The Get More Smarter Podcast: Stop Trying to Make “Gerrymandering” Happen

This week on Episode #77 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii explain why Republicans aren’t going to get “Gerrymandering” to stick in Colorado; we bid farewell to Donald Trump’s sad blog; and we revisit two popular segments in “Legislating With Crayons” and “The Boebert Report.”

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

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

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Winners and Losers from Historic Legislative Session

House Speaker Alec Garnett and Senate President Leroy Garcia on opening day (2/17/21)

Democrats brought an end on Tuesday to an historic legislative session that included landmark bills on pandemic recovery, health care, and transportation infrastructure.

With the 2021 session officially in the books, here is our look at the Winners and Losers from the last couple of months…

If you don’t want to read ahead, the TL;DR version is this: “Winners” include basically all living people in Colorado. Actually, it even includes some dead people, considering the passage of a bill that allows for human composting.

 

 

WINNERS

 

People Who Live and Breathe in Colorado

As John Frank of Axios wrote on June 4, “This is the most significant legislative session in years.”

If you could say only one thing about the 2021 legislative session, this would be it.

Via The Denver Post

 

Democrats kicked off the year with an ambitious list of policy goals — and even added to it in response to events — and they checked off damn near every single one of them

♦ Jump-starting Colorado’s economic recovery post-COVID

♦ Saving people money on health care

♦ Reducing the cost of prescription drugs

♦ Much-needed transportation infrastructure funding

♦ Real solutions for combatting Climate Change

♦ Gun safety

♦ Tax reform

Democrats were even able to craft an historic state budget that includes $800 million in economic stimulus funding, $480 million for K-12 education, and $1.5 billion set aside in the state reserve fund.

From transportation funding to tax reform, we could list off dozens of significant bills passed in 2021, but instead check out this press release from Democrats in the legislature.

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In 2021, Colorado GOP Obstruction Games #Failed Bigly

“Raging” Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

In today’s Unaffiliated newsletter from the Colorado Sun, which we highly recommend subscribing to if you don’t already, Colorado House Republican lawmakers including ex-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville complain bitterly that the obstruction tactics which had in previous years resulted in some amount of negotiation from majority Democrats–or failing that, at least some base-pleasing headlines about Republicans slowing progress to a crawl–didn’t work in the 2021 legislative session most likely wrapping up today.

This year under new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, the “performative obstruction” fell flat:

“It seems like when we’ve done it, there hasn’t been a sense of purpose behind it. There’s been no objective,” Neville, the former House minority leader, said of the delay tactics.

First-year Reps. Richard Holtorf of Akron and Ron Hanks of Fremont County were among the Republican representatives who most readily deployed the delay measures. They asked for bills to be read at length and delivered long floor speeches, keeping Democrats, and their fellow Republicans, at the Capitol late into the night.

But even Holtorf admits he didn’t accomplish much. [Pols emphasis] On Friday, Republicans — led by Holtorf, who spoke at great length and detail about cows giving birth — stretched debate over a bill to expand labor rights for agricultural workers until about 11 p.m. The payoff was a few “soft amendments,” Holtorf said.

Tension became high enough between the hard-right members of the GOP minority and Leader McKean that Rep. Ron Hanks threatened to break McKean’s neck over continuing a then-nine hour filibuster against a business property tax bill. It is interesting to note that the obstruction campaign in the House has been spearheaded by two of the most embarrassing freshman members of the GOP House minority. But as today’s Unaffiliated continues, it wasn’t just far-right Reps. Richard Holtorf and Hanks getting burned by ill-advised obstruction tactics:

Even Rep. Colin Larson, a more moderate Republican from Littleton who is well-regarded by Democrats, jumped in on the delay tactics at one point, slowly reading aloud a legal opinion related to a Democratic bill to cut tax breaks for the wealthy and expand tax credits benefiting working families…

He thought Democrats might take it to heart if a moderate member of the GOP launched a mini filibuster. But instead of winning concessions, Larson lost the respect of some of his Democratic colleagues, they say. [Pols emphasis]

It’s a huge contrast from the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly, which ended with Republicans at least rhetorically fired up and preparing to launch a round of (failed) recall attempts against targets of opportunity in the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis. This year, Colorado Democrats have enjoyed the most productive legislative session since at least 2013, while Republicans have simply been too mired in infighting and confusion to mount anything like that level of opposition.

As the old saying goes, “the minority gets their say, and the majority gets their way.”

This year, the GOP minority couldn’t even get out of its own way enough to have their say.

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The Big Lie is Still the Only Truth for Republicans

Not Donald Trump at work in The Oval Office.

It has been 216 days since the last Presidential election…unless you are a Republican candidate for public office in 2022. Republican politicians exist in an alternate reality from everyone else; they can’t discuss the future because they’re still obsessed with re-writing the past. For them, the Big Lie is still the only truth that matters.

As The New York Times explains:

Across the country, a rising class of Republican challengers has embraced the fiction that the 2020 election was illegitimate, marred by fraud and inconsistencies. Aggressively pushing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that he was robbed of re-election, these candidates represent the next generation of aspiring G.O.P. leaders, who would bring to Congress the real possibility that the party’s assault on the legitimacy of elections, a bedrock principle of American democracy, could continue through the 2024 contests.

Dozens of Republican candidates have sown doubts about the election as they seek to join the ranks of the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying President Biden’s victory. There are degrees of denial: Some bluntly declare they must repair a rigged system that produced a flawed result, while others speak in the language of “election integrity,” promoting Republican re-examinations of the vote counts in Arizona and Georgia and backing new voting restrictions introduced by Republicans in battleground states.

They are united by a near-universal reluctance to state outright that Mr. Biden is the legitimately elected leader of the country… 

…But Republicans’ unwavering fealty to the voter fraud myth underscores an emerging dynamic of party politics: To build a campaign in the modern G.O.P., most candidates must embrace — or at least not openly deny — conspiracy theories and election lies, and they must commit to a mission of imposing greater voting restrictions and making it easier to challenge or even overturn an election’s results. The prevalence of such candidates in the nascent stages of the party primaries highlights how Mr. Trump’s willingness to embrace far-flung falsehoods has elevated fringe ideas to the mainstream of his party. [Pols emphasis]

Multiple news outlets — including the Times — reported last week that former President Trump remains completely consumed by the idea that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from him. These aren’t just the bitter ramblings of a fragile ego; Trump actually believes that he is going to end up back in the White House within a matter of months. As Charles Cooke of the conservative National Journal writes:

I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. [Pols emphasis] I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact…

…The scale of Trump’s delusion is quite startling. This is not merely an eccentric interpretation of the facts or an interesting foible, nor is it an irrelevant example of anguished post-presidency chatter. It is a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government.

Cool pants

As Cooke continues, even if there were irrefutable proof that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, there is absolutely nothing that can change the fact that Joe Biden is the current President of the United States.

None of this apparently matters to many Republicans, who continue to insist that their ideal 2022 candidates look and act like Trump. This is a real problem for the GOP, because the majority of Americans prefer to see 2022 candidates who are as ideologically different from Trump as possible. This devotion to The Big Lie also prevents Republicans from even pondering their next steps. As The Associated Press reports:

Republicans are fighting to seize control of Congress. Just don’t ask what they’d do if they win.

Look no further for evidence of the GOP’s muddled governing agenda than battleground North Carolina, where party leaders packed into a convention hall Saturday night to cheer former President Donald Trump. Even with a high-stakes U.S. Senate election looming, the Republicans there were united not by any consistent set of conservative policies or principles, but by Trump’s groundless grievances about the 2020 election and his attacks against critics in both parties…

…“I’m unaware of a GOP agenda. I would love to see one,” said Texas-based conservative activist and former tea party leader Mark Meckler. [Pols emphasis]

How do Republicans in Colorado move forward in 2022 when they are so chained to 2020? How can someone like Heidi Ganahl seek the GOP nomination for Governor when she risks losing the support of her base just by answering the question, “Is Joe Biden the President?”

Insisting that Biden is not really the President might still work for the likes of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) or Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), but it’s not going to win much support outside of deep-red districts. Colorado will gain an eighth Congressional seat in 2022; it’s likely that the winner of an eventual GOP Primary will be someone who declares that 2020 never happened. Good luck explaining that in a General Election.

There’s an old saying about how those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat the same mistakes in the future. This still applies even if you pretend the past never happened.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 4)

The Denver Nuggets have advanced to Round 2 of the Western Conference Playoffs after dispatching the Portland Trailblazers on Thursday; Game One is scheduled for Monday evening in Phoenix. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

As The Washington Post reports, Congressional Democrats unveiled an ambitious new transportation funding plan:

Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unveiled a $547 billion transportation funding package Friday that would ramp up spending on rail and transit, while encouraging states to repair existing roads rather than build new ones.

The biggest chunk of the bill is $343 billion for road and bridge construction, as well as highway safety, a boost of more than 50 percent over the last transportation bill Congress passed in 2015. It also calls for $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for rail — including a tripling of funding to Amtrak.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the committee, said the proposed legislation embodies a core piece of President Biden’s infrastructure plans, “seizing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to move our transportation planning out of the 1950s and toward our clean energy future.”

 

As The Associated Press reports, COVID-19 is still very much a danger to Coloradans — particularly those who refuse to get vaccinated:

About 500 people remain hospitalized in Colorado with COVID-19 even though the pandemic seems to be receding, and health officials say almost all of the patients share a common trait: They’re unvaccinated.

“We’ve taken a deep look at this,” Dr. JP Valin, chief clinical officer at SCL Health, told Colorado Public Radio. “Ninety-five percent of the patients who have been hospitalized since February are unvaccinated.”

After more than a year of dealing with the pandemic, the near-constant churn of unvaccinated patients is wearing on front-line doctors and nurses, and their frustration arises in part because at least some of the cases may have been avoidable.

“We are tired,” said Dr. Sandeep Vijan of Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo. “We’ve been doing this for a year. We are emotionally tired; tired of seeing people die. We are physically tired.”

The CDC is again encouraging teenagers to get vaccinated quickly.

Get your damn shot, people. Help our first responders out.

 

The 2021 legislative session needs to end by June 12, though lawmakers are hoping to gavel out sometime next week. In the meantime, Democrats keep passing major pieces of legislation that will positively impact nearly everyone in Colorado. Here’s what’s happening in the last few days of the session…

Women in the Colorado legislature are focusing their efforts on ending discrimination in the workplace, as The Denver Post reports. CBS4 Denver has more on how Sen. Faith Winter is working on sexual harassment changes that are guided in part by her own experiences.

House Bill 1325 seeks to provide more resources for the education of higher-needs students.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, legislative Democrats think they have reached a deal with Gov. Jared Polis that will allow a significant climate change bill to move forward.

A massive transportation funding bill is on its way to the desk of Gov. Polis.

Legislation that allows local governments to make their own gun control measures is headed to the desk of Gov. Polis. It will be joined by a bill that prevents HOAs from getting all up in your business, and legislation that bans the use of Native American mascots.

Fox 31 reports on the passage of five economic stimulus bills.

Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports on the progress of a late bill dealing with property tax changes.

Westword has the latest on potential changes related to Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.

 

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

 

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Chalk Up Another ‘W’ for Colorado Democrats

As Jon Murray reports for The Denver Post reports, Democrats in the state legislature have approved another hugely-important piece of legislation:

A massive $5.4 billion transportation package that would charge a new set of road-user fees to fix highways, expand transit and supercharge electric vehicles will land soon on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.

The House’s approval of Senate Bill 260 on Wednesday marked the latest green light on a remarkably smooth journey for the biggest, most complicated transportation-funding bill ever attempted by state lawmakers. [Pols emphasis] It includes serious money both for road improvements, including much of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 10-year priority project plan, and initiatives to address climate change and accelerate the transition from gas-guzzlers to cleaner vehicles.

The 41-24 vote was strictly along party lines, reflecting strong opposition from Republicans to a half-dozen proposed fees and the wide scope of the bill.

No House Republicans voted in support of the transportation bill, which is both predictable and idiotic on their part. Republicans are refusing to support all sorts of popular bills, from lowering health care premiums and reducing the cost of prescription drugs, to stimulus bills that will help Colorado recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would have made a lot more strategic sense for Republicans to participate in some of these discussions and then take some credit for the good things that became law. Instead, what are Republican candidates going to say to voters in 18 months? Democrats wanted to fix your roads, help small businesses, and make health care more affordable, and we tried to stop them!!!

One of the main reasons that Republicans lost power in Colorado was because they had no idea what to do with majority control when they had it. Voters booted Republicans because they didn’t do anything. Now that they are in the minority, the GOP strategy for winning back those voters is…to not do anything.

It is theoretically possible to knock down a building by repeatedly banging your forehead against the wall. Colorado Republicans will surely let us know when this works.

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Colorado: On The Front Line Of Abortion Rights

A story yesterday from Jennifer Brown at the Colorado Sun worth reading in full discusses the growing number of women seeking abortions in Colorado as states across the nation pass restrictions up to and including outright challenges to the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling establishing abortion rights nationwide:

The number of women receiving financial help from a Colorado fund that pays for abortions is climbing as other states continue to enact abortion restrictions and bans.

The fund, managed by the nonprofit abortion rights group Cobalt, helped 20 times as many women last year compared with four years ago, according to fund data provided to The Colorado Sun. And it spent $204,000 helping pay for abortions and travel compared with less than $6,000 in 2017…

The dramatic jump in fund activity comes as numerous other states pass laws restricting abortion, including so-called “heartbeat” laws that prohibit abortion after a heartbeat is detected. A medical exam can detect a heartbeat as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before some women know they are pregnant.

In recent years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed literally hundreds of new laws imposing restrictions on abortion care ranging from the merely tedious to major violations of privacy for both doctors and patients. The “heartbeat” abortion ban laws are being passed to serve as vehicles for challenges to Roe v. Wade before the post-Trump 6-3 conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority. The Court will hear arguments on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion limit law this fall, and a significant weakening or even overturning of Roe v. Wade is a very likely outcome.

Here in Colorado, abortion rights have been upheld repeatedly in statewide votes on abortion ban measures as well as legislative defeats of Republican attempts to criminalize and hamstring abortion rights. In 2020, a 22-week abortion ban was shot down by Colorado voters 59-41%. In a post-Roe America, Colorado can be expected to remain a haven for abortion care with increasing numbers of “reproductive refugees” making the trek to Colorado for procedures they can’t get in their home states.

Despite the sense of safety that comes from well-padded Democratic majorities in the Colorado legislature, abortion rights activists warn every year that the reproductive freedom we take for granted here is only one election away from jeopardy. Once Colorado becomes an island of accessibility surrounded by red states who will shut down abortion rights the moment they legally can, the responsibility to protect those rights–and the reactionary pressure to undo them–will only grow.

One thing’s for sure. Abortion isn’t going away as a major political issue in Colorado. We will be dealing with the impacts of decisions at the federal level, as well as the unfulfilled desire by local Republicans to match their colleagues’ “success” in other states, past any horizon we can see today.

If you’re of the substantial class of politicians and pundits who hates talking about abortion because you find it unpleasant or too divisive for polite company, the next few years are going to be rough.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 1)

One year ago today, then-President Trump ordered peaceful protestors to be tear-gassed so that he could do a photo op with an upside-down Bible. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Texas Democrats did their part in trying to stop the latest Republican effort to severely restrict voting rights. Now they’re calling on Congress to join the battle, as The Washington Post reports:

Texas Democrats who defeated a Republican effort to pass a suite of new voting restrictions with a dramatic late-night walkout from the state House chamber on Sunday have a message for President Biden and his allies in Congress: If we can protect voting rights, you can, too.

The surprise move by roughly 60 Democratic lawmakers headed off the expected passage of S.B. 7, a voting measure that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, by denying Republicans a required quorum and forcing them to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote.

The coordinated walkout just after 10:30 p.m. Central time jolted the national debate on voting rights, putting the spotlight on Democratic-backed federal legislation that has been stalled in the Senate all spring, even as state Republicans move to enact new voting rules…

…Republicans control every branch of Texas government and hold firm majorities in both the House and Senate. While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vowed late Sunday to bring the voting measure back at a special legislative session for redistricting later this year — and threatened to defund the legislature in a tweet on Monday — the walkout represented an unmistakable and shocking defeat for Republican leaders who had assumed the bill would pass ahead of the House’s midnight deadline to finish its 2021 business.

 

We’ve seen and heard the conspiracy theories — including from the “MyPillow Guy” — but this is the first time we’ve seen a real reporter confirming that Donald Trump actually buys into this crap. As Maggie Haberman reports for The New York Times, Trump apparently REALLY BELIEVES that he will be “reinstated” as President in August.

 

The Denver Post reports on changes to health restrictions related to COVID-19:

Planners of large indoor events will no longer need the state’s approval to host more than 500 people according to a public health order issued Monday by Colorado’s state health department.

The amended order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment goes into effect on Tuesday as transmission of COVID-19 and hospitalizations due to the disease level off. The order is scheduled to expire July 1.

“Individuals are encouraged to remain at least 6 feet away from non-household contacts, wash their hands, and wear a face covering to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission,” the order states. “As we continue to combat COVID-19 in our communities, continuing some limited requirements to mitigate disease spread remain appropriate.”

In related news, you may want to double-check that your name is included for a $1 million COVID vaccination award drawing.

 

Let’s catch you up on state legislative news…

Colorado Public Radio looks at how Democrats are moving forward with important new programs for Coloradans.

Colorado could become just the third state in the country to pass a data privacy law.

A bill that would give Colorado more power in restricting charter schools was voted down in a committee hearing.

Denver7 ponders what might happen to the 200 bills still on the legislative calendar with less than two weeks left in the 2021 session.

Republican lawmakers call vaccine requirements “discrimination,” because of course they do.

Democrats are working on legislation that could cut the cost of prescription drugs by as much as 40% in Colorado. This includes a bill that would fix a hole in Colorado’s insulin price cap.

Lawmakers are pushing ahead with a bill that would tell HOAs to stop being so damn bossy.

 

 

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Legislating With Lunatics

Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Crazytown)

This week on Episode #76 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii try to understand what it means that so many Republicans think Donald Trump is still President; we explain why Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is full of crap; and we hear firsthand why Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) will have a hard time making a case for re-election. Also, our popular segment “Legislating With Crayons” gets its own mini-segment called “Legislating With Lunatics.”

This episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast won’t get you all the way through your Memorial Day Weekend road trip, but it’s a start…

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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Republican Claims of Gerrymandering Ring Hollow in Colorado

If you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em! This is the Republican motto for the 2022 election, born out of “The Big Lie” that all good little Republican boys and girls are expected to endorse in order to avoid the wrath of Donald Trump and get around having to admit that the GOP lost both the White House and the U.S. Senate in 2020. 

Confronting your failures and assessing your shortcomings is an uncomfortable undertaking. Expanding your outreach to appeal to a broader swath of voters is difficult work. Adjusting policy positions to appeal to said voters requires engaging in arduous conversations. Preventing far-right candidates from winning Republican Primary Elections, and becoming liabilities in a General Election, demands a lot of organizing and planning. 

Republicans could reject Trumpism and try to understand what Americans actually want, but they seem to have come to the conclusion that it is easier and more comfortable to change the rules than to alter the way they play the game. 

“There is a very real probability that 2018 will be known as the election when it became apparent that the Republican Party no longer has the voter registration numbers to be competitive in Colorado.”

 — Post-2018 election memo from Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies

This is why Republicans are instead focused on trying to make it harder for people to vote in 2022. It’s working in states like Georgia and Texas, but not in Colorado. So the next step in our state is for the GOP to construct a different boogeyman: Gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is a very real and very legitimate issue in American politics. As The New York Times examined in 2019, gerrymandering is particularly egregious in some pockets of the United States:

Currently, rigged maps tend to be most prevalent, and most tilted, in states under Republican control. That is in part because Republicans did exceptionally well in the 2010 elections, giving the party far wider control of state legislatures, which oversaw redistricting after the 2010 census. The national Republican Party had poured money and expertise into state legislative races with the specific aim of gaining control over redistricting; the Democratic Party had not.

Many political scientists consider the House maps in Republican-controlled states like North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Texas to have the most pronounced partisan slants. (Pennsylvania was also on the list until its map was redrawn last year.) Among Democratic-held states, Maryland, Illinois and — to some observers — California are regarded as the most tilted. Illinois is especially notable for its “pizza slice” division of metropolitan Chicago, using generous helpings of urban Democrats to offset the heavily Republican suburbs in district after district.

In Colorado, gerrymandering has not been nearly as big of a problem…unless you listen to a small but loud cadre of Republicans who are desperately trying to build a false narrative to convince members of Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commissions that new district lines must be particularly helpful for the GOP in order to make up for the fact that they can no longer figure out how to win elections.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 27)

Governor Polis has ordered flags to be flown at half staff in remembrance of eight people killed during yet another mass shooting — this time in San Jose, California. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

President Biden is proposing a whopper of a federal budget, as Jim Tankersley reports for The New York Times:

President Biden will propose a $6 trillion budget on Friday that would take the United States to its highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II, while running deficits above $1.3 trillion throughout the next decade.

Documents obtained by The New York Times show that Mr. Biden’s first budget request as president calls for the federal government to spend $6 trillion in the 2022 fiscal year, and for total spending to rise to $8.2 trillion by 2031. The growth is driven by Mr. Biden’s two-part agenda to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and substantially expand the social safety net, contained in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, along with other planned increases in discretionary spending.

The proposal shows the sweep of Mr. Biden’s ambitions to wield government power to help more Americans attain the comforts of a middle-class life and to lift U.S. industry to better compete globally in an economy the administration believes will be dominated by a race to reduce energy emissions and combat climate change.

Mr. Biden’s plan to fund his agenda by raising taxes on corporations and high earners would begin to shrink budget deficits in the 2030s. Administration officials have said the jobs and families plans would be fully offset by tax increases over the course of 15 years, which the budget request backs up.

 

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is speaking out (again) about Republican efforts to ignore the January 6 insurrection. Via Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), who served as an impeachment manager in the first impeachment of ex-President Donald Trump, warned on Wednesday night that failing to investigate the Capitol insurrection that Trump incited would be dangerous.

“We have a domestic terror movement in America,” the Democrat told CNN. “It has been enabled, it has been furthered, it has been legitimized by leaders at the highest levels of our country, starting with Donald Trump. That’s the sad reality.”

“If we are not honest about what it is we’re dealing with, if we’re not honest about the dangers of that movement, we will not address it in a way that we need to and we will be at risk,” he continued.

The Democrat asserted that the House’s bill to create a bipartisan commission to study the insurrection is “not just an exercise in history and making sure that the history books accurately reflect on January 6.”

“We have a current problem we have to address and we have to be honest about that and we have to do what is necessary to keep ourselves safe,” he said.

Crow could be referring to any number of Republicans, but his comments seem particularly well-suited for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As Dana Milbank explains for The Washington Post:

The Senate minority leader told Republican colleagues that they should oppose the creation of a Jan. 6 commission, no matter how it is structured, because it “could hurt the party’s midterm election message,” as Politico’s Burgess Everett reported.

And so, as early as Thursday, McConnell will use the filibuster to thwart a bipartisan effort to prevent further attacks on the U.S. government by domestic terrorists — because he thinks it’s good politics for Republicans…

…McConnell, asked this month about the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from GOP leadership, and whether he was concerned that many Republicans believe Donald Trump’s election lie, replied, twice: “One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration.”  [Pols emphasis] True to his word, McConnell has blocked everything — even if it means undercutting Republican negotiators.

Performative obstruction is the Republican brand.

 

Is it any wonder that Republicans and Americans want very different things in 2022 and 2024? At least some Republicans are privately worried that Donald Trump really will attempt to run for President again in 2024.

 

The artist formerly known as “The Colorado Option” is on the verge of passing through the legislature after a few more tweaks. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

A proposal to create a new government-backed insurance plan passed another significant hurdle as Democrats voted to advance the “Colorado Option” through the state Senate on Wednesday.

The approval means that the bill is nearly guaranteed to become law. Once it’s in effect, new health insurance plans would be offered on the individual and small-group markets. That includes up to 15 percent of the state’s population, including hundreds of thousands who don’t have insurance right now. It would not directly affect employer-provided insurance…

…Democrats claim that the bill could lower insurance premiums 15 percent by 2025, allowing more people to afford a new insurance plan that is also designed to lower out-of-pocket costs. The bill would force insurance companies to sell the Colorado plan across the state, and it would allow the state to regulate the price of medical services to achieve those savings. Instead of a true “public option,” it’s more like a public-private option.

You may call it whatever you’d like; the bottom line is that the bill will cut health care premiums by at least 15% for Coloradans.

Here are a few more updates on news from the state legislature as Sine Die draws ever closer…

Legislation that limits the ability of emergency responders to use the drug ketamine is heading to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis.

Republicans who make opposing abortion their central tenet are trying to derail a bill that seeks to provide better maternal care services for women.

Colorado Public Radio reports on the latest iteration of a bill seeking to reform sentencing and prison populations in Colorado.

Legislation to speed up the process of bond hearings is nearing the finish line.

A bill to fund early childhood education made it out of a committee hearing.

Governor Polis signed a bill that ends a requirement for colleges in Colorado to use ACT or SAT scores as a guideline for admitting new students. The bill also ends “legacy admissions” for higher education institutions in the state.

 

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

 

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Republicans, Americans Want Different Things

New polling data released today by Quinnipiac University crystallizes the problem Republicans face in 2022 (and 2024). From a Quinnipiac press release:

As candidates begin to enter races for the 2022 mid-term elections, more than 8 in 10 Republicans (85 percent) say they would prefer to see candidates running for elected office that mostly agree with Donald Trump, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released today. Overall, a majority of Americans (53 – 39 percent) say they would prefer to see candidates running for elected office that mostly disagree with Trump.

Asked whether they would like to see Trump run for president in 2024, Republicans say 66 – 30 percent they would. Overall, two-thirds of Americans (66 – 30 percent) say they do not want to see him run.

As Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy notes:

“The numbers fly in the face of any predictions that Donald Trump’s political future is in decline. By a substantial majority, Republicans: (1) believe the election was stolen from him, (2) want Trump to run again, and (3), if they can’t vote for Trump, prefer someone who agrees with him.”

These poll numbers are certainly good news for Donald Trump, but not so much for the Republican Party in general. Republicans overwhelmingly say they want to see a continuation of Trumpism in 2022, but the majority of everyone else is horrified at this thought. In short, this means that Republicans are more likely to nominate extremist candidates for office in 2022 who are not well-equipped to appeal to voters in a General Election.

This same trend is even more apparent when looking ahead to 2024:

Asked whether they would like to see Trump run for president in 2024, Republicans say 66 – 30 percent they would. Overall, two-thirds of Americans (66 – 30 percent) say they do not want to see him run.

Two-thirds of Americans DO NOT WANT MORE TRUMP. Yet here in Colorado, recently-elected State GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown says that the Republican Party is “never” going back to the pre-Trump days.

Republicans have made it clear that they are determined to give America more of what it doesn’t want. This is not a political strategy that we would ever suggest, but what do we know?

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As Promised, Federal Aid Rights Colorado’s Fiscal Ship

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Colorado Newsline’s Moe Clark reports on plans announced yesterday by Gov. Jared Polis and the Democratic majority leadership in the General Assembly to spend almost $4 billion in federal assistance coming to the state as a result of the American Rescue Plan passed soon after President Joe Biden took office:

Colorado Democratic leaders and lawmakers gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday morning to unveil their preliminary plan for how to distribute $3.8 billion in federal stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress…

State lawmakers will decide how to allocate approximately $2 billion of the allotment by June 12, the current end date for the 2021 legislative session.

More details will be released on where those funds will be allocated once state lawmakers introduce their forthcoming stimulus bill (or bills). These bills will go through the typical legislative process, meaning there will be multiple opportunities for members of the public to give input on the proposals.

Lawmakers plan to convene an interim committee during the summer and fall to determine how the remaining $1.8 billion will be spent. Lawmakers will then vote on the proposals during the 2022 legislative session.

During the acrimonious election-year debate last fall over a second round of economic relief legislation to help the country make it through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest sticking points for Republicans in Congress was aid to state and local governments. Although state and local governments were some of the hardest hit by revenue declines during the pandemic, and in many cases like Colorado have severe limits on the ability to borrow money to cover shortfalls, Republicans chose to vilify “wasteful” state and local governments and fiercely opposed what became known as the “blue state bailout.”

Then as readers know there was an election–actually a couple of elections–after which it became possible to pass the American Rescue Plan without any Republican support. The $3.8 billion in federal stimulus funds Colorado now gets to use to close the budget shortfall created by the pandemic as well as make new investments in housing, education, healthcare, and infrastructure is all money that Republicans in Congress, including Colorado’s three Republicans, did not want the state of Colorado to receive. And by refusing to even request funding for projects in their districts which have in many cases been waiting for years due to political objections to the process, Colorado Republicans are short-changing their constituents even more.

Federal pandemic aid won’t last forever, of course, and there will still be hard fiscal questions for Colorado to answer once this relief money has come and gone. But in the end, the good these investments will do will speak louder than the objections.

And voters, in the clearest terms possible, know who to thank.

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Republican State Rep. Threatens to Kill Caucus Leader

GOP Rep. Ron Hanks, House Minority Leader Hugh McKean.

It is not specifically against House rules to threaten to kill a fellow lawmaker.

This is one of the takeaways from an incredible story via Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman. The bigger point: House Minority Leader Hugh McKean might be the most impotent legislative “leader” we’ve seen in decades in Colorado.

As Goodland reports, tempers got heated on Friday evening during a strategy session within the House Republican caucus. The GOP had spent the previous nine hours staging a “filibuster” of sorts against House Bill 1312, which involves raising the exemption for business personal property taxes through an increased tax on insurers, oil and gas companies, and the coal industry.

Ultimately House Republicans agreed to return to the House floor for continued debate, but this decision did not go over well with Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City), one of the GOP’s most prominent lunatics and someone who was literally right there in Washington D.C. during the January 6 insurrection. As Goodland reports for Colorado Politics:

…when the caucus returned to the House floor, sources said Hanks told McKean he would “break your neck.” As of Monday morning, Hanks had not apologized. [Pols emphasis]

“I have no comment on any conversations I may or may not have had within the Republican Caucus,” Hanks told Colorado Politics on Monday.

At least five other lawmakers in the Republican caucus, in addition to Hanks and McKean, heard the threat. Rep. Terri Carver of Colorado Springs stepped in to referee, said Rep. Matt Soper of Delta, one of the GOP witnesses.

Rep. “Raging” Ron Hanks.

Goodland notes that Hanks’ threat “doesn’t appear to violate any rules of the House,” although lawmakers probably never thought it necessary to explicitly prohibit making death threats against another legislator.

And what did Minority Leader McKean do about this disgusting display from one of his caucus members?

Nothing.

Again, from Goodland:

On Monday morning, McKean told Colorado Politics that “I don’t think the occasional times that tempers get a little frayed on the floor” matters as much as “what we do as a group.”

He declined to comment on Hanks’ exact words or whether Hanks had apologized for his threat.

On one hand, it’s not entirely surprising that McKean would shrivel up in response to Hanks’ threatening behavior; this is the same McKean, after all, who doesn’t even have the courage to speak out against colleagues who insist on regularly making racist comments on the House floor.

McKean has been an absolute disaster as House Minority Leader, a position he earned in November following another tough election full of GOP losses. Earlier in the legislative session, McKean promised that opposing a health care plan seeking to lower premiums for Coloradans by 20% would be “the hill we die on.” This was a weird line to draw in the sand, particularly when you consider that McKean doesn’t have the votes to come anywhere close to making good on such a promise.

McKean’s incompetence as House Minority Leader has been almost amusing if you aren’t interested in Republicans being successful, but this interaction with Hanks is different. It’s sad to watch such an impotent, bungling mess staggering around the State Capitol.

McKean spent much of last week complaining about being denied a “do-over” after he says he mistakenly voted YES on a bill that would make it harder for people convicted of a violent crime to legally purchase a gun in Colorado — an error that earned him the wrath of some Republican colleagues and the firearm enthusiasts at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. We’ve even heard rumors of an attempt to oust McKean from leadership altogether, though a vote of “no confidence” on McKean’s leadership would be fairly redundant.

As for HB-1312, it passed out of the House on a party-line vote on Saturday and will next be taken up in the State Senate.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (May 24)

The end is near…for the 2020-21 school year, that is. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Colorado officials are announcing plans for spending $3.8 billion in federal stimulus money. As Alex Burness writes for The Denver Post:

Colorado’s top Democrats, both state and congressional, assembled on the steps of the State Capitol Building on Monday morning to explain their plan. About $2 billion will be allocated in the coming weeks, while the remainder will be spent next session.

“We don’t need to passively look toward better days,” Gov. Jared Polis said. “We have to actively bring them into existence.”

Some of the bigger spending proposals include $1 billion to fortify the state budget via K-12 spending; $817 million on COVID-19 recovery and relief; roughly $550 million to “build housing supply” and “remove barriers to increase housing affordability and address homelessness”; approximately $550 million to address mental and behavioral health; and $414 million for “shovel-ready” transportation, infrastructure, parks and agricultural projects.

 

Carrot or stick? Governor Jared Polis chose the carrot as his preferred method for encouraging more Coloradans to get back to work. In related news, Colorado’s most recent unemployment numbers are about the same as they were in March.

 

 The number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado fell last week for the first time since late March. In an effort to get more Coloradans vaccinated, the state appears to be leaning toward implementing a lottery-type sweepstakes that has proven popular in Ohio.

 

Time is running out on the 2021 legislative session, and Republicans are working hard to waste every last minute. Here’s more on what’s happening in state legislative news:

Colorado Public Radio examines discussions underway around a big climate change bill in the legislature — particularly how it pertains to a ginormous coal plant in Pueblo.

Governor Jared Polis will sign the following bills on Monday: HB21-1099 (Policies And Procedures To Identify Domestic Abuse); HB21-1212 (Diversity Of Governor’s Appointments To Boards); HB21-1056 (Cost Thresholds For Public Project Bidding Requirements); and HB21-1186 (Regional Transportation District Operation).

Colorado Newsline looks at changes to legislation attempting to “de-populate” Colorado’s prison system.

CBS4 Denver takes credit for legislation dealing with regulations in assisted living centers.

Westword is tracking the progress of all the weed bills.

 

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: The Big Lie is The Only Truth

This week on Episode #75 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss why “The Big Lie” is The Only Truth for Republicans. We also preview the remaining few weeks in the 2021 state legislative session; find a reason to discuss Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs); and consider the prospects of the most likely Republican candidate for…something in 2022.

But the big news this week is the return of “Canadian Jason Bane,” who tells us whether or not he might move back to the United States now that Donald Trump is no longer President.

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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Republican Lawmakers Call Their One Play

As Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun noted this morning on Twitter:

 

This is not new territory for Republican lawmakers in Colorado, whose primary goal in every legislative session is simply to stop anything from ever being accomplished.

They tried it in 2019.

They tried it in 2020.

They’re trying it again in 2021.

Does this strategy actually work? Republicans seem to think it does, but opinions vary on whether this results in anything more than lengthening the day for lawmakers and journalists. It might be more effective now than it was in 2019, when Republicans opened the legislative session by demanding that the entire daily journal be read aloud.

The more important question is about why Republicans even want to be elected to the legislature in the first place when this is consistently their go-to strategy. There are a lot of other ways you could spend your day doing nothing (you can trust us on this one).

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 21)

On this day in 2017, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus performed for the final time. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Colorado is seeing a rise in the number of younger people hospitalized because of COVID-19, which is why officials such as Gov. Jared Polis are making a renewed push to promote vaccinations. Westword takes a closer look at Colorado’s vaccination numbers, particularly among younger residents.

Colorado Public Radio has more on the shift toward targeting a younger demographic.

In related news, the World Health Organization says that worldwide deaths from COVID-19 could actually be triple the current number. The W.H.O. estimates as many as 8 million people have now died from the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) is not like most people. You see, most people would not repeat something that is quite obviously false without pausing to consider the plausibility of their statement. This week, Boebert claimed in an interview on something called Real America’s Voice that Texas has not seen a single COVID-19 death since dropping mask restrictions two months ago. Thousands of people have died from COVID-19 in Texas in the last two months, which is something that would not surprise 99% of the people reading this sentence.

 

Let’s get caught up on more news from the state legislature, which has just a few weeks left in the 2021 session…

The Denver Post looks at some of the big bills that still have progress to make before the end of the legislative session.

The Associated Press reports on proposed legislation that would study the response of law enforcement officials during police protests.

Denver7 reports on the latest discussions over a big health care savings bill.

Democrats are pushing a bill that would require ballot measures seeking to raise or lower taxes to clearly explain the programs that would be effected by fiscal changes.

Colorado Newsline reports on the consistent progress of legislation seeking to give more rights to agricultural workers.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 20)

For some of you, the end of the 2020-21 school year is just one week away. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

It has been 198 days since Election Day in 2020. So much time has passed since the 2020 election that we are much closer to November 2021 than we are to 2020. But as The Washington Post reports, the concept of time is irrelevant if you are a true believer in The Big Lie:

At a public meeting last week in Cheboygan County, Mich., a lawyer from Detroit told county commissioners that the voting machines they used in 2020 could “flip” votes and throw an election. She offered to send in a “forensic team,” at no charge to the county, to inspect ballots and scanners.

In Windham, N.H., supporters of former president Donald Trump showed up to a town meeting this month chanting “Stop the Steal!” and demanding that officials choose their preferred auditor to scrutinize a 400-vote discrepancy in a state representative race.

And at a board of supervisors meeting May 4 in San Luis Obispo County, on California’s Central Coast, scores of residents questioned whether election machines had properly counted their votes, with many demanding a “forensic audit.”

The ramifications of Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country: In emails, phone calls and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count — wrongly insisting that Trump won the presidential race.

Why are Trumpians only concerned about the 2020 election? If time isn’t relevant, then why not demand a recount of Barack Obama’s 2008 victory? Hell, Jimmy Carter in 1976 — let’s start that one all over again!

Americans voted. Your guy lost. No matter how many times you count the ballots, your guy will have still lost. Move on.

 

Fighting continues to rage in Israel, though as The Associated Press reports, there is some hope for a cease-fire:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against calls from the U.S. to wind down the Gaza offensive, appearing determined to inflict maximum damage on Hamas in a war that could help save his political career. Still, officials close to the negotiations say they expect a truce to be announced in the next 24 hours…

…With hundreds already killed in the worst fighting since Israel and Hamas’ 2014 war, U.S. President Joe Biden told Israel on Wednesday that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire” — but Netanyahu pushed back, saying he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.” It marked the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting began and poses a difficult test of the U.S.-Israel relationship early in Biden’s presidency.

Still, an Egyptian intelligence official said a cease-fire was likely late Thursday or early Friday, after the U.S. appeal bolstered Cairo’s own efforts to halt the fighting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate talks.

 

As The Colorado Sun reports, the artist formerly known as the “Colorado Option” is still moving along through the state legislature:

The bill would require the state to create a standard health insurance plan that companies would be required to offer at rates eventually 18% less than the plans they currently offer. If the 18% price reduction targets aren’t met by 2025, the state could dictate prices that hospitals and doctors charge to patients covered by the standard plan. The bill would require hospitals and doctors to accept the plan, resulting in fines and possible sanction on their licenses if they do not.

The goal is to make coverage cheaper for several hundred thousand Coloradans and also to chip away at Democrats’ long-held goal of reducing the underlying costs of health care.

Insurance companies are countering that they already have extremely thin profit margins — an argument that nobody with a functioning brain actually believes. It’s hard to believe that when you consider that Colorado Hospitals have the highest profit margins in the entire country.

 

Let’s get caught up on more news from the state legislature, which has just a few weeks left in the 2021 session…

The Colorado Times Recorder reports on bipartisan legislation dealing with information sharing between ICE and state agencies.

Colorado Newsline looks at potential new restrictions for medical marijuana patients.

The State House advanced legislation seeking to fund a transition program for coal miners.

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports on the latest regarding a bill that would alter the timing of bond hearings.

Colorado could become just the second state in the country to cap prices for insulin.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 19)

Happy Hepatitis Testing Day…and good luck. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

The Associated Press reports on landmark legislation approved by Congress to address the issue of hate crimes against Asian Americans:

Congress approved legislation Tuesday intended to curtail a striking rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, sending President Joe Biden a bipartisan denunciation of the spate of brutal attacks that have proliferated during coronavirus pandemic.

“In the midst of a deadly pandemic, our nation has witnessed a horrific rise in violent, racist attacks against Asian Americans,” said U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora in a statement. “Across Colorado and the country, our AAPI neighbors, loved ones, and friends are living in fear of being targeted with racial slurs, physical intimidation, and deadly violence. Today’s bipartisan vote sends a strong message of solidarity with the AAPI community that hate will not be tolerated.”

The measure was approved by every member of the Colorado congressional delegation except Colorado GOP Congressperson Lauren Boebert, of Rifle. [Pols emphasis]

The bill, which the House passed on a 364-62 vote, will expedite the review of hate crimes at the Justice Department and make grants available to help local law enforcement agencies improve their investigation, identification and reporting of incidents driven by bias, which often go underreported. It previously passed the Senate 94-1 in April after lawmakers reached a compromise. Biden has said he will sign it.

The highlighted point above bears repeating: Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert WAS THE ONLY MEMBER OF COLORADO’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION to oppose the anti-hate crime legislation.

BTW, Tuesday was National AAPI Day Against Bullying + Hate Day.

 

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy will get a $1.3 million compensation package for resigning from his job leading the state’s flagship university system. As The Denver Post explains:

The agreement outlining the details of Kennedy’s departure from the university presidency after two years on the job passed on an 8-1 vote, with Regent Heidi Ganahl, an at-large Republican, voting against the deal.

At the end of the virtual meeting, Kennedy wished the university system well and said he will continue to support CU.Wednesday’s special board meeting began with an hour-long private executive session followed by a motion presented by Regent Chance Hill, R-Colorado Springs, which asked the board to vote to allow Kennedy to carry out his original employment contract, which, if not renewed, would have ended in the summer of 2022.

Hill’s motion failed on a 3-6 vote with Hill, Ganahl and Sue Sharkey, R-Castle Rock, voting in favor.

Discussion around Kennedy’s departure included Republican regents arguing that CU was hostile toward conservatives. Kennedy, a former GOP congressman, was hired in 2019 on a split, party-line vote by the board, which was controlled by Republicans at the time.

No doubt $1.3 million will make a guy feel a lot better about people being mean to him. But the real treasure of this story is this unbelievably ridiculous statement from CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, who really hopes you don’t blame her for Kennedy when she runs for Governor:

Ganahl said: “I don’t think we should trouble ourselves with the illusion that Mark Kennedy’s firing was a great failing or fundamental error in leadership. Mark Kennedy is being fired for the high crime of not being a Democrat or left-wing academic to a new board majority who many days forget they serve the students of CU and not the (Democratic National Committee). In this case, their need to grind partisan axes will cost taxpayers and students millions of dollars.”

 

As Westword notes, Colorado may now be the #1 COVID-19 hotspot in the entire world. The good news: Infections and hospitalizations continue to drop.

 

Let’s get caught up on more news from the state legislature, which has just a few weeks left in the 2021 session…

State Rep. Dylan Roberts writes an Op-Ed for Vail Daily about some notable legislation making its way through the legislature.

Colorado Public Radio looks at whether Colorado can expand highways while also meeting Climate goals.

Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Sentinel reports on the progress of a major transportation funding bill.

The Associated Press reports on legislation intended to protect women’s rights while incarcerated.

Senate Democrats approved a bill that will allow local municipalities to make their own gun safety laws.

Governor Jared Polis signed legislation on Tuesday that makes it illegal to doxx health care workers.

Search and rescue teams in Colorado are asking the legislature for more resources to do their thing.

Denver7 reports on a bill we’ll call “marijuana potency 2.0.”

 

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

 

(more…)

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Polis Signs Historic State Budget Bill

As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

Gov. Jared Polis signed Colorado’s $34.1 billion fiscal year 2021-22 budget into law on Monday, restoring cuts made as the coronavirus crisis descended upon the state last year while also saving a historic amount for future economic downturns…

…“This is the culmination of a year-long process — and it’s always hard. But this is the hardest it’s ever been because of the changing numbers,” Polis said just before signing Senate Bill 205 at the Capitol.

The budget takes effect in July, when the next fiscal year begins. It sets aside more than $1.5 billion for Colorado’s reserve fund that can be tapped by future legislatures. It also includes 3% raises for state employees, $480 million to reduce Colorado’s annual K-12 school funding shortfall and a $20 million line item to create hundreds of new around-the-clock care slots for people with developmental disabilities.

Also in the budget is $800 million for a state coronavirus stimulus package, the largest slice of which is being dedicated to infrastructure projects. Bills that are part of the package are still being debated in the legislature.

The state budget bill does not include $3.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief money — courtesy of President Biden’s American Recovery Plan — that will be distributed separately by the state legislature.

The “long bill” was approved by the State Senate on a vote of 28-6, with “NO” votes from Republican Sens. John Cooke; Bob Gardner; Dennis Hisey; Paul Lundeen; Jerry Sonnenberg; and Rob Woodward. As was also the case in 2020, not a single House Republican voted in support of the 2021-22 budget (which lawmakers are constitutionally-bound to approve each legislative session).

It might get lost among other big issues, including legislation to reduce the cost of health care by 18% and a much-needed proposal to fund transportation infrastructure projects in Colorado, but approving a state budget that restores funding to many essential services is an accomplishment that deserves its own standing ovation.

As we’ve said before: Elections matter.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (May 17)

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

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

The Colorado Sun reports on some bad news following last week’s decision by the CDC (and Colorado) to ease off on mask requirements:

Colorado on Sunday sat atop a New York Times tracker for national hotspots, recording the worst 7-day average rate for new coronavirus cases in the nation. (It first rose to the top spot on Friday.)

Measurements of how well the virus is under control are near the lowest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic. An estimated one out of every 81 people in the state is currently contagious with the virus. In March, that number was one out of every 350 people.

The most recent modeling projections produced by health experts at several Colorado universities estimate more virus will be in circulation this coming summer than last summer. And the virus that is circulating will be predominantly from more infectious variants — most of the cases in the state now come from the B.1.1.7 variant, which is believed to be 50% more transmissible than older strains.

We are not doctors here at Colorado Pols, so take our advice with the appropriate grains of salt: You should probably keep wearing a mask in public even if you are vaccinated, but DEFINITELY if you are unvaccinated. Colorado businesses can also set their own requirements for wearing masks inside stores.

In related news, President Biden is announcing plans for the U.S. to share 20 million COVID-19 vaccines with the rest of the world.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider an abortion law from Mississippi that could mark a path toward the dissolution of Roe v. Wade. As The Washington Post explains:

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will review a restrictive Mississippi abortion law that opponents of the procedure say provides a clear path to diminish Roe v. Wade’s establishment of the right of women to choose an abortion.

Abortion opponents for months have urged the court’s conservatives to seize the chance to reexamine the 1973 precedent. Mississippi is one among many Republican-led states that have passed restrictions that conflict with the court’s precedents protecting a woman’s right to choose before fetal viability.

In accepting the case, the court said it would examine whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” That has been a key component of the court’s jurisprudence.

The Mississippi law would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said that could not be squared with decades of Supreme Court precedents.

The Court could hear the case as soon as Fall 2021.

 

Be more smarter than Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

The editorial board of The Denver Post hopes that Republicans will field a decent candidate to oust Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) in 2022:

Congressman Doug Lamborn should be in trouble. But there have been many times that he should have been in trouble before and yet has eked out many tough primary victories in Colorado’s safely Republican 5th Congressional District.

We hope this time the evidence that he is mismanaging his office and misspending government funds will result in voters ousting him from the post.

The complaints filed in a lawsuit against Lamborn last week by a former staffer (some of which are backed up by emails obtained by The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson) are just embarrassing…

…We’ve long heard Republicans were going to mount a strong challenger to Lamborn, but often the vote gets split between multiple challengers. This year, we hope someone steps up for the primary and the folks are able to coalesce behind the challenger.

Here’s more background on the lawsuit filed against Rep. Lamborn by a former staffer. For further reading, check these stories from The Denver Post; Colorado Public Radio; The Colorado Times Recorder; Denver7; CNN; POLITICO; and The Associated Press.

 

Let’s get caught up on more news from the state legislature, which has just a few weeks left in the 2021 session…

Governor Jared Polis will sign the “long bill” today (SB21-205), otherwise known as the 2021-22 Appropriations Bill.

Colorado Democrats killed a bill on policing and jails after much discussion.

As The Denver Post reports, legislation dealing with marijuana potency has also been altered significantly.

Colorado Newsline reports on a watered-down bill advocating for tenant rights.

Denver7 looks at a couple of bills aimed at improving pre-natal care in Colorado.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports on the progress of legislation that would offer discounted state park passes for motorists obtaining or renewing vehicle registration in Colorado.

Legislation dealing with alcohol-to-go is moving along in both chambers.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 14)

On this day in 1796, the first person was inoculated against smallpox. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Get vaccinated and you can get back to normal. As The New York Times explains:

“We have all longed for this moment,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said as she announced the shift at a White House news conference on Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Fully vaccinated people are still told to cover their faces when flying or taking public transit, when visiting health care facilities, and in congregate settings like prisons and homeless shelters.

The recommendations came as a surprise to many people in public health. They offered a stark contrast with the views of a large majority of epidemiologists surveyed in the last two weeks by The New York Times, who said that until many more Americans were vaccinated, there would be too many chances for vaccines, which are not 100 percent effective, to fail…

…On Thursday, the governors of New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia, and the mayors of New York City and Washington, D.C., all Democrats, said that they were taking the new guidance under advisement before adopting it. Los Angeles County also said that it and the State of California were reviewing the new guidelines. In deference to local authorities, the C.D.C. said vaccinated people must continue to abide by existing state, local or tribal laws and regulations, and to follow local rules for businesses and workplaces.

The Denver Post reports on how Colorado is reacting to the new CDC guidance:

Colorado’s mask mandate is going to change in the near future to align with new federal guidance that says vaccinated people can safely go without masks in most indoor settings, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday afternoon…

…The new guidance issued Thursday doesn’t have the force of law, so states, counties and other governments will have to decide how they want to respond. It also doesn’t suggest policies for public settings, where vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix.

Meanwhile, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) says that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is equivalent to the “mark of the beast” from Revelations.

In a related story, CNN reports that Congressional Democrats have a 100% vaccination rate.

 

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is being sued by a former staffer and Marine Corps veteran for promoting an unsafe working environment and forcing staffers to run personal errands for he and his wife. The lawsuit also claims that Lamborn has been allowing his son to live in a utility closet in the basement of the U.S. Capitol.

POLITICO has more on what is shaping up to be a serious problem for Lamborn:

“Well, I don’t care about you guys getting it.” That’s what Rep. Doug Lamborn (R–Colo.) allegedly told a staffer in October 2020, right after discovering that his Capitol Hill office was turning into a hotbed of Covid-19 infections.

It’s one of the many eye-popping accusations in a new lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon in the District Court for the District of Columbia by Brandon Pope, a former Lamborn staffer who says he vocally pushed back on what he called the congressman’s “reckless and dangerous approach” to the pandemic — and was fired for it.

The lawsuit claims that Lamborn ignored congressional pandemic protocols and endangered his own staff, mocked aides who wanted to wear masks, forced staffers to show up for work in person and dismissed social-distancing guidelines. Eventually, those actions resulted in “widespread transmission of the virus throughout both the district and Washington DC offices,” the lawsuit states, leading both offices to shutter for a time.

 

Colorado lawmakers are continuing debate on SB-200, legislation that would lay out specific guidelines for meeting emissions-reduction goals, despite a veto threat from Gov. Jared Polis. As Judith Kohler reports for The Denver Post, a new report should make it harder for Polis to justify a potential veto:

A new report says Colorado will fall drastically short of its goals for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions without more ambitious targets and enforceable limits on pollution, a feature of a bill in the legislature that has Gov. Jared Polis threatening a veto. [Pols emphasis]

The analysis released Friday by Energy Innovation and RMI, formerly Rocky Mountain Institute, says their modeling projects Colorado’s overall emissions will drop from 2005 levels by just 3.4% by 2030 and only 18% by 2050. That’s a long way from the goals of at least 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 set by a 2019 law and in the “Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap” issued by Polis in January.

The state law includes the near-term goal of a 26% decline in emissions by 2025. Supporters of Senate Bill 21-200 say the specific limits on emissions in the new bill are intended to build upon the objectives set by previous legislation and the governor’s road map.

“Our climate goals are only as strong as our plans to execute them. This bill takes Gov. Polis’ climate goals and works to ensure that his plan happens,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “If the governor’s team has another way of building more certainty into their road map, we’d love to hear that.”

Let’s get caught up on more news from the state legislature, which has about one month left in the 2021 session…

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition is calling on Gov. Polis to veto HB-1051.

Colorado Public Radio looks at a long list of transgressions included in new legislation aimed at reforming Colorado’s misdemeanor offenses.

RealVail.com updates on the progress of legislation to fund much-needed transportation infrastructure repairs in Colorado.

The Colorado Sun reports on the advancement of legislation aimed at helping immigrants. In a separate story, the Sun looks at a bill that seeks to require more transparency in how companies track their employees.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports on a positive reception for a media literacy bill in Colorado.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 13)

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

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

 A bunch of former Republican elected officials and Party officers are speaking out against the GOP and pledging to do…something in the wake of the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from House leadership on Wednesday. From an Op-Ed in The Washington Post:

The Republican Party made a grievous error this week in ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from the House leadership for telling the truth about Donald Trump’s “big lie,” which has wreaked havoc in our democratic republic by casting doubt over the 2020 election.

Cheney rightfully struck back against party leaders and warned about the GOP’s dangerous direction. She is not alone.

Alongside dozens of prominent Republicans, ex-Republicans and independents, we are announcing “A Call for American Renewal,” a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP, and highlighting the urgent need for a new, common-sense coalition.

We urge fellow Americans to join us.

Former Republican Rep. Cole Wist, once the assistant minority leader for the House GOP, is among the local Colorado Republicans joining this cause. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is not a signatory of the letter, though he did vocally oppose efforts to remove Cheney.

Meanwhile, Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reports on the ultimate in irony from Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, who voted to oust Cheney:

“Liz Cheney, she has taken her eyes off the prize,” Boebert told Breitbart News. “Instead of focusing on passing conservative policies, she focused on media hits.” [Pols emphasis]

And then there’s Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), who may not have even understood what was happening on Wednesday:

Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, did not say how he voted in a statement. Instead, he praised Cheney as “a strong conservative” and “a crucial voice for national security” but said her ouster was about “supporting the will of our voters.” He also blamed the news media for dividing Republicans.

 

As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, the exodus from the Republican Party is underway. The New York Times voices similar Republican concerns, while NBC News has more from Rep. Cheney herself:

“It’s a scary thing,” Cheney said in an exclusive interview with NBC’s “TODAY” co-host Savannah Guthrie when asked how Republicans who chose not to remove her from leadership in February supported doing so on Wednesday.

“For reasons that I don’t understand, leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former president who launched that attack,” Cheney said in the interview, which aired Thursday. “And I think you’ve watched over the course of the last several months, the former president get more aggressive, more vocal, pushing the lie.”

 

Tensions in Israel are reaching a boiling point, as The New York Times explains:

Clashes between Arab and Jewish mobs on the streets of Israeli cities have given way to warnings from Israeli leaders that the decades-old conflict could be careening toward a civil war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the scenes of arson and violence as “anarchy” and appealed for an end to “lynchings.”

When Mr. Netanyahu visited the town of Lod, a mixed Jewish-Arab city, on Thursday, he said that the violence there was motivated by nationalistic rioters and that soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces could be brought in.

“There is no greater threat now than these riots, and it is essential to bring back law and order with these means,” he said. Riot control measures such as water cannons and administrative arrests may also be used, he said. The police have put strict measures in place in Lod, limiting entry into the city from 5 p.m. and instituting an 8 p.m. curfew…

…Israel carried out more airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, where the death toll rose on Thursday to 83 people since the fighting began early this week, according to the Gaza health ministry. Palestinian militants fired volleys of rockets that reached far into Israel, where seven have died since Monday.

 

Let’s get caught up on news from the state legislature:

Governor Jared Polis will sign three new bills into law today: SB21-167  (Regulation Of Child Care Centers); SB21-013 (Reversing COVID-related Learning Loss); and SB21-059 (Juvenile Justice Code Reorganization).

Lawmakers will not stop Colorado businesses from requiring employees to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Democrats rejected an effort from Republicans to mandate that the state interfere in private business matters.

As The Colorado Sun reports, lawmakers are advancing legislation that would increase the punishment for threatening an elected official in Colorado.

The big health care bill moving through the state legislature could ultimately deliver Coloradans the lowest insurance premiums in the country.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 12)

Happy Birthday to Gov. Jared Polis, who is 46 years old today. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

As had been expected, House Republicans voted on Wednesday to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from caucus leadership ranks for the crime of refusing to pretend that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 Presidential election. As The Washington Post reports:

The voice vote to remove her as chair of the House Republican Conference underscored that the party will not tolerate disagreements with Trump, whose active support many argue is needed for the party to win the House majority in the 2022 midterm election.

Cheney, 54, has called her decision to publicly fight Trump a matter of principle, warning that allowing him to falsely claim that the election was stolen amounts to an attack on Democracy and is destructive to the GOP and its values.

“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” Cheney told her Republican colleagues Wednesday morning, according to a person familiar with her remarks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. “But I promise you this, after today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”

We don’t yet know the results of the voice vote, though it’s safe to assume that Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) voted to oust Cheney. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) appears to have been one of the few dissenting Republican voices on removing Cheney. Said Buck, “Liz Cheney was cancelled today for speaking her mind.”

As Thomas Friedman writes for The New York Times, this is a very big deal:

It is hard to accept that this is happening in today’s America, but it is.

If House Republicans follow through on their plan to replace Cheney, it will not constitute the end of American democracy as we’ve known it, but there is a real possibility we’ll look back on May 12, 2021, as the beginning of the end — unless enough principled Republicans can be persuaded to engineer an immediate, radical course correction in their party.

 

It wasn’t that long ago that Liz Cheney was hosting a fundraiser for Lauren Boebert:

 

In related news, The Associated Press reports that Senate Republicans are pushing back against Democrat efforts to ensure fair elections:

Republicans in the U.S. Senate mounted an aggressive case against Democrats’ sweeping election and voter-access legislation, pushing to roll back proposals for automatic registration, 24-hour ballot drop boxes and other changes in an increasingly charged national debate.

The legislation, a top priority of Democrats in the aftermath of the divisive 2020 election, would bring about the largest overhaul of U.S. voting in a generation, touching nearly every aspect of the electoral process. It would remove hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security and curtail the influence of big money in politics…

…Though it is federal legislation, Republicans are fighting a national campaign against it rooted in state battles to restrict new ways of voting that have unfolded during the pandemic. Just Tuesday, the Arizona Legislature sent the governor a bill that would make it easier to purge infrequent voters from a list of those who automatically get mail-in ballots, the latest battleground state to push through changes likely to take months or years to finally settle in court.

 

Let’s get caught up on news from the state legislature:

Colorado Newsline reports on a “tax fairness” proposal from Democrats that would limit tax breaks for high-income individuals and businesses.

The Colorado Sun examines how Colorado can and cannot spend federal stimulus funds.

El Paso County Commissioners are opposing legislative efforts to create a Front Range rain line.

Denver7 reports on legislation concerning businesses charging a fee when customers opt to pay with a credit or debit card.

 

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

 

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