Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 14)

Happy “Feast of the Ass.” Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 

 

► We witnessed history on Wednesday when Donald Trump became the first President in American history to be impeached TWICE — thereby cementing his place as the worst President we’ve ever had.

Congress has voted to impeach three different Presidents, but none with as bipartisan a vote as occurred on Wednesday. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at one of the more surprising YES votes from the GOP caucus:

When Tom Rice voted “yes” on the impeachment of Donald Trump over the President’s role in inciting the riot that led to the storming of the US Capitol, most close congressional watchers assumed he had made a mistake.

After all, there was little to indicate that the reliably conservative South Carolina Republican would join nine other colleagues in breaking with the President (and the party) to back impeaching Trump. Unlike Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Rice hadn’t been an outspoken critic of Trump. And unlike Reps. John Katko (New York) and David Valadao (California), Rice doesn’t represent a swing district.

“Compared to the often raucous members of the state’s congressional delegation, Rice has been more low-profile and focused on his legislative work,” wrote the Almanac of American Politics of Rice, who has represented eastern South Carolina’s 7th district since 2012.

But Rice hadn’t made a mistake or accidentally pressed the wrong button. His vote to impeach was real — and without question, the most surprising of the 10 Republicans who bucked the President.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post ponders the thought process of the 10 Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment.

You probably don’t need us to tell you how Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted on impeachment. The four Democrats voted YES, while the three Republicans voted NO. We double-checked that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) voted NO, since he seems to change his mind on a topic at least once every 24 hours.

 

► Trump’s impeachment trial now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it won’t likely be taken up until late next week at the earliest. As The Washington Post and others have reported, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he might support impeachment, if only to expedite the process of removing Trump’s presence from the Republican Party.

 

9News reports on local law enforcement efforts to secure the area around the State Capitol building in advance of planned “protests” in the next week.

 

► If you thought Colorado Republicans might have learned a lesson from their second consecutive drubbing at the polls in 2020…well, they didn’t. Led by new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, House Republicans tried a bunch of pointless shenanigans on Wednesday as the state legislature briefly gaveled into session before a recess until Feb. 16 for coronavirus safety precautions.

As Alex Burness of The Denver Post notes:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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2020’s Top Story (Tie): The Pandemic And The Struggle For Justice

If there’s anything we’re sick of in these first days of January 2021, it’s coming up with fresh superlatives to describe the year that just ended. 2020 in the United States and in Colorado was one of the most challenging years in the lifetimes of everyone now living–a true annus horribilis if ever there was one. As we attempted to sort out the top ten stories of political importance in the state of Colorado in 2020, it became clear early on that two separate but intertwining storylines that dominated the news last year needed to be given parity at the very top: the COVID-19 pandemic, and the racial justice movement catalyzed into renewed action by the most recent spate of deaths of Black men in police custody.

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis.

COVID-19 upends the world

Although Colorado began 2020 dimly aware of a fast-spreading respiratory infection first detected in China in December of 2019, most of us expected at that time that what would become known as COVID-19 would remain a remote threat, perhaps with some high-drama stories about stopping the disease at the border or the first hospital before it could spread. This false sense of security was deliberately promoted by President Donald Trump in the early months of 2020, even though we now know Trump was fully lucid about the danger. The deliberate choice by the Trump administration to downplay the pandemic initially, then to politicize to necessary measures taken by state and local governments to control the spread, is a principal factor in America now having the most cases and deaths from COVID-19 of any nation on Earth.

In Colorado, our Democratic-controlled state government responded to the dual threats of the pandemic and politicization of the response as best they could with limited resources and haphazard-at-best federal assistance. Gov. Jared Polis, one of the richest men in Colorado and keenly aware of the economic damage done by restrictive public health measures, tried desperately to balance the necessary restrictions with the need to keep the economy functional enough to literally feed and house the population of the state. The failure by the federal government to provide sustained economic relief for most of 2020 exacerbated the hardship of the stay-at-home orders, and helped galvanize partisan political resistance to them.

We can’s speak for the results everywhere, but in Colorado, voters were not swayed by this manufactured political dilemma. While it’s possible that COVID-19 restrictions blunted Democratic success in some other states, Republicans in Colorado were shellacked once again by voters who were far more upset about Republican “COVIDiocy” than necessary measures to keep people safe in a pandemic. Now ex-Sen. Cory Gardner tried to reinvent himself from a hard-line fiscal conservative into “Santa Cory,” who voted for every economic relief bill in sight–but Gardner’s close association with Trump’s incompetence, and a major political backfire after Gardner tried to intervene in the co-opting of ventilators ordered by Colorado by the federal government, made a cruel joke of Gardner’s earnest promises. When workers at a meat packing plant in Greeley didn’t get the tests Gardner personally promised before they were forced back on the job, they went public and further damaged Gardner’s credibility.

Because as of this writing the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage out of control, and months remain before a majority of the population is vaccinated allowing pre-pandemic normal life to resume, it’s not possible to fully assess the impact on Colorado politics today. Although the resistance to measures to fight the pandemic became a partisan political battle, the results of the 2020 elections suggest strongly that Republicans in Colorado have lost that battle. Gov. Jared Polis weathered a storm of unhinged attacks and a second half-baked recall attempt and remains popular–coming in for more criticism when he tries to appease the irrational right than when he took action to fight the pandemic. For the majority of Coloradans who have taken a science-based approach in their own handling of this unprecedented crisis, the choice between Polis’ reason and the GOP’s willful ignorance remains easy.

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Top Ten Stories of 2020 #3: The Fall of the Neville Clan

Former House Minority Leader Patrick Neville

While 2020 may have been generally terrible for Colorado Republicans, they did finally get one thing right: The GOP finally squirmed away from the Neville Clan.

For years, Colorado Republicans had been beholden to decisions made by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and his political consultant brother, Joe Neville — despite the fact that the Nevilles are demonstrably terrible at politics. The death knell for the Nevilles came after the June Primary Election, in which Neville-backed candidates in a half-dozen Primary races were throttled by their less-looney opponents. When Neville friend Dudley Brown stepped down from his leadership role with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), the writing was on the wall. Patrick Neville announced in October that he would not seek another term as House Minority Leader; he knew full well that he could not win another caucus election.

Republicans started to figure out that the Nevilles were leading them astray after huge losses in the 2018 election, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them from letting Pat Neville and his pals at RMGO drive the disastrous recall train that lumbered through Colorado in 2019. The 2020 Primary Election seemed to be the final straw for Republicans who were annoyed that so much time and money was being spent on smearing fellow Republicans instead of targeting Democrats.

Patrick Neville may yet re-emerge as a Congressional candidate (if the opportunity arose in CO-4), and the Nevilles will likely continue running various political grifting operations so that they can line their own pockets while they simultaneously jab sticks at every other GOP consultant in the state. But it is notable that Republicans are no longer holding back in their criticisms of the Nevilles (see this December story from The Denver Post for more details). Patrick Neville’s petulance, meanwhile, isn’t making him any new friends.

There’s no avoiding the fact that Colorado is now a solid blue state. Republicans have their work cut out for them if they hope to claw back some power in Colorado, but at least they will no longer be fighting with one arm tied behind their back.

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Top Ten Stories of 2020 #4: Lunacy Becomes GOP Platform

Republican Rep. Larry Liston (now Senator-elect) during special legislative session on November 30, 2020.

Republicans have not been very competitive in Colorado elections in recent years, helping to turn what was once a swing state into a solid blue rectangle. Republican ineptitude was not a new story in 2020, but there was a different flavor to the Colorado GOP’s brand of nonsense in the weirdest year any of us can remember.

It was perhaps inevitable that Colorado Republicans would further descend into madness in 2020 after spending much of 2019 on rudderless grifting operations they called “recall attempts.” But it still would have been hard to predict just how absurd things would get for GOP politicians in our state. Nobody knew much about Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert at this time a year ago, but now she’s the face of the Colorado Republican Party despite the fact that virtually every news outlet in the state reported that she basically has no idea what she’s talking about on any issue.

The coronavirus pandemic opened up a new rabbit hole for Republicans, who immediately responded to efforts to contain the spread of the virus by declaring that wearing a mask was against freedom and that stay-at-home orders were reminiscent of a “Gestapo-like mentality.” A group of Republican lawmakers, including then-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, launched a ridiculous effort to convince Douglas County to end its association with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKING PANDEMIC. Neville, for one, took this as an opportunity to convince a few idiots to give him money so that he could sue Gov. Jared Polis for making people wear masks.

The GOP attack on the Tri-County Health Department also included State Sen. Jim Smallwood, who contracted COVID-19 after inexplicably traveling to California when the state legislature paused all activity in mid-March. In other words, the people who were urging others to disregard health precautions were themselves becoming health risks because they disregarded health precautions. Meanwhile, Republicans were also busy trying to paint the COVID-19 outbreak as a racial issue…up until it turned out that deep red counties were being hit harder than anywhere else.

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the new face of the Colorado GOP.

Republican attacks on the Tri-County Health Department ended up going nowhere from a practical standpoint, but they had very real and unsettling consequences elsewhere. In May, for example, Aurora police arrested a man for vandalizing a Tri-County Health office and making all sorts of violent threats. It was not a coincidence that these deranged actions happened after local Republicans began rattling cages about health department officials who were just trying to keep people safe.

Things got even weirder in May after global protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers created a new opportunity for Colorado Republican leaders to play the fool. While the rest of us were gripped by rallies and calls for social justice, GOP leaders primarily complained about vandalism in Denver. Some Republican county party leaders were pretty sure that Floyd’s death was just a big ruse of some sort. Others fully supported violent counter-protests around the state. There was even a common refrain that the City of Denver was a burning pile of rubble…something that could be easily verified by anyone who just looked around.

It would take us too long to list every absurd thing that Colorado Republicans said or did in 2020, but here are a couple more examples:

♦ Congressman Ken Buck, who also serves as the State GOP Party Chairman, made a complete fool of himself on Fox News in trying to explain his idea that Antifa was funded by George Soros, or something.

Neville compared the killing of Elijah McClain in 2019 to protestors who tried to super glue themselves to a railing at the state capitol.

♦ Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was far from the only Republican to express belief in QAnon conspiracy theories.

♦ This ridiculous Op-Ed from Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) speaks for itself.

♦ Rather than spend the last weeks of the 2020 election campaigning for Republicans, a group of activists instead devoted their time and effort on once again not recalling Gov. Polis.

Colorado Republicans enter the new year with their party in tatters. Their highest-ranking statewide elected official is CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, and the GOP might just elect disgraced former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as its new Party Chairman. Republicans need to find candidates for five big statewide races in 2022, but it’s hard to envision anyone but the most far-right candidates emerging from the various Primary elections. Heck, it could still be months before some in the GOP finally stop pretending that Donald Trump was re-elected as President.

Colorado Republicans had a lot of problems well before 2020. Thanks to a year of astonishingly-terrible decisions, the future of the state GOP is considerably bleaker today.

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Top Ten Stories of 2020 #7: Not Once, Not Twice, But Thrice

1…2…3!

We don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been a strange year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many Colorado businesses were forced to close their doors; some shut down permanently, while others closed and re-opened and closed and re-opened depending on the level of positive COVID-19 cases in the community.

The Colorado legislature was not immune (pun intended) to the vagaries of 2020. Lawmakers convened as usual in early January, where they were greeted in part by a motley crowd of “protestors” angry at one thing or another. Democrats kicked things off with a focus on health care and transportation funding. For their part, Republicans opened the 2020 legislative session by affirming their commitment to bashing immigrants. All in all, it was a fairly predictable start under the golden dome in Denver.

Things were progressing in a relatively normal fashion until the coronavirus pandemic hit home. By early March, the adults in the room were growing increasingly concerned about the public health problems associated with gathering hundreds of people into a relatively small space day in and day out. On March 14, the legislature adjourned for two weeks in hopes of returning on March 30. That proved to be impractical for coronavirus reasons, forcing lawmakers to wait until mid-May to reconvene.

Only the best people

In the meantime, Republicans tried to prevent the legislature from returning at all in 2020, arguing unsuccessfully that the state Constitution requires the legislature to be in session for 120 consecutive days. After losing that battle about being required to do their damn jobs, Republicans such as State Sen. John Cooke shifted to expressing delight that a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall triggered by the pandemic would make it difficult for Democrats to accomplish any of their goals.

When the legislature finally returned to work in mid-May, there were new arguments to be had. There was much discussion about remote participation at the State Capitol, which Republicans predictably grandstanded against on the general GOP theory that the best way forward in any situation is just to oppose everything. Republicans also generally refused to wear face masks or take other basic COVID-19 precautions. Policy-wise, others in the GOP insisted on fighting back against vaccinations, which was a particularly strange approach when everybody knew that a COVID-19 vaccine was our best bet to exit 2020’s Groundhog Day-esque existence.

Between the first and second parts of the 2020 legislative session, the world had changed considerably. Democratic lawmakers changed, too, passing a landmark police reform bill in response to worldwide protests about civil rights and equal justice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Yet, the final days of “Legislative Session: Part Deux” were dominated by the familiar asinine antics from Republicans. State Rep. Richard Holtorf mocked lawmakers concerned about their own pre-existing medical conditions. As Kyle Clark of 9News neatly summarized: “…it turned into a battle between legislators who have pre-existing health conditions and another who suggested that they are sissies.”

After a flurry of activity over the course of less than four weeks, the legislature at last closed up the 2020 legislative session on June 15th.

But they weren’t done yet…

 

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Sen. Donovan Busts Down Mike Pence In Vail

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

Newsweek reports today following up on a CBS4 Denver story from the weekend:

Vice President Mike Pence’s vacation in Vail, Colorado drew the ire of a state senator who is using his visit to highlight how the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her home state.

Pence quietly left Washington, DC as President Donald Trump threatened to tank a pandemic relief bill, risking aid to struggling Americans just as enhanced unemployment benefits were set to expire, before himself jetting off to Palm Beach, Florida…

Colorado State Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat, has been blasting Pence on Twitter ever since it was reported that he was heading to Vail for the holidays.

Although Vice President Mike Pence’s office has reportedly still not officially confirmed his location and the trip was booked under requests for anonymity, RealVail.com reports the outgoing veep and and his wife Mother are staying through the New Year at the high-rate RockResort Lodge at Vail in the middle of Vail Village. Learning of Pence sneaking into the presidential winter sports getaway made famous by former President Gerald Ford, state Sen. Kerry Donovan responded with what can best be described as an epic mic-dropping Twitter beatdown:

Vice President Mike Pence.

Make sure you read Sen. Donovan’s multiday thrashing in its entirety, she deserves the international credit she’s getting for calling Pence out over the hardship caused by the administration’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. As for the Vice President, the question of how he intends to manage the last few weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency is really all that’s left to ask. Pence will return from Vail to Washington after the New Year, preside over (or not) the final procedural step in Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, and then immediately leave the country for what’s being described as a “valedictory” world tour. Trump is reportedly growing frustrated with Pence for not doing enough to stoke outrage in the wake of their defeat, and everyone should be watching closely signs of division between Trump and Pence between now and January 6th.

With all of this in mind, we’re certainly not going to tell Mike Pence he’s unwelcome to visit Colorado–and to her credit, Sen. Donovan didn’t do that either. Every dollar being spent in Vail and surrounding communities as a result of his visit is badly needed. Vice President Pence has plenty to answer for, and Eagle County needs tourism revenue. Far better to see that money spent in Vail than Mar-a-Lago.

Perhaps our clean mountain air will help Pence see the way to ending his term in office with some dignity.

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Pat Neville Doxxes Reporter In Retaliation For Story

UPDATE: Not going over super well with the local press corps.

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Shocked readers forwarded us yesterday this post to outgoing GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s Facebook page:

This weekend, the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson and Alex Burness did indeed publish an unflattering deep dive into the state of the Colorado Republican Party after another devastating election in 2020 left the party with its smallest minority since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President. And in that story, there was a great deal of criticism of Pat Neville and his family’s for-profit political strategy firm Rearden Strategies, which received big checks to perpetuate failure amid allegations of intraparty score-settling and wholesale neglect of winnable races.

It’s not surprising that quit-before-being-ousted Minority Leader Neville was displeased by a story that laid a considerable degree of blame for the Republican Party’s misfortunes at his feet. But that apparently wasn’t enough. Neville’s Facebook post also included Swanson’s personal information, what’s known as “doxxing,” revealing the reporter’s home address and other personal details. We’re concealed all of this information in the above screenshot, and we won’t be linking to Neville’s post.

It’s difficult to look at this as anything other than a case of outright intimidation. Neville’s close ties with the militant right wing of Colorado politics, from Nazi apologist Michelle Malkin to the so-called “United American Defense Force” militia wing of the political group FEC United, means this could easily be construed as a legitimate risk to the reporter’s safety. While it’s true that the information Neville posted may exist in the voter file or other sources, giving a reporter’s home address to a hostile audience like Neville’s social media following is unambiguously a threatening move.

There’s no excuse. It’s totally unacceptable. And as surely as now-ex Rep. Steve Lebsock crossed a line when he tried to intimidate his detractors, there needs to be accountability for what Neville did here to prevent it from becoming precedent.

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Ken Buck Makes Party Chair Exit Official

Rep. Ken Buck (R) pointing at his biggest problem.

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck announced Thursday that he will not seek a second term as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party…

Buck was narrowly chosen for the top spot by the Colorado GOP’s central committee — a gathering of about 400 politicians, party officials and activists — in March 2019, months after Republicans suffered an electoral shellacking in 2018.

This November wasn’t much better for Republicans. Though they mostly held their ground in legislative races, Democratic candidate Joe Biden won the largest presidential margin here in several decades and Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was easily defeated by Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper.

Taking the job with a bold promise to teach Democrats to “spell R-E-C-A-L-L” after 2018’s historic defeat for Republicans in Colorado, Rep. Ken Buck’s term as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party was an unqualified disaster. The promised recalls failed one after another including the particularly misguided attempt to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting and whose advocacy for gun safety is above reproach. As a result, recalls have turned from a feared weapon of political retaliation in Colorado politics into something of a joke.

Later, during the 2020 primary season, Buck was accused by fellow Republicans in El Paso and Weld Counties of shenanigans including pressuring an official to submit falsified assembly vote counts to the state–incidents that continue to reverberate in recent news stories, and for which Buck remains under investigation by the state’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

In Congress the last couple of years, Buck hasn’t fared much better. Buck’s attempts to “help” President Donald Trump during investigative hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment became national headlines when his questioning backfired and reaffirmed that Trump could be prosecuted after leaving office. Buck has been an embarrassing spectacle of “COVIDiocy” throughout the pandemic, though we’ll concede that is probably least likely to hurt his image representing a district apparently full of like-minded denialists.

It’s been rumored off and on that Buck might retire from Congress, owing to health issues and/or his supposed disenchantment with Washington politics. For Republicans, it’s clear in retrospect that hiring a part-time GOP chairman was a very bad idea. In a year when Republicans in some other states clawed back gains made by Democrats in the 2018 elections Buck achieved absolutely nothing–and is leaving the Colorado GOP with no vision for the future other than a gaping hole where Donald Trump is supposed to be.

Whoever succeeds Buck won’t just be picking up the pieces. They’ll be starting from scratch, because there is nothing Ken Buck has done for this party that’s worth carrying forward.

Unless you’re a Democrat! In which case this is all going swimmingly.

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Crackpot GOP “Election Fraud Hearing” #Fails Very Bigly

Soon-to-be-ex Rep. Lori Saine (R-Not Helping).

Yesterday, as readers know, the Legislative Audit Committee in the Colorado legislature convened at the request of outgoing GOP Rep. Lori Saine to hear “expert testimony” on whether elections in Colorado–carried out in 62 of 64 counties on Dominion Voting Systems hardware–were somehow not free and fair, in so doing supporting the contention by outgoing President Donald Trump, also without evidence, that the recent elections across the nation were rigged.

We predicted yesterday before the hearing “there is a 100% chance that this silly spectacle will accomplish precisely nothing other than making Republicans look like fools.” And as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul recapped afterward, we were right:

There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Colorado presented during a day-long, legislative hearing held by Republicans Tuesday on the state’s election integrity. But there was plenty of bipartisan praise for Colorado’s voting systems and processes… [Pols emphasis]

[GOP Rep. Lori] Saine, who lives in Firestone, told The Colorado Sun before the meeting that she called for it after hearing concerns from constituents. “You’ve got certain states with election integrity issues,” she said last week. “But did it happen here in Colorado? It’s really kind of on us to help answer that question. Did it happen here? Did we have widespread fraud?”

The resounding answer from county clerks, Republican former Secretary of States Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams, and even Jenna Ellis, a top attorney for Trump, was no.

Ex-Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R).

In what can best be described as a bizarre anticlimax, instead of raising any legitimate concerns about Colorado elections, fellow Republicans in yesterday’s LAC hearing helped Democrats shut down baseless speculation about the reforms passed in 2013 that have given our state one of the consistently highest rates of voter participation. And when it came to the dreaded Dominion Voting Systems hardware used by almost every Colorado county this year? As Colorado Public Radio reports, former GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams, under whose leadership Dominion was chosen, was unusually direct:

“I can state that in Colorado, our voting systems accurately record the votes of every Coloradan and we’ve proved it with respect to Dominion 868 times,” Williams told the committee. He also added that in Georgia, which also uses Dominion technology, the results held up after a full hand recount.

“There is no one in Moscow, nobody in Beijing, nobody in Antifa, nobody in the Trump campaign that has changed a single ballot in the state of Colorado [Pols emphasis] because you physically can’t do that unless you broke into the clerk’s office, you bypass the cyber locks,” Williams said. “You somehow circumvented the 24-7 video surveillance and the security protocols that are in place.”

Republican Scott Gessler, a former Secretary of State and election attorney, also testified, telling the panel, “I think Dominion has generally performed very well in Colorado.”

It’s just stunning to us how far-right Republican legislators with a clear interest in spreading a false narrative of a stolen election not only failed to accomplish that, but in fact actively helped dispel the unfounded claims Donald Trump is reliant on to keep his base’s anger at full tilt. Former GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who supplied “expert testimony” in one of Trump’s failed post-election challenges in Nevada, said “Dominion has generally performed very well.” Gessler complained about certain other issues like signature verification, and actually suggested that voters should be fingerprinted. But no one–not Gessler, not even Trump’s credibility-free Colorado resident attorney Jenna Ellis, could come up with an allegation of fraud in Colorado–let alone evidence of fraud.

And that left us wondering once again: what the hell was the point of any of this? Rep. Lori Saine, Rep. Dave Williams, Ellis, Gessler, and so many other Republicans who participated in this day-long WebEx spectacle were not there to debunk Trump’s voter fraud conspiracy theory mythology, just the opposite–but in the end that is overwhelmingly what the content of the hearing served to accomplish.

Thanks, we guess? President Trump, who you can bet was paying attention, cannot be thankful.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 16)

On this day in 1773, colonists living in Boston threw a bunch of tea into the harbor. The original “Tea Party” was much less insane than the modern version. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 

 

► Don’t blink, but Congress might actually be getting close to approving a new stimulus bill. As The Washington Post reports:

Congressional leaders are near an agreement to add a new round of stimulus checks to a roughly $900 billion relief package as they rush to complete a deal before the end of the week, according to three people familiar with the talks granted anonymity to share internal deliberations.

A bipartisan proposal released earlier this week by a group of moderate lawmakers excluded another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. But as congressional leaders tried to resolve differences in recent days, they decided to try and include a round of direct payments in the emerging legislation.

They are rushing to complete a deal because they must pass a new spending bill Friday night at midnight in order to avoid a government shutdown. House Democrats had sought a much larger stimulus package before the election but have softened their position since President-elect Biden’s victory in hopes of securing some immediate relief.

 

► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged on the Senate floor on Tuesday that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. Later, McConnell reportedly implored his caucus to refrain from any attempts at challenging the legitimacy of Biden’s victory when a joint session of Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results. But as the editorial board of The Washington Post explains, this is no time to pat McConnell on the back:

Millions of Republican voters may now believe that their democracy no longer functions — not because there was fraud, but because their leaders lied to them or remained silent while others did so. Even many Republicans who refused to help Mr. Trump try to overturn the presidential results are signaling that they will pursue new voting restrictions in the name of election integrity, acting on the basis of the falsehoods about the voting system that Republicans have promoted since the election. Their defaming of democracy hurts us all.

Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times does not disagree:

To affirm Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winners of the election more than a month after the end of voting — as Mitch McConnell did, on Tuesday morning, when he announced that “our country officially has a president-elect and vice-president elect” — is to treat the outcome as unofficial pending an attempt to overturn the result.

In short, Republicans are establishing a new normal for the conduct of elections, one in which a Democratic victory is suspect until proven otherwise, and where Republicans have a “constitutional right” to challenge the vote in hopes of having it thrown out.

We’ve already seen this spread to down-ballot races. Sean Parnell, a Republican House candidate, refused to concede his race against the Democratic incumbent, Conor Lamb, citing voter fraud and signed onto a lawsuit, since dismissed, to throw out mail-in ballots.

But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, McConnell may not be able to prevent his caucus from being forced to cast a politically-dicey vote in favor of Biden in early January.

 

A Legislative Audit Committee meeting at the state capitol on Tuesday failed to uncover even a hint of impropriety in the 2020 election in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, told committee members that Coloradans can be confident that their elections are free and fair, and instances of fraud that may have been successful are in the dozens, not hundreds of thousands.

The motions by Republicans — one to launch an audit of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and another to direct the state auditor to research a potential performance audit — failed on tie votes of 4-4.

Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican, told The Denver Post that while the meeting didn’t uncover massive voter fraud, every person’s vote should be protected. [Pols emphasis]

This is a completely pointless statement from Lundeen that perfectly summarizes yesterday’s worthless hearing.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado church that sued the government in order to be allowed to host as many COVID-19 super-spreader events as it wants.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Let the Nonsense Commence!

UPDATE (10:44 am): 9News political reporter Marshall Zelinger has already had enough:

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UPDATE (10:15 am): The first witness is Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis, who is testifying remotely. Ellis says she is here to encourage legislators “to take election integrity seriously.” She concludes her statement without offering any sort of evidence of election impropriety in Colorado. Great start!

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UPDATE (10:07 am): The Legislative Audit Committee has already called a recess because of technical problems with its remote participation software. This seems like an appropriate sign.

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Look behind you…ah, nevermind.

You’ve seen this movie before.

Republicans who will trudge through the snow today to attend a special meeting of the Legislative Audit Committee, called by Chair and outgoing Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone), are every minor character in any horror movie you’ve ever seen. They are the group of mismatched friends who reach a literal fork in the road and say to each other, “let’s split up,” while every person in the movie theater says to themselves, No, don’t do it!

Saine and Republican lawmakers have invited conspiracy theorists and self-appointed election experts to the State Capitol for the purpose of “investigating” nonexistent election fraud in Colorado. There is a 100% chance that this silly spectacle will accomplish precisely nothing other than making Republicans look like fools, but they’re doing it anyway. 

As Marianne Goodland wrote last week for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Dec. 15 committee hearing is expected to look into election voting systems — Saine told Colorado Politics she has invited Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems to send a representative — as well as other allegations around election irregularities, contained in a press release Wednesday, that have already been thoroughly debunked. [Pols emphasis] 

A number of fairly well-known Republicans are scheduled to appear today, including disgraced former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and President Trump’s legal mastermind Jenna Ellis, who loses election fraud lawsuits more often than most of us drink a cup of coffee. Some lesser-known names will also appear to blather on about algorithms related to Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based election technology company that conspiracists allege is somehow connected to a former President of Venezuela who has been dead for seven years.  

Yeah, Scott Gessler will fix it!

Oh, and all of this will take place after the Electoral College on Monday voted without incident to confirm that Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect. The same Joe Biden who carried Colorado by a whopping 13 points in November.

The only tangible impact of continuing to question an election that the Department of Homeland Security called “the most secure in American history” is to ensure that local election officials continue to receive threats of violence for doing their jobs effectively; in Michigan, election offices and the state capitol were both closed on Monday in response to credible threats of violence. There is nothing else that can be accomplished, despite Saine’s ridiculous claims that “It is our duty as elected representatives of the people to put to rest any doubt the public may have concerning the integrity of our elections.”

But let’s play along for a moment and pretend that Saine called this hearing for reasons other than spreading discredited disinformation. What’s the best-case scenario here for Republicans? Is Saine hoping to call into question an election in which she won her own race for a seat on the Weld County Board of Commissioners? 

Perhaps Republicans think they will uncover something that could somehow change the result of the Presidential race (Biden +13) or the U.S. Senate race in Colorado (in which Democrat John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner by 9 points). It’s important to note that the losing candidates in November’s election all conceded their respective races in Colorado — in some cases even after a recount was conducted. Any concern about election irregularities isn’t actually coming from candidates themselves.

Rep. Lori Saine (R), in custody after being caught with a loaded gun at DIA in December of 2017.

Suppose Saine and friends actually discovered something relevant today: As Goodland explained last week, the Legislative Audit Committee doesn’t have the authority to DO anything about it. The State Auditor can’t audit county election operations, and it can’t “investigate” private companies like Dominion Voting Systems. 

For Republicans conducting today’s spectacle, their best case scenario may be convincing President Trump to Tweet something nice about them. That would be neat.

For Democrats attending today’s hearing, they need only to restrain themselves from following Republicans down the rabbit hole. There is no real point in arguing with Saine or any of the people she calls to “testify” today, because it’s not possible to win over conspiracy theorists with tactics of “logic” and “reason.” Democrats should just keep their COVID-19 face masks firmly attached and let the hearing conclude as quickly as possible.

This is a clear abuse of authority on the part of Saine, but it’s not out of character for a lawmaker who thrives on gibberish and was once caught trying to sneak a loaded gun onto an airplane. Republicans know full well that today’s hearing is a bad idea, but they’re moving ahead because they’re terrified of disappointing Trump’s unhinged base of supporters.

And besides, accomplishing nothing is basically the Colorado Republican brand. 

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House Speaker KC Becker Gets More Smarter

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Speaker KC Becker about last week’s special legislative session and what it’s like being called into work when you thought you had swung the gavel for the last time back in June (Becker is term limited).

Later, Bane and Silverii take a first, detailed look at the 2022 election cycle in Colorado, when five big statewide races will be on the ballot. After getting pummeled in Colorado in 2018 and 2020, can Republicans put up more of a fight in 2022?

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 4)

There are 47 days left until Democrat Joe Biden takes the keys to the White House. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 

 

As Denver7 reports, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations in Colorado could arrive by late next week:

Denver Public Health and the Tri-County Health Department have been told to expect their first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next week.

Colorado’s first allotment will amount to 46,800 doses.

No specific timeline has been announced as to when the vaccine will be administered to various groups, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that healthcare workers be vaccinated first, and then elderly residents at long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, new polling data suggests that just 60% of Coloradans are willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine. As The Denver Post explains:

Only 60% of surveyed Colorado voters in the November election plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available, according to poll results released by Healthier Colorado on Thursday.

To reach herd immunity, that percent needs to be closer to 70, according to Healthier Colorado…

…The survey asked participants whether they would plan to receive an FDA-approved vaccine for the coronavirus at no cost to them when it became available. Of those who responded, 21% said they would not take the vaccine and 19% said they were unsure. The responses were different across party lines — 3 out of 4 Democratic voter participants, 76%, said they would take the vaccine, compared with 42% of Republican voter participants. Although 38% of Republican voters said they would not get the vaccine, 20% indicated they were still unsure. It was 15% for Democrats.

“It’s going to be up to us here in Colorado to set the record straight on COVID-19 vaccines,” said Jake Williams, executive director of Healthier Colorado, in a release. “The polling shows that we have work to do in building confidence in these vaccines, and our economic recovery depends upon our ability to do so. Fake news is a pandemic in itself, and we need to fight it for the sake of people’s health and our economy.”

State health data indicates that more than 2,000 more Coloradans may die from COVID-19 before the end of the year.

 

Colorado Newsline updates an important discussion from this week’s special legislative session:

The original bill stipulated that only businesses located in counties that are complying with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions under the so-called “red level” would be eligible for relief. That would have made businesses in Weld County — where commissioners have said they won’t enforce capacity restrictions and an indoor dining ban — ineligible for financial assistance of up to $7,000 cash.

The bill was changed first to allow compliant cities within non-compliant counties to still receive aid for businesses, and then on the House floor, sponsor Herod introduced an amendment extending that exemption to certain businesses in unincorporated areas of non-compliant counties. To qualify, they must be within a mile of a city or town that’s complying with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Local government compliance means “good-faith efforts to enforce or promote” COVID-19 orders from the governor and the state Department of Public Health and Environment, within the scope of a city or county’s authority and “in consideration of available resources, including engaging law enforcement,” the bill says.

This would have been a lot easier if local governments would just, you know, follow safety guidelines.

Meanwhile, a quarantined Gov. Jared Polis is still making sure approved legislation moves along quickly:

 

The New York Times reports on a disturbing story involving the Trump administration and anti-immigrant goober Stephen Miller:

The Trump administration is rolling out sweeping changes to the test immigrants must take to become United States citizens, injecting hints of conservative philosophy and making the test harder for many learners of the English language.

The new citizenship test that went into effect on Tuesday is longer than before, with applicants now required to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly instead of six out of 10. It is also more complex, eliminating simple geography and adding dozens of possible questions, some nuanced and involving complex phrasing, that could trip up applicants who do not consider them carefully…

One test question that has drawn particular scrutiny provides a new answer to the question, “Who does a U.S. Senator represent?” Previously, the answer was “all people of the state”; on the new test, it is “citizens” in the state. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, the new citizenship test requires applicants to know the incorrect answer to some very important questions. A U.S. Senator represents ALL of the people in a particular state.

CLICK HERE to try out the test yourself, via the NY Times.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 3)

According to the Urban Dictionary, beautiful people are always born on December 3. We can’t even pretend to explain this one. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 Colorado legislature concluded a three-day special session on Wednesday with plenty of success. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The Colorado state legislature finished up a three-day sprint of lawmaking on Wednesday afternoon, passing a series of bills meant to throw a lifeline to businesses and families as the coronavirus pandemic surges.

“This is not the end of the conversation. There’s more that the federal government needs to do. And yes, there’s more that the legislature will be able to talk about when they convene,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “But you know what? This is going to help a lot of people and small businesses get through the next couple months.”

All told, lawmakers swiftly approved some $342 million in coronavirus aid packages for small businesses, housing relief, and public health response efforts (among others). The CPR story has the full list of legislation approved in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner.

You can read more from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, The Denver Post, and Denver7.

 

► President Trump posted a weird, rambling, 46-minute video on his social media channels on Wednesday. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

There have been a lot of low moments for democracy over the past four years, but none that reached quite as low as what happened on Wednesday afternoon: The release of a 46-minute rant by the President of the United States aimed at undermining the election results.

I’m not going to reproduce any of the myriad lies and conspiracy theories Trump leaned on in the address, which he opened by grandiosely declaring “this may be the most important speech I’ve ever made,” because, well, that’s exactly what the outgoing President wants. He wants the media to report on what he said and, in effect, launder the lies so that they come out looking somehow new or more relevant. (And some media outlets will do just that! Conservative stations and publications will cover this speech like a legitimate presidential address, repeating the debunked junk coming out of the President’s mouth like it is actually up for debate.)

What Trump is doing here has moved beyond laughable or embarrassing. It is now into the downright dangerous phase…

…He stood at a podium bearing the presidential seal and flanked by the American flag and another flag bearing the presidential seal on it. It was hard to miss this message. This was the President speaking in his formal capacity. Not as a losing candidate for office. As the leader of the free world.

Trump’s move to throw the power of the presidency behind disproven claims that seek to actively undermine the very idea of safe and fair elections and the peaceful transition of power creates a clear moment of choosing for elected Republican leaders who have, by and large, stood by silently as he has made his increasingly outlandish claims about what happened on November 3.

We’re certainly not holding our breath waiting for more high-profile Republicans to speak out against Trump’s ridiculous claims of election fraud, but we won’t fault you for holding out hope. Philip Bump of The Washington Post offered a very succinct reaction to Trump’s diatribe:

Via The Washington Post (12/2/20)

 

Colorado Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to put election fraud claims back in the box. You might remember that State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck demanded an investigation into already-debunked claims about fraud in Colorado’s mail ballot process.

 

As Sandra Fish writes for The Colorado Sun, state and local officials are putting the final ribbon on the 2020 election:

All but one of the state’s 63 counties [sic] certified their election results last week. Gunnison County experienced a delay after elections officials contracted COVID-19 and expects to certify results this week.

The Secretary of State’s Office will certify the statewide results as soon as an automatic recount for district attorney in the 18th Judicial District is completed. That recount began Tuesday and must be completed by Dec. 8 but is expected to finish sooner.

Initial results in the 18th JD showed Republican John Kellner with a lead of less than 1,500 votes over Democrat Amy Padden. Both candidates are hoping to succeed The Magnificent Putz in a district largely composed of Arapahoe County.

 

The United States set two awful records on Wednesday: For the first time, we surpassed 200,000 new daily coronavirus infections and 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned Wednesday that the worst is still yet to come, warning that the U.S. death toll could reach 450,000 by February. Redfield predicted that the next three months are “going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 2)

On this day in 1409, The University of Leipzig opened its doors. Neat! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 special COVID-19 legislative session that began on Monday is still expected to conclude today. The Associated Press has more on how things have been going at the State Capitol:

Colorado’s Democrat-led Legislature is plowing ahead on special session legislation to provide limited state relief to businesses, students and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have overcome Republican objections to the scope of the aid and GOP attempts to limit the Democratic governor’s ability to decree public health orders.

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed bills to direct $5 million to help residents to pay utility bills; $50 million to assist landlords and tenants; and $100 million to the governor’s office for use in the public health emergency.

Meghan Lopez of Denver7 has extra deets on Tuesday’s legislative events.

 

► Attorney General William Barr took his head out of President Trump’s rear-end and looked around on Tuesday. As The Washington Post explains:

Barr said Tuesday that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting claims that President Trump and his allies have made — without evidence — of widespread and significant voting irregularities.

His comments to the Associated Press, while caveated, make Barr the highest-ranking Trump administration official to break with the president on his allegation that the election was stolen, and they might offer political cover to other Republicans to stake out similar positions.

Trump himself, though, has shown no sign of backing down, and some of his Capitol Hill allies were critical of Barr’s assertions. Trump’s relationship with his attorney general was already deteriorating, with the president frustrated that Barr was unwilling to launch aggressive measures to support his fraud claims or take other steps that might benefit his reelection campaign.

 

As Jessica Seaman reports for The Denver Post, Gov. Jared Polis appeared on Tuesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the status of COVID-19 in Colorado:

“Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases,” Fauci said during the virtual news conference, adding, “If you look across the United States we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worst than the surges we all saw in the late winter, early spring.”

The addition of Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to Polis’ briefing on Tuesday comes as state and public health officials are concerned that Thanksgiving and the upcoming December holidays will create a “surge upon a surge.”

Fauci said that the majority of Americans could receive a vaccination for COVID-19 by the second quarter of 2021. As Denver7 reports, a group of Denver Metro-area mayors are asking Polis to do more to enforce restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus.

 

The United Kingdom became the first country to grant formal approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. The first doses of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could start being distributed in the UK by next week.

 

Here’s one way to be sure that Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect: Senate Republicans are suddenly very concerned about the national debt after spending like drunken sailors for the last four years.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 1)

At last, we have reached the final month of this wretched year. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 first day of a (likely) three-day special legislative session kicked off on Monday with a flurry of bills and a bit of controversy. As Jesse Paul explains for The Colorado Sun:

Monday was the first day of the special legislative session. It comes as coronavirus is raging in Colorado and an estimated 1 in 40 people are actively contagious with the disease.

Lawmakers, however, felt it was critical that they return to the Capitol to pass $200-plus million in relief for people who are increasingly feeling the economic effects of the pandemic.

While some Republicans were wearing masks at the Capitol on Monday, others were not. Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, was photographed wearing a mask on the crown of his head, apparently in jest.

State Rep. Larry Liston channels Anthony Michael Hall in “Weird Science”

Much of the news later in the day was focused on a Republican legislative aide who showed up at the Capitol fresh off of an apparent positive COVID-19 diagnosis. This is particularly bad news for Republican lawmakers who continue to refuse to wear masks.

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on the actual work that took place on Monday:

Not all 100 lawmakers were actually present, but the Colorado Legislature convened its special session Monday in hopes of passing measures designed to provide immediate aid to businesses, individuals and public health workers until a vaccine is widely available…

…On the table are eight main bills to provide tax breaks for businesses most impacted by what the pandemic has done to the economy, help to parents who are having a hard time finding adequate child care services while they try to work, mortgage and rent assistance to those facing foreclosures or eviction because they are unemployed, aid in paying heating bills that will go higher due to the colder temperatures, improving supplies at food banks and providing better broadband access for students who lack it.

 

As The Washington Post reports, Congress is again kicking around the idea of another COVID-19 stimulus package, but don’t get your hopes up.

 

Colorado set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday as officials continue to worry about another increases in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Meanwhile, Westword takes a look at which areas of Colorado could soon be forced to move from ‘Level Red’ to the maximum ‘Level Purple’ on the COVID-19 emergency scale. The short version: Things are bad everywhere.

 

Lawyers for President Trump have tried to challenge election results in six key states…and they’ve now failed in every one of them. As The Washington Post reports:

Wisconsin and Arizona on Monday became the last two of six states where President Trump has contested his defeat to finalize their vote counts, dealing a fresh blow to his quest to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.

Trump and his allies vowed to continue pressing legal claims challenging the election results in several states, but such efforts have met with resounding failures in the courts across the country. Monday’s certifications brought to a close a key period in which Trump and his advisers had said they would be able to derail Biden’s win.

Even Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has disembarked from the Trump train and is touting the accuracy and fairness of his state’s election process.

The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to make it official that Democrat Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States.

 

► The Big Line 2022 is in the house!

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Capitol COVID Kerfluffle Ignores Obvious Point

Rep. Larry Liston (R) on the House floor yesterday. Behind is a half-masked GOP aide who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in November.

As the brief special session of the Colorado General Assembly got underway yesterday, the presence of a Republican legislative staffer who had posted to social media on November 24 saying “I have COVID” on the House floor, improperly wearing her mask to boot, set off a round of recriminations that earned disproportionate media coverage relative to the actual purpose of the session–which is economic relief for Coloradans to offset federal inaction. Denver7 reported on the controversy:

A Colorado Republican staffer who recently tested positive for coronavirus attended a session on the state House floor Monday morning, the first day of a special legislative session for lawmakers to provide pandemic-related aid, according to House Speaker K.C. Becker, D-Boulder.

Becker called the staffer’s actions a “reckless breach of the House’s safety protocols, and it will not be tolerated,” but Republican leaders disputed Becker’s claims, saying the staffer tested positive on Nov. 17 and has since been cleared to return to work…

“The statement that this individual tested positive last week is in error, after consulting with the Aide and finding that the test was performed on November 17th and cleared to return to work in person on the 24th, there should be minimal concern about their condition,” McKean said.

Apparently the staffer in question got a doctor’s note saying that she was clear to return to work, and her Facebook post saying “I have COVID”  in the present tense referred to an original positive test on the 17th of November. That’s well and good, but policy at the state capitol at this dangerous time of rapid and uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 is more strict than simply getting a doctor’s note:

Becker said the staffer was sent home and will not be allowed back at the Capitol until she tests negative. [Pols emphasis]

Wait a minute, you ask–the staffer hasn’t tested negative? Colorado Public Radio confirms the answer is no:

In another Facebook post on Monday the staffer wrote, “I took [my doctor’s] medical, scientific advice, that those who have had covid recently should not retest to confirm they are clear because they will get a positive test.”

…But Democrats say the staffer violated procedures by failing to show proof of a negative test to be allowed inside the Capitol building [Pols emphasis] and did not properly wear a mask at times on the House floor.

Full stop. Negative COVID-19 test results are required for a growing number of privileges these days including international air travel. Although many COVID-19 patients return to work once recovered without being retested, certainly any organization is justified in requiring a negative test result from recently COVID-positive employees to return to the building. It’s our understanding that free COVID-19 testing is available literally across the street from the Capitol in the Legislative Services Building for this purpose.

Taken together with the flouting of the statewide indoor mask mandate by Republican lawmakers including Rep. Larry Liston wearing his mask on his head (photo above right) and many others not wearing one at all, this staffer’s irresponsibility and the defense of it by Republican leadership is just more dangerous disregard for the safety of others from a party that has made such behavior a campaign plank. The state capitol should have higher standards for disease prevention than the bare minimum given the building’s necessary openness to people from all walks of life and medical circumstances. From Republican lawmakers laughing off masks they’re required to wear to known COVID-19 positive GOP staffers lounging at half-mask on the floor, their conduct is a grave insult to the thousands of Coloradans who have died of this disease.

Instead of making excuses for behavior even little kids know is bad, just do better.

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Behold: The Big Line 2022!

The 2020 election is over (yes, even for you, President Trump), which means it’s time to gaze into our crystal ball and take a first look at 2022.

Go check out The Big Line 2022, then come back here and air your grievances. Keep in mind that early editions of The Big Line are more speculative than scientific; we will adjust names and odds throughout the next two years as things change and more information becomes available. Note that we had a harder time than normal coming up with Republican challengers in several key 2022 races because the Republican bench in Colorado is basically a phone booth.

Percentages listed on The Big Line are intended to reflect our estimation of the outcome of the biggest election battles in Colorado in 2022. Love it or hate it, The Big Line is usually pretty accurate; the only race we got wrong in 2020 was in CO-03, where nobody really knew anything heading into Election Day.

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More Stimulus, Less Sideshow: COVID Relief Session Kicks Off

Clockwise from left: Senate President Leroy Garcia (D), House Speaker KC Becker (D), Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R), House Minority Leader Pat Neville (R).

Faith Miller reported yesterday for Colorado Newsline on the goals for the (hopefully) three-day extraordinary session of the Colorado General Assembly that gaveled in today to work on a package of economic relief bills at the request of Gov. Jared Polis:

The administration of Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate have framed the session as a necessary stopgap after coronavirus relief talks between Republicans and Democrats in Congress fell apart.

“We had all been expecting and hoping for greater federal action, which hasn’t materialized,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, told reporters during a virtual news conference Nov. 29.

Becker added that lawmakers will be provided with KN95 masks and asked to get diagnostic COVID-19 tests before Nov. 30. Rapid surveillance tests will be available for legislators, staff and reporters each day of the special session, which is expected to last a few days.

From the joint statement by Democratic House and Senate leaders:

“Congressional inaction has left millions stranded – completely abandoned in their time of need. Small businesses have been drowning for months waiting for comprehensive federal aid, while hardworking Coloradans anxiously watch housing and unemployment support dissipate,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “The amount the Colorado state government can do to alleviate the burdens of struggling communities is limited, but it’s not nothing. That’s why we are using everything in our power to deliver the support families and businesses need to make it through another couple months. I fully believe that federal relief is on its way, but Coloradans simply can’t wait any longer. This stimulus package will help cover the immediate needs of those hit hardest by the pandemic and buoy us until more help is available.”

“We have to do everything possible in Colorado to help families, workers and businesses get through the challenging months ahead,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “This pandemic is taking its toll on nearly every Coloradan, with businesses on the brink of closing and families struggling to avoid eviction or foreclosure. Only Washington can deliver the kind of comprehensive relief our communities need, but Coloradans can’t wait any longer. Our state government will step up with every tool we have, despite our limited budget, to do what we can to help bridge the gap until Congress acts and until a vaccine is ready.”

With Republican co-sponsorship for the most important parts of the proposed stimulus package–relief for capacity-restricted businesses, targeted tax relief, childcare and rental assistance, utility assistance–we don’t expect to see much in the way of conflict over the headline measures of the session. The more accurate our forecast in this regard proves to be, the more satisfied we’ll be on the other side that local Republicans have learned enough from their second consecutive electoral shellacking to come back a degree more reasonable than their counterparts in Washington.

Because the goal of these hopefully no more than three days lawmakers will be spending in one another’s airspace is to get something positive done for the people of Colorado who are suffering most. Not as much as the need requires, which is well beyond the state’s fiscal capacity. But something.

And less of, well, this:

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the minority is as the minority does.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (November 30)

In honor of Cyber Monday, this edition of Get More Smarter is 300% more free than normal. Get More Free-er! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 

 

► Lawmakers in Colorado kicked off a (likely) three-day special legislative session this morning. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

With the coronavirus spreading uncontrolled throughout the state, lawmakers hope to spend as little time together as possible, and so they enter the special session with a specific and limited game plan. If all goes as expected, they’ll be in and out of the Capitol in three days — the minimum time it takes to pass a bill — having passed at least seven measures (and probably no more than 10) that’ll spread a total of about $328 million in COVID-19 relief around the state — $228 million in economic stimulus and $100 million to protect public health.

“Our objective is to go in there with precision, focused, with a greater majority on the items we’ve already identified and talked about,” said state Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “There’s not time or need for any sorts of shenanigans, and they wont be tolerated by me.”

Everyone seems to be mostly on the same page.

If you were wondering about mask-wearing at the Capitol, Burness also has you covered:

 

 

The New York Times reports on an important Supreme Court case about redistricting that began this morning:

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a question that goes to the heart of American democracy: Must the government count everyone living in the country, citizens or not, in the census totals that the House of Representatives uses to reallocate its 435 seats among the states?

For more than two centuries, the answer has been “yes.” Both Article 1 of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment require that House seats be allotted according to “the whole number” of persons in each state. That phrase has long been read to include all the nation’s residents, whether American citizens, foreigners admitted here on visas or immigrants with no documents at all. But President Trump signaled in a memorandum this summer that he intends to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 census totals that he hopes to send to the House next year for use in reapportionment.

Federal courts have ruled in three separate lawsuits that Mr. Trump lacks that authority, saying in one case that the question was not even close. But the Supreme Court will have the final say.

 

Governor Jared Polis and first gentleman Marlon Reis have tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as experts had warned, Colorado is seeing a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations since Thanksgiving.

 

Republicans are worried that President Trump’s constant lies about voter fraud could depress turnout in two critical runoff elections in Georgia that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Vox.com has everything you need to know about the Georgia runoffs.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Nothing That a Little Revisionist History Won’t Fix, Eh?

Former House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff resigned before he could get pfired

The former Chief of Staff for the Republican House caucus issued a terse press release on Wednesday announcing his resignation. That Jim Pfaff felt he was important enough to send out a press release about his employment is a different topic altogether, but the content of Pfaff’s missive is another striking reminder that Colorado Republicans are stuck in a very bad place after a second straight drubbing at the polls.

First, let’s take a look at Pfaff’s weird multi-voice press release, which was issued directly from Pfaff himself from an @msn.com email address:

Today, Jim Pfaff, the former Chief of Staff for the House GOP Caucus under Rep. Patrick Neville, announced his reasons for leaving the House Republican Caucus. After numerous inquiries asking Jim Pfaff after people began to learn he had left the position of Chief of Staff, Mr. Pfaff decided to make a statement.

“I left my position as a Chief of Staff in Washington, DC to return home to Colorado for Pat Neville. Pat is a strong leader whom I was honored to serve. I was unlikely to continue on in my position without Rep. Neville at the helm of the Caucus. But I waited to see who would replace him as leader. That person was Hugh McKean a man whom I refuse to serve. Rep. McKean and others raised and spent about $3 million to take out Republicans in primaries in 2020 instead of focusing on General Election races which would have expanded our caucus. As it turned out, many good GOP candidates in winnable districts could not match Democrats in fundraising. That is the losing strategy which has been plaguing Republicans for a decade-and-a-half now. I decided I would not use my skills and expertise to support losing strategies.”

When Pfaff says that he issued this release “after numerous inquiries” about leaving the position of Chief of Staff, what he really means is that he fielded questions from somebody he met in the elevator and, later, one of his neighbors. Pfaff was one of former House Minority Leader Pat Neville’s top lieutenants, so when Neville announced in October that he wouldn’t seek re-election as Minority Leader, Pfaff was already updating his resume. New leaders almost always bring new staffers with them. If you didn’t suspect that Pfaff was on his way out, then you probably didn’t know that Neville wasn’t going to be Minority Leader anymore; if you didn’t know that, then you weren’t really paying attention to any of this anyway.

Now try it WITHOUT your heads in the sand.

It is the second paragraph of Pfaff’s release that is more instructive. You can skip past the first few sentences in which Pfaff rubs some extra shine on Neville’s rear-end. The key piece is when Pfaff denigrates Minority Leader-elect Hugh McKean as “a man whom I refuse to serve” because of these grievances:

Rep. McKean and others raised and spent about $3 million to take out Republicans in primaries in 2020 instead of focusing on General Election races which would have expanded our caucus. As it turned out, many good GOP candidates in winnable districts could not match Democrats in fundraising. That is the losing strategy which has been plaguing Republicans for a decade-and-a-half now. I decided I would not use my skills and expertise to support losing strategies. [Pols emphasis]

Okay, so, here’s the thing: Pfaff is complaining about a strategy THAT HE AND HIS FORMER BOSS EMPLOYED FOR YEARS. Neville and his friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) always spent a good deal of time and money playing in nasty Republican Primary races — including in the June 2020 Primary. In fact, we pointed out in this space in July that the Neville Clan’s embarrassing Primary losses likely meant the end of Patrick Neville’s hold on the GOP caucus. Alex Burness of The Denver Post wrote something similar a few weeks later.

Pfaff’s complaints would be like President Trump bellyaching that another Republican elected official was being mean to people on Twitter. McKean and friends did the same things that Neville and Pfaff have done for years, only they did it better (not that there was a particularly high bar to clear).

Colorado Democrats won an historic majority in the State House of Representatives in 2018. Democrats maintained that 41-24 seat advantage in 2020 and picked up another seat in the State Senate. It didn’t help Republicans that there were so many nasty Primary battles last summer, but that’s not the reason they did so poorly in early November; the truth is that Republicans had bad candidates and ran bad campaigns, while Democrats did the exact opposite.

Interestingly enough, Pfaff’s revisionist history is actually not all that dissimilar from the approach that McKean appears to be taking in his new role. Last week, McKean declared that he doesn’t “believe for a second” that Colorado has become a blue state. As we wrote at the time, it doesn’t much matter whether McKean “believes” this or not. The numbers speak for themselves.

McKean’s statement and Pfaff’s vitriolic press release show that while Republicans may have rearranged a few positions on the boat after two bad election cycles, they’re still just rowing in circles.

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Senate GOP Spox Sells Slap Happy COVIDiot Face Masks

Trolling the interwebs today, we ran across something that will make you laugh, or not, probably not, or maybe laugh just for a moment before you get angry relative to your personal experience with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic:

“The Governor Made Me Wear This Mask!” Are you not amused?

Colorado Senate GOP Minority spokesman Sage Naumann’s limited edition bumper stickers celebrating the GOP’s 2019 obstruction campaign were somewhat more funny than the disruptive antics of the Republican minority last year, but unfortunately we can’t say that about the pandemic which has now killed over 250,000 Americans. With Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert invoking deceased lawmakers as a reason for his cantankerous caucus to do the right thing in the upcoming special session devoted to COVID relief, this mask seems like an outrageous miscue.

Except it’s not. It’s just Republicans playing to their different audiences!

We’re not linking to the order page. If you’d like to sort these mixed messages out, or buy one of Sage’s masks so you can wear your COVIDiocy literally on your face while your friends and neighbors get sick and die, contact the Senate Minority Press Office.

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Death from COVID of Nunez a ‘Wake-Up Call,’ Says Holbert

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“If anybody out there thinks that this can’t happen to them and their friends, the Joe-and-Lilly story really woke people up to, ‘Yeah, it can,'” said Chris Holbert, Colorado’s Senate Republican leader, expressing his sadness today over the death from COVID-19 of former state Rep. Joe Nunez of Douglas County and his wife, Lilly.

“It’s been a wake-up call for people who knew Joe and Lilly,” Holbert told the Colorado Times Recorder.

On KNUS 710-AM’s Steffan Tubbs Show yesterday, Holbert signaled his support for a special session of the Colorado legislature to pass COVID-19 relief measures.

“We’re coming back for a special session because there is extra money from last fiscal year that we can allocate,” he said on air. “And I think that those four proposed concepts for bills–Senate Republicans will generally be in support. But we haven’t seen any bill language. So, you know, what are the details? Show us the language of how they actually propose to do these things. And we might be supportive. We might not, but we don’t know yet.”

Holbert said he didn’t want to “suggest that your legislature can solve this problem.”

“This is something we have to solve together,” he said.

Holbert says he believes masks are useful in combating the viurs and wears one.

Still, Republicans in Colorado continue to push back mask-wearing orders.

Most of the Republicans in Colorado’s House met without masks for their caucus leadership elections at the Capitol Nov. 9, prompting Democratic State Rep. Joni Arndt of Fort Collins to tweet a photo of the group along with, “Please do better.”

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 18)

Happy Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia. Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*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 

 

► And then there was purple. As The Denver Post reports:

Colorado will impose tighter restrictions on 15 counties, including Denver and much of the metro area, by the end of the week in the state’s latest effort to curb the accelerating transmission of COVID-19 without ordering a lockdown, officials announced Tuesday.

The new public health restrictions in those counties encourage, but do not order, people to stay at home, while prohibiting all personal gatherings outside of an individual’s household, barring indoor dining at restaurants and moving last call for alcohol to 8 p.m.

Confusion about the new rules reigned for much of the afternoon Tuesday after Gov. Jared Polis announced at a news conference that “a number of counties” would be moving to Level Red on the state’s revamped, color-coded coronavirus dial — but then declined to identify which counties would be subjected to the more aggressive restrictions.

Level Red used to be the highest level on Colorado’s dial and would have triggered a stay-at-home order, but state officials have pushed back the threshold that counties need to qualify for a lockdown by adding an even higher status — Level Purple — that Polis said won’t be invoked unless hospitals are overflowing.

TL;DR: Most of the Metro area will likely be moved to Level Red at the end of the week, which is not as bad as Defcon Purple but is still a significant increase. 9News has more on what the Purple means.

Stay home if you can. Wear a mask if you can’t. And never forget: The coronavirus doesn’t care about your political leanings. As The Washington Post reports, more than 3 million Americans are now believed to be contagious with coronavirus.

Via CDPHE

 

Pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine appears to be 95% effective, and the company will seek regulatory approval “within days.” Earlier this week, Moderna revealed that one of its coronavirus vaccines appeared to be 95% effective.

Elsewhere, the FDA has authorized the first at-home coronavirus test — and it won’t require you to jab yourself in the brain with a long q-tip.

 

How bad are things going at the White House? As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the Lame Duck-in-Chief is doing just about everything we feared he would do:

The end of Donald Trump’s time in the White House was always going to be ugly. Just how ugly is now coming into clearer focus.

The removal of Chris Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, on Tuesday night is the newest abomination of how a government and a president should work. While it’s impossible to say it’s the worst or most damaging thing Trump has done while in office — they all run together after a while — what can be said is that what the President did on Tuesday night runs directly counter to the healthy functioning of a democracy.

Why? Because Krebs was fired for telling the truth…

…If you are fine with Trump firing Krebs, what you are saying is that the truth is immaterial. That the whims of a leader trump facts. Down this road — and it’s not even that slippery of a slope — lies nothing good. And in fact, a lot of very scary things.

Krebs did his job by helping to keep our elections safe in 2020, but his failure to find fraud doomed him with a President who is desperate for someone credible to acknowledge that there is still a way that Trump could remain in office.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will not be in the Senate much longer after getting pummeled at the polls earlier this month. You would think this would give Gardner some freedom to express actual opinions about important topics, but, alas, cowardice has kept a firm grip on the Yuma Republican.

 

► As we mentioned Tuesday, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will soon drop his second job as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. According to Conrad Swanson of The Denver Post, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the genius behind “Personhood,” Kristi Burton Brown are both potential candidates to succeed Buck as Chair. Ultimately, we’d expect that it will be Gessler who ends up as the next GOP Chair.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Jared Polis Steps Up Because Mitch McConnell Won’t

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports:

Colorado state lawmakers are preparing for Gov. Jared Polis to call a special session focused on COVID-19 relief.

Top Democratic officials in both chambers of the statehouse say they and the Democratic governor’s office have been in talks for weeks on a possible special session, and that the failure of Congress to pass a new federal stimulus package has added urgency to those talks of late…

The governor’s office, asked about the possibility of a special session, released this statement from Polis and Democratic legislative leaders: “Legislative leaders and the Governor’s office have been having productive conversations on how we can step up to help provide additional relief to Colorado businesses and hardworking families during these challenging times.”

This morning, Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette relayed more details on the relief package state lawmakers will take up in the special session expected to be announced by Gov. Jared Polis at a press conference this afternoon:

Polis already has proposed a $1.3 billion stimulus package for the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. That package contains $220 million in “shovel-ready public works and infrastructure projects,” mostly for the Department of Transportation and state parks improvements. Another $160 million would go toward broadband investments, including telehealth and education; $78 million for wildfire response; $106 million for small businesses — mostly direct aid grants to restaurants and bars, hit hard by capacity restrictions imposed by the state and local governments; and $168 million for the $375 payment for low-and middle-income earners who lost jobs due to the pandemic.

Another $200 million is included for “one-time stimulus legislative priorities.”

The stimulus headed to lawmakers for the special session is a subset of that $1.3 billion package, comprised of an additional $220 million in spending.

The key points of this economic relief bill are reportedly targeted at small businesses most in need of immediate assistance, including bars and restaurants. Also prioritized for help: Renters, child care assistance, and internet access for students being forced into remote learning by the virus’s resurgence. The increased urgency of the need for relief, after months of failure in Washington to make good on promises that helped seal outgoing Sen. Cory Gardner’s doom in the recent election, appears to be greasing the bipartisan skids in the Colorado General Assembly for passage. After all, the principal complaint earlier in the year from (mostly) Republican legislators is they didn’t have a role in appropriating some of the CARES Act’s targeted funds. They can’t say that in a special session.

We’ll be pleased to see this go off uneventfully, a sign that the state’s Republican minority is growing out of the past two years of pointless partisan “war footing” obstruction–or failing that, at least minimally listening to their struggling constituents.

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