Get More Smarter on Friday (June 26)

Don’t look now, but we’re rounding the bend of June and rolling into July already. 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

***If you still have a Primary Election ballot at home, don’t put it in the mail! Go to GoVoteColorado.com to find a ballot drop off location near you.*** 

 

It might still be the first wave. Maybe it’s a second wave. The number doesn’t really matter, because the important part is that the COVID-19 is still growing in the United States with 40,000 new cases being reported. Texas is seeing a huge spike in coronavirus cases, as is Arizona — two Republican-led states in the southwest that were too anxious to reopen without making sure it was safe to do so.

The Washington Post explains how Arizona lost control of the pandemic:

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”

But physicians, public health experts, advocates and local officials say the crisis was predictable in Arizona, where local ordinances requiring masks were forbidden until Gov. Doug Ducey (R) reversed course last week. State leaders did not take the necessary precautions or model safe behavior, these observers maintain, even in the face of compelling evidence and repeated pleas from authoritative voices.

“We have failed on so many levels,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, the Arizona director of AARP, who said her organization has yet to receive a response to four letters outlining concerns to the governor. She is working on a fifth.

Neither the governor’s office nor the state health department responded to requests for comment.

Florida — another Republican-led state — is slowing down its reopening process because of a surge in cases; on Friday, Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases (the state’s previous daily high was 5,500).

Colorado has also seen an uptick in coronavirus cases, but not nearly to the extend of neighboring states. Within Colorado, El Paso County is one of the worst-hit areas; it’s not a coincidence that El Paso is a solid-red Republican county.

At the White House today, Vice President Mike Pence will provide a media briefing on the nation’s coronavirus response…the first such briefing IN TWO MONTHS.

President Trump, meanwhile, is apparently watching an entirely different movie than everyone else:

 

President Trump is hemhoraging support. As a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds, Trump’s disapproval ratings have reached an all-time high:

Trump’s approval rating sits at just 40% overall, while a record 58% disapprove.

What’s more, a whopping 49% of voters “strongly disapprove” of the job Trump is doing. That kind of intensity of disapproval is a record never before seen for this president or any past one. [Pols emphasis]

So much winning! The #1 most disliked President ever!

 

Sticking with the subject of political polling, 9News released new data on Thursday showing that the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination is pretty much over. According to data from SurveyUSA, former Gov. John Hickenlooper is a 2-to-1 favorite over former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff ahead of Tuesday’s Primary Election.

 

Hickenlooper is probably not going to beat Romanoff by 30 points, but as the saying goes, you can tell the “fat lady” to start warming up.

 

Political suicide. On Thursday the Trump administration announced another boneheaded decision that one Republican consultant called “pretty dumb” earlier this week. As The Washington Post reports:

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act, telling the court that “the entire ACA must fall.” The administration’s argument comes as hundreds of thousands of Americans have turned to the government program for health care as they’ve lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded to the brief by saying there is “no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.” Dismantling the ACA would leave more than 23 million people without healthcare plans, according to a recent analysis by the liberal-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi, who on Wednesday filed a bill to expand the ACA, said in a statement.

Again, the Trump administration is making a big show of trying to take away health insurance for millions of people in the midst of an historic global pandemic that is pummeling the United States. Is Trump trying to lose in 2020?

This is also bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has repeatedly voiced support for destroying the ACA through the courts.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Justin Everett’s Quixotic Comeback Bid Turns Hater

Brought to our attention via local political reporter Sandra Fish, here’s a mailer that hit yesterday in the increasingly nasty HD-22 primary pitting incumbent Rep. Colin Larson against the previous holder of the seat, former Rep. Justin Everett–Everett having given up the seat in 2018 after losing the GOP Treasurer primary to general election loser Brian Watson (who probably won’t be running for anything again soon).

Although Everett is still bound by term limits and would only be able to serve one more term if he wins back the seat, the battle between Everett and his successor has turned into a very costly proxy war between the Republican Party’s corporate and far-right activist wings. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the cabal within the party most closely identified with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville are backing Everett, while “the suits” are backing Larson. Fish reported on the race for the Colorado Sun last week:

Another nearly $190,000 in big money is aimed at House District 22 in southern Jefferson County, where incumbent Rep. Colin Larson faces former Rep. Justin Everett, who left the seat in 2018 for an unsuccessful bid for state treasurer.

Assuring Quality Health Care Access spent nearly $72,000 supporting Larson, while Coloradans for Conservative Values spent more than $50,000 opposing Everett. Better Jobs spent nearly $36,000 on Larson’s race, with other groups spending less.

Everett is a longtime ally of RMGO, as well as House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Values First Colorado, the House super PAC, paid Everett $5,000 for consulting in December and January.

Although the content of this mail piece is absurdly difficult to read due to its circa-1996-website design, Everett’s attack on Larson is about as brazen an appeal to anti-LGBT prejudice as anything we’ve seen since the infamous “OMG two guys kissing” mailer sent in the SD-8 GOP primary back in 2012. Everett accuses his opponent of supporting (we apologize for the offense in reprinting) “boys who think they’re girls,” and that Larson is a tool of what Everett calls the “homosexual lobby.”

Safe to say, it’s not just the terrible design of this mail piece that’s a throwback to the bad old days.

With that said, of course, it’s entirely likely that this distasteful message, along with Everett’s familiarity with HD-22 Republicans after serving three terms, will bring out the GOP faithful to vote for Everett in the June 30th primary. Much like the Trump campaign’s red triangles, it’s all about the voters getting the message, and these are not in most cases going to voters who will be put off by a message of hostility toward LGBT Coloradans.

If you’re disgusted, too bad. You’re not in Everett’s target audience.

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The GMS Podcast: Rep. Chris Kennedy Gets More Smarter

Assistant House Majority Leader Chris Kennedy (D-Lakewood)

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii marvel anew at the ever-sinking poll numbers for President Trump; discuss the state of the debates in the U.S. Senate Primary between Democrats Andrew Romanoff and John Hickenlooper; and have a good laugh at an absurdly-bad new television ad from our second favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner.

But first, we wrap up the very weird Colorado legislative session that finally adjourned this week with State Rep. Chris Kennedy, the Assistant Majority Leader in the State House of Representatives. Warm up those brains and find out what happens next with several big policy ideas that were shelved because of the coronavirus outbreak and related budget troubles.

If you missed last week’s episode featuring polling guru Andrew Baumann, click here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Primary Fights Reveal Rift in Colorado Republican Caucus

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Patrick Neville’s seat is safe, but is his leadership title?

Patrick Neville with longtime ally Dudley Brown, shares his ultimately failed plans to recall fellow legislators last fall.

With Colorado’s primary election just two weeks away, statehouse campaigns to be the major party nominees are heating up. The competition is particularly fierce among the Republican races, where so-called dark money groups are spending unprecedented amounts of money.

The disputed primaries are once again revealing an ideological split within the Republican party, one that is well-known to Colorado politicos: the rift between the establishment GOP and its far-right wing, led by House Minority leader Patrick Neville. Despite historic losses in 2018, Neville still controls the caucus, and at least one Neville supporter appears to be nearly as concerned with protecting his leadership role as with retaking the chamber.

Emily Williams, wife of state Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs), posted a Facebook video warning of a leadership coup within the caucus, specifically that “outside money is trying to take out Patrick Neville as Minority Leader.”

She’s not talking about Democrats trying to flip conservative seats, but rather a group seeking to elect moderate Republicans to red districts. She went on to attack incumbent state Rep. Colin Larson (R-Littleton), who she claims is attempting to challenge Neville, by accusing him of sleeping on the job, literally.

“And so he [Justin Everett] is trying to get back in there and be a fighter and be amazing, which we desperately need, because I’m gonna be honest with you, alright? The current guy–I kid you not–taking naps while Republicans are up late fighting on the floor for your freedoms. This guy was going in the back and catching some Z’s while everybody else did the dirty work and the heavy lifting. And, oh, by the way, he’s trying to make a run on leadership against the likes of Patrick Neville.”

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 17)

Happy World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought…day. Please celebrate responsibly. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

Senate Republicans have finally countered a police reform plan put forth by the House of Representatives. It’s a bit light.

Via The Washington Post (6/17/20)

Senate Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a policing reform bill that would discourage, but not ban, tactics such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants, offering a competing approach to legislation being advanced by House Democrats that includes more directives from Washington.

The Republican proposal, which Senate leaders said would be considered on the floor next week, veers away from mandating certain policing practices, as the Democratic plan does.

Instead, it encourages thousands of local police and law enforcement agencies to curtail practices such as chokeholds and certain no-knock warrants by withholding federal funding to departments that allow the tactics or do not submit reports related to them.

The legislation also requires local law enforcement agencies to report all officer-involved deaths to the FBI — an effort pushed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is spearheading the GOP bill, since 2015 — and it encourages broader use of body-worn cameras for officers.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order outlining new policies to deal with police brutality — as he offered effusive praise for law enforcement officials. From CNN:

Speaking during a discursive noontime event in the Rose Garden, Trump initially sought to adopt a unifying tone as he announced an executive order that, among other steps, creates a federal database of police officers with a history of using excessive force.

But later he veered from that topic and that tone to assault his political rivals and tout the stock market’s recent rally.

It was a performance that laid bare the balance Trump faces as he continues to embrace a hard line “law and order” mantle, which he believes benefits him politically, even as he confronts a national reckoning over systemic racism in police departments and outcry over violent police tactics.

Don’t feel bad: We also had to look up the meaning of “discursive.”

Denver7 looks at how Trump’s executive order compares to legislation passed in Colorado over the weekend:

“The federal executive order is more of a guideline,” said Andre Andeli, a lecturer in the criminal justice and criminology department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

 

As The New York Times reports, China is shutting things down again as a new wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading through the country:

With a fresh outbreak of coronavirus infections tied to a market — 137 cases after an additional 31 were reported on Wednesday — Beijing has started living through a milder, and so far limited, version of the disruptive restrictions that China enforced earlier this year to stifle its first tidal wave of infections. Residents in the capital have been sharply reminded that even in China — with its array of authoritarian powers — the virus can leap back to life, triggering new rounds of limits on their lives.

The new outbreak in Beijing has brought embarrassment and a tough response from the Chinese Communist Party. Officials had been proud to the point of gloating in recent weeks about their success in stifling the pandemic in the country. Now the virus is back.

Here in the United States, Texas, Florida, and Arizona set new records for daily COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence says not to worry…so, yeah, you should probably start to worry a little.

 

The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate held their final pre-Primary debate on Tuesday. As The Denver Post reports:

Racial justice was a big topic during the debate, given the protests that have been taking place on the streets of Denver and multiple other cities following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who was pinned by the neck under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee.

Both candidates conceded that they had not done enough to address the issue during their time in politics. Hickenlooper said despite efforts to reform police conduct in Denver when he was mayor of the city during the 2000s, “we didn’t go far enough and I regret that.”

Romanoff echoed those sentiments, saying “none of us have done enough.”

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 15)

Happy Global Wind Day. Please celebrate responsibly. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

The Washington Post reports on a monumental Supreme Court ruling today:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal anti-discrimination laws protect gay and transgender employees, a major gay rights ruling written by one of the court’s most conservative justices.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s liberals in the 6 to 3 ruling. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex,” includes LGBTQ employees.

“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear,” Gorsuch wrote. “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Gorsuch and Roberts were joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

 

The Colorado legislature will wrap up the 2020 session today, and it looks like a police reform bill will be the main takeaway of the session restart. From The Denver Post:

Colorado passed one of the most comprehensive police reform packages in the country Saturday, setting limits on police use of force and mandating data collection to make sure cops who are fired from one agency don’t get rehired by another.

Gov. Jared Polis has said he will sign the historic bill into law once it reaches his desk.

“This is, in my estimation, the largest single advancement of individual civil rights and liberties for Coloradans in a generation,” said Denver civil rights attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai.

Among the biggest changes, Colorado’s Senate Bill 217 bans the use of chokeholds and carotid control holds, limits when police are allowed to shoot at a fleeing person and requires officers to intervene in cases of excessive force or face criminal charges. The bill requires all officers to use body-worn cameras and departments to release the footage within 45 days, and it allows for officers to be held personally liable for civil rights violations.

Colorado lawmakers have a few more items on their agenda for Monday before the adjourn for the year. Colorado Public Radio and The Denver Post take a look at other important decisions made over the weekend.
 
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has withdrawn its approval of an anti-malaria drug touted by President Trump as a treatment for COVID-19.

 

► Dear Leader Trump is trying to convince everyone that he is NOT the wobbly old man that he appeared to be while visiting West Point over the weekend. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, Trump has turned his health into a story — wobbling at the podium and shuffling meekly down a ramp afterward — because of his own past actions.

Trump claimed on Twitter that he was just being careful in descending a ramp because it was slick from rain that didn’t exist:

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Landmark Police Accountability Bill Passes House 52-13

Rest in power, George Floyd.

That’s the word from the Colorado House today as the extended 2020 legislative session winds down–Senate Bill 217, landmark legislation to ban chokeholds and end qualified immunity for police officers who brutalize the public, has passed by a lopsided–but not unanimous–52-13 vote. Among the “yes” votes, we note with some surprise, is GOP Minority Leader Patrick Neville, though a majority of his caucus in the end could not be persuaded to replicate the near-total support for the bill shown by the Senate. And as Michael Karlik of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, second-reading debate yesterday in the House turned quite nasty before the end:

Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood, told [Rep. Rod] Bockenfeld that Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader emailed the county’s legislative delegation to thank them for amending SB217 in consultation with law enforcement.

“That’s because you blackmailed him,” Bockenfeld said, according to Tipper.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, glared silently at Bockenfeld when it was her turn to speak. “There’s no blackmail that happened in the lobby. This is a good bill,” she said. “And shame on you for implying that in the well.”

Rep. Larry Liston, another Republican “no” vote, went directly for the third rail:

“I’m not justifying anything that that officer or the other three did at all. I want to be very clear about that. But [Pols emphasis] George Floyd was no angel either. In and out of prison.” Liston added, “irrespective of that, he didn’t deserve any of that.”

So why mention it at all? Liston doesn’t have to tell you. You already know.

But in the end, despite the determination of a majority of the GOP House minority to sound a discordant note into the history books, the story of Senate Bill 217, and the historic reforms this bill makes to the power of police to use force with impunity against the public, will be a story of landmark success that transcends partisan politics. Rep. Rod Bockenfeld claims that police were “blackmailed” into supporting the legislation, but the reality is that cops and even a large number of Republicans understood this time, along with the Democratic proponents who drove this bill from impetus to passage in less than two weeks, that a major change had to come.

Colorado rose to meet a massive challenge that was done waiting.

It’s a rare enough event that it feels weird. But it’s why everyone with a heart gets into this business.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 12)

President Trump will be 74 years old on Sunday. If you lived in Florida, you could celebrate on a Trumptilla (the downside, of course, would be that you lived in Florida). Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

Colorado lawmakers may or may not be nearing the end of a strange, two-part legislative session. The Denver Post has more on the progress of what has become the most-watched bill of the year:

A House committee amended Colorado’s police accountability and reform bill to give law enforcement more time to implement some changes and added a ban on carotid control holds before voting to support the bill at midnight Wednesday.

The approval came on a party-line vote, with all four Republicans on the House Finance Committee voting against Senate Bill 217, despite near-unanimous support in the Senate. [Pols emphasis] It followed hours of testimony by people who’ve had family members killed by police in Colorado.

One of law enforcement officials’ biggest objections about the bill has been that agencies need more time for training on the changes, so lawmakers set a September deadline for new use-of-force regulations to take effect. The new policies include a requirement to incrementally use force if other methods don’t work.

Other parts of the bill — including a ban on the use of chokeholds and limits on when police are allowed to shoot at a person who is running away from them — would take effect immediately if the bill is signed into law.

The four Republicans who voted against the bill: Reps. Rod Bockenfeld, Richard Champion, Janice Rich, and Shane Sandridge. Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was the lone ‘NO’ vote in the State Senate.

On the topic of police accountability, Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor is promising to take a closer look at tactics employed by the Denver Police Department (DPD). The Denver School Board voted to phase DPD out of its schools altogether.

 

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa), is being investigated for ordering a Republican official in El Paso County to falsify vote totals from the caucus process.

 

Governor Jared Polis is keeping a close eye on nearby spikes in reported cases of COVID-19. From Colorado Public Radio:

Colorado is closely watching some nearby states, as the number of COVID-19 cases in Utah and hospitalizations in Arizona continues to jump. Those spikes are alarming, Gov. Jared Polis said during a press briefing Thursday.

“A rising cause for concern,” he said. “We’ve seen no evidence yet of that leading to increased transmission on our side of the border, but we watch that and we worry.”

Colorado has confirmed 28,647 cases of COVID-19, according to the state’s latest numbers. Officials have also reported 1,583 deaths related to the disease to date. But the state has seen a downward trend in hospitalizations for 11 of the last 14 days.

In Arizona, a surge of hospitalizations means the state is nearing capacity on ICU beds. The state has confirmed 31,264 cases of the disease and 1,127 deaths. Arizona’s stay-at-home order ended after May 15. Colorado’s went through April 26.

Officials in San Antonio and Houston believe a second wave of COVID-19 is hitting already. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a one week “pause” in reopening the state after a surge of new cases — including two deaths on Thursday.

 

You should be receiving a Primary ballot in the mail this week. For more information on the Primary Election and to track your ballot, go to GoVoteColorado.com.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Endnotes: The Ridiculous Hullaballoo Over Senate Bill 163

Measles.

In today’s The Spot newsletter, Denver Post political reporter Alex Burness offers some useful context as the battle over Senate Bill 163, legislation to improve Colorado’s bottom-in-the-nation childhood immunization rates, comes to a successful conclusion for proponents:

[I]t has taken a Democrat-controlled General Assembly two years to muster support to pass a bill that allows parents to… still not vaccinate their kids.

This year’s bill preserves the right to nonmedical exemptions. You just have to take an online education course first. The opponents aren’t happy about that, but the bottom line is that no parent is going to be forced to watch a needle be plunged into their kid, even after this bill passes.

Other states have stricter policies; some allow no exemptions except for medical reasons. Colorado lawmakers have concluded that this is not a legislative option here, which is a credit to A) the governor’s stated “pro-choice” stance on vaccines and B) the fervent activism of the vaccine bill’s opponents.

Burness argues that the passage of SB-163, even though opponents have vowed to mount a repeal ballot initiative campaign to prevent the law from taking effect, betrays a hard limit on the ability of today’s lawmakers to take effective action even on an issue with overwhelming majority support–due to the fierce opposition of a small but vocal minority. Vaccines are not the only issue for which this appears to be the case. Even though the public strongly supports common-sense gun safety laws that our state is a model for today, passage of those bills resulted in a backlash from the passionate minority of gun rights activists that led to the successful recall of two Democratic Senators in 2013 and the resignation of a third.

One of the biggest problems with both this year’s modest vaccine bill as well as 2013’s gun safety bills is that the opposition was (and is) completely untethered from the facts about the legislation. Just as Republican lawmakers told the public in 2013 that the gun bills would “effectively ban gun ownership,” many of the protesters who turned out against Senate Bill 163 believe the bill does away with non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements. Although a majority of the public would support doing just that according to polls, SB-163 does not eliminate exemptions available for any or no reason.

There were a lot of variables involved in the drafting of this legislation, not least of which is a governor reticent to impose “medical mandates” on families. Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign SB-163 precisely because it does not coerce anyone to get any vaccine. The gulf between perception and reality with this bill among its opponents is not the fault of Gov. Polis, however, and the Republican lawmakers who have eagerly embraced the “anti-vaxxer” movement in opposition to this bill are the ones making no attempt to give opponents factual information.

With that, we’ll ask our readers: is there any way to prevent the tail from wagging the dog? Will the fringe always wield disproportionate influence simply because of their ability to yell louder and longer? And will passing a modest reform now make further reforms that would still enjoy broad public support harder to pass later?

These are all questions worth answering as the dust settles on this particularly crazy fight.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Let’s Talk About Polling

Andrew Baumann

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Turd Ferguson makes his debut in front of the Independent Ethics Commission; a police accountability bill moves surprisingly swiftly through the state legislature; and the walls are caving in for one political party.

Hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii also interview Andrew Baumann, Senior Vice President of Research at Global Strategy Group, for insights on interesting poll numbers in Colorado and throughout the country. We also take a step back and ask Baumann how pollsters make their research scientifically-valid and why a small percentage of people still claim to be unfamiliar with Donald Trump.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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More “Real History” with State Rep. Lori Saine

State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) dropping some knowledge on lawmakers on Thursday.

At least once during the 2019 legislative session, State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) — who is also the House Minority Caucus Chair — delivered a questionable history lesson during a floor speech in the House of Representatives. In 2019, Saine talked about how Christopher Columbus really wasn’t such a bad guy. On Thursday, Saine delivered another history lesson that was so incredibly bizarre that we felt it was our duty to share this knowledge with Colorado Pols readers.

Saine took to the floor today in opposition to HB20-1420, “Adjust Expenditures for State Education Fund” (otherwise known as “The Tax Fairness Act”). In order to provide more funding for public education in Colorado, which was among the many cuts made to balance the state budget amid a $3.3 billion shortfall, HB20-1420 would revoke tax breaks from the 2017 Trump Tax Cut for Rich People; restrict certain cuts included in the federal coronavirus stimulus bill (the CARES Act); and reduce some state tax credits for certain industries. Supporters of the bill say it could raise about $278 million for public schools in Colorado.

Saine doesn’t like this bill, so she stepped into the well on the House floor and delivered a whopper of a rambling speech that included references to “Atlas Shrugged,” Adam Smith, Henry Ford, Rep. Richard Holtorf, and the process of making a pencil. Here’s one of our favorite lines:

Atlas shrugs, and we are left to make our own pencils.

Despite Saine’s objections, HB20-1420 was later approved by the House of Representatives.

You can watch Saine’s speech here. We also transcribed her entire diatribe, which is available in full after the jump…

 

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Even More GOP COVID BS Bites The Dust

Rep. Mark Baisley (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jessica Seaman reported on Tuesday, and we wanted to be sure it got a mention in this space:

A Colorado district attorney announced Tuesday that an investigation into the handling of death certificates of COVID-19 patients at a Centennial nursing home found no evidence that the state’s health department illegally altered nor falsified the documents.

The investigation was started last month after Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, alleged the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment falsified the number of people who have died from COVID-19…

On Monday, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler sent a letter to Baisley that said “since I have found insufficient evidence of death certificates being falsely made or altered, there are no criminal charges or additional investigations warranted at this time.”

The baseless allegation from GOP Rep. Mark Baisley of Douglas County that Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment staff were “altering death certificates” was just one of a huge number of dubious-trending-false claims circulated by Republicans during the height of “resistance” to the stay-at-home orders, which are now universally credited with helping reduce death and suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Baisley in particular, one of the wilder blowhards in the House minority caucus, has been a major source of controversy for Republicans during the pandemic–from comparing lawbreaking shopowners to Rosa Parks to demanding Douglas County pull out of the Tri County Health Department after the agency imposed a stay-at-home order quickly rendered moot by Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide order.

“The public health field has high standards of data collection and dissemination, which CDPHE follows rigorously,” said a statement by the state health department. “This is illustrated by the DA’s response to the claim. We are disappointed that such a bogus allegation would be perpetuated by a member of the general assembly in the first place.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s unusual for a state agency to use the word “bogus” in an official statement, but we’d say it’s justified here.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with political misinformation, many more Coloradans saw the initial reports about Baisley’s baseless allegation than will most likely ever see the conclusion–from a Republican prosecutor no less–that the allegation was in fact baseless. Baisley’s ridiculous claim that CDPHE was “doctoring death certificates” is now a permanent part of the conspiracist mythology about the COVID-19 pandemic a segment of Colorado voters will believe for the rest of their lives.

But it’s not true. It was never true. And the only way to fight back is to tell the truth to as many people as Baisley lied to in uncritical media coverage. That’s difficult to do, and liars know it.

The truth these days is always at a disadvantage.

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“Unite America”–Back And Meddling In GOP Primaries

The Colorado Citizen Press, a blog associated with the activist/fundraising complex administered by the Neville clan, is hopping mad about spending in Republican legislative primary races connected to Unite America–the controversial organization once known as the Centrist Project that fielded a slate of unsuccessful “independent” legislative candidates in 2018. The organization in the end was better causing headaches for mainstream candidates in swing districts than actually electing its own people, so in 2020 they’re back with a new approach–messing around in Republican primaries.

Which feels right, literally and figuratively, after the experience with this group in 2018:

That’s right, New York liberal Kathryn Murdoch contributed millions of dollars to a progressive centrist group called Unite America, where she serves on the board. She worked for the Clinton Climate Initiative for years, as well as other progressive groups. She even donated $88,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund.

Unite America then contributed $507,500 to Unite Colorado Election Fund, an independent expenditure committee. Unite Colorado Election Fund appears to have sent hundreds of thousands of those dollars to Coloradans For Constitutional Values, though reports will likely not reflect this contribution until June 15, 2020.

Coloradans for Constitutional Values is spending that money to oppose conservative Republicans and support liberal-leaning Republicans…

Back in 2016, as readers will remember, former GOP Congressman Bob Beauprez organized a nonprofit political group whose primary purpose turned out to be attacking conservative Republican primary candidates. That tight focus on electioneering resulted in an embarrassing court ruling against the group, Pioneer Action, in the course of which a further embarrassing connection to the Colorado Springs Gazette was identified that has helped keep bad blood flowing between the Colorado Republican Party’s corporate and right-wing activist factions.

Beauprez’s effort to purge the GOP of immoderate figures not only failed but led to increasing control by conservative activists of the state party infrastructure. Hard-right candidates who survived this purge helped provide Pat Neville with a base of support in the House minority caucus that has endured catastrophic defeat in 2018, failed reprisals against Democrats in the 2019 recalls, and ongoing embarrassment for Republicans everywhere as Neville’s wacky politics seize hold of the GOP brand.

With this in mind, we feel pretty confident that Unite America pushing “RINO” candidates on the restive Colorado Republican base, like Beauprez’s attempted party purge in 2016, is just going to piss them off. Kathryn Murdoch, Rupert Morduch’s “radical centrist” daughter-in-law, is set to be the next high-handed conservative to see the lurch right in Colorado as harmful to the long-term viability of the Republican Party, throw money at the perceived problem, and then realize in dismay that the patient doesn’t want to be cured.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 9)

A couple of inches of snow in June? Sure, why not; this won’t even crack the Top 10 on unusual events in 2020. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

Pundits often argue that America is a deeply-divided country at the moment, but as The Washington Post reports, we seem to agree on some of that division:

Americans overwhelmingly support the nationwide protests that have taken place since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and they say police forces have not done enough to ensure that blacks are treated equally to whites, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.

President Trump receives negative marks for his handling of the protests, with 61 percent saying they disapprove and 35 percent saying they approve. Much of the opposition to Trump is vehement, as 47 percent of Americans say they strongly disapprove of the way the president has responded to the protests.

The poll highlights how attitudes about police treatment of black Americans are changing dramatically. More than 2 in 3 Americans (69 percent) say the killing of Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement, compared with fewer than 1 in 3 (29 percent) who say the Minneapolis killing is an isolated incident.

Annnndd…then there’s President Trump. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza reports, Trump has latched onto a conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old man thrown to the pavement by police in Buffalo is Antifa, or something:

In a country on high alert for incidents of unnecessary use of force by police against those protesting in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the video sparked outrage. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the episode “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.” The two officers involved in the incident were suspended.

But on Tuesday morning, the President of the United States suggested — without offering a shred of evidence — that the entire episode was the result of a broad scam involving Antifa, a protest organization “whose political beliefs lean toward the left — often the far left — but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform.”…

…Trump appears to have developed this, uh, theory from watching a clip on the One America News Network, the Fox News of Fox News.

Ladies and gentlemen, the actual President of the United States of America:

As The Denver Post reports, social justice protests in Colorado are spreading to smaller communities outside of the Denver Metro area:

The social justice uprisings in major American cities sparked by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd have been spreading peacefully out from Denver, up and down the Front Range and into isolated rural communities across Colorado…

…Over the past five days, Colorado residents have demonstrated on the streets of at least 18 towns and cities from Aspen to Westcliffe, according to local press reports and photos and video shared on social media. An initial focus on police abuse was broadening to encompass wider justice concerns.

The demonstrations have been largely peaceful — Colorado Springs officers fired tear gas, Alamosa police are investigating a shooting — following the initial violent standoffs in Denver with police in riot gear who used chemical agents and pepper balls.

As Westword reports, the Denver Police Department is saying all the right things about a commitment to reform and transparency in the wake of protests.

 

As 9News reports, a funny thing is happening at the State Capitol on Monday: Senate Republicans are supporting meaningful legislation.

 

►  The ballots are coming! The ballots are coming!

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Ruh-Roh, Republicans: Abortion Ban Makes 2020 Ballot

Suzanne Staiert, attorney for “Due Date Too Late” and candidate for SD-27.

As the Colorado Secretary of State’s office reports today, a proposed abortion ban initiative will be on the 2020 ballot after all:

The Elections Division of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced today that Proposed Initiative 120 (“Prohibition on Late-Term Abortion”) obtained the sufficient number of signatures needed to qualify for the 2020 General Election ballot.

On March 4, the “Prohibition on Late-Term Abortion” Initiative submitted 137,624 petition signatures, needing 124,632 valid signatures to qualify for inclusion on the 2020 ballot…

…The proponents initially did not submit the required number of signatures but by law were afforded an opportunity to cure the insufficiency. By order of a district court, the proponents secured an extension of the period in which they could acquire the sufficient number of valid signatures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That cure period to reach sufficiency began on May 15 and ended at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 29, at which time an additional 48,689 signatures were submitted.

Upon review, the Elections Division has determined a sufficient number of signatures have been submitted and the proposed initiative will appear on the November 3 General Election Ballot.

There will be plenty of mixed opinions on this issue, but politically-speaking, this is not great news for Colorado Republicans already looking at an uphill battle in the 2020 election. Republican candidates could have dodged questions on the “Late-Term Abortion” measure had it not qualified for the ballot, but now every GOP hopeful will be asked to state whether or not they plan to vote for Initiative 120.

As you can see from the chart below, efforts to restrict abortion access in Colorado have failed miserably over the last 20 years:

Abortion restrictions on Colorado ballot

Initiative 120 probably won’t have a negative impact on Democratic candidates in 2020, but it could be a significant issue in swing legislative races. For example, Suzanne Staiert is the Republican candidate for State Senate District 27 (Arapahoe County) and the attorney for the “Due Date Too Late” group that is fronting Initiative 120; both Democrats and Republicans consider SD-27 to be one of the most prominent races in 2020.

Nationwide, voters are not enthusiastic about abortion restrictions like Initiative 120’s proposal to enact a ban after 22 weeks of pregnancy (which isn’t based on any real healthcare data but is more of an attempt to get something abortion-related passed in Colorado). Navigator Research found last month that 65% of voters oppose efforts to “restrict women’s access to time-sensitive reproductive care.”

Of course, Colorado is unquestionably a pro-choice state now. In 2014, Pew Research found that 59% of Colorado voters believe that abortion should be legal in all/most cases. Last June, a poll from Keating-OnSight-Melanson found that 68% of Colorado voters believe that abortion should be legal (with just 5% undecided).

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House Minority Leader Pat Neville Actually Losing His Mind?

GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

We took note a week ago of a statement from Colorado House Republicans, over-the-top in terms of wacky rhetoric accusing Democrats of supporting property damage that occurred early in the protests over the death of George Floyd–a statement generally laughed off by the media, but this is what Republicans in Colorado were telling their base:

Over the past several days, chaos has erupted in the streets of Denver while supportive Democrats [Pols emphasis] have shut down the State Capitol in “solidarity” with the rioters who have attacked police officers, blocked traffic, and destroyed public and private property…

Given that Democratic Senate President Leroy Garcia was among those whose property was damaged, the suggestion that Democrats were somehow supportive of criminal mischief around the Capitol in the first days of the protests over George Floyd’s death is even more silly than the usual “Democrats are soft on crime” rhetoric.

As readers know, a change in police tactics after a few initial days of intense conflict with protesters is primarily responsible for a shift in recent days to notably peaceful and increasingly large demonstrations in Denver, including a rally Saturday led by members of the Denver Broncos in Civic Center Park that drew many thousands. But don’t tell any of that to House Minority Leader Patrick Neville! Neville sent out an update via his family business organizing front Take Back Colorado on Friday that would have you believe civilization as we know it is coming to an end:

Chaos has erupted across Colorado. Rioters, looters and violent thugs are roaming our streets unchecked, attacking innocent bystanders.

While our cities burn and descend into chaos, [Pols emphasis] Governor Polis and the Democratic leadership in Denver have remained radio silent. Some Democrats have even made excuses for the militant criminals…

We just want to be sure it’s we’re not missing anything: does anybody know what Neville is talking about? Who are these “innocent bystanders” being attacked–except maybe by police? What cities in Colorado are burning and descending “into chaos?”

It’s bad enough when talk radio hosts make up this kind of fearmongering nonsense with no relationship whatsoever to facts on the ground. The highest-ranking Republican in the Colorado House has, or used to have, or should have in any event, a basic obligation to not further incite panic among the public in an emergency. The cities are not burning. There is no chaos. And above all, no one is silent.

Pat Neville is doing an amazing job making Colorado Republicans look ridiculous, however.

It’s bad enough that we hope he doesn’t actually believe what he says. That might be even worse.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Double the Banes!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Coronavirus is not our first topic as protests about police violence take over headlines; Colorado Republican lawmakers do the worst thing they could have done; and we find our second favorite U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner, in a really bad place (again).

Later, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii interview another person named Jason Bane in a new feature we’re calling The Jason Bane Focus Group.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Rep. Dave Williams Believes All The BS

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

That’s hard-right GOP Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs, who has taken it upon himself to become one of the louder detractors from the week-plus of protests in Denver over the alleged murder of George Floyd in police custody–loudly demanding that more cops show up to crack more skulls and applauding President Donald Trump’s bellicose mismanagement of the ongoing situation.

In the Tweet you can see above sent yesterday, Williams claims that a flyer proclaiming among other things “Death to America is all we need” was found among trash left behind by protesters in Denver. “Republicans are not actual humans, they are sub-human troglidytes [sic] and God approves of killing them,” screams this flyer in language that oddly resembles the Westboro Baptist Church protests against LGBT people.

The problem, as Michael Karlik of the Colorado Springs Gazette reported on June 3, days before Rep. Williams’ Tweet, is that this letter is 1. from a website in California and 2. almost certainly fake:

The image originated on a Facebook page titled “Californuzuela,” which labels itself as a news and media organization whose mission is to “bring awareness to the dangerous path of Socialism and the future of California.”

The page is filled with news articles about “antifa,” the abbreviation for the anti-fascist movement whose members aggressively counter-protest right-wing demonstrations. Californuzuela posted on Tuesday morning, “ANTIFA recruitment flyers being passed out last night in Denver,” with the image attached. As of Wednesday morning, 197 people had shared it…

“The first hint [that it is fake] is that it’s a call to Democrats – leftist protestors do not identify as democrats,” wrote Showing Up for Racial Justice, a white-led anti-racism group. “It’s also clearly worded to incite violence, which is a far right tactic, and protestors do not advocate violence.”

…After Colorado Politics contacted Californuzuela with a series of questions, the webpage updated the post with a label of “unsubstantiated.”

“Californuzuela,” which is a same we’re sad local Republicans didn’t think of because it’s much more clever than “Radicalifornia,” now says that “after reviewing, I could not find anything to substantiate the flyer image’s authenticity or where it originated.” Let’s be clear on this: the website originally responsible for spreading this image disowned it on June 3. This development was reported in Williams’ own hometown paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Dave Williams Tweeted it out as fact on June 6.

You’re free to give Rep. Williams the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he didn’t see the news story days before he Tweeted debunking these flyers. But knowing Rep. Williams as we do, we see no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt on this or any other question of truthfulness. Let us know if he makes even a token attempt to correct the record.

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Colorado House GOP Revolting Over Pro-Vaccine Bill

Rep. Kyle Mullica (D).

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports today, the briefly reanimated 2020 session of the Colorado General Assembly is thankfully set to include continued debate on Senate Bill 20-163, proposed legislation to help improve the state of Colorado’s abysmal childhood vaccination rates:

[Rep. Kyle] Mullica is one of the sponsors Senate Bill 163, aimed at increasing Colorado’s vaccination rates — the lowest in the nation — by making it harder for people to claim non-medical exemptions. The bill was making its way through the legislature — and had passed through the Senate — before the session was suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

When lawmakers returned with a goal of finishing their work as quickly as possible, it wasn’t clear whether the bill with vocal opposition would still get a vote. This week, leadership agreed to add the bill to the calendar, and it’s scheduled to be heard Sunday at noon by the Health and Insurance Committee.

The announcement that SB-163 will be heard in the House Health and Insurance Committee on Sunday as the House tries to maximize productivity while limiting the duration of the restarted session has, not altogether unsurprisingly, convinced Colorado’s highly militant and conspiracy-minded minority of “anti-vaxxer” activists that the fix is in:

Anyone who is familiar with the language of SB-163 already knows, there is simply no truth to the charge that “Flu, HPV, COVID” vaccines “all will be mandated.” But this is representative of the reality-detached nonsense that typified the hours-long hearings over this bill in the Colorado Senate prior to the pandemic-forced adjournment. Although the debate over vaccination has not always cleanly split along partisan lines, in Colorado the issue has become solidly partisan–with Republican lawmakers emerging as “anti-vaxxer” champions, led by some of the GOP caucus’s most visible figures like Rep. Dave Williams and Lori Saine.

This morning, House Republicans led by Minority Leader Patrick Neville are reportedly staging a 2019-style revolt against Sunday’s hearing, asking for legislation to be read at length and engaging in other procedural chicanery to slow the process down. Though the GOP minority can’t stop the bill from eventually passing, they do have the power to make a public stink on behalf of vaccine opponents as they did before the pandemic shut down the legislature.

And that’s when we get to finally ask–what are Republicans hoping to gain with this? Currying favor with a small minority of “anti-vaxxer” voters by outraging the vast majority at the worst possible moment just a few months ahead of an election is a political strategy that’s so bad it almost seems like a joke. Democrats should be overjoyed to let the GOP become the party of anti-vaxxers in the era of COVID-19.

Notwithstanding, of course, the health hazard of holding hearings with these people any day of the week.

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Not One Republican Voted to Pass State Budget Today

House Minority “Leader” Patrick Neville

Readers of Colorado Pols are surely aware that state lawmakers faced a devastating task when they returned to the State Capitol last week: How to cut $3.3 billion from a state budget that was already tighter than Pat Neville’s shirt collar.

There were literally tears being shed by members of the Joint Budget Committee because of the gut-wrenching decisions that had to be made at a significant cost to some of the neediest Coloradans among us. After weeks of discussions, lawmakers led by Democrats in both chambers limited the pain as much as possible and finalized a budget.

Today, the State House voted to approve the amended state budget by a vote of 41-23.

Not a single Republican in the House voted ‘YES’ on advancing a bill that is a constitutional mandate. 

State Sen. John Cooke, quoted in late April.

Legislative Republicans had already indicated that they were downright giddy that major cuts would have to be made, but they made little effort to assist Democrats in the process. Republicans were upset, for example, at a proposal to make cuts to the Senior Homestead Exemption; nobody wanted to make cuts to the Senior Homestead Exemption, but it’s a big line-item.

What did the GOP propose to cut instead?

[crickets]

We noted when the legislature reconvened last week that Republican lawmakers weren’t even pretending that they had helpful suggestions for balancing the state budget, which is something lawmakers are constitutionally-bound to achieve every year. Conservative politicians in the House who often shout about the need to cut spending in the state budget had the perfect opportunity to whip out the scissors. Instead, they sat on their hands and let Democrats make the adult decisions.

We’ll be interested to see if Senate Republicans take the same approach as the “Long Bill” moves to the upper legislative chamber. Considering that the GOP chose the worst possible option on how to act when the legislature reconvened last week, we aren’t holding our breath.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 3)

Today is World Bicycle Day, which is probably terrifying to those folks who believe in a massive United Nations-bicycle conspiracy. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

American military leaders are speaking out in opposition to President Trump’s statements on Monday that he would use armed soldiers to quell protests across the country. As The Washington Post reports:

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Wednesday that he does not support the use of active-duty military forces in quelling countrywide unrest — a statement that puts him at odds with President Trump, who has threatened to send troops into U.S. cities.

Esper’s announcement comes after a week of increasingly violent unrest gave way to largely peaceful protest Tuesday evening. Brutal clashes between police and the public seemed to subside, and there were only sporadic reports of looting and other mayhem across the nation.

As CNN reports, Esper probably moved closer to getting fired by President Trump, but at least he’ll maintain something of a conscience.

Democratic Senators are also warning the White House not to proceed with the forceful use of military personnel on American streets and to invoke the Insurrection Act. From POLITICO:

“In short, we oppose in the strongest terms the use of the U.S. military to impede the First Amendment rights of Americans,” the senators wrote. “In cases where there is a need for additional security, state and local law enforcement, with support from the state National Guard, who live with and within the communities they serve, under the control of each state, are fully capable of responding.”

And what did Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) have to say? From CNN:

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican up for reelection in Colorado, didn’t directly answer the question.

“Peaceful protests are going to have to continue,” he said when asked if he was comfortable with what happened near the White House. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner ducked a similar question from Colorado Public Radio on Monday, claiming ignorance about President Trump’s directives to state governors to get tougher on protestors.

Governor Jared Polis, meanwhile, had no problems standing up against Trump.

 

The Colorado legislature is halfway through the process of finalizing a new state budget with $3.3 billion in cuts. Today the House of Representatives voted — on a strict party-line vote — to approve an amended budget for discussion in the State Senate.

 

►  Colorado Democrats unveiled an extensive bill to deal with police accountability, as Jesse Paul writes for The Colorado Sun:

Democratic state lawmakers on Tuesday began to unveil a sweeping bill aimed at increasing law enforcement accountability in Colorado by collecting racial profiling data, ensuring officers hold each other accountable and making it easier for the public to file lawsuits against police.

The measure, which could be introduced as soon as Wednesday, also would beef up how law-enforcement involved deaths are investigated, prevent problematic officers from moving to different police departments and sheriff’s offices, and require agencies to use body cameras while giving them guidelines on how and when to release footage.

 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is expected to announce today a decision on additional charges for officers involved in the killing of George Floyd.

 

A sixth day of protesting in Denver on Tuesday took a less-confrontational turn as large groups gathered for a peaceful protest.

 

 Infamous racist Republican Rep. Steve King is finally on his way out of Congress after losing a Primary battle on Tuesday.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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The Plot to Kill Gallagher

No, not that one.

If you’re a fan of public schools, firefighters, and libraries, then you’ll want to pay particular attention to this story. A bipartisan group of lawmakers — led by State Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and State Sen. Chris Hansen (D-Denver) — is pushing legislation intended to eventually kill off the Gallagher Amendment once and for all. The hope is to pass legislation that will put a repeal of the Gallagher Amendment on the 2020 ballot so voters can head off further economic disaster in our state.

The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, is a bit complicated to explain (here’s a video from Colorado Fiscal Institute that may or may not help). But going through the minutiae of how the Gallagher Amendment works is probably less important than understanding why it is a problem for Colorado.

Essential services such as public schools, local firefighters, and library districts rely on funding from property tax revenues. Residential property represents roughly 75% of all valued property, but under the Gallagher Amendment it can only provide 45% of all property tax revenue for local services. When the value of commercial properties decreases — which, for obvious reasons, is happening during the coronavirus pandemic — then commercial property values are lowered; that means less money for local services.

Moreover, residential property tax rates adjust based on current rates for commercial real estate properties. When the value of commercial properties goes down, the Gallagher Amendment requires an associated lowering of residential property tax rates to maintain the 45/55 split for revenue from residential/commercial properties. Yada, yada, yada…massive cuts to local school districts, fire departments, and libraries.

The purpose behind the Gallagher Amendment was to make sure that residential property rates didn’t increase too much compared to the tax rates for other properties and services, which in the 1980s was a particularly popular complaint for East Coast property owners. The Gallagher Amendment would be problematic enough on its own, but it is doubly-destructive in Colorado because we also have TABOR. As Conrad Swanson writes for The Denver Post:

Estimates from the state’s property tax administrator show that residential rates could drop from the current 7.15% to 5.88%, spelling a $491 million cut for school districts statewide and a $204 million cut for county governments, as Chalkbeat reported.

“The impact on schools is going to be brutal if we don’t repeal Gallagher,” Hansen said. “Massive.”

And that lost revenue will stay lost, Rep. Daneya Esgar said. While the Gallagher Amendment allows residential rates to float up and down as needed, a second amendment passed in 1992, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, prevents the taxes from rising again, she said.

“If we get rid of Gallagher before the residential assessment rate drops, we can at least maintain where it is right now,” Esgar said. Otherwise, “we’ll never be able to get back to where we are now.” [Pols emphasis]

Repealing the Gallagher Amendment would not increase anyone’s property taxes — it would just stop a process of ratcheting those funds ever downward. Legislators need to get a 2/3rds majority to approve putting a repeal on the ballot in November; a corresponding measure would ask voters to freeze residential property tax rates for several years.

And if that doesn’t pass? The Post provides one particularly grim assessment:

Fire departments across the state will lose a substantial amount of cash. Already the Glenwood Springs department’s 28 full-time employees face staggered furloughs, but another hit to the budget would mean fire stations would go unstaffed, [Pols emphasis] Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said. Emergency calls would be answered by other stations across town or from neighboring departments dealing with their own budget shortfalls.

In a very real sense, the Gallagher Amendment needs to die in order to help keep Coloradans alive. That battle has now begun.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 2)

Happy International Sex Workers’ Day; please celebrate responsibly and in private. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

► Dear Leader Trump announced on Monday evening that he would use armed military forces to quell nationwide protests if state governors did not act more aggressively — remarks that were condemned locally by Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. He also said he was a “friend” to peaceful protestors just before he walked to St. John’s church for a photo op on a route cleared of peaceful protestors by tear gas. As The New York Times reports:

Via The New York Times (6/2/20)

People who gathered outside the White House to protest police brutality spent Monday waving signs and screaming for justice. They watched as police officers and National Guard units flooded Lafayette Square, delivering on a threat made by President Trump. And just before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect, they were hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas.

It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates.

The actual President of the United States of America

Stephen Collinson of CNN called the stunt “a moment of vanity and bravado.” As The Washington Post reports, the Right Rev. Mariann E. Budde was incensed by Trump’s photo op:

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said.

She excoriated the president for standing in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood — holding up a Bible, which Budde said “declares that God is love.”

“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde of the president. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.” [Pols emphasis]

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, President Trump staged ANOTHER photo op on Tuesday at a notable religious site and got blasted once again:

In a statement Tuesday morning as the president was arriving, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory slammed the visit and the tactics Trumped had used for the photo opportunity at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said. [Pols emphasis]

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, delivered a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning that was much more evocative of the sort of “presidential” address Americans might have hoped to see from Trump. From NBC News:

Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the nationwide peaceful protests to the death of George Floyd, calling his killing in police custody a “wake-up call for our nation” and drawing a stark contrast between President Donald Trump’s tactics and how he would respond.

In a speech from Philadelphia City Hall, Biden repeated Floyd’s final words before he died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes — and said it was time “to listen to those words … and respond with action.”…

…”I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain,” he said. “I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.

 

An early glimpse at polling data shows that Americans seem to be largely sympathetic to protests following the killing of George Floyd. Via Morning Consult:

 

A separate poll from CBS News shows that a majority of Americans agree that police officers generally treat white people much better than they treat black people.

 

If you’re wondering what Colorado’s U.S. Senators had to say about Trump’s comments to state governors earlier on Monday, you won’t be all that surprised to read this from Colorado Public Radio:

While Gardner said he did not hear Trump’s comments, fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was not surprised by the president’s tone.

“It’s disgraceful we have somebody in the White House who thinks the answer to this is more violence and more division,” the Democratic senator said. “We need more enlightened leadership than that.”

Bennet said what was needed wasn’t more force, but a real response to “the institutional racism that exists in this country at every level of our society.”

Gardner said all Americans can and should do better.

Cory Gardner: Real man of courage.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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House GOP Statement Vile Even For Pat Neville

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Yesterday afternoon, the Colorado House Republican Minority released a statement we assume they thought was very strong: demanding that Democrats “outright condemn” the last several days of protests over the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, and essentially accusing Democratic lawmakers of supporting the violence committed by a tiny minority of protesters:

Over the past several days, chaos has erupted in the streets of Denver while supportive Democrats have shut down the State Capitol in “solidarity” with the rioters who have attacked police officers, blocked traffic, and destroyed public and private property. Some elected Democrats have actually gone out of their way to do everything they can to block police from stopping the rioters and restoring law and order.

Even more egregious, is that Colorado Democrats and Governor Polis will take swift action against business owners who try to reopen their small businesses and make ends meet, but will give “space” to criminals who start fires in the streets, lob homemade explosives at police, and deface the State Capitol in defiance of the rule of law.

The Colorado House Republicans call on all Democrats, starting with the House and Senate Democrats, to outright condemn these rioters.

We further call on Democrats to not block the prosecution of these criminals like they did in January when rioters disrupted the opening day of the Colorado General Assembly.

It’s time that Colorado Democrats, and the liberal press who enable them, take steps to condemn what’s happening around the State Capitol and see what’s most important here — protecting the innocent from harm and restoring law and order immediately.

It’s tough to know where to begin with this statement, which seems to ignore just about every known fact about the protests of the past few days. Democrats like Rep. Leslie Herod who have led the massive and peaceful daytime protests against police violence repeatedly urged their supporters to obey the law. Rep. Herod specifically exhorted protesters to respect the curfew imposed in Denver after the second night of unrest.

And that’s just the beginning. Did riot police deploy to restaurants that illegally reopened during the COVID-19 emergency? A few dozen climate activists who super-glued themselves to the rail in the House gallery are “a riot?” House Republicans are seriously suggesting that Senate President Leroy Garcia wanted his truck destroyed?

Failing to differentiate the peaceful protests across the nation and in Denver over the weekend from the actions of a comparatively small number of hoodlums after dark shows that Republicans don’t want to address “what’s most important here,” which is police brutality against people of color. Characterizing this weekend’s protests indiscriminately as “riots” only demonstrates that platitudes Republicans offer over police brutality in the wake of a major incident, like Colorado House Republicans did last week after the death of George Floyd, are meaningless.

We’re not surprised that’s how Minority Leader Pat Neville feels, after Neville has spent pretty much every day since the 2018 elections marginalizing his caucus and sullying the Republican brand. But to see the whole GOP House minority sign this disgraceful letter…

Well, that’s pretty shocking. And we hope there are some privately delivered apologies.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 29)

We don’t normally do a GMS update later in the day like this, but since there is SO much happening in the world, we figured it might be helpful. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

A second day of protests are underway in Denver after a long night of anger on Thursday over police brutality. The Denver Post has a rundown of Thursday’s protests if you happened to miss the news (also check this story from The Colorado Times-Recorder). The Colorado legislature will not reconvene until Monday because of the the protests. If you’re trying to be out and about today, be aware that RTD has suspended all lightrail and bus services in downtown Denver.

Meanwhile, one of the officers accused in the death of George Floyd has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

 

► President Trump is speaking out about protests related to the death of George Floyd…and not in a way that is at all helpful. As The Washington Post reports, Trump’s rhetoric led to a response from Twitter:

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump tweeted shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, adding, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Critics immediately condemned Trump’s tweet, asserting that he was promoting violent retaliation against protesters, and Twitter took swift action. “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” read a gray box that now hides Trump’s tweet from public view unless a user clicks to see it. In doing so, Twitter also prevented other users from liking the president’s tweet or sharing it without appending comment.

Prior to this exchange, Trump signed a (legally questionable) Executive Order on Thursday accusing social media companies like Twitter of “censoring” right-wing voices. Notably, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg isn’t saying shit.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, took a different approach. Via POLITICO:

Biden said Friday that the death in Minnesota of a black man who had been detained by police exposed racial injustice that “none of us can turn away” from, urging Americans to treat the volatile national moment as a turning point for race relations in the U.S.

Biden said Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer detained him and knelt on his neck for several minutes, was denied basic “human” and “civil rights.”

 

As The New York Times reports, President Trump says he is officially cutting U.S. ties with the World Health Organization:

“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Mr. Trump said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden.

The declaration was a major escalation of his efforts to blame China and the W.H.O. for the spread of the virus and deflect blame from his handling of a crisis that has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States. Last week, Mr. Trump threatened to pull funding if the W.H.O. did not “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days.”

The United States is the single largest donor to the W.H.O., contributing about 20 percent of its budget in 2018 and 2019. The world’s pre-eminent global health organization, the W.H.O. has been targeted by the Trump administration for its handling of global data as the virus spread.

 

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is demonstrating true crisis leadership.

 

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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