‘Tis a mighty blustery day. Now, 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.
► Journalists at The New York Times are on strike after contract negotiations broke down, so there will be no links to the Times in this edition of “Get More Smarter.”
► After Roe v. Wade was overturned last June, there were lots of rumblings that conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court might be interested in going after same-sex and interracial marriage protections next (Justice Clarence Thomas openly spoke about that desire). Today, Congress took final steps to make sure that those protections remain in place regardless of what the Supreme Court does next.
As The Associated Press reports:
The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of those unions that reflects a stark turnaround in societal attitudes.
President Joe Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. It is a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized those marriages and have worried about what would happen if the ruling were overturned.
The bipartisan legislation, which passed 258-169 with almost 40 Republican votes, would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” After months of negotiations, the Senate passed the bill last week with 12 Republican votes.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who presided over the vote as one of her last acts in leadership before stepping aside in January, wiped her eye as she became emotional before signing the bill, which sent it to the White House immediately after the vote. She called the bill “a glorious triumph of love and freedom.”
Every Democrat in Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted in favor of the “Respect for Marriage Act.” Every Republican — Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted ‘NO.’
► Brittney Griner, the WNBA basketball star who has been detained for months in Russia, was finally freed in a prisoner exchange negotiated by the Biden administration. Griner is expected to arrive in the United States at some point today.
► Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) and a discussion about the “Infinity War” within the Colorado Republican Party.
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► Florida State Representative Joe Harding, the author of the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law that bans instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade classes, has been indicted for allegedly stealing COVID relief funds.
As POLITICO explains:
A federal grand jury indicted Republican Florida state Rep. Joe Harding on six counts after authorities said he illegally obtained $150,000 in pandemic-related small business loans by allegedly using the names of two dormant companies.
The indictment, unsealed Wednesday night, alleges that between Dec. 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021, Harding used the dormant companies on applications for loans on the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications, including using false bank statements as supporting documentation.
The indictment accuses Harding of using two companies on loan applications: The Vak Shack, which according to its website, sells discounted vacuum sealer bags, and Harding Farms, a 46-acre horse and cattle far facility. Both companies had not been active in Florida from between May 2017 to December 2020.
At the time he filed applications seeking the loans, Harding, 35, created new bank accounts associated with the companies and filed paperwork with the Florida Department of State to reinstate both companies to make them appear as though they were operational, according to the indictment.
Harding told the SBA that The Vak Shack had $420,874 in revenue for the 12 months prior to Jan. 31, 2020, and four employees, while Harding Farms had $392,000 in revenue and two employees.
► All he does is lose, so of course Casper Stockham is running to become the next Chair of the Colorado Republican Party. As Ernest Luning explains for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:
The Colorado Republican who ran four unsuccessful congressional races across three election cycles in the last decade wants to run the state GOP.
Casper Stockham, who finished third in the Republicans’ state chair race in 2021, announced on Wednesday that he’s making another run for the job, saying he wants to change the way voters think about the GOP by focusing less on winning elections and more on building community across the state.
“The party has lost its purpose,” Stockham told Colorado Politics. “The new purpose of the party should be to help more people. If we help more people, we will get more people leaning into us, we will get more people wanting to be a part of the party, so our numbers will grow.”
Added Stockham: “We need to change our mindset from getting more Republicans elected to helping more people, because helping more people will get more Republicans elected.”
Maybe this makes some sense in a weird way. Actually trying to win elections hasn’t worked for Colorado Republicans over the last decade.
► Senator Michael Bennet is still trying to get an expanded Child Tax Credit approved by the end of the year.
► Colorado has the third-largest reduction in fertility rates in the country, which could eventually be a problem for state and local budgets. Only North Dakota saw a modest increase in fertility rates according to data from Pew.
► Shannon Watts, the Colorado woman who founded the gun-safety group “Moms Demand Action,” is celebrating the fact that 140 of her group’s volunteers won elections in 2022.
► The Hill newspaper reports on leadership elections in the U.S. Senate:
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was reelected Thursday morning to serve another term as Senate majority leader, capping a successful two years for the veteran lawmaker, who was just reelected to a fifth Senate term.
Senate Democrats also reelected the rest of Schumer’s leadership team, giving Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) another term as Senate Democratic whip, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) another term as Democratic Policy Committee chairwoman, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) another term as chairwoman the Democratic Steering Committee and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as chairman of the Democratic Outreach Committee. ..
…The biggest change made to the Senate Democratic leadership structure is that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will take over as Senate president pro tempore, putting her third in line to the presidency and giving her access to a handsome Capitol office next to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s rooms and a large security detail. [Pols emphasis]
The current president pro tem, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), will retire from Congress at the end of the year.
► Republicans across the country are finally starting to realize that mail ballots are actually pretty useful and should not be condemned if you want to win elections.
► POLITICO examines some of the key numbers that helped Sen. Raphael Warnock win Georgia’s runoff election on Tuesday.
► Morgan Carroll is stepping aside as the head of the Colorado Democratic Party after serving in that role since 2017.
► Meghan Lopez of Denver7 reports on the next step in Colorado’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs:
The state of Colorado officially submitted its plan to the federal government to begin importing prescription medications from Canada.
The Section 804 Importation Program (SIP) application listed 112 medications the state hopes to start bringing across the border to save people money…
…The department estimates the program will save Coloradans between $53 million and $88 million on their prescriptions each year.
On average, prescription medications account for roughly 19% of total health care spending in the state, according to the department.
► Officials still aren’t clear where a bus full of migrants from Venezuela that arrived in Denver may have originated.
Say What, Now?
So we’re back to this? Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is as predictable as he is useless:
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Animal control officials in Southern California will not prohibit a young girl from keeping a unicorn…should she find one.
► Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson was among 169 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted ‘NO’ on the “Respect for Marriage Act.”
Last July, Thompson attended the same-sex wedding of his own son.
► We’ve updated “The Big Line” for 2024 in Colorado. The next election cycle is one of those odd once-in-a-decade cycles in which there are no major statewide races on the ballot in Colorado.
► The deep, deep, Deep Wells of political finance despair.