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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The Colorado legislature kicks off its 2018 session on Wednesday. The Denver Post previews the upcoming action with a list of the eight biggest issues on tap for the next 120 days. Among them: PERA reform, addressing sexual harassment under the Gold Dome, and long, long, long battles on transportation funding.
Elsewhere, the Pueblo Chieftain examines a likely slate of bills targeting heroin abuse.
► The Senate Finance Committee begins confirmation hearings today for Alex Azar, the former pharmaceutical company executive nominated by President Trump to be the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Azar is expected to face pointed questions from Senate Democrats about his role in driving up drug prices while at the helm of Eli Lilly.
► Republican and Democratic leaders are scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House today to discuss DACA reforms as another funding deadline to keep the federal government running looms on the horizon. From CNN:
Republican and Democrats involved in negotiations over the must-pass January spending deal say that DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — has become the key to unlocking any funding agreement and some are frustrated with how negotiations are unfolding. Republicans charge that Democrats have all but halted talks on spending caps until there is a resolution on DACA, which gives undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children a chance to stay, work or study in the US without fear of deportation.
“Seems to me that Democrats are holding that deal hostage for a DACA negotiation and we are meeting at the White House tomorrow on a bipartisan basis with the President to see what that might look like,” said the Senate’s No. 2, Texas Republican John Cornyn. “But I think that’s going to make the January 19 date pretty hard to hit.”
“It’s a mess,” said one person directly involved in the negotiations.
Colorado Senators Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Michael Bennet (D-Denver) are both expected to attend today’s White House meeting.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Colorado remains on track to gain an eighth Congressional seat following the 2020 Census.
► Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is leaking Q4 fundraising numbers in the race for Governor in 2018. Stapleton appears to be set to announce a record quarterly haul, which allows him to slot in perfectly as the “moneyed Republican establishment” candidate.
Meanwhile, conservative supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo are already sounding a friendly fire warning in the GOP Primary.
► Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser will announce that he raised more than $1 million for his campaign in 2017 — an astonishing sum for a lower-tier statewide race.
► Congressional Democrats are shifting to an offensive position when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. As the Associated Press explains:
With Republicans unable to agree on a vision for health care, Democrats are debating ideas that range from single-payer, government-run care for all, to new insurance options anchored in popular programs like Medicare or Medicaid. There’s also widespread support for authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, an idea once advocated by candidate Donald Trump, which has languished since he was elected president.
Democrats are hoping to winnow down the options during the 2018 campaign season, providing clarity for their 2020 presidential candidate. In polls, health care remains a top priority for the public, particularly for Democrats and independents.
“We’re tired of just playing defense,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the party’s 2016 vice presidential candidate. “It is now time to talk about the next big idea. It is a good time for everybody to put their big ideas on the table.” His offering: “Medicare-X,” a public insurance plan to be initially deployed in communities that lack private insurer competition.
► Colorado’s Congressional delegation is getting more aggressive in efforts to protect the legal marijuana industry.
► The big Republican tax plan that was supposed to be wonderful for the middle class is instead likely to lead to more job outsourcing than ever before.
► Democrat Levi Tillemann is getting nowhere in his bid for Congress in CD-6, so he’s now blaming the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for his failures.
► We’re almost finished running down our Top Ten political stories of 2017. Coming in at #2: The Resistance and the Coming Wave.
► White House attorneys are trying to work out the details of a potential interview with Donald Trump by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. From the New York Times:
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have long expected that Mr. Mueller would eventually ask to speak with the president. Ty Cobb, the senior White House lawyer on the case, has for months pledged full cooperation, saying Mr. Trump has nothing to hide in an investigation into whether his campaign worked with Russian operatives to try to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers are expected to try to set ground rules for any interview or provide answers to written questions. If Mr. Trump were to refuse outright to cooperate, Mr. Mueller could respond with a grand jury subpoena.
The White House had no comment on the discussions about a possible interview, which were first reported by NBC News.
► The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a potentially-landmark case about the rights of parents concerning frozen human embryos.
► Colorado regulators will give lip service to imposing tougher rules on oil and gas extraction operations in the state.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Joe Arpaio is running for Senate in Arizona. The former Maricopa County Sheriff, who was officially pardoned by President Trump in August over charges of discrimination, has close ties to several Colorado Republicans, including Tom Tancredo and state Sen. Tim Neville.
► Republicans are having trouble even finding strong candidates interested in running for statewide office in New York.