March is on its way out in a sorta lion-lamb hybrid style. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The Grand Junction Sentinel reports on the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s new Secretary of Interior: Rifle, Colorado native David Bernhardt.
Bernhardt on Thursday touted his experience and defended his ethics — denying one senator’s accusation he lied about his ethical integrity — during his Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to become secretary of the Department of Interior.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who strongly backs Bernhardt’s nomination, said in introducing him to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee that he believes Bernhardt would become the seventh Interior secretary from Colorado if confirmed. Recent secretaries from the state include Ken Salazar during the Obama administration and Gale Norton during the George W. Bush administration…
…Bernhardt’s work as an attorney and lobbyist for oil and gas, water and other industries affected by Interior Department policies has caused him to come under intense scrutiny from critics over the policies he has espoused during the Trump administration and questions about possible conflicts of interest.
That scrutiny was laid bare during Thursday’s hearing when Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told Bernhardt he’d read recently obtained department documents showing Bernhardt had blocked release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report with new analysis of the dangerous effects of toxic chemicals.
As the Colorado Independent reports, Bernhardt says he will stop recusing himself from cases that might cause a conflict with his former lobbying clients. That’s some straightforward graft right there.
During Thursday’s confirmation hearing, Bernhardt also updated news about the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters to the Western U.S. — perhaps in Grand Junction.
► Lawmakers in the United Kingdom rejected a third proposal for managing England’s Brexit. As CNN explains:
The defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286 came on the same day that Britain was originally supposed to leave the European Union, and left the path forward on Brexit unclear.
The rejection of May’s plan raises the chances of a lengthy delay to Brexit or Britain crashing out of Europe without a deal on the new deadline of April 12.
May had offered to resign if Parliament passed her deal, but ultimately she was unable to persuade enough MPs to back a plan they had resoundingly rejected in two previous votes.
It may now rest on British lawmakers to find a way out of the impasse when they run a second vote on alternatives to May’s deal on Monday.
► As Colorado Public Radio reports, a last-minute budget deal that includes new money for transportation funding may yet be held up before passage.
► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation has passed out of the State Senate and now returns to the State House for consideration of amendments. House Bill 19-1177 is expected to win final approval in the House before making its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► A federal judge rejected a plan by the Trump administration to do an end-run around Obamacare. From the Washington Post:
A federal judge in Washington ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration’s push to make health insurance plans available outside the Affordable Care Act that avoid the requirements of the health-care law was illegal, calling the efforts “clearly an end-run around the ACA.”
The 43-page ruling, submitted by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia, blocks new rules from the Trump administration overseeing “association health plans,” which would allow small businesses to combine their forces to offer plans outside the ACA that would both be less expensive and provide fewer health protections…
…It marks the second significant legal defeat in as many days on the issue for President Trump, who not only recently revived his administration’s efforts to undo and replace President Barack Obama’s signature achievement but also vowed to make health care a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, an Obama appointee of the District of Columbia, blocked the administration’s plans for some Medicaid recipients in Kentucky and Arkansas to be subject to work requirements in exchange for health benefits, The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein reported.
Elsewhere, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to insist that the Affordable Care Act must be repealed…though he has absolutely no idea how to replace the legislation.
► One percent ain’t half-bad. As Fox 31 News reports, former Gov. John Hickenlooper appears to have just enough support in public polls in order to qualify for the first Democratic Presidential debate:
Candidates who received the most support were Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke. Biden received 29 percent in the same category, Sanders received 19 percent and Beto O’Rourke got 12 percent.
While Hickenlooper’s 1 percent figure pales in comparison to the leaders in the Democratic field, it is enough for him to qualify for the first Democratic debate in Miami in June.
Other candidates who received at least 1 percent were: Sen. Kamala Harris (8), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (4), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (4), Sen. Cory Booker (2), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (2) and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (1).
Not on that list is Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver), who is not yet an official candidate but appears to be moving ever closer to formally entering the race.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) doesn’t bother making himself available to Colorado constituents these days, but you can meet him on Friday for the low, low price of $500.
► A marijuana banking bill sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) is moving along to the House Finance Committee.
► Former Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher is in hot water after spamming thousands of Denver government emails with an anti-Mayor Michael Hancock screed. From CBS4 Denver:
The city characterized the Gallagher letter as “unauthorized email” and fired back in a letter to Gallagher dated Wednesday, which was authored by Rob Nespor with the Denver’s City Attorney’s office.
Nespor wrote that City rules forbid city employees from engaging in political activities during work hours: “You are putting our city employees in the position of inadvertently, through no fault of their own, violating city rules by reviewing political communications while on the job.”
He said that city workers who forward the Gallagher email could theoretically be in violation of city personnel rules and subject to discipline. Nespor called what Gallagher did an “inappropriate drain on city resources” and asked Gallagher to cease and desist from further use of city emails for campaign purposes.
► Pete Buttigieg keeps moving up the theoretical rankings of Democratic Presidential candidates. From a purely anecdotal perspective, we can report that we no longer find it necessary to look up the spelling of “Buttigieg,” but please don’t ask for an accurate pronunciation.
► Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation to increase transparency in hospital billing.
► Thursday was “Sam Mamet Day.” Please celebrate accordingly.
► As Politico reports, former Gov. John Hickenlooper is finding that running for President as his “aw shucks” self is a difficult proposition.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► A right-wing radio station can’t seem to find the data to back up its claims about so-called safe injection sites:
KNUS radio’s Steffan Tubbs Show will not provide promised studies allegedly backing up its claims that an overdose prevention program does not save lives as research has shown they do.
A little over a month ago, the conservative radio station gave a presentation at the Capitol on alleged “further devastation” caused by safe injection sites (SIS), which allow addicts to inject street drugs under the supervision of medical personnel.
The presentation showed images from a trip to one Canadian SIS facility and cited studies which supposedly support the No Safe Site campaign.
► Climate Change is a very serious issue…unless you are a Republican Senator from Utah.
► Actually, this might be the dumbest thing you’ll read all week.