ICYMI: Hospitals Making Big Bucks at Your Expense

Hospital executives

We’ve noted at length in this space that creating a “public option” for health care in Colorado will be perhaps the biggest fight of the 2020 legislative session. Governor Jared Polis has made a “public option” a priority for his administration (check out this interview with Polis for more detail), and the health care industry is already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads and direct mail complaints in an effort to get ahead of the debate and sway public opinion.

The health care industry and “Big Hospital” (also known as the Colorado Hospital Association) have a tough task ahead of them; recent polling shows strong support for a “public option” in Colorado, and a new study released last week examines just how much Coloradans are getting gouged by the health care industry. As The Denver Post reported on Thursday:

Despite money from the state to make up for funding shortfalls and increases in Medicaid payment rates, hospitals — not the providers — are making billions in profits while forcing patients to pay more, according to a report released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

…The report argues that hospitals are facing less of a shortfall than they did a decade ago because fewer people are uninsured and the state has increased Medicaid reimbursement rates and created other mechanisms to fund shortfalls. Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said the state expected hospitals to stop shifting so much of their costs onto people with private insurance as their shortfall went down, but instead they’ve increased spending on executives and middle men.

The shiniest numbers in the state report show that hospital profits nearly tripled in the last decade, rising from an average of $538 per patient in 2009 to $1,518 in 2018. The Colorado Hospital Association responded to these figures with some carefully-ordered but generally meaningless words:

The hospital association said the profits the state cited don’t into account some of their costs, like taxes and the value of time spent training medical residents. It also attributed much of the increase in profitability to a strong economy and to improvements in vulnerable hospitals’ finances.

“(Profit) margin improvement is also due to hospitals working to control their costs as they work to address affordability and operate during a time of great uncertainty,” the statement said.

The health care industry doesn’t have a lot to say here in part because other studies have come to similar conclusions; a separate report from the Health Care Cost Institute showed prices for inpatient hospital services in Denver and Colorado Springs far outpacing nationwide increases.

If the Colorado Hospital Association plans to keep on yammering about “profit margin improvement” while regular Coloradans are discussing the fact that they can’t afford health care, the “public option” debate may be more one-sided than anyone could have predicted.

0 Shares

A Political Circus is Coming to Weld County

(Clockwise from bottom left): Lori Saine, Barbara Kirkmeyer, Perry Buck, and Vicki Marble

We noted last summer that Weld County voters were in for a wild game of musical chairs in 2020. It looks like the fun is going to get started a bit earlier than anticipated.

Term-limited Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway is resigning his position effective Jan. 31, which means a short-term replacement must be selected within the next couple of weeks. State Representative Perry Buck – who is also term-limited in HD-49 — was already running to succeed Conway in November and will presumably want to be appointed to the Weld County vacancy. Republican leadership in the House Minority Office appears to be aware of this; Buck has been removed from all committee assignments except for one (Education), which is the required minimum for a sitting lawmaker, after previously serving on two other committees (Rural Affairs & Agriculture, and Transportation & Local Government); this is often a pretty good indication that a lawmaker has one foot out the door of the State Capitol.

Now…if Buck is appointed Weld County Commissioner, she will need to resign her position in the State House, which is where things start to get weird. State Senator Vicki MarbleCub Scout debater, fried chicken critic, and all-around crazy person — is term-limited and has already filed to run for Buck’s State House seat in November. Marble probably would like to finish her second term in the State Senate, but not pursuing a vacancy in HD-49 would open her up to a difficult primary challenge from another Republican (unless the GOP is able to find someone for the vacancy who promises not to run for a full term in November).

If Marble does successfully pursue a vacancy in the State House, then a GOP vacancy committee will need to fill her State Senate seat sometime in February. This creates a couple of problems for Republicans. For one thing, the Senate GOP really can’t afford to lose a reliable right-wing vote given their minority status – even if it’s just for a couple of weeks. But a vacancy in SD-23 also widens a Republican rift involving a Primary fight to succeed Marble.

Rupert Parchment II

Outgoing Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer (see how this all comes full circle?) is running against Rupert Parchment II for the GOP nomination in SD-23. Kirkmeyer is a darling of the oil and gas industry, while Parchment has the backing of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), the Dudley Brown-run gun group with close ties to House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Kirkmeyer’s campaign has raised significantly more money thus far – she has about $45k in the bank compared to less than $4k for Parchment – but with RMGO’s help, Parchment would have a decent chance to win a vacancy committee appointment. Parchment could really raise his name ID and profile among GOP voters in that scenario, which would go a long way toward evening out Kirkmeyer’s monetary advantage in the June Primary.

The last thing Colorado Republicans need right now is another bloody legislative primary race, but that might be exactly where things are headed in the coming months.

31 Shares

Yes Virginia, Colorado’s “Red Flag” Law Is Working

—–

Semiautomatic guns for sale.

As the Denver Post’s Elise Schmelzer reports:

In the first 15 days Colorado’s red-flag law has been active, residents and law enforcement have used the controversial statute in five cases to request that guns be removed from a wide range of people: an abusive boyfriend, a suicidal man, the father of a grandchild, a suspect who threatened a mass shooting and a police officer…

The red-flag law, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows family members, household members and law enforcement to request that a judge order the removal of person’s guns if they are a threat to themselves or others. The law caused intense debate in the legislature, including prompting some sheriffs to say they wouldn’t uphold the law because they believe it violates a person’s Second Amendment rights.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on the first successful use of the extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law in Denver, in which a man who made threats to hurt himself and his wife has relinquished his guns for a 364-day period:

A Denver probate court on Tuesday approved a 364-day extreme risk protection order for a Denver man who gave up two guns to Denver police in late December after he allegedly threatened himself and his wife with a handgun during and after a dispute.

A Denver police sergeant filed a petition on Jan. 2 for a 14-day temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO) against the 26-year-old man, whom Denver7 is not naming because prosecutors declined to press charges against him. A hearing had been set for Jan. 16 to determine if a longer ERPO would be put in place for the man.

But the man and his attorney came to an agreement on a permanent order, which was filed Tuesday in Denver Probate Court, that the man will allow police to keep custody of his two semi-automatic handguns for a 364-day period that started Tuesday.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith.

That’s an undeniably successful outcome, with a gun owner who threatened to kill himself and his wife voluntarily surrendering his guns in advance of the hearing. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on another “red flag” case that seems like a model utilization of the law out of Larimer County:

A Fort Collins man accused of sending texts threatening a “master plan” to eventually commit two school campus shootings is likely the first case of Colorado’s new “red flag” law being used in Larimer County.

In texts to his adoptive father in January and March last year, David Gatton, a 31-year-old military veteran, threatened to commit mass shootings, investigators say…

In the texts — which Gatton admitted to sending — he said he was struggling to find work and that if his adoptive parents didn’t stop asking him to pay back money he owed them, he would enact his plan to “kill a lot of people.”

Of the ERPO request cases filed since the law took effect at the beginning of the year, we know of two that have been denied. The first was a request made in conservative Lincoln County, where the sheriff and county government are hostile to the law–as we’ve discussed, a potential flashpoint if a refused request for an ERPO precipitates tragedy. The second case, which has received considerable attention in the last few days, concerns the mother of a young man who was killed by CSU police officers in Fort Collins, in what was determined to be a case of “suicide by cop” and a justified use of force. This ERPO case was dismissed earlier today for lack of standing, since the request falsely claimed that the petitioner and the police officer “shared a child.” The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement that the court ruled properly in denying Holmes’ petition.

“What the hearing today demonstrated is that there are protections in the ERPO law to prevent people from abusing it,” Weiser said. [Pols emphasis] “Abuse of this important law undermines the very fabric of its critical purpose, which is to protect public safety.”

During the initial confusion over Susan Holmes’ ERPO petition, which was apparently filed without a request for a temporary order making today the first opportunity for a judge to rule, local gun nuts seized on the as-yet unanswered questions about the case to spread misinformation and general discontent about the new “red flag” law. But in reality, early test cases like this one are necessary to establish precedents that determine how the law will function. The outcome of this particular case, which may include criminal charges for Holmes’ lying under oath, should inspire confidence that the checks and balances in the process to prevent abuse actually do work.

Unfortunately, the true moment to dread–the first improperly denied ERPO that results in preventable loss of life–is still out there waiting to happen. We expect that inevitability, but we do not relish it.

130 Shares

Finally Time To Hang Up And Drive, Colorado?

This guy.

The Denver Post’s Linnea Lipson reports:

Colorado may soon follow 20 other states in prohibiting hand-held phone use while driving.

The proposed legislation would make it illegal for adults to use a mobile device while driving, except through the use of hands-free equipment. It also would bar drivers under 18 years old from using any mobile devices. Colorado already bans texting while driving.

“It’s a pretty common-sense measure to make our roads safer,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, who is sponsoring the bill. He said his constituents want legislators to act on this issue to cut down on crashes.

This is by our count at least the fourth time that legislation to outlaw use of a handheld cell phone while driving. In previous years, a combination of efficacy and civil liberties concerns pulled together a majority to defeat the bill. Supporters argue that the near-ubiquity of built-in speakerphone technology in cars built in the past few years makes it easier than ever for drivers to comply–an argument met with rightful concern about the impact of the law on less affluent drivers with older cars.

What say you, gentle readers? Is it time to hang up and drive, or do you have a sacred right to multitask?

Don’t worry, your answer will not be reported to your insurance company.

1 Shares

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 16)

Happy “National Nothing Day.” We’re not sure if you are supposed to celebrate or not. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► And so it begins. From The Washington Post:

The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the arrival in the Senate of the seven House managers to formally present the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate later Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week.

Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.

The Washington Post has more on the latest allegations from Lev Parnas that do not look good for President Trump.

 

► The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law in attempting to restrict foreign aid to Ukraine. From the New York Times:

The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.

The Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld nearly $400 million for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the G.A.O. wrote. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay.”

“Trump did nothing wrong” was never a sustainable argument, but it has become downright silly now.

 

► Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, all 100 U.S. Senators will take an “oath of impartiality” given by Chief Justice John Roberts that will go something like this:

Getty Images

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run in terror from reporter questions about impeachment and President Trump, though late Wednesday he veered away from pretending to have not seen the articles of impeachment so that he could pay lip service to the idea of being “an impartial juror.” Meanwhile, it seems even some of the more unflappable Republican Senators are starting to snap under the pressure of trying to support a corrupt President:

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is getting lots of attention as one of the seven House impeachment “managers” appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. You can read more from The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun/CBS4, Denver7, and Colorado Public Radio.

Elsewhere, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) played a part in the historic decision to transmit articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

1 Shares

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 15)

Happy “Korean Alphabet Day.” Please celebrate responsibly, or whatever. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote today to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement today and introduced the seven House Members who will serve as “impeachment managers.” One of them is Colorado’s own Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

The Washington Post breaks down how Crow ended up being among Pelosi’s chosen few:

The Democrat from Colorado is in his first term as Congress. Before Congress, he served as an Army Ranger, leading combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also partner in a law firm in Colorado. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he wasn’t a prosecutor, but he “conducted internal investigations nationwide, responded to emergency events and handled a wide-range of government inquiries.” He also represents the kind of district — a suburban one in a swing state — that Democrats will need to hold onto in November to keep their majorities.

He is the only manager who does not sit on any of the impeachment inquiry committees, but he had a role in swaying Pelosi to authorize the impeachment inquiry. He was one of seven House freshmen with national security backgrounds who co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling Trump’s actions on Ukraine impeachable, a move that signaled a significant momentum shift within the Democratic caucus. Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry a day after that published.

Crow’s selection provides a stark contrast to the impeachment involvement of another key Colorado elected official: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Gardner just keeps ducking questions about President Trump:

Gardner’s office declined again Tuesday to answer questions from The Denver Post about whether he would support a motion to dismiss the two charges against Trump or vote to allow witnesses in a Senate trial that’s expected to begin next week. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah have said they want to keep open the option of hearing from witnesses after opening arguments.

CBS reported Monday that the White House expects at least four Republicans will vote to call witnesses in the Senate trial. That “possibly” includes Gardner, according to the report, though he has said nothing to indicate that he will. There are 53 Senate Republicans, and a simple majority of 51 votes will be needed to pass trial rules.

Silence has become the norm for Gardner on the topic of impeachment. His office previously declined to say whether witnesses should be called and whether he agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “total coordination” with the White House.

The New York Times apparently wasn’t able to corner the squirrelly Senator, either:

In the Capitol on Tuesday, Mr. Gardner was making himself scarce. When Republicans wrapped up a luncheon featuring a discussion of trial procedure, he zipped out a back door and headed for a little-used elevator, avoiding a throng of waiting reporters.

“I’m sorry, he’s got to get going,” an aide to Mr. Gardner told a reporter who followed him, as the elevator doors opened and the senator slipped inside. Then Mr. Gardner jumped in, begging off any discussion of whether he could be the elusive fourth vote who could upend hopes of a quick acquittal of Mr. Trump.

 

► Evidence continues to mount against President Trump ahead of a Senate impeachment trial. As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post:

One can only imagine what evidence we have yet to see during the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. With each new tranche of evidence — including emails regarding the hold on military aid to Ukraine and now documents from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s — the conclusion that Trump abused power and obstructed the investigation becomes incontrovertible…

…Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me the new evidence is ” jaw-dropping” and “highly incriminating of both Giuliani and Trump.”

 

► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination met for another debate on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Who won and who lost the big debate? Here are a few takes from The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, The New York Times, and The Des Moines Register.

 

► Today is the deadline for open enrollment for health care coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

0 Shares

Happening: A Bipartisan End To The Death Penalty

Lethal injection chamber.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports:

Colorado lawmakers on Tuesday introduced their much-anticipated bill to repeal the state’s death penalty – the sixth time such a bill has been introduced in recent years.

SB20-100 , if passed as introduced , would take the death penalty off the table as an option for prosecutors when they take a class 1 felony case to trial – but that would only apply to suspected criminals charged by prosecutors after July 1, 2020…

…[T]his year’s measure also has Republican sponsors and cosponsors, which could help push it over the edge in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 19-16 majority but are expected to see one senator go on maternity leave soon and another seat have to be filled in the wake of the retirement of Sen. Lois Court. The measure is almost certain to pass the Democrat-heavy House.

Democrats looking to repeal Colorado’s death penalty have long had a friend in Sen. Kevin Priola, a Catholic whose opposition to the death penalty for years was the lone exception to a wall of Republican support. This year, two additional Republicans, Sens. Jack Tate and Owen Hill, have padded the margin needed to get the bill out of the Senate and on to Gov. Jared Polis’ waiting desk.

Previous attempts to legislative repeal the capital punishment in Colorado have failed for different reasons. In 2013, an historic progressive legislative session encountered fierce Republican backlash which ultimately led to recalls against Democratic Senators, and at least partly because Democrats had achieved so much that year, it was determined politically necessary to hold off. In 2019, the dissent of one Democrat, Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, resulted in a standoff in the upper chamber that ended when sponsors pulled the bill late in the session.

Although repeal of the death penalty for future cases seems assured this year with this new infusion of bipartisan support, a word of respect for Sen. Fields is called for as this long struggle heads for its inevitable conclusion. Two the three men currently on death row in this state are there for the murder of Sen. Fields’ son in 2005. We of course have not been party to every discussion about this legislation, but it’s been suggested that Sen. Fields has been treated insensitively by some of her colleagues over the years for her difference of opinion on the issue–a difference that no one can fault Sen. Fields for having after her own tragic experience.

The decline of capital punishment is nevertheless a global trend, and increasingly the choice of Americans in recent years as the cost, process, and stigma of judicially sanctioned killing has combined to make it basically unworkable. Colorado’s move to end capital punishment is mostly symbolic given the extreme rarity of its application, but it’s also consistent with the growing consensus that it’s not appropriate as a society to kill people.

And it looks like 2020 is the year it’s going to happen.

1 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 14)

Happy “Feast of the Ass” day. Please celebrate responsibly, or whatever. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on the issue of sending articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate in advance of a Senate trial on President Trump’s misconduct. Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, says he still opposes the idea of calling witnesses in a trial — yeah, read that sentence again — as word leaks that some Republican Senators might support such an idea. From The Hill newspaper:

McConnell on Tuesday knocked talk of calling additional impeachment witnesses, arguing that Democrats want the Senate to go “fishing” during the soon-to-start impeachment trial.

“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place,” McConnell said from the Senate floor…

…A small number have suggested they are open to calling witnesses midtrial, but they’re getting public pushback from their conservative colleagues, who warn that if Republicans support calling former national security adviser John Boltonthey also have to support calling witnesses Trump might want such as Hunter Biden or the whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are planning to force votes on calling four witnesses, including Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. They need four GOP senators to successfully call a witness.

CBS News reported late Monday that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) might be among those Republican Senators who are supportive of calling witnesses in a Senate trial — though the odds are long that Gardner will do anything other than whatever McConnell tells him to do. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found that 66% of Americans support the idea of witness testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Elsewhere, James Hohmann of The Washington Post ponders 10 questions now that the House is poised to send impeachment articles to the Senate.

 

► A Republican group called “The Lincoln Project” absolutely blasted Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) with a new advertisement on Monday. A subsequent “Truth Test” from 9News was equally brutal.

Says 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark: “Calling Senator Gardner a weak, impotent, small man? Let’s assume they’re speaking figuratively, and label that opinion.”


► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination (most of them, anyway) will debate once again tonight in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

0 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Weak, Frightened, and Impotent

The Get More Smarter Podcast drops its 25th episode with a look at a killer new (Republican-led) advertisement against Sen. Cory Gardner; the Trump administration makes Iran foreign policy more problematic for Colorado Republicans; and we preview the first full week of the Colorado legislative session with another discussion featuring House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

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

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

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Friday (January 10)

The First Son-in-Law is 38 years old today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to limit President Trump’s ability to take unilateral military action without Congressional approval. As CNN reports:

The vote was 224-194. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Francis Rooney of Florida crossed party lines to vote in favor while Democratic Reps. Max Rose of New York, Ben McAdams of Utah, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Stephanie Murphy of Florida voted against the resolution.

Now that the resolution has passed the House it will next go to the Senate.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst and senior Defense Department official, is the sponsor of the resolution, which calls on the President “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces.

You read that correctly — Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz voted IN FAVOR of the resolution.

Of course, the Senate is where all good things go to die; it is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell will even entertain a vote on the matter if he can avoid it. Some Republican Senators have expressed support for a “War Powers Resolution” after a disastrous White House briefing on Iran earlier this week.

Meanwhile, President Trump may have decided to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani to perhaps appease Republican Senators whose support he needs in a coming impeachment trial.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her chamber may send impeachment documents over to the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. From the New York Times:

In a letter to colleagues Friday morning, the speaker moved to end a weekslong impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s fate in limbo. She did not announce the members of the team she will ask to manage the case, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Ms. Pelosi wrote after lawmakers departed the Capitol for the weekend. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

Once the House votes and the articles are transmitted, the Senate’s proceeding, only the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in American history, will begin promptly — as soon as Wednesday based on Ms. Pelosi’s timeline.

 

► If you thought that Republican lawmakers in Colorado might be more reluctant to embrace their lunatic right-wing base after last year’s string of recall failures…well, we know you probably didn’t think that. The GOP still loves itself some lunatics.

Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans made it very clear during Thursday’s “State of the State” address that they have zero fucks to give about immigrants or refugees in Colorado.

For more on Gov. Polis’ “State of the State” speech, check this recap from The Denver Post or this annotated version of the entire speech via The Colorado Sun.

 

► Don’t miss the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an in-depth interview with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

0 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: More Smarter Legislating


In the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, we kick off the Colorado legislative session from the State Capitol with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett. We also discuss Iran and impeachment (and how Sen. Cory Gardner is screwed on both), and Rep. Garnett faces off against Ian Silverii in the world’s best worst game, “Duke or Donald.” 

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

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

0 Shares

Colorado May Stand with Immigrants, But Republicans Do Not

Republican lawmakers remain seated after Gov. Jared Polis says that Colorado supports immigrants and refugees.

Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulder) today delivered his second “State of the State” address to an audience of Colorado lawmakers and elected officials.

Polis’ speech focused largely on health care issues and providing financial relief for Colorado families dealing with the high cost of health coverage and prescription drugs. Most of today’s “State of the State” remarks received bipartisan applause, but Republican legislators were noticeably stingy with recognition when Polis briefly touched on the importance of supporting immigrant and refugee families in Colorado. Said Polis:

…In the face of unprecedented hostility from this White House toward our immigrant communities, we can say loudly and proudly that in Colorado, we stand with DREAMers and with refugees.

Most of the room stood and applauded after this line, but as you can see from the video below, Republicans quietly sat on their hands instead. It was not a good look…

10 Shares

House GOP Leadership Welcomes Fringe, Fascists To Capitol

Yesterday’s Opening Day rally at the Colorado legislature featured a motley crew of color-coded far-right activists (we are not making up the color-coded thing), sounding off on a range of issues from opposition to childhood vaccination to the state’s new “red flag” law to protect the public from preventable gun violence–and a range of more bizarre issues in between like conspiracy theories about 5G cell phone service. Also in attendance were members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist “pro-Western civilization” group regularly involved in political street violence.

Here’s how 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark summarized the contrast between “the Republicans inside the building” and “the Republicans outside.”

We got a glimpse today of the difficult position that the minority Republicans are in when you compare their stated legislative priorities to what their supporters rally for on the capitol steps.

Republicans inside called for transportation funding.
Republicans outside carried anti-vaxxer signs.
Republican inside linked teacher performance with bonuses.
Republicans outside linked former President Obama and Hitler.
Republicans inside included a call for bipartisanship.
Republicans outside included the Proud Boys, recently featured in a 9 Wants To Know investigation on hate in our state.

So that is the trouble that looms ahead for the Republicans inside the state capitol. They have to answer to the Republicans outside.

The only thing we’re obliged to add is the photo collage at the top, courtesy the Colorado Times Recorder, which closes the loop in this discussion of the Republicans “inside the capitol” versus the right-wing protesters who turned out in force outside to vent their particular flavor of misguided rage. The protesters outside the capitol yesterday were eventually joined by a large contingent of elected Republican lawmakers–including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Dave Williams, Rep. Lori Saine “In The Membrane,” Rep. Susan Beckman, and a number of others.

That’s critical to understand. The Republicans inside the capitol went outside.

Once that happened, it was no longer possible–or necessary–to tell the “inside” and “outside” Republicans apart.

300 Shares

Crazies Of All Stripes Get Ready For Legislature’s Opening Day

WEDNESDAY UPDATE #2: It’s not a party until the Proud Boys show up with their boots on:

Now that elevates the discourse.

—–

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Via the Colorado Times Recorder, the Colorado Freedom Force Opening Day rally has begun at the state capitol with an estimated 200 protesters sounding off their color-coded conspiracies:

Stay sanitary out there.

—–

With the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly kicking off tomorrow, the noisier segments of the local fringe-right are set to make their presence cringeworthily known! First up is another protest hosted by the always-entertaining Americhicks, featuring a cross-section of right wing activists spanning issues from guns to abortion to vaccine conspiracy theories.

There’s even a handy color code to help outsiders sort the freaks out:

Wait, there’s a conspiracy theory for 5G cell service? Yes, gentle readers–there is.

From there, the freakshow heads indoors for a “town hall meeting” with GOP Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs. Williams is apparently the House sponsor this year of something he calls the “Vaccine Consumer Protection Bill.” While school districts and local governments around the country are tightening their vaccination requirements in response to outbreaks of preventable diseases, Williams and the GOP “anti-vaxx caucus” want to go the other way:

For your health and convenience, hand sanitizer is conveniently located throughout the building.

Day 1 of 120, folks. We do not foresee it becoming any less kooky.

135 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 7)

Merry Christmas, Russia! Please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature kicks off its 2020 session on Wednesday. Right-wing nutcases are descending on the State Capitol in preparation.

State Sen. Lois Court (D-Denver) will not be joining her colleagues in the Senate chambers. Court announced on Monday that she was resigning her seat after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. From The Denver Post:

Court will step down Jan. 16, and her job will be filled by a Senate District 31 vacancy committee, the caucus said. Court’s seat is up for election this year, and she previously said she would not seek another term.

State Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, declared in October that he’d run for the seat, but he says now that he’ll seek appointment to the seat via the vacancy committee. Another announced candidate for Court’s seat, Maria Orms, also plans to seek appointment via the committee. If Hansen is tabbed to replace Court in the Senate, another committee would have to meet to fill his House seat.

Elsewhere in pre-session preparation news, House Democrats announced new committee assignments and Republicans say they want to focus on transportation funding legislation. The Colorado Sun previews the session with a Top 10 list.

 

As CNBC reports, there is still much confusion about whether or not the United States has agreed to withdraw military forces from Iraq:

Iraq’s Prime Minister said that the U.S. military sent a letter regarding American troop withdrawal from the country, Reuters reported on Tuesday, further deepening confusion over plans for troops in the region.

It’s the latest in a messy string of events sparked by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top general.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said that his country received an English and Arabic version of the letter but that they were not identical. Therefore, Iraq requested clarifications on U.S. plans.

The news comes on the heels of the Pentagon’s admission that the letter informing Iraq’s Defense Ministry that U.S.-led coalition troops would leave Iraq “was a mistake.”

This headline from New York Magazine sums up the entire mess nicely:

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to avoid talking about pretty much anything. We recapped the last three months in the world of #NoCommentCory. As Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio notes, reporters have caught on to Gardner’s persistent obfuscation.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says that Gardner’s silence on impeachment is precisely the reason journalists should keep asking him questions:

Take Cory Gardner. Is he going to come out for a real trial? Probably not. But he’s hiding in the background now because he wants to be able to present himself as independent-minded and moderate next November. It’s folly to give him that chance. Democrats should be focusing on him nonstop, making clear in Colorado and nationally that it really is all up to him. It’s not about some vague thing called Republicans or the Senate GOP caucus. It’s about him. He could change the equation himself, very quickly.

As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to move ahead on setting rules for an impeachment trial without the input of Senate Democrats.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

0 Shares

BREAKING: Sen. Lois Court Will Resign

UPDATE: From Gov. Jared Polis:

“Lois Court has been a tireless champion for Coloradans at the capitol. From the House to the Senate, she fought for fiscal reform and stood up for her constituents – no one has a clearer compass on the issues she cares about,” said Governor Polis. “Sen. Court’s grit and effectiveness as a legislator will be missed. I wish Sen. Court a speedy and complete recovery as she and her family overcome this challenge.”

—–

Sen. Lois Court.

A press release from the Colorado Senate Democrats today with sad news, Sen. Lois Court of Denver will resign her seat for health reasons:

On December 31, 2019 Senator Lois Court was hospitalized after experiencing muscle weakness and partial paralysis. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome–– a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the peripheral nerves of the body.

Due to the severity of the illness, Senator Court has decided to step down, effective January 16, 2020. Although it is a serious diagnosis, 99% of people who are diagnosed recover, with 98% returning to full functionality within several weeks or months…

“Senator Court is a remarkable woman whose leadership has stood the test of time. Her fierce dedication to the people of Colorado has made her an inspiring legislator and colleague,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo). “We are all very grateful for her time as Chair of the Finance Committee and President Pro Tempore of the Senate––positions I always felt confident in knowing they were led by a person with such experience and dedication. We hold Senator Court in our thoughts during this difficult time and send her much healing.”

“It has been the honor of my life to serve the people of Colorado and I am deeply saddened that this chapter of my life is at a close. But I am excited by the work my colleagues are undertaking and will continue to cheer them on and be an active citizen of Senate District 31,” said Senator Lois Court (D-Denver). “I would also like to thank all of my wonderful supporters and constituents––I could have never achieved what I did without your unfailing passion and guidance.”

With Senator Court’s departure, the Senate District 31 Committee will convene and begin their process to appoint her replacement.

Adding our wishes for a speedy recovery.

205 Shares

Get More Smarter on Monday (January 6)

Welcome back to your desk. There’s a lot happening with the holiday season in our rear-view mirrors, so 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former National Security Adviser John Bolton announced today that he would agree to testify in front of the U.S. Senate on matters of impeachment if called as a witness. Aaron Blake of The Washington Post explains why this is such a big development:

Bolton is among the most potentially significant witnesses who have yet to testify about the Ukraine scandal. He was perhaps the highest-profile voice of dissent internally, objecting to the “drug deal” that he said Rudolph W. Giuliani was cooking up, according to testimony from Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser. Bolton’s attorney has also said that, as of early November, Bolton knew about “many relevant meetings” that hadn’t been testified to. Sources tell The Washington Post that the testimony would be damaging to Trump. [Pols emphasis]

It is not clear if the Senate will actually move forward with a true impeachment trial of President Trump that includes high-profile witnesses, but Bolton’s signal that he is open to testifying could open the door for him to be called as a witness in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Chris Cillizza of CNN says that Bolton’s statement today puts new pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

The U.S. Senate is reconvening today after a couple weeks off, and the topic of an impeachment trial is still at the top of the to-do list. As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) remains as tight-lipped as ever:

Gardner’s every move is being closely watched as calendars flip to 2020, a year that will decide his political future. And in the Senate, where impeachment rules will require a simple majority vote, he can play the role of decider within the narrow Senate Republican majority. But he and his office have not answered questions about his impeachment preferences.

Gardner’s silence dates back months. His public appearances, never numerous in 2019, were rarer still this fall. He has avoided conservative talk radio, once a political safe space, along with most news media. His office agreed to arrange an interview with The Denver Post in Washington, D.C., during the House impeachment process, but later said he was unavailable and instead emailed a statement criticizing that process.

 

 President Trump is reiterating threats to attack Iranian sites of cultural significance amid growing concerns about a potential war with Iran. As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump dug in Sunday night on his threat to attack Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top military and intelligence officials.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on his return to Washington on Sunday from a holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said: “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites. It doesn’t work that way.”

Trump was responding to backlash over the threat he made via Twitter on Saturday to attack 52 targets if Iran retaliates and his claim in a tweet that those targets would be “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” according to a pool report.

Asked about fears Iran might retaliate, the president told reporters: “If it happens, it happens. If they do anything, there will be major retaliation.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to introduce a war powers resolution in Congress intended to make sure that President Trump does not increase military hostilities with Iran without Congressional approval.

Colorado Public Radio queries Colorado’s Congressional delegation on the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

0 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

This is it: The final episode of 2019 for The Get More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year? 

And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

1 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Governor Jared Polis

Jason Bane (left) and Gov. Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down with Gov. Jared Polis to talk about how state government can be more nimble than its federal counterpart; the upcoming legislative battle over a health care public option; and why Colorado can win the great green chile battle. 

Later in the show, Jason and Ian discuss next steps on impeachment; Rep. Ken Buck’s congressional truancy; and President Trump’s claim that he’ll be visiting Colorado “a lot” in the near future.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify,
and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter (@MoreSmarterShow) and Facebook. For questions or comments, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

17 Shares

Maria Orms Announces for State Senate District 31

We get a lot of press releases in our inbox, as you might expect. We don’t always have a chance to get to all of those announcements, but we want to start making more of an effort to pass along information whenever a new candidate kicks off a campaign. Send your candidate announcements to alva@coloradopols.com.

Click below to read the press release from Maria Orms, who announced her campaign for State Senate in Denver’s District 31…

(more…)

16 Shares

So You “Won’t Comply” With The Red Flag Law, Will You?

This Saturday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, a “We Will Not Comply” rally is scheduled to be hosted by pro-gun activists and Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, “to stand against Colorado’s dangerous & unconstitutional RED FLAG LAW (emphasis theirs) before it goes into effect January 2020.” Pro-gun rallies at the state capitol are common enough (and sparsely-attended enough) that they generally don’t warrant a mention, but with the new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) or “red flag” law set to take effect in Colorado at the beginning of January, Saturday’s rally does have some added significance.

Notably, the event does not have listed as any of its scheduled speakers as of this writing one of the state’s elected county sheriffs who have controversially declared their intent to ignore the ERPO law when it takes effect next month, which could expose those officials to sanctions including contempt of court in addition to allowing potentially disastrous public safety risks with both political and human costs. Colorado is not the only state with a red flag law, but the open defiance of a few local officials here has been a distinguishing feature of the debate.

And that got us to thinking: what exactly does it mean for individual citizens to declare they “will not comply” with the ERPO law? Does this mean they would not utilize the law to prevent a family member from harming themselves? Does it mean they would they not surrender their own guns if ordered to do so via an ERPO? Are they suggesting persons subject to an ERPO should…resist? The legal questions and liabilities are different from those faced by law enforcement, but with the ERPO law about to take effect it’s time to have a sober conversation about what this kind of rhetoric actually translates to in the real world.

Because in a few weeks this law, supported overwhelmingly by the public in every poll, is going to be real.

We predict that a good deal of the rhetoric against the law in the past year will not age well.

13 Shares

Steve Reams Gets His Border Photo-Op On

It’s a rite of passage for Colorado Republicans aspiring to higher office to take a trip to the Mexican border (needless to say, well outside their jurisdiction) for the purpose of demonstrating their commitment to “stopping the invasion.” Back in 2010, a group of Republican state lawmakers made a now-infamous trip to Arizona hosted by SPLC-listed hate group American Border Patrol to study the impact of that state’s anti-immigrant law Senate Bill 1070, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court:

From left: 2010 House candidate (now Senate Minority Leader) Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker)

The 2010 visit to Arizona in particular raised eyebrows due to the contact by Colorado Republican lawmakers with decidedly non-governmental militia groups and anti-immigrant activists. Lawmakers “toured” the border with the so-called “American Border Patrol” openly carrying weapons and playing with night vision equipment (photo right).

In 2014, Republican lawmakers paid another visit to the Texas border, but this time SB-1070 had been repealed and lawmakers confined their visit to official Border Patrol and other agencies. Ironically there seem to have been fewer trips of this kind to the border by Colorado Republicans since Donald Trump took office, or in any event less publicized. We assume that’s because it’s mostly Democrats heading to the border now documenting a humanitarian crisis.

With that said, Trump’s border wall remains very popular with base conservative Republican voters, the exact segment of the electorate the upwardly mobile Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams hopes to rally to victory in a future election for higher office. Reams is promising a big reveal on his Facebook page from his time on the border last week, and even though Weld County is 700 miles from the nearest Mexican border he’ll no doubt rivet his target audience with tales of intrigue and danger and steel slats.

As the most visible of the state’s elected politician-sheriffs, it’s been clear for some time now that Reams has higher ambitions–whether the legislature, the on-again off-again list to succeed Rep. Ken Buck in CD-4, or another more overtly political role than sheriff. We’re not as confident how he’ll fare once he gets there, but the border photo op checks off a telltale box.

2 Shares

Clock Ticks Down To “Red Flag” Law Taking Effect

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO).

Reporter Alex Zorn via the Grand Junction Sentinel:

With a little more than a month to go before new gun laws take effect in Colorado, law enforcement agencies locally and across the state are finalizing their approaches to enforcing legislation that some of them opposed as it was being drafted.

The extreme risk protection order (ERPO), also known as red flag laws, passed in this year’s Democrat-controlled Legislature. The measure, HB1177, allows law enforcement or family members of troubled gun owners to petition a judge to have those weapons removed under extreme circumstances, but only if the gun owner is deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Several county officials across the state, including some on the Western Slope, spoke against the bill as it was being debated. Some counties went so far as declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” such as Weld County.

Zorn reports that Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis, who joined with most of Colorado’s elected county sheriffs (with a notable exception in Douglas County) in opposing the state’s new “red flag” law, is still planning on enforcing the law when it takes effect with the new year. All law enforcement agencies in Colorado are required to have procedures in place to handle ERPO cases by December 31st.

As we’ve discussed a few times in this space since the passage of House Bill 19-1177, a long wait for the first ERPO case in Colorado is not expected. Intervention in impending firearm suicides is expected to be a more common occurrence than threats to the public, and in both types of cases family and household members petitioning the courts for an ERPO will start showing up quickly.

Once that happens, the law enforcement agencies who have declared that they will not enforce the ERPO law, most prominently Weld County under Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-owned Sheriff Steve Reams, are going to face a crisis. Attorney General Phil Weiser has stated that sheriffs who refuse to enforce the law face contempt of court proceedings and potentially being jailed. We believe that the moral crisis that would arise from such a refusal to enforce the law resulting in preventable death is a much more proximal concern politically, which is a nice way of saying that an elected county sheriff who lets someone die rather than enforce this law will face strong pressure to resign in disgrace and never run for public office again.

Unfortunately, it’s a question of how many preventable deaths will be necessary to convince our state’s elected politician-sheriffs to do their jobs.

35 Shares

Angela Williams May Have Gambled and Lost

State Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver)

If you were the betting type, you wouldn’t likely put a lot of money on the likelihood that State Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver) will be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in June 2020. Williams entered the race for U.S. Senate in July with a sketchy announcement video and little fanfare; after four months as a candidate, she has less than $50,000 in the bank and no conceivable path toward the Democratic nomination.

When Williams entered the U.S. Senate race, she left the door open for a potential return to the state legislature (she actually filed paperwork for her 2020 re-election campaign to the State Senate shortly after winning election in 2016). But as political reporter Ernest Luning explained in a Tweet today, that door “appears to be swinging shut.”

Last week, state Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver) made it clear that he wasn’t waiting for Williams to re-focus her attention on her state senate district in announcing that he would be running for SD-33. Coleman quickly amassed a number of significant endorsements from Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker K.C. Becker, Rep. Janet Buckner, and state Senators Jeff Bridges, Jessie Danielson, and Kerry Donovan.

Had Williams been focusing on running for re-election in 2020, it would have been difficult for Coleman to have gained much traction in a Democratic Primary challenge. In fact, Coleman probably wouldn’t have even made a State Senate bid in 2020. Coleman won a Democratic primary to succeed Williams in HD-7 in 2016, which means he could have sought re-election in the State House until Williams was term-limited in 2024.

Williams said last week that she thought she could wait until March 2020 to make a decision on staying in the U.S. Senate race or running for re-election in SD-33, but that seems like wishful thinking with Coleman gathering so much early support. If Williams is serious about winning a second term in the State Senate, she can’t spend the next 3-4 months flailing away at a U.S. Senate bid.

6 Shares