How NOT to Oppose the Colorado Option

If the debate about a legislative health care reform plan called the “Colorado Option” comes down to a battle over messaging, then Democrats should feel pretty good about where they stand at the moment.

The arguments about House Bill 1232 began last Friday in the House Health & Insurance Committee. Discussions on a potential compromise deal with insurers, hospitals, and the health care industry have been ongoing, but it still appears that the “Colorado Option” has enough momentum and support to ultimately make it through the legislature at some point in the next month or two. The editorial board of The Durango Herald endorsed the “Colorado Option” earlier this week. Dave Perry of The Aurora Sentinel backed the legislation in an editorial published today.

We talked last week about the various arguments for and against the “Colorado Option,” coming to the general conclusion that supporters of the bill were in a much stronger position than the bill’s detractors. That analysis was strengthened by the silly attacks thrown at the legislation this week in a mail piece from the opposition group calling itself “Colorado’s Health Care Future.”

We’re not sure how widely the following mailer was distributed in Colorado, but it seems to have been largely targeted at “grasstops” opinion leaders. Regardless, the message would fail no matter the audience:

 

The two main arguments made in this mailer are as follows: 1) Hospitals in Colorado could lose money if the “Colorado Option” becomes law, and 2) A “similar” approach in Washington state led to an increase in health care premiums.

The first argument is so laughable that it’s easy to dismiss: That Colorado hospitals could face “$112 million in losses annually” if the “Colorado Option” becomes law. Colorado hospitals are literally THE MOST PROFITABLE IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, but even if you didn’t know this, why would the average person care if hospitals lost money? What was the backup argument? That pharmaceutical company executives might be forced to accept smaller annual bonuses?

The second argument requires a little more research to refute, but it doesn’t take long to get there. The mail piece claims that a “similar government-controlled approach” in Washington state ended up making health care premiums more expensive for consumers. But this plan, called “CascadeCare,” was only offered in 13 of Washington’s 39 counties, which would obviously significantly limit the risk pool that should make such plans cheaper for consumers. “CascadeCare” only included about one-third of the state; the “Colorado Option” would include the entire state. In other words, CascadeCare is similar to the “Colorado Option” like apples are similar to car batteries.

These two arguments were presumably selected by hospitals and the health care industry because somebody believed that they were among their strongest talking points. We’d love to know what got left on the cutting room floor.

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We Have Had More Mass Shootings Than Days of the Year

On Thursday evening, eight people were killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx distribution facility in Indianapolis. Take a look at this graphic from CNN, which shows the location of 45 mass shootings (in which 4 or more people are wounded or killed) that have taken place since March 16th:

That’s 45 mass shootings in the past month ALONE. The United States has suffered through 147 mass shootings thus far in 2021. We haven’t had that many DAYS in 2021.

 

That’s right — we are AVERAGING more than one mass shooting per day in 2021. Forget, for a moment, about your opinion on the second amendment. Nobody could look at the graphics above and just shrug. This is weird.

Now, here’s the other strange thing about America’s mass shooting epidemic: Americans by and large WANT to see more gun safety measures approved by lawmakers. Check out these findings from a Quinnipiac University poll that was released on Thursday, April 15:

A majority of Americans (54 – 42 percent) support stricter gun laws in a Quinnipiac University national poll of adults released today. Democrats support stricter gun laws 91 – 8 percent. Republicans oppose these laws 74 – 22 percent, and independents oppose them 51 – 44 percent.

When you break down the numbers into specific policy proposals, the data remains clear:

♦ 89% of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers;

♦ 74% of Americans support so-called “red flag” laws;

♦ 52% of Americans support a nationwide ban on assault weapons;

♦ 51% of Americans support a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines;

♦ 45% of Americans believe that gun violence in this country is a “crisis.”

The reason that Congress hasn’t taken action to address gun violence in this country is NOT because Americans don’t approve of these policy changes.

As we’ve noted before in this space, the only way to make real change on the issue of gun violence is to elect more people who are willing to make those changes.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 16)

Happy World Voice Day. Please yell out 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 

 

The Indianapolis Star reports on yet another mass shooting in the United States, this one at a FedEx distribution site in Indianapolis:

Officers arrived to a “chaotic and active” crime scene, according to IMPD Deputy Chief of Investigations Craig McCartt.

Eight people, plus the suspected gunman, were found dead in and around the facility. It’s believed the shooter died by suicide shortly before police arrived.

McCartt said at a Friday morning news conference that the shooter arrived at the building and began “randomly” firing in the parking lot — with no confrontation or argument before the shooting started. He then went inside the building and continued shooting. Four people were found dead outside and four were found dead inside.

 

► Republican State Rep. Ron Hanks, the “Insurrectionist Man of Mystery,” continues to press his case as the biggest asshole in the Colorado legislature. Hanks attempted to give lawmakers a history lesson on Thursday and warmed up with a really tasteless joke. From 9News:

Hanks (R-Penrose) falsely alleged that the three-fifths compromise was not “impugning anybody’s humanity” while debating a civics education bill on the House floor Thursday.

“The three-fifths compromise, of course, was an effort by non-slave states … to try and reduce the amount of representation that the slave states had,” Hanks said. “It was not impugning anybody’s humanity.”

This comment was preceded by another where he referenced being mistakenly called up as Rep. Mike Lynch (R-Wellington).

“Being called Mr. Lynch might be a good thing for what I’m about to say … no, just kidding,” Hanks said.

Hanks’ ridiculous comments earned him national headlines.

 

Let’s check in on more state legislative news:

The House of Representatives approved the annual state budget bill despite a few mindless protests from Republican lawmakers.

A bill that would reduce sentencing requirements for felony murder convictions is on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis. On Thursday, Gov. Polis signed into law a bill that allows victims of child sexual abuse more time to bring civil lawsuits against perpetrators.

Lawmakers are considering making significant changes to admission requirements for colleges and universities.

A new law will give formerly incarcerated people with firefighting experience more opportunities to return to the firefighting profession.

Legislation that would have required ski resorts to provide more transparency about injuries on the slopes died in committee.

Pueblo County is opposing a proposal to speed up the process of reducing harmful emissions in Colorado.

Dave Perry of The Aurora Sentinel voices support for the “Colorado Option” healthcare plan being debated in the state legislature.

 

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel confirms a story first reported here at Colorado Pols about former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese withdrawing her name from consideration as Mesa County Attorney…which probably has something to do with the fact that Pugliese wants to run for Secretary of State and now lives in Colorado Springs.

 

 Republican Qaucus leaders were the ONLY two Members of Congress to vote NO on a routine reauthorization of the nation’s bone marrow registry and umbilical cord blood used in bone marrow transplants. Republican Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene represented the “2” in the 415-2 vote in favor of H.R. 941.

 

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Not Tax Day (April 15)

For most people, tax day this year is on May 17th. 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 

 

The defense rested its case in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of murder in the May 2020 killing of George Floyd. As The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Derek Chauvin said in court Thursday that he will not testify in his murder trial shortly before the defense said it has completed its case.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege” to not risk making any self-incriminating statements in Hennepin County District Court, where the fired Minneapolis police officer is charged with killing George Floyd late last spring in Minneapolis…

…Chauvin’s declaration came during a series of questions from his attorney, Eric Nelson, and outside the presence of the jury.

Nelson and Chauvin were seated at the defense table as the defendant held a cordless microphone and had his voice heard for the first time on the record during the trial.

Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial could begin as soon as Monday.

 

► You don’t need us to tell you that red states and blue states are very different. But as The Associated Press reports, one significant difference is bad for your health:

With coronavirus shots now in the arms of nearly half of American adults, the parts of the U.S. that are excelling and those that are struggling with vaccinations are starting to look like the nation’s political map: deeply divided between red and blue states.

Out in front is New Hampshire, where 65% of the population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following close behind are New Mexico, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts at 55% or greater. All have a history of voting Democratic and supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, at the bottom are five states where fewer than 40% have rolled up their sleeves for a shot. Four of them — Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee — lean Republican and voted for Donald Trump last fall. The fifth is Georgia, which has a Republican governor and supported GOP presidential candidates for nearly three decades before narrowly backing Biden.

 

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners are not doctors, but they are pretending to know more about the COVID-19 pandemic than the so-called “experts.” That’s not good news for the rest of us, which is why others are speaking out.

 

Let’s check in on state legislative news:

The State House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to the new state budget proposal.

Fox 31 News reports on opposition to proposed legislation seeking to reduce Colorado’s jail population.

Colorado lawmakers are freezing tuition rates at community colleges.

The Associated Press reports on legislative efforts to improve maternal care for minority women.

Lawmakers are considering legislation to improve health benefits for legislative aides.

The State Senate approved legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive professional licenses in Colorado.

 

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

 

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The GMS Podcast: Q*Bert Conquers the Spirit World

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast


 

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 14)

There are 254 shopping days until Christmas. 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 

 

More details are emerging on Tuesday’s big news that the United States will make a complete withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. From The New York Times:

President Biden, frustrated in his efforts to end America’s “Forever War” a decade ago, will announce on Wednesday a Sept. 11 deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 20 years, a move that immediately triggered similar action among the country’s NATO allies…

…In the hours leading up to Mr. Biden’s afternoon announcement at the White House, foreign and defense ministers met at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss “a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” as the American secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, told them on Wednesday.

The ministers, many of them attending the Wednesday meeting virtually, are expected to formally back the American withdrawal date in keeping with the alliance’s mantra “in together and out together.”

As The Denver Post reports, Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation voiced agreement with the decision.

 

The Durango Herald editorial board endorses the “Colorado Option” health care bill, which was finally introduced in a State House committee on Friday. From the Herald:

Coloradans – and especially rural Southwest Coloradans – are in trouble when it comes to health care costs. Before the pandemic, about 11.2% of people in Southwest Colorado couldn’t afford medical insurance, compared to 6.5% for the entire state. Because workers who lost their jobs in 2020 likely also lost insurance, that 11.2% is certainly higher now.

According to the Colorado Health Access Survey, even those with medical insurance in Colorado report skipping doctor visits when ill, struggling to pay medical bills and being unable to pay for rent, utilities, food and other necessities at times because of medical bills…

Some aspects of the health care industry work very well, as evidenced during the pandemic. But that doesn’t change what we know to be true: We have to find solutions that make health care more accessible and affordable for all Coloradans.

HB 1232 likely is not perfect, but it’s a big step in the right direction – and a signal to the health care industry that the time has come for change. [Pols emphasis]

Click here for more on the arguments and policy details.

In related news, Colorado’s Connect for Health insurance marketplace is seeing a record number of signups.

 

The Denver Post reports on efforts to make it more difficult for perpetrators of domestic violence to gain access to a firearm:

Colorado law since 2013 has required most people who are charged with domestic violence to relinquish their guns, but prosecutors and court officials acknowledge it’s loosely enforced, sometimes not at all.

Lawmakers got their first look Tuesday at a bill, HB21-1255, that would strengthen compliance, which state analysts say affects thousands per year.

Already, Democrats who control the Colorado legislature have sent two gun bills to Gov. Jared Polis to sign, which he is expected to do soon. One requires secure storage of firearms and the other mandates that lost or stolen firearms be reported, both of which were in the works before the mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers last month.

Attorney General Phil Weiser told lawmakers during a hearing that they must pass this third piece of gun legislation, because domestic violence is a crisis in Colorado, citing a statistic that of the 70 domestic violence-related deaths in 2019, two-thirds were due to a gun.

Elsewhere in state legislative news:

The Colorado Sun is tracking the status of legislation dealing with the spending of stimulus funds.

The “long bill” — also known as the annual state budget bill — will be the major topic of discussion in the State House today.

Colorado Newsline discusses legislative efforts to improve long-standing maternal health disparities.

Legislation to reform Colorado’s felony murder sentencing is headed to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, as is a bill to expand Colorado’s ability to import prescription drugs from other countries.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 12)

Happy Birthday, David Letterman. 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 

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is officially in the “fourth wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Colorado is now experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19 as infections and hospitalizations rise, but the increasing level of vaccination should make it less severe than the deadly spike late last fall, state officials said Friday.

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have risen most in people younger than 50, who are less likely to have been vaccinated, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said. It’s good news that the vaccine is protecting older people, who are most vulnerable to severe symptoms, but younger people need to keep up precautions until they get the shot, she said.

“This fourth wave is going to look different,” she said during a news briefing with Gov. Jared Polis.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 454 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon. It was the highest total since Feb. 18.

 

► Corporate backlash to Republican efforts aimed at restricting voter rights is apparently growing. As The Washington Post reports:

More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders gathered online Saturday to discuss taking new action to combat the controversial state voting bills being considered across the country, including the one recently signed into law in Georgia.

Executives from major airlines, retailers and manufacturers — plus at least one NFL owner — talked about potential ways to show they opposed the legislation, including by halting donations to politicians who support the bills and even delaying investments in states that pass the restrictive measures, according to four people who were on the call, including one of the organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor.

While no final steps were agreed upon, the meeting represents an aggressive dialing up of corporate America’s stand against controversial voting measures nationwide, a sign that their opposition to the laws didn’t end with the fight against the Georgia legislation passed in March.

As CNN reports, last week’s threats against corporations from Republican politicians appear to have backfired:

The virtual meeting with CEOs from a cross-section of industries underscores the growing tensions between the business community and Republicans in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

The Zoom call took place despite threats of reprisal from former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and state lawmakers in Georgia.

“It was a defiant stand against those politicians trying to silence them,” Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told CNN Business.

Sonnenfeld helped organize the event, along with the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism and the Leadership Now Project.

 
The “Colorado Option” health care bill was finally introduced in a State House committee on Friday. After several hours of discussion, a vote was delayed until Tuesday to allow for continued negotiations with the health care industry. As Colorado Newsline reports:

Just after 10 p.m., the committee voted to delay a vote on the bill until Tuesday to allow for more negotiations on possible amendments.

“The plan was to go ahead and vote on it (Friday), but there was significant progress made during the hearing,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, the Denver Democrat who chairs the House committee. She referred to conversations that took place Friday between the sponsors and some organizations representing health care providers.

The two-phase legislation would establish a possible path to the Colorado Option, envisioned as a lower-cost, nonprofit-managed health insurance plan sold on Colorado’s individual and small group markets. The Colorado Option would only become available starting in 2025 if private insurance carriers failed to meet voluntary targets in phase one of HB-1232.

Click here for more on the arguments and policy details.

 

Elsewhere in state legislative news:

As discussions continue around the state budget, Axios reports that the word of the month is “equity.”

The Colorado Sun reports on the status of a proposal to establish a Front Range passenger train system.

As Colorado Public Radio explains, legislation about improving Colorado’s roads and bridges intentionally leaves out funding for RTD.

The Denver Post updates on the status of composting grandma.

Lawmakers are debating a potential loosening of Colorado’s liquor sales laws.

CBS4 Denver reports on progress toward creating a prescription drug affordability board.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel previews the legislative week ahead.

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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Let’s Talk About the Colorado Option Bill

Democrats are done waiting in Colorado

The much-anticipated “public option” health care reform bill is finally being discussed today in the House Health and Insurance Committee after negotiations between lawmakers and the health care industry failed to create a compromise agreement. This was probably inevitable given that hospitals and health insurance companies were spending a million dollars on television ads against this proposal BEFORE IT WAS EVEN WRITTEN.

For years, the private health care industry has been wagging its finger at lawmakers saying that the government shouldn’t regulate their ability to make ridiculous amounts of money (Colorado hospitals are literally the most profitable in the nation) and that they can cut costs by themselves. This bill responds to those arguments by saying, “Okay, show us.”

The goal of HB21-1232 is to reduce health care costs for Coloradans and small businesses by requiring the health care industry to make plans available in each county — by 2024 — that would reduce the cost of health care premiums by 20%. If the industry can’t meet this goal, then the state will move forward with creating its own “public option” plan for Colorado consumers by 2025.

Republicans are carrying water for the health care industry by making the absurd argument that this attempt to lower costs for Coloradans is only going to make things worse. Of course, Republicans don’t actually have any ideas of their own for what we could do instead. They just don’t want to do this.

Much like Congressional Republicans who universally opposed a COVID-19 stimulus package that was the most popular piece of legislation in modern American history, Colorado Republicans appear committed to the same sort of political seppuku on the public option. House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said on KHOW radio this week that “this…as I’ve told my Republican colleagues in the House, is the hill we die on.”

Uh, okay. As a December poll from Healthier Colorado found:

A two-thirds majority, (66%), of voters support this healthcare cost reduction initiative, while only 26% oppose it, and 8% of voters are undecided.

In that same poll, 1-in-5 Coloradans said that the current cost of healthcare is “very unaffordable for them and their family.” Nobody could argue with a straight face that the cost of health care is not a problem; every year prices go up and benefits go down for Coloradans. Health care costs have been outpacing wage growth for years.

Unless you have access to giant pills full of cash, you are probably not happy with the cost of health care in Colorado.

In recognition of the fact that opposing this bill is not politically wise, Republicans and the health care industry continue to trot out bogus scare tactics that have consistently been proven wrong. For example, one of their favorite arguments is that the public option bill would shift costs onto other markets, thus raising health care costs in a different manner. But this practice is explicitly prohibited in the language of the bill. Opponents also argue that passage will make it harder for minorities and low income Coloradans to afford health insurance; again, this is directly addressed (and prohibited) in the language of the bill.

Opponents say the public option bill will give “politicians” control over your health care. It will not.

Opponents say passage would force rural hospitals to close for some nebulous reason. But if more rural Coloradans have access to health insurance, then rural hospitals will be compensated for care more regularly, which gives them…MORE money, not less. Obamacare proved this argument false; any reduction in prices is more than offset by the sheer number of new customers who can suddenly afford health care.

As opponents run out of viable talking points, you’ll hear them shift toward a message that Democrats are attacking the health care industry and its workers at a time when it is most vulnerable (because of the COVID-19 pandemic). This is gross, and it’s also dumb. Global pandemics are a pretty good example of how important it is for more people to have access to health care.

Coloradans of all stripes want this bill to become law, while the health care industry and Colorado hospitals do not. In the end, this might be the simplest argument of them all.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 9)

Today is the 99th day of the year; 2021 starts to look really old tomorrow. 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 

 

As Bruce Finley reports for The Denver Post, Colorado officials are taking new steps to prepare for what they expect will be another bad wildfire season:

Facing a worsening wildfire predicament, Colorado leaders on Thursday braced for more big burns and declared they’re shifting state strategy and millions of taxpayer dollars toward early detection and aggressive rapid response to squelch flames before they spread.

More aerial assets including a $24 million helicopter, prepositioning of air tankers that haul water and fire-snuffing slurry, and increased teamwork among local, state and federal agencies have placed Colorado in what officials described as an unprecedented state of readiness.

“Colorado used to talk about a fire season. It is now a year-round phenomenon,” Gov. Jared Polis said after a meeting of federal and state authorities, referring to the impacts of climate change…

…The core “wildfire season” in the state has increased by 78 days since the 1970s, officials said, with fires breaking out even in freezing temperatures. And human population expansion into burn zones — Polis pointed to some 300,000 houses built in woods requiring “perimeter defense” against wildfire — increasingly constrains what land managers can do.

 
► The Public Option is in the House!

The public option bill had been delayed in attempt to find compromise with hospitals.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, efforts to push an assault weapons ban in Colorado have stalled as key allies ponder a different approach:

Any major push to pass an assault-style weapon’s ban in Colorado is looking increasingly less likely, with the legislature’s highest-profile advocate for stricter gun laws saying now isn’t the time.

“It diverts all of the attention,” said Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial.

Instead, Sullivan wants to focus efforts on policies he believes would be more effective at preventing gun violence. Technology, he said, can circumvent bans on specific types of weapons…

…Democratic Gov. Jared Polis told CPR’s Colorado Matters that he is not focused on the type of firearm that was used in the massacre. Instead, Polis would like Colorado to strengthen universal background checks.

Elsewhere in state legislative news:

The Denver Post looks at how lawmakers plan to allocate funds from an unexpected budget surplus. As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the State Senate approved a proposed budget in a preliminary vote.

Lawmakers are advancing legislation to better fund mental health and substance abuse programs.

Denver7 reports on legislation to better protect children from domestic abuse.

A bill in the State Senate seeks to require more transparency from ski resorts on injuries suffered on the slopes

Alex Burness of The Denver Post reports on legislative efforts to deal with death threats toward lawmakers.

 

 

The Associated Press reports on President Biden’s Thursday announcement on actions his administration is taking to promote gun safety:

President Joe Biden put on a modest White House ceremony Thursday to announce a half-dozen executive actions to combat what he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.

But he said much more is needed. And while Biden had proposed the most ambitious gun-control agenda of any modern presidential candidate, his moves underscored his limited power to act alone on guns with difficult politics impeding legislative action on Capitol Hill.

Biden’s new steps include a move to crack down on “ghost guns,” homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and are often purchased without a background check. He’s also moving to tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces like the one used in Boulder, Colorado, in a shooting last month that left 10 dead.

As CBS4 Denver reports, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) was with Biden at the White House for Thursday’s announcement.

 

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

 

(more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: All-Stars and A-Holes

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, that guy we talked about last week (Danny Moore) who was the Chair of the Congressional Redistricting Commission…he got shelled; Colorado is getting some All-Stars because of our awesome non-racist voting systems; we have more reasons for another edition of “Legislating with Crayons“; there is yet another recall scam going after one of the most popular Governors in the country; and we check in again with “The Boebert Report.”

Also, we all got our shots! Well, the first of them, anyway.

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 8)

Happy birthday, Buddha! 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 

 

Roughly 1 in 4 Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but a similar percentage of people in the United States say that they will NOT get vaccinated, which could threaten the country’s ability to reach herd immunity this summer. COVID-19 hospitalizations are slowly increasing in Colorado, and officials in Jefferson County are moving back to “Level Yellow” because of rising cases. A government building in Elbert County was also recently closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, a wave of infections in the Upper Midwest and Northeastern U.S. has health officials concerned about a potential fourth surge of the pandemic. As The New York Times reports:

Michigan is in tough shape. New cases and hospitalizations there have more than doubled in the last two weeks, and the six metro areas in the United States with the greatest number of new cases relative to their population are all in Michigan.

Several other states in the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota and Illinois, have also reported significant increases in new cases and hospitalizations. And in the Northeast, New York and New Jersey have continued to see elevated case counts.

Illinois is seeing a spike in cases as well. The daily average for new cases there has jumped about 56 percent in the past two weeks, to about 2,832 a day. Hospitalizations have risen about 28 percent from two weeks ago. Wisconsin and North Dakota have also seen their average case counts jump 50 percent or more in the last two weeks.

While new cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide have declined from their peaks in January, new infections have increased after plateauing.

A rise in infections around the world is also worrying health officials. The French Open tennis tournament has been delayed as France deals with a new lockdown. In Brazil, COVID-19 deaths surpassed 4,000 in a single day for the first time this week; with a death toll of more than 337,000, Brazil trails only the United States (562,000+) in total COVID-related deaths. Cases are also rising dramatically in India, which is struggling to increase vaccination rates as infections climb.

 

All of the far-right candidates seeking seats on the Grand Junction City Council were defeated on Tuesday, a sign that the influence of Trumpism and Lauren Boebert might already be waning in conservative circles. Newly-elected Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown made an unsuccessful last-minute pitch on behalf of these candidates earlier this week.

Voters in Grand Junction also agreed to lift a 10-year moratorium on marijuana dispensaries.

 

President Biden is announcing new executive orders on gun safety, as The Washington Post reports:

In the White House Rose Garden, the president is expected to announce new rules on firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track, among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons.

Biden also will announce David Chipman as his pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, although it is unclear how the nominee will fare in an evenly divided Senate. Chipman is a senior adviser to a gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

As The Denver Post reports, Biden’s announcement includes a regulation on a weapon used in the Boulder King Soopers shootings:

A senior administration official with knowledge of the coming executive orders said Wednesday that by early June, the U.S. Justice Department “will issue a proposed rule to make clear that when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, that firearm is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.”

Colorado Newsline notes that the Biden administration will also distribute model “red flag” gun legislation for consideration by state legislatures (Colorado already has a “red flag” law).

 

As Denver7 reports, the “Long Bill” has been introduced.

The Colorado Joint Budget Committee has released its appropriations bill, also known as the long bill, earlier than normal this year. Committee members say this year’s budget is more focused on addressing funding inequities in the state.

Here’s more on the happenings at the state legislature:

Lawmakers are considering protections for pregnancies involving surrogates.

Colorado Newsline outlines some new stimulus bills being discussed at the State Capitol.

A new state agency devoted to early childhood education is under consideration.

Discussions are underway on a bill that would require more diversity on state panels.

Legislation that would provide free mental health treatment options for teenagers is moving along.

Colorado is one of 11 states looking to expand the importation of prescription drugs from other countries.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 7)

Happy National Beer 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 

 

The decision by Major League Baseball to move the 2021 All-Star Game to Denver — a reaction to draconian voting restrictions recently passed by the Georgia legislature — has been a major topic of discussion nationwide. On Tuesday, media outlets both local and national pushed back against odd Republican efforts to paint Colorado voting laws as more restrictive than those of Georgia. As The Denver Post reports:

Last week, Major League Baseball made it clear that voting rights were at the core of the decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. But Tuesday’s official MLB release about the July 13 game moving to Denver did not discuss voting or get political in the least bit, with Commissioner Rob Manfred saying he appreciated the Colorado Rockies’, Denver’s and the state’s “flexibility and enthusiasm to deliver a first-class event for our game and the region.”

Gov. Jared Polis also ducked questions about Colorado’s election laws on Tuesday morning, but Denver Mayor Michael Hancock didn’t shy away from politics in an interview with The Denver Post. He said moving the game and all related festivities in Denver and at and Coors Field is a direct result of Colorado’s inclusive and accessible voting system that’s often referred to as the gold standard in the U.S.

“This is a cautionary tale for any state, any city who wants to restrict access to one’s rights to vote,” Hancock said. “For every action, there’s going to be a reaction.”

He added: “Even in a partisan environment we still make sure that nothing trumps full access to the ballot box. Voting is the heartbeat of democracy … You lean in and make it more inclusive. You don’t restrict.”

 

► Senate Bill 21-078, which requires Coloradans to do more in reporting lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement authorities, is on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis after winning final approval in the State Senate. We have more on the legislation here.

 

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the ouster of Republican Danny Moore as the chair of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, including the apparent fact that many Colorado Republicans still believe — despite no evidence — that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, lawmakers are looking at a new discussion surrounding this year’s debate on the state budget:

Colorado lawmakers are about to begin the annual process of debating and finalizing the next state budget, and the difference from last year’s budget couldn’t be more extreme.

The state has billions of additional dollars to spend, in stark contrast to the previous year when the pandemic forced the state to cut more than $3 billion. The legislature’s bipartisan Joint Budget Committee introduced its agreed-upon spending plan to the full Senate this week, after working on it through months of negotiations and public hearings.

The budget totals almost $12 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of $1.2 billion, or 11 percent, over the current General Fund spending levels.

The Colorado Sun outlines eight things to know about the “long bill” in 2021.

 

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

 

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Uncommon Courage: Another Big Gun Safety Bill Passes

Isabella Thallas.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on final passage this week of Senate Bill 21-078, the “Isabella Joy Thallas Act” requiring guns that are lost or stolen to be reported as such to police within 5 days of becoming aware they are missing:

The bill, if passed and signed into law by Gov. Polis, would require people who lose or have a firearm stolen to report said loss or theft to a law enforcement agency within five days of noticing it was missing.

Failure to do so would lead to a $25 fine for a civil infraction, while second or further violations would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable with fines of up to $500. A House-passed amendment says a family member or person who lives with the owner of the stolen or lost firearm may also report the loss to a law enforcement agency even if the owner does not.

Law enforcement agencies that receive such reports would have to enter any descriptions of the guns they receive – including manufacturer, serial number, model, caliber and more – into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Information Center database within five days.

FOX 31’s Deborah Takahara reports on how the bill received its name, for a young Denver woman who was shot to death with an AK-47 assault rifle stolen from a Denver police officer:

Isabella Thallas was killed on June 10, 2020, with a stolen weapon that was never reported. The “Isabella Joy Thallas Act” will require an owner to report a lost or stolen firearm within five days after discovering it is missing.

Isabella’s mother, Ana Thallas, said she was overcome with emotion when she learned a gun safety bill would be named after her daughter.

“Monumental, bittersweet. A lot of my frustration lies in the fact that my daughter’s life is gone and that’s the only time that change happens,” Ana said.

The details of the case that led to this law are extremely troubling. The suspect in the shooting of Isabella Thallas allegedly stole the murder weapon from his friend Denver Police officer Dan Politica, who did not notify his superiors about the stolen gun until he realized it “may have been used in this homicide.” The shooter was also charged with using a high-capacity magazine in a crime, but the owner of the weapon was a police officer exempt from the ban. The suspect fired over 20 rounds at Thallas and her boyfriend from his window in an argument literally over dog poop, and has pled not guilty by reason of insanity.

Stolen firearms are one of the principal means by which criminals obtain weapons they are unable to purchase through legal sellers. Requiring gun owners to report their weapons as lost or stolen should be a no-brainer even in the absence of a recent tragic lesson in such a law’s necessity–but was nonetheless met with blanket party-line opposition from Republicans, passing without a single GOP vote in either the Colorado House or Senate.

After the recent spate of mass shootings including the death of ten people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, debate over gun safety nationwide has retreated once again into the same circular arguments and sense of hopeless gridlock. Which is unfortunate, since some proposed solutions in the debate over high-powered semi-automatic weapons like the one used in the Boulder shooting and the killing of Isabella Thallas may need to come federally in order to be effective.

But in Colorado, our lawmakers are doing everything they can. Democrats in Colorado have sacrificed more than most politically to advance gun safety legislation for almost a decade now, persevering through some of the fiercest opposition in modern American politics on any issue. And in 2021, they’re still moving forward.

Seriously folks, give them credit for this. It requires courage not often found.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 5)

Happy Singmogil. 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 

 

Health experts continue to warn that we could be nearing another surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. As CNN explains:

The highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant has fueled an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in parts of Europe. And experts worry the US could be next if Americans don’t double down on safety measures until more people are vaccinated.

What’s worse, experts say, is that the variant is changing the pandemic’s playbook and could spell trouble for younger groups that haven’t yet been vaccinated.

As The Washington Post reports, an increase in infections is particularly worrisome in India:

India on Sunday reported more than 100,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a grim measure achieved by only the United States and briefly Brazil, and a sign that the infections in the nation of 1.3 billion could be spinning out of control.

India, which has one of the world’s largest vaccine-manufacturing capacities, is immunizing citizens at a rate of 2 million a day but has not made significant headway, with just 5 percent of the population having received a first dose. India is also slowing down its vaccine exports in the face of domestic demand, with potentially dire consequences for other countries.

Experts believe that changes in behavior, waning immunity from prior infections and the spread of new variants are all contributing to the dramatic rise in cases.

Here in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis extended a statewide mask order for another month at the request of local health officials.

On the subject of COVID-19 vaccinations, we still don’t know if Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have received their vaccines.

 

The Denver Post reports on an influx of federal money coming to Colorado:

Over the next 13 months, nearly $2 billion will move from the federal treasury to the bank accounts of Colorado’s counties, cities and towns — a redistribution of tax dollars that experts and officials say is without parallel in modern American history.

“The sheer amount of money that is flowing is unprecedented,” said John Swartout, the executive director of Colorado Counties Inc., a membership association for city and county officials. “There’s been nothing like it.”

For Colorado’s local governments, the money represents an opportunity they have never had and may not get again soon. It’s a chance to fill holes in budgets and bridges, to address decades-long addictions and afflictions, to build up and better their towns.

The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package that passed Congress last month without a single Republican vote and was signed into law by President Joe Biden.

 

► Let’s get some updates on the State Legislature, which will begin to tackle “The Long Bill” (the state budget) this week…

Lawmakers are looking for ways to expand access to birth control via Medicaid.

Police accountability will be a hot topic in the next few weeks.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, some gun owners want lawmakers to know that they oppose an Assault Weapons Ban that doesn’t exist.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports on legislative efforts to address a shortage of child care options in Colorado.

The Colorado Sun reports on a proposal to pay school board members for their time.

Here’s more from The Denver Post on the plastic bag ban discussion.

 

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the Colorado Republican Party’s historically unsuccessful new leadership team; the election fraud truther on the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission; infrastructure week (for real this time); and another segment of “Legislating With Crayons,” in which Republicans unwittingly make the case for a new media literacy bill.

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on April Fool’s Day (April 1)

This is the only day in 2021 where it will make sense that Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is in Congress. 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 

 

► President Biden on Wednesday revealed details on his massive infrastructure plan, further signaling a new era of ambitious action from the federal government.
“It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” said Biden in a speech outside Pittsburgh. “It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.”

Via The New York Times (3/31/21)

 

CBS4 Denver takes a look at what Biden’s infrastructure plan could mean for Colorado.

 

► As POLITICO reports, Democrat Kerry Donovan, a State Senator from Vail, raised more than $614,000 in just 55 days for her campaign to take on Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) in 2022. This is a YUGE number and solidifies Donovan as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in CO-03. Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports that Donovan’s fundraising total actually exceeds $700k.

But perhaps the most interesting note in that POLITICO story is from Illinois, where incumbent Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger raised $1.1 million DESPITE having voted to impeach former President Trump.

 

► Republican Danny Moore, the chairperson of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, is a lizard man from outer space. We don’t know if that’s true or not, but we’re following Moore’s logic that you can say anything you want so long as you couch it as an “opinion.”

 

► It’s a story that would otherwise be perfect for April Fool’s Day: A group of Republicans in Colorado is organizing yet another pointless effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis.

 

► It might be Spring Break for you, but not for the state legislature…

Lawmakers are preparing for the big annual budget battle. As The Denver Post reports, a 3% wage increase for state employees is among the suggestions being discussed.

Officials are debating a change to the state’s foster care system that would allow people to remain in foster care until the age of 21.

Republicans tried and failed to filibuster legislation focused on transgender rights, because that’s what they do.

Denver7 reports on efforts to limit the use of ketamine by first responders. The proposal is part of a broader package of law enforcement reforms expected in the legislature.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Let’s “Spark a Conversation” About Danny Moore

Danny Moore

This is Danny Moore. He is a Republican from Centennial, and the recently-elected Chairperson of the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Committee. 9News reported on Monday that Moore “is an election-rigging conspiracy theorist,” which is odd. Evan Wyloge of the Colorado Springs Gazette followed up with another story today in which Moore makes no apologies for saying ridiculous crap:

In the months following the 2020 election, Moore, one of the congressional redistricting commission’s four Republican members and now the commission’s chairman, published posts and comments questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, calling it “the Democrat steal” and repeating the untrue assertion that President Joe Biden did not get more votes than former President Donald Trump.

Moore insists that he is not a conspiracy theorist; he just happens to be someone who regularly repeats conspiracy theories aloud. This is sort of like claiming that you are not a thief even though you spend a lot of time stealing things that don’t belong to you.

Danny Moore believes that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent. Danny Moore does not think that more than 80 million Americans really voted for Joe Biden in 2020. Danny Moore believes that the news media has been exaggerating the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic since the very beginning. You used to be able to read these comments on Moore’s Facebook page, but Moore apparently decided in the last day or two that he should make his page private.

Danny Moore believes that he can say anything he wants and lie with impunity by hiding behind the excuse that he is entitled to his own opinion. “I don’t know if those things are true or not, but in my circle we share these things between us and we debate these things,” he told the Gazette. Way to stand up for your convictions, Danny.

With that in mind, here is our opinion of some other things that we should debate about Danny Moore:

♦ Danny Moore does not believe that the earth is round; he thinks it is a square.

♦ Danny Moore became fabulously wealthy by selling used Q-tips to indigent people in Latin America.

♦ Danny Moore was once engaged to be married to a jar of pickles (Vlasic, reportedly).

♦ Danny Moore has an inside-out penis.

♦ Danny Moore eats live squirrels for breakfast twice a week.

Now, look, we don’t KNOW if these things are true or not. We’re just throwing it out there for discussion. If Danny Moore is not a lizard man from outer space, then he should prove it and put the matter to bed once and for all.

We should note that Moore is no stranger to Colorado politics. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, the right-wing training ground directed by well-known conservative names such as Bob Schaffer, Mark Hillman, and Alex Cranberg. University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, the only remaining statewide Republican elected official in Colorado, is a former board member. It’s fair to say that Moore’s political “opinions” are probably pretty similar, which would be fine if Moore had the courage to defend those opinions instead of answering every question with a variation of, “who really knows?” 

If Moore does not even attempt to support his his own thoughts with factual arguments, then we should be concerned about whether he’ll pay any attention to truth on the redistricting commission. Is Census data just someone else’s opinion of population changes? Maybe Moore has a different “opinion” about how many people live in Denver.

Look, Danny Moore has every right to make an ass of himself on any number of topics. But the other members of the redistricting commission don’t have to let him make a fool out of them, too.

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Hey Libs! Want $200 In Koch Bucks?

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports on a mailing list-building gimmick from the nationwide conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity’s Colorado chapter, who is apparently giving away five (count ’em) $200 prepaid gas cards to five lucky winners who provide the group with their contact information:

Jesse Mallory, the conservative organization’s state director and the former chief of staff to the state Senate Republicans, announced the giveaway Tuesday afternoon.

“While legislators have been hard at work trying to find ways to make Coloradans pay more at the pump, we’ve been spending time looking for ways to help struggling families,” he said. “We decided to offer $200 gas cards to five families to help pay for the legislature’s gas tax proposal.

Now first of all, five $200 gift cards adds up to a whopping $1,000 total budget for this promotion, and in an era where millions of Americans are getting economic relief checks this comes across as a bit, well, cheap–especially given how lavishly AFP is funded by its nationwide network of well-heeled donors. If Charles Koch and friends wanted to make a real splash in opposition to the state’s $4 billion transportation plan, they’d give away 5,000 $200 gift cards not five. And they could afford it.

At the same time, to adjust the old saying for inflation, $200 is $200! We’re not going to give you $200, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least let our readers know where to sign up. Make sure not to unsubscribe until you find out if you win.

Are we diluting the effectiveness of this conservative list-building exercise by publicizing it outside AFP’s regular studio audience? Probably.

Feel bad all the way to the bank, readers.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 31)

Today is the last day of the Q1 fundraising period for most elected officials and candidates. If you’ve opened your email in the last few days, you probably already knew this. 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 

 

What time is it? Infrastructure time!

As The New York Times reports:

President Biden will unveil an infrastructure plan on Wednesday whose $2 trillion price tag would translate into 20,000 miles of rebuilt roads, repairs to the 10 most economically important bridges in the country, the elimination of lead pipes and service lines from the nation’s water supplies and a long list of other projects intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run.

Biden administration officials said the proposal, which they detailed in a 25-page briefing paper and which Mr. Biden will discuss in an afternoon speech in Pittsburgh, would also accelerate the fight against climate change by hastening the shift to new, cleaner energy sources, and would help promote racial equity in the economy…

…the scale of the proposal underscores how fully Mr. Biden has embraced the opportunity to use federal spending to address longstanding social and economic challenges in a way not seen in half a century. Officials said that, if approved, the spending in the plan would end decades of stagnation in federal investment in research and infrastructure — and would return government investment in those areas, as a share of the economy, to its highest levels since the 1960s.

The Washington Post has more on how Biden’s proposal breaks down into specific buckets, from highways and road maintenance to boosting U.S. manufacturing and fixing problems with the electric grid and clean drinking water systems.

 

► To vaccinate, or to vacillate? As Colorado Newsline reports, many Members of Congress are still not vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus:

Members of Congress were among the first people in the U.S. to have access to the sought-after COVID-19 vaccine when the initial doses became available in December.

Three months later, a States Newsroom survey across 22 states — making up a large swath of Congress — found at least 155 members of the U.S. House and Senate have been vaccinated, based on a tally of responses from their offices and other public statements. Most, but not all, are Democrats, even as pollsters find greater hesitancy and even disinterest among Republicans in the broader U.S. adult population when it comes to the vaccine.

At least 14 legislators say they have not been vaccinated, either because they have been waiting to do so or because they don’t plan to at all. All but but one are Republicans. Dozens of others among the 237 surveyed declined to share their vaccination status.

Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) has been vaccinated (twice) and has publicly acknowledged as much. Yet many elected officials, most of them Republicans, have avoided vaccines despite the obvious risks:

With the average age for House members at 58 and senators averaging 64, many lawmakers also were at increased risk of severe complications or even death if they contracted the virus. (One member of Congress, Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas) died in February after being diagnosed with COVID-19, and Luke Letlow, who was elected to represent a Louisiana district in December, passed away from complications of the virus before he could be sworn in.)

As for Colorado’s Congressional delegation, all six Democrats have been fully vaccinated. On the Republican side, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has said he will not get the vaccine. Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) said in December that she didn’t need to get the vaccine, though her office did not confirm one way or the other. Likewise, Colorado Newsline could not confirm if Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) had been vaccinated or planned on being vaccinated (Lamborn also tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020).

Since we’re on the subject of COVID-19 and public officials…

 

► Republican Danny Moore, the chairperson of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, is a full-on believer that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent. Maybe he’s not the best person to be leading a redistricting commission. Evan Wyloge has more on this story for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman.

 

► It might be Spring Break for you, but not for the state legislature…

Governor Jared Polis does not agree with parts of a proposed bill that seeks to implement more specific markers for greenhouse gas emissions restrictions. The Colorado Sun has more on the discussion.

Colorado is poised to become the first state to offer public housing benefits to people regardless of their immigration status. Meanwhile, a bill to create an immigration legal defense fund is advancing in the State House.

Marianne Goodland reports on a legislation regarding actuarial review of health benefit mandates, which is a phrase we only partially understand.

Legislation is moving along that seeks to ensure that county commissioner districts are accurately redrawn every 10 years.

A bill ending the statute of limitations on lawsuits for child sex abusers has made it out of the legislature and is on the way to the desk of Gov. Polis.

The Colorado Springs Independent takes a look at several new and pending pieces of legislation.

State lawmakers have halted a proposal to build a fence around parts of the State Capitol.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 29)

It’s a beautiful day today. Tomorrow, maybe not so much. 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 

 

As The Washington Post reports, health officials are starting to sound the alarm about a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic:

A day after the United States surpassed 30 million coronavirus cases, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday gave a heartfelt warning, her voice at times near breaking, about the ongoing rise in infections.

“I’m going to lose the script and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Rochelle Walensky said at a White House news briefing Monday. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared.”…

…The recent U.S. seven-day average, at just under 60,000 daily cases, is a 10 percent increase vs. the prior seven-day period. Hospitalizations have risen, too. The seven-day average death rate, which typically lags behind cases and hospitalizations, increased by 3 percent, Walensky said.

The news isn’t all bad, fortunately: Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are proving to be 90% effective in real-world studies.

In related news, many top health officials from the Trump administration are now openly discussing how badly the administration failed in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brett Giroir, Trump’s coronavirus testing czar, told CNN, “When we said there were millions of tests available, there weren’t, right? There were components of the test available, but not the full meal deal.”

 

► Here in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis is providing new updates on our COVID-19 response. Jefferson County is seeing a worrying uptick in COVID-19 cases. As Westword explains, there is a real risk that Colorado could have to move back to more restrictions in order to keep the virus at bay, even though more Coloradans are starting to get vaccinated.

 

► Colorado Republicans selected Kristi Burton Brown to be their new Party Chairperson. Brown held off former Secretary of State Scott Gessler in a marathon voting process that required three ballots to reach a majority. As we explain in a separate post, this was not a good ending for “The Honey Badger.”

 

► It might be Spring Break for you, but not for the state legislature…

As Colorado Newsline reports, lawmakers are considering making permanent changes to the criminal justice system after a significant drop in jail populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Colorado Times Recorder looks at Democratic efforts to kill the inevitable GOP anti-abortion bills that pop up every legislative session. In a separate story, The Times Recorder fact checks a silly pharmaceutical industry claim that efforts to limit drug prices in Colorado would violate federal law.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would essentially require businesses in Colorado to accept cash — something that many retailers started to refuse during the pandemic.

The Colorado Sun reports on HB-1189, which seeks to increase monitoring of toxic emissions.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel updates on the progress of legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for filing civil cases against alleged sexual abusers.

Federal officials have given Colorado approval to move ahead with a state legislative proposal to conduct modified CMAS testing this year.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 26)

It might actually start to FEEL like Spring later this weekend. 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 

 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law new voting rules that significantly restrict voter access and prohibit allowing people to bring water to someone standing in line to vote. This is part of a broad effort around the country by Republicans to make it harder for non-Republican voters to cast a ballot. As The Washington Post reports:

The measure is one of the first major voting bills to pass as dozens of state legislatures consider restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, when President Donald Trump attacked without evidence the integrity of election results in six states he lost, including Georgia.

The new law imposes new identification requirements for those casting ballots by mail; curtails the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots; allows electors to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters and requires counties to hold hearings on such challenges within 10 days; makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line; blocks the use of mobile voting vans, as Fulton County did last year after purchasing two vehicles at a cost of more than $700,000; and prevents local governments from directly accepting grants from the private sector.

The 95-page law also strips authority from the secretary of state, making him a nonvoting member of the State Election Board, and allows lawmakers to initiate takeovers of local election boards — measures that critics said could allow partisan appointees to slow down or block election certification or target heavily Democratic jurisdictions, many of which are in the Atlanta area and are home to the state’s highest concentrations of Black and Brown voters.

The measure, backed by Republicans, sailed out of the state House and Senate on party-line votes in a single afternoon.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, Republicans seeking to roll back voting rights are relying on a false narrative that they created themselves:

Republicans are deeply concerned about voter fraud because their voters believe the 2020 election was stolen from them, we are told, and Republicans merely want to restore their confidence in future elections.

This claim is absolutely central to the massive new wave of GOP voter suppression efforts — and utterly, insultingly preposterous to its core. Yet because we hear it constantly, it regularly skates past without even being remarked upon.

But it’s nonsense, and it should be called out as such every single time.

The Republican assault on voting rights is getting even more absurd in Missouri, where state lawmakers are trying to pretend that a ballot measure approved in 2020 with 53% of the vote didn’t win by enough votes for them to proceed with funding the measure.

Elsewhere, Vox.com wonders if Republicans understand that they are cutting off their own nose to spite Democrats.

 

The Denver Post has more on efforts led by Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) to convince President Biden to sign an executive order banning the importation of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Neguse’s efforts are spurred by Monday’s shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder.

Meanwhile, 9News reports that the suspected Boulder shooter did pass a background check when he purchased the weapon allegedly used to kill 10 people. The gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action held a vigil for victims on Thursday.

 

► As The New York Times reports, some far-right extremists who promoted the false “stop the steal” Presidential election narrative have found a new battle:

Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”

If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government.

Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 25)

Today is National Lobster Newburg Day; please eat your lobster 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 

 

The alleged shooter in the Boulder King Soopers massacre on Monday made his first court appearance today. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa is being held without bail as he awaits the opportunity to enter a plea on 10 first-degree murder charges. Alissa’s defense attorney asked a judge for more time to conduct a thorough mental health evaluation of her client.

In related news, President Biden called Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver on Wednesday to express his condolences for Monday’s shootings at a local King Soopers.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the weapon used in Monday’s shooting is essentially an assault rifle packaged as a handgun.

 

► Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) is leading an effort to convince President Biden to sign an executive order banning the importation of assault weapons. From The Washington Post:

More than 60 House Democrats are pressing Biden to take “life-saving action” and sign an executive order that would ban the importation of assault weapons after back-to-back mass shootings killed 18 people in the United States.

Days after Biden expressed support for “common sense steps” that could curb gun violence, the Democrats sent a letter Thursday morning urging him to keep his campaign promise and ban foreign firearms, including semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines…

…“This week, my community in Boulder witnessed a horrific and senseless mass shooting in which 10 individuals tragically lost their lives,” Neguse said in a statement. “Our hearts are breaking from this tragedy, and we know this grief is not ours alone, but carried by a nation that has witnessed the horrific pain of gun violence far too many times. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

 

► As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun, state lawmakers may look to add Colorado to the list of states (currently at seven) that have banned assault rifles:

Already lawmakers at the state Capitol are having preliminary conversations about if and how to move forward with such a bill. It’s unclear if there’s enough political will and time left in the 2021 lawmaking term to get the complicated policy done…

…Democratic state Reps. Judy Amabile and Edie Hooton, who also represent Boulder in the Colorado legislature, also support a state assault-weapons ban like Fenberg does.

“We want to be very thoughtful,” Hooton said. “We want to make sure what we introduce we can pass, we can enact. There are some clouds breaking.”

Lawmakers acknowledge that a Congressional assault weapons ban would be more effective than a state version, but they’re waiting for Congress to take action. Colorado Public Radio has more on the state proposal.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers are considering legislation to create a fee on certain types of insurance coverage in order to create a fund that could be tapped in the event of a natural disaster.

Colorado Public Radio examines the different discussions taking place around efforts to fund a transportation infrastructure overhaul.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports on legislation intended to protect animals that are a part of traveling shows.

 

►  Colorado may have made its final revisions (fingers-crossed) to the color-coded COVID-19 dial.

 

 

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

 

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Law Week Colorado takes a deep dive on Donovan’s social media bill

Law Week Colorado is an underrated member of the local media team, especially when it covers the General Assembly. This week the  20-year old Denver publication gave a good hard look at Sen. Kerry Donovan’s bill that aims to regulate social media platforms.

The piece leans on analysis from media law guru Steve Zansberg,  DU’s Derigan Silver, and a tech law expert at CU in a discussion about, well, how far over the constitutional line Donovan’s bill – SB 132 – might be. It also gets into a pretty good examination about the underlying issues, like people’s susceptibility to disinformation.

Law Week Colorado is still mostly a print publication, so this particular article is not online (though the outlet’s website has a teaser for it). If you can pick up a copy of the March 22 edition, it’s a good read.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 24)

With any luck, you will not be traded to Cleveland 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 

 

► President Biden called on Congress to re-enact an Assault Weapons Ban after mass shootings in Georgia and Boulder, Colorado. But as The Associated Press reports, Republicans are already digging in:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday morning to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.

“This Senate will be different,” said Schumer, D-N.Y., a day after a shooting at a crowded Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killed 10 people, including a police officer. “The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”…

…Many in the GOP base are still strongly opposed to gun control of any kind. In Tuesday’s hearing, which was scheduled before the Colorado shooting, Republicans showed no signs of wavering. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that every time there is a shooting, the Senate engages in “ridiculous theater,” with Democrats proposing laws that he said could take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Republicans have argued that background checks would not stop most mass shootings and would prevent some lawful gun owners from purchasing firearms.

“We already know this pattern is predictable, over and over and over again,” Cruz said.

That might not be the argument you think it is, Sen. Cruz. It’s also worth noting that some right-wing media outlets are voicing agreement on banning “weapons of war.”

Elsewhere, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) has been making appearances on a lot of national television shows, including CBS This Morning. “It does not have to be this way,” said Neguse.

Governor Jared Polis has ordered flags in Colorado to be flown at half-staff for 10 days to honor the victims of the Boulder shooting.

 

► While it may seem that 2020 had fewer gun deaths owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, 2020 was actually a record year for gun violence. Westword looks at how the National Rifle Association (NRA) helped pave the way for mass shootings.

 

► State lawmakers are discussing potential gun safety measures in response to Monday’s shooting in Boulder. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

The state senator who represents the district where the tragedy occurred said he’s drafting a bill to restore cities’ ability to enact gun restrictions above and beyond the state’s laws.

The shooting came just days after a district court judge in Boulder ruled that the city does not have the legal authority to enforce its 2018 citywide ban on assault-style weapons and magazines with a capacity to accept 10 or more rounds. The judge cited a 2003 state law that preempts local gun restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, of Boulder, said that lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Statehouse had lightly discussed repealing that 2003 law over the past week, but the talks accelerated among legislative leaders “only in the last 18 hours.”

Colorado Public Radio has more on the push from legislators to move quickly on gun safety discussions.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers are trying to figure out if they can legally do more to increase property tax revenues for public education.

Governor Jared Polis and state lawmakers will soon embark on a “Build Back Stronger” tour.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that seeks to give victims of sexual abuse more time to consider legal action against perpetrators.

Senate President Leroy Garcia’s bill to create a veteran suicide prevention pilot program made it through a committee hearing.

 

► Don’t miss this bonus episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) in which he refers to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “schlub”:

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 23)

We don’t know what to say anymore, either, but this is a good start. 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 

 

As The Denver Post reports, authorities have identified the names of 10 people killed during a shooting rampage at a King Soopers in Boulder on Monday. President Biden ordered flags at the White House to fly at half-staff in honor of the victims of Monday’s shootings. Biden plans to speak about the Boulder shooting this afternoon.

Police have also identified the suspect in Monday’s shooting as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. As Yahoo! News reports, Alissa apparently suffered from severe mental problems:

Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect’s 34-year-old brother, told The Daily Beast that authorities searched his house all night after the shooting.

Alissa described his brother as “very anti-social” and paranoid, adding that, in high school, he would describe “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”

“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.’ She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head,” Alissa said, admitting that he believes his brother is mentally ill.

 

► As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, the Metro area has dealt with a disproportionate number of mass shootings in recent years:

Colorado has a disproportionate share of survivors of gun violence and of people like (State Rep. Tom) Sullivan, whose loved ones were killed. A 2019 analysis by The Denver Post found Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas.

 

► State lawmakers are speaking out about Monday’ shooting in Boulder. Meghan Lopez of Denver7 is following along with a running Twitter thread:

 

► Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) sent out a fundraising email TWO HOURS AFTER the Boulder shootings asking for donations to her campaign as she fights against any form of gun control. On Tuesday morning, Boebert issued a statement saying that she “refuses” to use the Boulder shootings as a springboard for advancing political issues.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis are planning a statewide listening tour to discuss how Colorado can best spend billions of dollars in federal relief money from the American Recovery Plan.

Colorado Republicans seem to be having some sort of competition about who can introduce the worst legislation.

A media literacy bill passed out of the State House on Monday and now heads to the State Senate.

Legislation intended to create more accountability on the use of ketamine by first responders is moving along at the State Capitol.

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require ski resorts to be more transparent about injuries suffered on the slopes.

A proposal to privatize Pinnacol Assurance is kaput.

 

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

 

(more…)

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