Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 3)

Get More SmarterColorado is purty. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, along with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) are asking the Veterans Affairs Department to dig into its own pockets to find the money to finish the VA Hospital Project in Aurora. One again, we remind you that Coffman is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

► The runoff for Denver’s Municipal Elections is finally over. Kevin Flynn, Jolon Clark, Wayne New, and Stacie Gilmore were each successful in their respective races.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…

► With Denver’s 2015 Election Season behind us, Mayor Michael Hancock is making changes to his cabinetLauri Dannemiller (Parks and Recreation) and Doug Linkhart (Environmental Health) have not been re-appointed by Hancock.

► The “USA Freedom Act” made its way through Congress yesterday, as the Washington Post reports:

Congress on Tuesday rejected some of the sweeping intelligence-gathering powers it granted national security officials after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with the Senate voting to end the government’s bulk collection of private telephone records and to reform other surveillance policies.

The bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, passed on a 67-to-32 vote, against the will of Senate Republican leaders who wished to preserve existing spy programs.

The opposition to the bill, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), prompted an intraparty standoff that exposed sharp splits along philosophical and generational lines, and between the two chambers on Capitol Hill. The standoff led to a two-day lapse in the legal authority for those programs.

The bill passed by a wide margin in the House last month but languished as those who sought to maintain the status quo, led by McConnell, tried to stare down Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and the other senators who supported either ending or reforming the most controversial provisions of the surveillance programs.

A Longmont charter school will investigate a decision to prevent its valedictorian from coming out as gay in his speech to classmates. The decision came after Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) sent a strongly-worded letter to St. Vrain School District encouraging “systemic reforms” in school policies.

►Remember that Denver Post endorsement of Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner last fall? “Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights,” claimed the editorial. Gardner will soon be casting a vote on a 20-week abortion ban.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources heard testimony yesterday from Westerners who are growing increasingly concerned about drought conditions. 

► Colorado Republicans continue to scratch their collective heads in search of a candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016. With Rep. Mike Coffman declining entreaties to run against Bennet, there is no obvious second choice.

► Governor John Hickenlooper will sign legislation creating the “Clare Davis Safety Act.” As Fox 31 reports, schools can now be held liable for negligence if they fail to adequately respond to threats of violence. 

A scholarship fund at Overland High School in Aurora is being set up in the name of former Rep. John Buckner, who died last week at the age of 67. Funeral services for Buckner will be held on June 12 at New Hope Baptist Church in Denver.

 

OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK

► The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) plans to hold hearings throughout the month of June on a proposed rate hike by Xcel Energy.

► As Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post, Republican Senators/Presidential candidates are essentially holding Congress hostage in order to bolster their political prospects.

► What’s that you said about Obamacare? As Politico reports — well, you won’t be surprised:

The unlikely epicenter of Obamacare lies in a solidly Republican working-class town just 10 miles outside of the Miami stomping grounds of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

The city of Hialeah — a Cuban-American neighborhood of Spanish speakers that is blanketed with Obamacare advertisements — enrolled more people under the Affordable Care Act than anywhere in the country.

That coverage is now at risk. The Supreme Court this month will decide whether Obamacare’s tax subsidies can go to people in 34 states such as Florida that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges. Hialeah brings to the fore the political consequences for the GOP if some 6.4 million people — including the reliably Republican voters here — suddenly lose their health insurance subsidies this summer.

Yup.

 

ICYMI

Vince Vaughn says banning guns to prevent violence is like banning forks to prevent obesity. Vince Vaughn is not very good at analogies.

► Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is running for President and raising millions of dollars, but as the New York Times reports, he is still not an officially declared candidate for the job. Legal consequences abound.

 

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10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. doremi says:

    Ken Buck is taking his wife Perry's ideas about rearming felons to the nation.  In Colorado, Rep. Perry Buck offered bills in 2013 and 2014 to do just that.  In 2014 several of her Republican colleagues found the bill so bad that indicated they were only voting for it knowing it would be amended on the floor.  It never made it to the floor. 

    From a release from the Violence Policy Center.

    House-Passed Amendment Would Restart “Guns for Felons” Program

     

    Washington, DC — Tuesday night, the House passed several gun lobby-supported amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill including one that would allow convicted felons to obtain firearms following a petition to the federal government. This “guns for felons” program has been prohibited by Congress since 1992.

     

    Under the amendment offered by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), individuals prohibited from buying and possessing firearms could petition the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) for so-called “relief from disability.” The deadly consequences of such a program were exposed in a Violence Policy Center (VPC) report released in 2000, Guns for Felons: How the NRA Works to Rearm Criminals.

     

    “There will be grave consequences for public safety if a reinstated ‘guns for felons’ program becomes law,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Before it was prohibited by Congress, this NRA-supported program allowed thousands of convicted felons to purchase guns, including violent criminals. Our research found that many of these felons were subsequently rearrested for crimes including attempted murder, child molestation, and first-degree sexual assault.”

     

    The VPC report found that between 1982 and 1992, ATF processed more than 22,000 applications for prohibited individuals to obtain firearms, and granted “relief” in approximately one-third of these cases. The VPC found a substantial number of these individuals were violent criminals. Out of a sample of 100 cases obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, one-third of the felons granted “relief” had been convicted of either violent crimes or drug-related crimes. The program also cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year — ATF spent more than four million dollars administering the program in 1991, its last year of operation.

     

    The report also found that among the convicted felons granted “relief” between 1985 and 1992, 69 were later re-arrested for additional crimes including: attempted murder; first degree sexual assault; abduction/kidnapping; child molestation; illegal possession of a machine gun; trafficking in cocaine, LSD, and PCP; and, illegal firearms possession or carrying.

     

     

     

  2. doremi says:

    I've always been curious….why are the Buck's so interested in arming felons?

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      He used to be a prosecutor. Nuf sed?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      It's an NRA thing. 

      The theory goes something like this:

      By rearming dangerous felons, society becomes obviously more dangerous.  The more dangerous society becomes, the more law-abiding citizens will be compelled to constantly arm themselves for protection. The more law-abiding citizens feel compelled to be armed, more gun manufacturers will sell more guns. The more guns that more gun manufacturers sell, the stronger the NRA becomes. The stronger the NRA becomes, the more GOPers get elected. The more GOPers get elected, the safer and freer society becomes . . . 

      It's all about safety and freedom!!!

    • mamajama55 says:

      Ken Buck is notoriously not sympathetic to victims – particularly if they happen to be brown, female, or both. He denied a U visa to Maria Gaspar, a domestic violence victim who wanted to stay in the US to be with her young son, and to not get killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Buck said "No".

      He has said he wants more immigrants to report crimes (Greeley has a large (8%) immigrant population. However, he grants fewer U-visas to immigrants than any other jurisdiction in Colorado, taking away one incentive to come forward. (Immigrants don't report crimes, even when victimized, because of fears of being deported).

      Buck also is apparently prejudiced against immigrants in general, promoting a raid on a tax service in 2006. 256 Latinos were rounded up, and many were deported, but the raid was later found to be unconstitutional.

      Buck notoriously refused to prosecute a date-rape case in 2005, saying that the victim just had "Buyer's remorse".

      It's clear to me, anyway, that Ken Buck has far more sympathy for the accused perpetrators than for the victims of crimes. Hence, the "guns for felons" legislation.

       

       

       

       

  3. Zappatero says:

    Rash of documents leaked dealing with the latest round of trade agreements that are all the rage in DC now and that have Republicans, amazingly, supporting an Obama initiative along with many corporatist Democrats:

    The latest leak purports to include 17 documents from negotiations on the Trade In Services Agreement, a blandly named trade deal that would cover the United States, the European Union and more than 20 other countries. More than 80 percent of the United States economy is in service sectors.

    According to the Wikileaks release, TISA, as the deal is known, would take a major step towards deregulating financial industries, and could affect everything from local maritime and air traffic rules to domestic regulations on almost anything if an internationally traded service is involved.

    The pact would be one of three enormous deals whose passage through Congress could be eased with passage of Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast-track authority. The Senate has passed fast-track, and it could be taken up in the House this month.

    The other giant pacts are the Trans-Pacific Partnership covering a dozen Pacific Rim nations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership targeted at Europe.

    Among the staunchest opponents of the deals are unions, whose members point to job losses sparked by previous free-trade agreements, and to the excessive secrecy surrounding the measures.

    "Once again Wikileaks reveals what we cannot learn from our own government, a government that defaults to giant trade deals that affect generations of Americans shrouded in secrecy until they are virtually adopted," said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.

    Michael Bennet said he'd look out for workers in these type of trade deals.

    Monday he said he would continue his support if protections for U.S. workers and the environment remain part of the deal.

    "It's very important we keep that intact. They are, in my mind, intrinsically linked."

    Will anyone hold him accountable to that promise? And do we really need more deregulation in banking the world over?

  4. Bennet can go stuff himself along with Gardner and Coffman on the VA hospital issue.

    Monetary punishment isn't the solution to an agency's failure to care for our veterans.

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