate some YUGE wins this session that are particularly impressive when you consider the context of recent Colorado political history [more on that in a moment].

Democrats also aren’t done yet. As The Sun points out, Democrats will almost certainly remain in the majority in the legislature through at least 2026; even if Republicans can retake a significant number of seats from Democrats, the GOP will likely need multiple election cycles to crawl out of their micro-minority status. For Democrats, the luxury of time is an under-discussed but equally-important windfall from the landslide 2022 election. 




The “status quo” narrative is indeed a time-honored tradition of sorts. Consider this story from The Denver Post:

Democrats are getting decidedly mixed reviews from political observers.

On one hand, observers say, they have made only modest progress on some of their key issues such as higher-education funding and health care, and have had even less success on transportation.

On the other, the party is hamstrung by the same limitations that Republicans faced when they controlled the state: TABOR and other constitutional spending mandates and restrictions.

“I see little difference in Colorado run by Democrats compared to Colorado run by Republicans,” said Colorado College political scientist Bob Loevy. “They were no more enabled than Republicans to do anything major to solve problems.”

Senate President Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder)

If you didn’t click on the link above, you might have missed that this story was published in May 2008. At the time, Democrats were concluding their second legislative session in 40 years in which they controlled both legislative chambers and the Governor’s office; Democrats held a 40-25 advantage in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate. 

Today, Democrats boast a mind-boggling 46-19 advantage in the House and a 23-12 majority in the Senate. This allows Democrats to move the kind of legislative priorities that once were multi-year slogs. 

Democrats can point to numerous policy changes that floundered for years without the same advantages that the majority party holds today:

♦ Payday Lending
Preventing predatory lenders from charging low-income Coloradans exorbitant interest rates for small loans seems like a pretty simple change today. Payday lending regulations seemed to be moving ahead in 2008, but hurdles remained in place for years. Legislation eventually passed after multiple failed attempts and years-long pushback efforts. Significant payday lending reform wasn’t completed for another decade, and it took a statewide ballot initiative to get things over the hump.


♦ Oil and Gas Regulations
Democrats fought for years to increase regulations on the oil and gas industry in Colorado, finally succeeding in 2019 with Senate Bill 181. “Big Oil” hasn’t stopped whining about SB-181, though actual facts about record profits have diminished the effectiveness of their complaints. Democrats fought for these common sense regulations – and against massive spending from “Big Oil” – for more than a decade before getting SB-181 across the finish line. 

No issue illustrates the changes in Colorado’s political leanings more than that of gun violence prevention. What Democrats accomplished in 2023 would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. As The Washington Post explains:

As the state has grown more blue, gun control has become a voter priority, Democrats say. Candidates more openly campaigned on the issue in 2022, and Democrats flipped eight seats, giving them a near-supermajority.

“There’s been this long 2013 hangover,” Rep. Meg Froelich (D) said. “A decade has passed, and we’re a different state, and we’re a different country.”



“This session we will prioritize preventing gun violence. Among other bills we’ll consider, Senator Sullivan will introduce a bill to expand and improve Colorado’s extreme risk protection orders. So if local law enforcement can’t – or won’t – be the ones to bring the issue to a judge, others like district attorneys and counselors can and will… 

…We must do more as a society to protect innocent lives.”  

Senate President Steve Fenberg, from his opening day remarks

In recent years Colorado Republicans have made fools of themselves by attempting recall efforts of various Democrats that resulted in widespread mockery – none more absurd than the 2019 attempt to oust then-Senate President Leroy Garcia that resulted in all of FOUR petition signatures being submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.  

In 2013, things were very different. Republicans were apoplectic about the passage of a handful of gun violence prevention measures – making ridiculous predictions that nobody in Colorado would even remember what a gun looked like within a matter of years. Those exaggerations nevertheless helped fuel a recall effort that resulted in the ouster of several Democratic lawmakers.

As we wrote in recapping the recalls:

The campaign to pass gun safety legislation in 2013 turned into the biggest political battle in the Colorado legislature in recent history. Democrats were besieged by pro-gun activists and agitated gun owning members of the public. Crowds of people turned out to testify against the bills, overwhelming hearings, while others drove around the state capitol continuously sounding their horns. Gun owners were in many cases duped by falsehoods about the proposed legislation, being explicitly told by GOP legislators and gun-rights activists that the bills would “ban gun ownership in Colorado.” Other alarmist falsehoods, like claims that legislation to limit magazine capacity would “ban all magazines,” were pushed by gun activists and uncritically reported by a thoughtless local media

…After some internal debate among Republicans and the gun lobby, in which party leaders like Chairman Ryan Call refused to get involved, recall petition campaigns began against four Colorado Democratic lawmakers. Two of these petition drives sputtered early. The remaining two recall campaigns against Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron were successful for different reasons: against Morse, after a large paid signature gathering campaign using professional petitioners. In Giron’s case, pre-existing poor relations between Giron, her staff, and her constituents gave local organizers an opening to get her recall on the ballot in a much more legitimately “grassroots” manner.

State Sen. Evie Hudak was also a casualty of this effort, though she resigned her seat – allowing Democrats to appoint a successor – before that recall campaign could conclude. 

You would have been hard-pressed to even contemplate what Democrats pulled off ten years later. Yes, an assault weapons ban didn’t make it through the legislature in 2023, for some of the same reasons it didn’t the last time it was up for debate in 2019, but consider what Democrats did shepherd through both chambers:

Raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21;

Creating a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases;

Expanding Colorado’s “red flag” laws to allow medical professionals, educators, and prosecutors to request the temporary removal of a firearm from an at-risk individual;

Removing liability protections for gun manufacturers in lawsuits.

Lawmakers will also likely pass regulations on “ghost guns,” which can be built at home and without a serial number; prosecutors have been clamoring for this change for years. It’s true that public opinion has shifted on gun safety measures, but much like these legislative efforts, it didn’t happen overnight. 

There is perhaps no other issue that provides more context about how much things have changed in the state legislature. Any one of these five gun violence prevention measures would have struggled to make it through both chambers of the legislature just a few years ago. 

It’s the nature of partisan politics – and anything else, really – for people to want MORE to happen NOW. But it’s important to remember that Democrats achieved significant progress this session on the mandate given to them by Colorado voters, and they’ll be back to build on that success in January. 

“Redistribution” Was Fine With Mike Lynch In 2022

As the Colorado General Assembly grinds out the final hours of the 2023 legislative session, Democrats have restored at the last minute one of their most clever political tax policy moves from last year: making tax refunds due under the controversial 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights equal across the board for all earners, which has the effect of substantially increasing the amount refunded to lower-income households. This year, the proposal is linked to voter passage this fall of a larger property tax reform measure meant to balance funding obligations for education with relief after historic increases in real estate values.

GOP House Micro-Minority Leader Mike Lynch, once more after 120 disappointing days of powerlessness even over his own caucus, expresses his displeasure:

Note how Lynch’s objection isn’t limited to the timing or process, specifically denouncing the bill as a “redistribution measure” in reference to providing equal refunds to all households. The problem is that this is the second year Democrats have proposed identical refunds, and Lynch voted “yes” on last year’s Senate Bill 22-233, which made the same one-year change to the refund mechanism.

What changed between then and now? Today, Lynch is the Minority Leader of an even more fractious and radicalized House caucus than the late Hugh McKean presided over last year. Despite the fact the property tax ballot measure this refund depends on does exactly what TABOR demands and asks taxpayers for their approval, this bill to put more money in working people’s pockets passed the House without any help from Republicans. “Republicans opposed bigger TABOR refunds” will be the message for voters, and that’s the last thing they need with an already discontented base.

TABOR isn’t really about the voting, and Republicans this year were even less interested in cooperation.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 150!

This week on the 150th EPISODE of the Get More Smarter Podcast, Sine Die is Nigh! Hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii celebrate the end of the 2023 Colorado legislative session; with so many outstanding items we ask the question every reporter has asked this week since 1876: “How will they get it all done?”

The Supreme Court of the United States is an ethical disaster, but really only the Justices appointed by Republican Presidents; Heidi Ganahl, the last statewide elected Republican in Colorado (and possibly the worst candidate in state history) may be planning on Unleashing herself onto the state. Again. We take bets on how big her margin of defeat will be next time.

With one month to go in the Denver Mayoral Election, two dudes from Lakewood will discuss how the hell it got like this; our 8th favorite congressperson from Colorado clearly, badly needs attention, and we’ll give her a little more! And finally, Tucker Carlson may be off the airwaves, but his inexcusably racist influence on the GOP will remain for a long, long time.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Washington Post Highlights Colorado Lawmakers

Two Colorado lawmakers are the prime subjects in separate Washington Post stories published today.

First up: Casey Parks writes about State Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), one of the clear-cut stars of the 2023 Colorado legislative session. Parks dives into Titone’s efforts to reach across the political aisle and form friendships with the likes of Republican House Minority Leader Mike Lynch:

Via The Washington Post (5/5/23)


Lynch was a U.S. Military Academy graduate who kept horses and made belt buckles for a living. Titone was the state’s first transgender lawmaker. Neither had run for office expecting to befriend the other, but they’d built a connection that worked, in part, because Titone had done her best not to ruffle feathers. She was a geologist who knew how to talk farm equipment, and she focused her legislation on homeowner’s associations and other suburban concerns — nothing overtly trans…

…Nationwide, Titone is one of just eight transgender state legislators. She’s the only one who leads a party with a supermajority, and because of that, she holds more power than perhaps any other trans lawmaker. After the Club Q shooting, Titone realized she could do something few others could. She could meet with Republicans. She could show them trans people were not weird or threatening. They could be fun and easygoing, the kind of colleagues you talk shoes with.

The entire story, which examines how Titone navigates her way through a lot of entrenched bias against transgender people in general, is well worth a read.

Meanwhile, Karen Bruilliard talks with State Sen. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) about his success in advancing gun violence prevention legislation — and his rational arguments related to an assault weapons ban:

Via The Washington Post (5/5/23)


With their biggest majority in 60 years, Colorado Democrats returned to the Capitol in January vowing to take on gun violence in a state scarred by mass killings — Columbine, the Aurora theater, the Boulder supermarket, Club Q. On April 28, activists and lawmakers celebrated as Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed four gun-control bills some hailed as the most significant ever.

But missing was a proposal that divided gun-control proponents and highlighted the evolving political landscape of a blue state with a deep Western hunting and agricultural ethos: A ban on the sale or transfer of assault weapons had been defeated a week prior in a House committee on which Democrats hold nine of 13 seats. The view of Sullivan, one of the legislature’s leading gun-control champions, helps explain why.

“This isn’t transportation. This isn’t education. This is guns. We haven’t been comfortable talking about guns in the state of Colorado — ever,” Sullivan said. “Why don’t we try to strategically move forward, instead of blowing up the house?”

The quick demise of the state ban profoundly disappointed supporters. But it did not shock some. The new laws put the state “absolutely at the forefront of good gun laws,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action and a former Colorado resident. But the ban “just wasn’t something that was going to happen this year.” [Pols emphasis]

Both WaPo stories are well-timed. The 2023 Colorado legislative session comes to a close on Monday.

Again With the Construction Defects Reform Nonsense?

This argument is so old and so dumb that it requires an ancient meme photo.

As the 2023 legislative session winds to a close (Monday is Sine Die), lawmakers from both political parties are starting to think about priorities for 2024. Among the issues that have come up for discussion lately is the idea of another round of legislation dealing with one of the all-time bullshit arguments in Colorado: Construction defects reform.

If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, “construction defects reform” is basically about protecting developers from being sued when their new apartments or condominiums start leaking water (or worse).

The Colorado Sun has more details today in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter:

One of the lead sponsors of the land-use bill pending in the Colorado legislature hinted this week that there are state lawmakers looking into taking on what’s considered by the construction industry as one of the holy grails of housing policy: construction defects.

One of the holy grails for housing policy? Um, no. Construction defects reform may be the “holy grail” for contractors and builders who don’t want to worry about shoddy construction coming back to bite them in the ass later, but it doesn’t do anything to help anyone else.

Contractors say Colorado liability laws around construction defects — basically issues that arise after a home is built —are hampering their ability to increase housing stock because they push insurance costs high and stoke concerns about litigation. Those anxieties especially come into play for condominium construction. [Pols emphasis]

The Colorado Contractors Association and Colorado Association of Homebuilders both told The Colorado Sun earlier this year that while the land-use changes in Senate Bill 213 would help spur more housing construction, construction defects policy must be changed to really unleash the measure’s potential.

The legislature tackled construction defects laws in 2017, but the associations say it wasn’t enough.

“Without construction defects reform, it’s still going to be a tough sell to build multi-unit condos in Colorado because there is so much risk,” said Tony Milo, who leads the Colorado Contractors Association. [Pols emphasis]

Beauvallon, a Denver construction-defect horror story.

Without construction defects reform we can’t build more housing! The problem with this argument is that you can easily refute these claims merely by opening your eyes.

Don’t believe us? Take a drive around the Metro Denver area today and see if you can find a large plot of land where apartments or condos are NOT being built literally at this very moment.

Go ahead, we’ll wait…

…Contractors and builders have been whining that condo construction had “dried up” for at least the last decade. In 2017, developers managed to coax a pretty good deal out of lawmakers, but then they walked away from the table because they wanted more; ultimately a compromise was worked out, albeit one that developers immediately claimed was not good enough. As we wrote in this space in May 2017:

The compromise legislation approved this year requires a majority of homeowners to initiate legal action, not the HOA board–and requires homeowners be informed about the potential effect of litigation on the ability to sell their properties. For homeowner groups and lawyers who represent them, that’s as far as they see the need to go. Opponents of the homebuilders in this fight argue that the real solution is for developers and builders to stand by their work–avoiding construction defects to begin with, and fixing problems in good faith quickly when they occur.

With all of this in mind, it’s revealing that builder lobbyists are already declaring their intention to return next year to push the same bills that died this year. It’s long been suspected that builders are misusing Colorado’s hot housing market to extract concessions from lawmakers, and blaming liability over construction defects for many other factors that have led to a shortage of affordable housing in this state. After years of complaining, now even after a bipartisan compromise has passed, it’s time to ask the question: is anything short of stripping homeowners of their legal rights to protect their biggest investment going to make the developers happy?

Because if not, maybe it’s time to tell them enough is enough.

In 2023, builders are STILL claiming that they can’t build more housing [pause for laughter] because of concerns about lawsuits related to poor construction — such as the horror show that was the Beauvallon building in Denver. The serious answer in response is pretty simple: If you don’t want to get sued, then don’t do shoddy work.

Construction defects reform is not really about housing policy; developers got some of what they wanted in the 2017 bill, but that ended up doing nothing to make housing more affordable in the Denver area. The only thing that construction defects reform does is make more money for developers by shielding them from potential lawsuits. It’s a great deal for them; not so much for anyone else.

It was silly in 2017 when developers were claiming that they couldn’t build more housing unless lawmakers passed a bill to help them. It’s completely absurd that they are making THE SAME ARGUMENT six years later, particularly when you can’t throw a rock in the Denver area without hitting some new type of development.

If this is an actual problem for regular people, developers at least need to come up with a different argument that passes the eye test. Until then, legislators from both political parties need to stop listening to the same old nonsense.

House Dems Lay The Hammer Down To Halt GOP Obstruction

Down to the final few days of the 2023 session of the Colorado General Assembly, which has been a story of a small Republican minority doing its utmost to grind the people’s business to a halt, Democrats are once again invoking the parliamentary power at their disposal to limit what the rules call “debate” over key pieces of pending legislation:


The problem this year has very certainly NOT been a shortage of debate over legislation, in which Democratic leadership has been patient to the point of criticism with the obstructive antics of the GOP minority. Republican filibustering of legislation with lengthy diatribes in many cases only tenuously related to the bill in question has taken up far too much time this session already–leading directly to the large pile-up of pending bills in the final few days. What’s worse, the lack of effective leadership in the GOP House minority has meant that brokered deals were unenforceable.

At this point, the biggest political risk for Democrats is allowing GOP obstruction to derail the final days of the session. Nobody’s going to care in the long run about majority Democrats using their majority power — awarded to them by Colorado voters — to overcome minority obstruction, so it’s time to do so aggressively (just like Republicans would under reverse circumstances). All that will matter in the final analysis is doing what Democrats promised voters and moving legislation through the process and on to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.

There is neither the need nor the time to play nice.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 3)

May the Third be with you. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Congressional Democrats are pushing for ethics reforms to the U.S. Supreme Court. As Ashley Murray explains for Colorado Newsline:

U.S. Supreme Court justices should follow a strict code of ethics when receiving gifts and travel or doing business with political funders and attorneys, argued Democratic senators Tuesday at a hearing that Chief Justice John Roberts declined to attend. [Pols emphasis]

After a spate of investigative articles detailing Justice Clarence Thomas’ luxury travel and real estate transactions with a GOP donor, and a property sale by a limited liability company partly owned by Justice Neil Gorsuch to a law firm head, Democratic leaders on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary maintained the highest court in the land cannot be trusted to police itself.

GOP members of the panel dismissed the hearing as “selective outrage” — as ranking member Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put it — against the court’s conservative majority that recently handed down controversial high-profile decisions, including overturning Roe v. Wade and striking down New York’s concealed carry law.

In declining the invitation to testify in front of the committee, Roberts asserted that the court must remain independent and that it adheres to its own set of principles.

In a follow-up letter Monday, Roberts wrote that there are “no set rules” for the court’s adoption of such principles or guidelines. [Pols emphasis]

From Clarence Thomas to Neil Gorsuch, it’s hard to argue that SCOTUS does NOT need new ethical guidelines that Justices might actually feel compelled to follow.


Colorado Public Radio reports on the latest news regarding a controversial land use/affordable housing proposal in the state legislature:

A Colorado House committee partially restored the most controversial part of a land use reform bill before it advanced the measure late Tuesday night.

The bill, SB23-213, was initially a sweeping measure that would’ve forced many local governments to allow varying degrees of denser homes in all residential neighborhoods. The state Senate gradually trimmed those mandatory upzoning requirements before eliminating them entirely last week.

But the House Transportation, Housing & Local Government Committee has brought back some of those provisions, as previewed Monday by CPR News.

The bill would have to make it back through the State Senate in order to see its passage before the end of the 2023 legislative session on Monday.


In other news from under the gold dome at the State Capitol, Democrats are working on last-minute legislation to provide property tax relief for Coloradans while also protecting school funding mechanisms.

There are lots of bills that still need to be finalized before Monday’s end of session. Legislative Republicans, however, are doing everything they can to slow discussion to a crawl. Their entire strategy is just to get in the way of whatever Democrats want to accomplish. Republicans don’t have ideas of their own.


There are too many people with too many guns. Period.



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The Squeeze: GOP Ramps Up Obstruction As Session’s End Nears


Titular House Minority Leader Mike Lynch (R).

Above is a clip of GOP Rep. Richard Holtorf, one of the prime participants in the House GOP’s attempts to obstruct the majority agenda, last week thanking Democrats for their “grace and consideration” working together with the GOP minority on legislation–which, if you’ve been paying attention to this year’s legislative session, sounds like a description of another state or maybe planet.

The 2023 session of the Colorado General Assembly comes to an end next week, capping off 120 days of the most aggressive obstruction the dwindling Republican micro-minority in the Colorado House could sustain, forcing Democrats to use the parliamentary means at their disposal to limit superfluous debate. GOP House Minority Leader Mike Lynch has conceded after several failed attempts to persuade his caucus to agree to deals with the majority in exchange for a halt to time-wasting obstruction tactics that he doesn’t have control over a faction of his own lawmakers, which greatly reduced Lynch’s negotiating influence this year.

And as the Colorado Sun reports today in their Unaffiliated newsletter, Republicans have seized on the silliest pretext yet to abandon the fragile truce that kept bills moving for the past week, signaling an end to Rep. Holtorf’s smarmy kumbaya:

House Republicans had several bills read at length Monday after a weekslong pause in the caucus’ use of the delay tactic.

The move was mostly in protest of a decision by the Democratic majority to send the fiscal year 2023-24 budget bill to Polis to be signed despite a $10,000 footnote error.

Instead of allowing what appears to be a typographical error in the normal noncontroversial way that nonpartisan legislative staffers explained was fine to do over such a trifling mistake, Republicans have declared this justification to grind the process to a halt once again, with hundreds of bills left to be considered in the session’s final few days:

The House GOP sent a clear signal, however, that it’s ready and willing to ask that bills be read at length through the end of the session, marking the end of a deal with Democrats in which they agreed not to have bills be read at length in exchange for taking Sundays off.

The ridiculously thin pretext of needing to revote on the entire budget over a $10,000 error makes it obvious that any pretext would have been sufficient, or none whatsoever, for Republicans to end the truce and resume stalling the Democratic agenda in the session’s final days. It’s no secret that the ambitious agenda from this year’s majority has left a lot to sort out in the session’s final days, creating a time crunch that Republicans can exploit. Having given up on utilizing this leverage for concessions from the majority like a strategic-minded minority would do, running out the clock to kill bills on the calendar is all they have left.

In the meantime, there’s a long week of late nights coming up. If anything, we may be arguing next week over whether Democrats were too tolerant of the micro-minority’s obstruction tactics this year, and should have taken a harder line earlier in the session to limit delays with no purpose other than to waste time.

And that’s a lesson Democrats will get to apply next year.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 2)

The Denver Nuggets took a 2-0 series lead on Monday night by beating the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals matchup; Game 3 is in Phoenix on Friday. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




The Colorado legislature is scheduled to wrap up its 2023 session on Monday, but there is still much work to be done. Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on one late — but very important — proposal:

Colorado voters would be asked in November to approve a 10-year plan aimed at preventing property taxes from rising at a historic clip under an eleventh-hour proposal unveiled Monday by Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state legislature.

The effort, which would reduce Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds in order to make up for the cuts, is aimed at combating a dizzying rise in property values that will cause a corresponding jump in homeowners’ and businesses’ tax burden. Property tax bills are in large part determined by property values, and home values increased statewide by an average of 40% over the past two years.

Proponents of the measure say it would cut the projected property tax increase for the average Colorado homeowner by 62% in the 2023 tax year for which taxes are due in April 2024…

…To get the measure on the November ballot, the proposal only needs the support of a simple majority in the legislature. The measure was introduced Monday as Senate Bill 303 and state lawmakers will have to act quickly, as the 2023 legislative session in Colorado ends on May 8.

You can read more on this proposal from Colorado Public Radio, The Denver Post, and 9News.


In other news from under the gold dome at the State Capitol, House Republicans saw three stupid ideas get canned in a committee room on Monday. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to work on real ideas:

Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman takes a big-picture look at the work left to be done in the final week of session.

♦ House Democrats will try to paste some lost pieces of a land use/affordable housing bill favored by Gov. Jared Polis that were cut by the State Senate. Seth Klamann of The Denver Post has more on changes to SB23-213.

♦ Legislation that seeks to lower the threshold for workplace harassment claims is still moving along, as is a bill that would increase regulations for no-knock warrants.

♦ A bill to extend Medicaid and child health care access is headed to the desk of Gov. Polis.

♦ Halfway houses will be audited for the first time in decades.

♦ Legislation to implement a new magic mushroom industry in Colorado has been finalized.


State Republican Party Chair and former lawmaker Dave Williams finally showed up at the State Capitol for his other job as a legislative aide.


 Give your eyes a break and put your ears to work with this week’s episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast:

Click below to keep learning things…



Podcast: Just Do Your Job! (feat. Andrew Baumann)

Andrew Baumann

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk once again with Andrew Baumann, Partner at Global Strategy Group and the lead pollster for the quarterly “Rocky Mountaineer” poll in Colorado. Baumann takes us through the latest numbers in CO-03, where Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert is running neck-and-neck with Democrat Adam Frisch despite what should be an overwhelming Republican advantage.

Later…the new chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Dave Williams, is hopefully “not just milking big government” by drawing a taxpayer funded salary at 40 hours a week while also allegedly running the party for 40 hours a week…and this is according to the Republican House Minority Leader. As the scourge of gun violence continues to plague the nation one Republican state Representative says the quiet part out loud — like really, really loud. A right wing dark money group wins an appeal on a campaign finance case in which they were absolutely, clearly guilty; we ask why bother having laws? And DARK BRANDON RISES to run for re-election.

For more details on this week’s episode, head over to our free substack page.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Williams Spontaneously Reappears After “No-Show Job” Story

Colorado GOP chairman Dave Williams.

Last week, Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland broke the strange story of Colorado Republican Party chairman Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams’ side gig as a legislative aide, putatively working for at least one member of the GOP House minority. This odd but not unprecedented arrangement was further complicated by two additional factors: Williams’ election in March to lead the Colorado Republican Party, a paid position which Williams claims to be foregoing compensation for, and the more immediate problem that no one seems to have ever actually seen Williams at the Capitol during all this time he’s been drawing a state paycheck.

Last Friday Rep. Williams made a too-little too-late attempt at addressing the latter problem:

It wouldn’t just be the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul surprised to see Williams, since House Minority Leader Mike Lynch himself says Williams hadn’t been seen inside the building previous to last Friday. With the session nearly over, the question of what exactly Williams has been doing to earn a full-time legislative aide’s pay without entering the building all this time is still very much unanswered. In addition, legislative aides, who are generally presumed to be at work inside the Capitol when clocked in, face tight restrictions on electioneering activities on state time. We’re not even sure how that would work with a “remote” aide, but if anything like the same restrictions apply this seems like a major problem for GOP chairman Williams and the lawmaker(s) who enabled this arrangement.

Showing up the day after being outed as a “no show” employee with a big smile certainly is nervy, and nobody ever accused the bombastic former Rep. Williams of lacking audacity. What boldness doesn’t do in this case is answer the legitimate questions raised by Williams’ employment arrangement. Under no circumstances should taxpayers be keeping the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party financially afloat, especially for a job he by all accounts didn’t even show up to do for the entire legislative session.

It’s the swampiest situation Colorado politics has seen in quite some time.

House Republicans Launch One Last Stupid Hail Mary

The 2023 Colorado legislative session is scheduled to come to a close one week from today. There is much work still to be done on a number of important issues, including a Democratic proposal to help reduce property taxes for Colorado families. House Republicans, meanwhile, are making one last-gasp effort to introduce a package of stupid that will inevitably and justifiably end up being killed in the State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs committee.

These three resolutions are scheduled for consideration in the “State Affairs” committee this afternoon:


HCR23-1004 (“Fundamental Rights for Parents”)

“My Kids is My Kids”

This resolution is sponsored by Rep. Brandi Bradley (R-Douglas County) and literally nobody else (though it is no doubt influenced by her legislative “aide,” current State Republican Party Chairperson Dave Williams). The resolution seeks to place a measure on the 2024 ballot so that voters can decide on a Constitutional Amendment to essentially establish children as private property. If the turnout from a March rally is any indication, there are literally tens of Coloradans who want to vote on such a proposal.

This is the right-wing “parents’ rights” argument on steroids; it would allow parents to do whatever they want, whenever they want, when making decisions about their children — particularly in relation to education and health care concerns. The resolution includes very specific and absurd language directing schools and teachers to meet individually with parents to develop lesson plans that diverge from reality if said parents reject to words like “racism” or “penis.”


HSC23-1003 (“Constitutional Concealed Carry of a Handgun”)

“[Democrats] will say, ‘You’ve got your side of the argument and it’s the Constitution, but we’ve got real, live people on our side.’

“And we’re like, ‘We don’t care.’”

     — State Rep. Scott Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs), talking about gun violence prevention discussions.

Sponsored by Reps. Matt Soper (R-Delta) and Ron Weinberg (R-Larimer County) — and co-sponsored by 17 of the 19 House Republicans — HSC23-1003 seeks to place another measure on the 2024 ballot by which Colorado voters could decide to allow people to carry concealed weapons anywhere, anytime, with a few potential exceptions for schools and some government buildings.

House Republicans have thrown a fit this legislative session over even the most benign and common sense gun violence prevention measures — in large part because the GOP just does whatever the no-compromise gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) demands of them. Strong Democratic majorities pressed on through the GOP’s lame filibuster attempts to enact important legislation anyway. Democrats were fulfilling campaign promises, but also reacting to more mass shootings and overwhelming public opinion on the subject.

There’s little reason to think that Coloradans WANT people to have the ability to carry concealed weapons everywhere they go, but House Republicans don’t care about public opinion. Or logic, for that matter.


HCR23-1005 (“General Assembly Bill Limitations”)

Like most 3rd graders in Colorado, Rep. Stephanie Luck (R-Penrose) wants more recess.

The third of three idiotic ideas from House Republicans comes from Rep. Stephanie Luck (R-Penrose), who wants voters to approve a ballot measure to only allow lawmakers to debate legislative ideas ONCE EVERY TWO YEARS. Luck’s proposal is that the first legislative session following an election should be limited to just a “budget session,” whereby lawmakers convene for the sole purpose of approving the annual state budget and nothing else.

The irony here is obvious. Luck is one of a handful of MAGA Republicans in the State House (including “The Umabiguously Lame Duo” of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf) who only ever introduce red meat legislation that has no chance whatsoever of becoming law — or in most cases, even advancing out of a committee hearing. These Republicans take great pride in their efforts at wasting everyone’s time in hopes of preventing lawmakers from accomplishing anything. Of course, they’re also all too happy to participate in press conferences that try to blame Democrats for not moving quickly enough to discuss more legislation. Note that HCR23-1005 also fails to mention adjustments to legislative pay scales. In other words, Luck wants taxpayers to pay her the same amount of money for doing less work.


Republican lawmakers have taken great pains in 2023 to tell Coloradans who they are and where they stand on important issues. We should listen to them when they tell us who they are…

…and then do something else, because these are not serious people.

Polis, Dems Deliver Bigly On Gun Violence Prevention In 2023

Gov. Jared Polis signs gun safety bills. (Photo by Rep. Lindsey Daugherty)

As the Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a package of four gun safety bills today, considered to be the biggest advancement on the issue since at least the passage of the state’s landmark “Red Flag” law in 2019, and possibly the momentous and politically-consequential 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly:

The new laws restrict gun purchases to people age 21 and older; create a three-day waiting period before a purchaser can take possession of the firearm; expand who can file so-called red flag laws to include medical care providers, mental health-care providers, educators, and district attorneys; and remove liability protections for gun manufacturers in lawsuits.

All four bills passed with only Democratic support in the legislature, where the party holds a supermajority in the House and a near supermajority in the Senate. A fifth bill to ban so-called ghost guns — firearms that lack serial numbers, such as those sold in build-it-yourself-kits — is working its way through the legislature. Democratic leaders backed all five.

Surrounded by advocates and survivors of gun violence, Polis said the bills will save lives. Supporters of the reforms have often pointed out these bills aren’t just about the mass shootings that have rocked the entire state, but also suicides, domestic violence and other shootings that don’t lead to days of news coverage.

Each of these bills directly confront specific gun violence issues that have been in the headlines recently in Colorado. Raising the age for gun purchases might have directly prevented the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting in March of 2021. A more accessible “red flag” law could have prevented any number of shootings and deaths by suicide, a need highlighted by the reluctance of local law enforcement to employ the law ahead of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs last year. Three-day waiting periods have been proven to reduce both homicides and suicides, and liability protection for the gun industry became an issue after the parents of an Aurora theater shooting victim were stung by punitive immunity measures in Colorado protecting the gun industry from accountability. Along with a late bill banning so-called “ghost guns,” these are all bills with a backstory in local tragedy that created the mandate for their passage.

The signing of these bills into law is a moment that Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly fought with all their micro-minority might to prevent, leading to the Democratic majority using some of the less-polite parliamentary tools in their bag to cap the number of hours Republicans could endlessly repeat the same complaints. And with their allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) firing off a lawsuit within minutes of the bills’ signing, House Republicans remain snarlingly defiant:

Let’s take just a moment to explore the logically faulty case House Republicans are making here. First, a new poll from none other than Fox News out yesterday completely debunks Republican claims they lack public support, as has basically every public opinion poll in the last decade:

A new Fox News Poll finds most voters favor the following proposals:

— Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (87%)
— Improving enforcement of existing gun laws (81%)
— Raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21 (81%) [Pols emphasis]
— Requiring mental health checks on gun buyers (80%)
— Allowing police to take guns from those considered a danger to themselves or others (80%)
— Requiring a 30-day waiting period for all gun purchases (77%) [Pols emphasis]

If Fox News can’t convince Republicans they’re on the short end of the public opinion stick, who can?

Of course, House Republicans aren’t basing their assessment on any actual data, but rather on perception of public turnout to testify against a bill that wasn’t even a part of the leadership-sanctioned gun bill package–the failed assault weapons ban. Republicans forget to mention that the bill never had the support within the Democratic majority to pass, and despite that still saw a very large contingent of gun safety advocates turn out to support it.

If that flimsy anecdote is all Republicans have to counter Democrats’ mountain of data and overwhelming public support, the political battle is over. There will be no repeat of the 2013 or even the fizzled 2019 gun lobby-engineered backlash. With respect to legal challenges, we can only anticipate the political fallout from conservative judicial activism on guns will be similar what is happening to Republicans right now after they achieved their long-sought goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. If a politically tainted judiciary imposes policy the voters don’t like, they’ll take it out on the politicians they can vote against.

In the meantime, none of the bills signed into law today will prevent a law-abiding citizen from buying any type of gun. The mechanism by which these laws will save lives is straightforward to explain. Colorado Democrats have proven over a decade of sustained progress that, even in the Wild West, the gun lobby need not be feared in taking common-sense steps to reduce the toll from gun violence.

At long last, let the word go forth.

Senate Republicans Make Asinine Arguments on Ghost Guns

State Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County) using his words on Thursday.

We wrote in this space on Thursday about discussion in the State Senate regarding proposed legislation seeking to regulate unserialized firearms — more commonly known as “ghost guns” — and to establish a process to serialize firearms made at home via a 3D printer or other methods. There have been bipartisan calls for this legislation, with Republicans such as Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman and Arapahoe County District Attorney John Kellner pleading with lawmakers to provide them with more tools to investigate crimes committed with “ghost guns.”

SB23-279 (“Unserialized Firearms and Firearm Components”) was introduced in part because of the March shooting of two staffer members at East High School in Denver; the suspect in that shooting was known to be infatuated with “ghost guns.” On Thursday, SB23-279 passed on second reading in the State Senate, but not before several Republican Senators had an opportunity to make some truly ridiculous arguments in opposition to the legislation.

Perhaps Senate Republicans have been feeling left out while their idiot colleagues in the House of Representatives get all the attention for saying stupid crap. Whatever the reason, their opposition to another common-sense gun safety bill was practically unintelligible.

You can watch the entire discussion here. We highlighted some of the more absurd statements below:

“People keep saying these are untraceable guns. I’m wondering which firearms owned by the people of Colorado WERE traceable. Does the government of Colorado know who here owns which guns, and where they are?”

— Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Douglas County)


State Sen. Kevin Van Winkle kicked things off by demonstrating his confusion about the entire concept of “unserialized” or “untraceable” firearms. When a firearm is used in a crime, law enforcement officials need to be able to track down where the gun originated as part of their investigation. Nobody is tracking the location of your gun in real time. Besides, the government already knows where you are because of the computer chip implanted via the COVID vaccine.


“If you’re worried about firearm ownership, you probably ought to be sure that the person you sleep next to every night has theirs locked away. Because it is true that the person who is most likely to take your life is the person who knows you best.”

— Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs)


State Sen. Bob Gardner shrugged off the problem by pointing out that it is your spouse who is going to shoot you dead anyway. Gardner then followed up by explaining that building your own “ghost gun” is mostly like fancy Legos:


“They’re hobbyists. They put it together…they do it in their garage, or their hobby room, or wherever. They like and enjoy this. Now we’re going to regulate that in some particular way. Okay, I get it…


…“If you are a hobbyist and you own one, the implication is you must be a criminal – you couldn’t just be someone who wanted to build their own handgun because they enjoy building things, making things, and they enjoy shooting as a hobby.”

— Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs)


‘It’s water vapor’: More GOP climate denial precedes Colorado greenhouse gas bill’s passage

(Republished under Creative Commons license by Colorado Pols)

by Chase Woodruff, Colorado Newsline
April 28, 2023

In what’s become an annual tradition in the Colorado General Assembly, Democrats in the majority are spending the final weeks of the legislative session passing bills aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while their Republican colleagues persist in outright denial of the scientific consensus on manmade climate change.

Senate Bill 23-16, which would set new targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts while boosting clean energy and carbon-capture efforts, was given initial approval by the House on Wednesday evening — but not before Colorado GOP lawmakers reiterated their rejection of mainstream climate science.

In a nearly hourlong speech in opposition to the bill, state Rep. Ken DeGraaf, a Colorado Springs Republican, offered a grab-bag of debunked climate-denial talking points and half-truths, rehashing decades-old myths as he described concern over carbon dioxide’s role in global warming as “hysteria around a trace gas.”

“Carbon dioxide, god bless it — great for growing plants, but does really very little in terms of greenhouse gas,” DeGraaf said in his speech on the House floor.

It was the latest in a long series of reminders that GOP lawmakers remain committed to all-out climate misinformation as they battle Colorado Democrats’ clean-energy agenda at the Capitol.

“The crisis that we have is to spend as much money on the green energy cartel before everybody becomes aware that it’s not a real threat,” added DeGraaf.

State Rep. Ken DeGraaf, a Republican from Colorado Springs, speaks in opposition to climate legislation on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives on April 26, 2023. (Colorado Channel)

In 2021, GOP Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert said of “so-called climate change” during a floor debate on an environmental justice bill that he did “not believe that it is man-made.” State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, who lost narrowly last year to Democratic U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo in the race for the new 8th Congressional District, falsely claimed during her campaign that “to what extent any warming is a result of man-caused activity is unknown.”


Fellow Republicans Throw “Double-Dippin’ Dave” Under The Bus

Former Sen. Kevin Lundberg, GOP chairman Dave Williams, indicted ex-Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R).

A must-read story today from Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland finally puts in print rumors that have been circulating around the Colorado State Capitol for months: former far-right firebrand Rep. Dave Williams, elected in March to serve as the next chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, is simultaneously drawing a paycheck for the 40-hour-per-week job of legislative aide to Rep. Brandi Bradley. Even worse, Williams’ legislative aide position, by the admission of fellow Republicans, bears signs of  what’s known in the political corruption business as a “no show job.”

House Minority Leader Mike Lynch said Williams’ presence hasn’t been widely known at the Capitol this year, noting that he’s hasn’t been referenced or seen inside the building. [Pols emphasis] But Lynch finds it odd that Williams wanted to step into the role of aide.

“It hasn’t caused any real problem. It’s just kind of weird,” he said, adding that he didn’t expect Williams to continue working as an aide after he was elected chair.

“I hope he’s working and giving somebody advice and he’s not just milking big government,” Lynch said. [Pols emphasis]

Colorado GOP chairman Dave Williams.

We’re not sure what’s more peculiar in this case: a legislative aide who is never “seen inside the building,” or House Minority Leader Mike Lynch being the one readily disclosing this information about his own side. Leaving open the suggestion that Williams is “milking big government” is very far from a statement of support by Lynch — but Lynch also wouldn’t be commenting on this questionable arrangement at all if it wasn’t the subject of a news story. It’s equally curious that the HOUSE MINORITY LEADER has no idea what is happening within his own micro-minority caucus.

Still, the lack of support in this story from fellow Republicans is extremely bad for chairman Williams, evidence of the widespread lingering discontent over Williams’ takeover of the party:

Republican state Rep. Matt Soper of Delta called the situation problematic, noting that Williams served in the House until just last year.

“I don’t think you go from being a legislator to being an aide working remotely. That’s not how this system works,” Soper said. “Especially now that he has a full-time job as state party chair, that’s where his focus ought to be.”  [Pols emphasis]

How does getting busted feel?

Even Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, while trying to allow for the possibility of Williams juggling these responsibilities ethically, admits the situation is “abnormal” and “challenging.”

“It may be his choice that that’s how he’s paying his bills,” said Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen of Williams’ job as an aide. He also noted how abnormal it is. [Pols emphasis]

“I don’t know that historically anyone’s ever been in that kind of a political role and then that kind of a supporting policy role (at the same time). It might create some wrinkles that are challenging to navigate.”

Williams recently said that none of the paid positions at the Colorado Republican Party were drawing checks until fundraisers recharged the party’s bank accounts. But now, we know that what looked like altruistic sacrifice on Williams’ part is being backfilled at least in part by taxpayer dollars. Especially if Williams isn’t even showing up to the Capitol to work, there’s no way this is an ethically defensible arrangement. If Minority Leader Lynch thinks the chairman of his own Colorado Republican Party is “milking big government” as a no-show legislative aide, he has an obligation to do something about that.

As for Dave Williams? He should have made more friends under the Dome when he had the chance. This is what happens when no one likes you enough to run cover for you.

Republicans Celebrate “Right to Repair” That They Opposed

The total number of House Republican votes for a new “right to repair” bill for farmers.

As Jesse Bedayn reports for The Associated Press, Colorado is now the first state in the country with a “right to repair” law that allows farmers more freedom to fix their own tractors and combines:

Sitting in front of a hulking red tractor, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill Tuesday making Colorado the first state to ensure farmers can fix their own tractors and combines with a “right to repair” law — which compels manufacturers to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts and software.

Colorado, home to high desert ranches and sweeping farms on the low-and-level plains, took the lead on the issue following a nationwide outcry from farmers that manufacturers blocked them from making fixes and forced them to wait precious days for an official servicer to arrive — delays that imperiled profits…[Pols emphasis]

…Colorado has taken the lead, but Democratic Rep. Brianna Titone, the bill’s sponsor, and Dan Waldvogle, director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said it’s a potential launch pad for other states and even at the federal level where discussions about similar legislation are already underway.

The legislation advanced through long committee hearings, having been propelled forward mostly by Democrats even though a Republican lawmaker co-sponsored the bill. The proposal left some GOP lawmakers stuck between their farming constituents pleading for the ability to repair their equipment and the manufacturers who vehemently opposed it. [Pols emphasis]

Bedayn went into more detail back in February on the “right to repair” bill for farm equipment — one of many areas where product owners are asking the government to reduce regulations preventing them from fixing something they already own so that manufacturers can make more money off of repairs under the guise of protecting trade secrets. HB23-1011 was championed in Colorado by Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), but House Republicans were more than happy to claim credit because of the co-sponsorship of Rep. Ron Weinberg (R-Larimer County):



House Republicans — and Weinberg — are pounding their chests over a bill that Republicans overwhelmingly opposed. Only two of the 19 Republicans in the State House of Representatives actually voted for HB23-1011 in its final form: Weinberg and Rep. Rod Bockenfeld (R-Watkins)

Voting against legislation and then claiming credit later is a common tactic for Colorado Republicans (it’s basically the only thing in Congressperson Lauren Boebert’s playbook). It’s nice that Weinberg had the good sense to co-sponsor this bill, but he and his caucus had nothing to do with the passage of HB23-1011. Democrats got this done.

It’s also worth noting that Colorado Republicans who otherwise spend a lot of time braying about their support for “rural Colorado” once again sided with big business interests instead of local farmers. As Bedayn reports:

“Forcing a business to disclose trade secrets, software and jeopardize consumer safety is poor public policy,” said Republican state Rep. Matt Soper, adding that it will stifle tech innovation.

Now, compare that paragraph with this one:

Behind the governor and arrayed farmers and lawmakers sat a red Steiger 370 tractor owned by a farmer named Danny Wood. Wood’s tractor has flown an American flag reading “Farmers First,” and it been one of two of his machines to break down, requiring long waits before servicers arrived to enter a few lines of computer code or make a fix Wood could have made himself.

Remember this the next time you hear a Republican whining that Democrats are fighting some mythical “war on rural Colorado.”

Why Oppose Gun Safety Legislation? Because “I’m a Republican”

“I’m a Republican.”

     — State Rep. Mary Bradfield (R-Colorado Springs) in response to a question about why she won’t support gun violence prevention legislation in Colorado.

Marc Sallinger of 9News reported Monday on legislation in Colorado to make “Stop the Bleed” kits more widely available in Colorado schools as part of an effort to provide additional resources to communities in the event of a mass shooting or — apparently — if someone just happens to fall down and puncture their femoral artery.

Sallinger’s story included some pretty amazing quotes from a Republican lawmaker in Colorado who supports HB23-1213 but won’t lift a finger to take action on gun violence prevention:

If saving lives is the goal, these Stop the Bleed kits are critical, but only once something has already gone terribly wrong.

“This investment is to help someone survive,” said Rep. Mary Bradfield (R-Colorado Springs). “I certainly hope that they gather dust, that there’s never a need for them. I just want them to be there if there is a need.”

Bradfield is one of the sponsors of the bill. She said the goal is to have the kits at the ready in case someone cuts themselves or falls down, or yes, if there’s a shooting.

“Whatever we can do for schools to keep students and staff safe and well, we are all in,” Bradfield told 9NEWS. [Pols emphasis]

Yeah, that’s…not at all true.



Sallinger asked Bradfield the obvious follow-up question to the quote above. From the video story:

“All in.” Unless it involves limiting guns. I asked Bradfield why she didn’t support the gun bills that passed earlier this year that Democrats say would help prevent school shootings before they even happen:

SALLINGER: But you don’t think people should necessarily have limits on the guns that they can buy?

BRADFIELD: [long pause] Um…I’m not going to answer that. I’m a Republican. I think you probably understand when I say, ‘Those are your Second Amendment rights.’ [Pols emphasis]

State Rep. Mary Bradfield (R-Colorado Springs)

You can probably guess what Bradfield proposes instead of gun safety measures: Making mental health resources more accessible!

Republicans always change the subject to “mental health” instead of guns…and then they vote against those bills, too.

Republicans in the state legislature have focused their efforts in 2023 largely on getting in the way of anything that Democrats try to accomplish. This is particularly true when it comes to legislation surrounding gun violence prevention. House Republicans have made several efforts to filibuster common sense gun safety measures, though the GOP’s micro-minority has been unable to prevent the passage of bills such as: 1) Creating a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases; 2) Raising the age limit for gun purchases from 18 to 21; and 3) Expanding “red flag” laws intended to temporarily remove guns from the hands of people in crisis.

Bradfield’s telling 9News interview says the quiet part out loud, and it’s a quote that will no doubt be used again and again in 2024.

Sallinger and 9News anchor Marshall Zelinger reiterate the absurdity of this stance from Colorado Republicans — including alternate rationales for providing “Stop the Bleed” kits — at the end of the segment:

SALLINGER: This is exactly what Representative Bradfield said: ‘Think of the groundskeeper falling and injuring himself while he’s mowing the lawn.’ [The kits] are there for that as well.

ZELINGER: Well, if ‘The Simpsons’ episode ever happens in real life where Groundskeeper Willie does that, we’ll be prepared.

Republicans fully acknowledge that gun violence is a major issue that needs to be addressed…so long as they aren’t being asked to do anything about the cause of the problem.

Don’t take our word for it. Listen to Rep. Bradfield herself. If you are a Colorado voter who views reducing gun violence as a major concern, then you simply cannot vote for a Republican.


“Skin In The Game” Medicaid Policy Ends With Bipartisan Support

Former State Sen. Greg Brophy (R).

As the Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, legislation that you might not have heard about being less exciting than the major fights this session nonetheless marks a significant policy victory for Democrats, expected to ease a major burden to obtaining care by the state’s most in need:

Coloradans who rely on Medicaid — the public health insurance for the state’s lowest-income individuals and children — will no longer need to pay nearly all copays under changes passed by the General Assembly and a law signed by Gov. Jared Polis.

Patients would still need to cover copays for non-emergency emergency room visits. Currently, Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program, charges copays of $10 per day for inpatient hospital services, $4 for outpatient hospital services, $2 for primary care and $1 per day for radiology services, such as non-dental X-rays…

“People struggle to afford the cost of health care, even when they have insurance,” state Rep. Emily Sirota, a Denver Democrat and sponsor of the bill to eliminate most cost pays and member of the budget-writing Joint Budget Committee, said. “We know that for many Coloradans, a copay of any size can be a deterrent to seek that care. We think this will be good for our Medicaid patients and for the providers who serve them.”

Senate Bill 23-222 eliminating copays for many covered services under Medicaid enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship from the Joint Budget Committee’s GOP Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, and passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. In the House the bill passed closer to party lines, with GOP Rep. Rod Bockenfeld crossing over to vote with the Democratic supermajority. But in order to understand the long-term significance of this bipartisan achievement, let’s go back in time to March of 2011, and listen to former Republican Sen. Greg Brophy talk about the importance of Medicaid recipients having, as he called it, “skin in the game.”

Brophy: We have grown the number of people getting free health care in Colorado. We’re up to 550,000 kids on Medicaid or SCHIP in Colorado, and they pay effectively nothing for their health care. And I don’t think that’s right. Everybody should have a little skin in this game, and I think what we’re going to end up doing, then, is seeking real copays and maybe even a little bit of a premium payment out of people who are on Medicaid or SCHIP.

Rosen: …Does that mean that poor kids are going to go untreated?

Brophy: Well, that’s what the opponents of charging people will say, but I think when you look at it what we’re doing as a matter of public policy is we are allowing people who have their kids on Medicaid to spend their money on other things. For instance, the average Medicaid recipient is four times more likely to smoke than the average Coloradoan. So we’re paying for their kids’ health care, and they’re buying cigarettes instead. And I think if you look at the statistics, you’ll see that they are also much more likely to play the lottery. So instead of paying for their kids’ health care, they are playing in the lottery and buying cigarettes. Oh, and by the way, most of them have air conditioning. So instead of paying for their kids’ health care, they are paying for their air conditioning bills, and it goes on and on and on. I think they should put a little bit of skin in the game.

It took every election between then and now to bring us to today’s changed political environment, where Sen. Brophy’s crass dismissal of the financial hardship faced by Medicaid recipients has not only aged poorly but now officially been repudiated in Colorado statute. Sen. Brophy’s complaints about Medicaid recipients blowing their money on “playing in the lottery and buying cigarettes” would be met with outrage in today’s State Senate, necessitating an apology like Rep. Matt Soper’s sort-of sorry earlier this session for threatening civil war over gun safety laws. Not to mention that in the era of climate change, dissing poor people for paying for “air conditioning” seems gratuitously meanspirited.

If you’re looking to show friends and neighbors a tangible example of how we’re a better state than we were ten years ago, this legislation tracks that change as well as any. It’s a good story to tell the kids about growing up to become, as a people, better people.