Colorado GOP Successfully Sues Wayne Williams to Place State House Candidate on Ballot

(Election laws are apparently completely pointless — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After a brief hearing Tuesday, a Denver district court judge placed a Republican state house candidate on Colorado’s November ballot.  The judge ordered Secretary of State Wayne Williams to add the Alamosa Republican to the ballot after the candidate and party officials missed a series of  deadlines for filing information required of all state office seekers. The ruling is being appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Denver District Court Judge Ross Buchanan ruled that despite the weeks-late filing of multiple forms, Alamosa rancher Scott Honeycutt and the Colorado Republican Party “substantially complied” with state election law.

In its June 25 lawsuit seeking ballot access for Honeycutt, the Colorado GOP didn’t argue that Williams’ office did anything wrong by keeping the rancher off the primary ballot.

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Lang Sias Move Could Change Top Senate Race

Christine Jensen.

Walker Stapleton’s decision to tap Arvada Rep. Lang Sias to be his running mate at the top of the Republican ticket in 2018 may lead to a significant domino effect that could change the makeup of at least one big legislative race in Jefferson County.

Sias was running for re-election in HD-27, where he would almost certainly have won in November in what has proven to be a reliably-conservative district in recent years. But now that he is running for Lieutenant Governor, Sias can’t still be on the ballot in HD-27. Republicans will need a new candidate for that House seat.

Sias’ departure from the race in HD-27 only makes this seat marginally more competitive for Democrats, but the bigger impact could be in nearby Senate District 20. State Rep. Jessie Danielson is the Democratic candidate in SD-20 who is running to succeed term-limited Democrat “Unaffiliated” Sen. Cheri Jahn; Democrats have generally fared well in this Wheat Ridge/Golden/Arvada district, but SD-20 is always among the most competitive State Senate races in the state because of its voter registration makeup, and it is again a top target for both parties in 2018. The Republican candidate here is Christine Jensen, a longtime resident who lost out to…wait for it…Lang Sias when a Republican vacancy committee needed to replace Rep. Libby Szabo in 2015.

It makes plenty of sense for Jensen to seek the HD-27 Republican vacancy once again, where she would be the favorite to waltz into office in November instead of running as a slight underdog in SD-20. Jensen would also be a better ideological fit in HD-27; she is probably a bit too conservative for the Senate district. This is similar to how Sias managed to salvage his political career after multiple losses in successive elections (Sias lost a GOP Primary in CD-7 before dropping successive State Senate bids, first to Democrat Evie Hudak and later in a Republican Primary for the same seat by Laura Woods; Democrat Rachel Zenzinger unseated Woods in 2016). Had Sias not made it through that 2015 GOP vacancy committee, he would not be in a position today to be Stapleton’s running mate, so there’s no shame in Jensen following a similar path.

If Jensen seeks the vacancy in HD-27, Republicans would have to scramble to find a new candidate in SD-20. This probably isn’t an ideal scenario for Senate Republicans, but it’s a pretty easy call for Jensen.

 

“Unite Colorado” Rally a Sad Sack of Fizzle

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger Tweeted photos from today’s “rally” for the so-called Unite Colorado slate of candidates, formerly known as the Centrist Project–an out-of-state funded project supporting state legislative candidates running mostly in swing Democratic districts, with the clear purpose of splitting Democratic votes and electing Republicans despite an oncoming Democratic “wave year.”

As we’ve discussed it’s a novel strategy, but judging from today’s turnout it’s not amounting to much:

The “Unite Colorado” candidates running to disrupt tight Democratic races (with a few token Republican-held districts thrown in for what we assume are diversionary purposes) have quite a bit in common strategically with the “Walk Away” movement being promoted by conservative media outlets–both attempting to demoralize and divide Democrats, and thereby reduce what are almost universally expected to be major Democratic gains in the midterm elections. None of the Unite Colorado candidates need to win in order to achieve their objectives, only pull enough votes away from Democrats in close races to swing them–much the same way that Libertarian candidates have undercut Republicans in swing races for many years.

But where Libertarians have a well-established party apparatus and ideological niche they speak for, Unite Colorado is a contrived movement, led by a young conservative activist who actually says that “It doesn’t really matter to voters” where you “stand on the issues.” It doesn’t even matter if you agree! It’s only important, says Nick Troiano, that your candidates be “different.”

All told it’s an insult to the intelligence of all voters, but especially Democratic voters.

As of today, though, it doesn’t look like many real-life Democrats are buying in.

Well Played, Crisanta Duran

In the rush of coverage of officials on all sides visiting the southern border to investigate the family separations by federal immigration agents that have dominated the headlines for over a month now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran–who arrived in Texas with her message to affected families on her…well, not sleeve exactly:

Take that, Melania Trump! Seriously, if a local clothing shop were to whip up a line of these jackets for sale, we know people who would buy them. We can’t imagine a finer local and woke fashion statement. And to our state’s first first Latina Speaker of the House, brava.

This is an image the the overwhelming majority of Coloradans will be proud to see.

GOP Challenger Touts Health While Opponent Recovers from Back Surgery

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

An Otero County Republican candidate forum got personal last week when primary challenger Don Bendell touted his health and pain tolerance at an event incumbent State Rep. Judy Reyher (R-Swink) was forced to miss while recovering from spinal surgery. 

Reyher is recovering from a May 22 spinal surgery for severe disc disintegration and was unable to attend. She sent a long letter explaining her absence, listing her legislative accomplishments and offering her priorities for her the upcoming year. It started with an extensive explanation of her recent surgery and the challenges that prevented her from attending the debate.

“When [the surgeons] got in there it was worse than they thought with the actual membrane surrounding the nerve being impaired.  I believed I could just drive La Junta for the forum today and and drive back tomorrow for my first post-op visit. My body put a full halt to that notion this morning as I was getting ready to make the trip. My body just has a lot of healing to do.”

Her opponent, Don Bendell, began his remarks by asking for prayers for Reyher’s recovery.

“I came here to debate. I really feel bad for my opponent, I’m sorry she couldn’t be here and I ask for you to join me in prayer for her quick recovery. I certainly can sympathize, since I started running I’ve had two 9mm kidney stones… It’s not fun dealing with pain but I’ve dealt with it my entire life. I had a broken back too, in 2011 and my prayers certainly go out to my opponent. I’m not here to say anything bad about my opponent but I am here to talk about her record.”

He then launched into a stump speech before taking questions from the audience. The first question was, “What do you have to offer Otero County?”

Here was his answer:

 

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How Colorado Republicans Blocked an Opportunity to Save Lives

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver)

I am respectfully responding to my colleague and friend Senator John Cooke’s recent op-ed regarding the “red flags” legislation introduced this session.  Red flag laws save lives.  When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see signs that they pose a threat.  The bi-partisan proposal we brought forward this year would have established a process to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a serious threat before they harm themselves or others.

Red flag laws are on the books in eight states and are being proposed in over 25 others. Without laws like these, family members and law enforcement are often helpless to prevent tragedies despite having seen major warnings signs. One tragic example is Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Zackari Parrish III – who we named this year’s legislation in honor of. Deputy Parrish was killed in the line of duty last New Year’s Eve by an individual in the middle of a mental health crisis. The shooter was identified as a significant risk by several law enforcement agencies and by his own mother months before the encounter, but there wasn’t anything law enforcement or his family could do, and on a fateful night, there were tragedies.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans chose to oppose this commonsense measure that is proven to save lives and increase the safety of our first responders and Coloradans.  The op-ed used misleading and inaccurate opposition talking points, which I felt strongly should not go unanswered and uncorrected.

The Republicans argue that the bill goes too far in setting up an “ex parte” – or emergency hearing — process for issuing an emergency protection order.  But ex parte hearings are not extraordinary; this is the same process domestic violence survivors use to obtain a protection orders.

Sen. Cooke also claims the bill does not provide enough due process.  The fact is, this life saving bill included substantial due process safeguards. The bill provides for a full hearing before a judge within 7 days following the emergency order, places the burden of proof on the family member or law enforcement officer, requires they meet the highest standard of evidence to demonstrate why the order is needed, and allows the individual to request a hearing after an order is issued to reassess whether it is still necessary.  Additionally, challenges against similar laws in Indiana and Connecticut have been dismissed and this bill went beyond those states’ laws in protecting individuals’ due process rights.

Senate Republicans then argue that the bill did not go far enough in addressing mental health.  I would ask them to explain to the people of Colorado how a bill that was supported by Mental Health Colorado and which explicitly allows for individuals to seek the treatment they need does not address mental health.  Researchers who have studied this policy identify it as one of the most effective suicide prevention laws. And yet, opponents who claim to advocate for mental health hide behind the falsehood that this does nothing to support mental health.

The rest of the Republican arguments fare no better and reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the bill. For example, there are in fact dozens of safeguards in the bill to protect individuals from false and malicious claims, including prosecuting acts of perjury. It is frustrating that the Senate Republicans seem to have so little understanding of the details of the bill, when the reasons they used to justify voting against this life-saving measure are simply incorrect.

On the whole, the op-ed shows the internal conflict many Senate Republicans faced: if they were to vote for a sensible, well-measured bill that had support from unified law enforcement, leading Republicans statewide and House Republicans, they risked crossing the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and its boss, Dudley Brown.

Unfortunately, I could not convince them, even after weeks and weeks of discussions prior to introduction, to support the safety of our first responders and the public by going against the fringe gun groups that hold my Republican colleagues hostage under the threat that they will “primary them from the right.”

Coloradans want leaders who stand for something, not against everything. They want elected officials who will continue fighting for solutions to address the scourge of gun violence and improve access to mental health services to those in crisis. Voters will remember where their elected officials stood on this issue in November.

Eighty percent of Coloradans support red flag laws. But this is not about polling. This bill is about saving lives. And when I introduce it again next year, I will again fight for Colorado to be among those leading the charge to save lives and protect communities.

Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver), is assistant majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives

These Colorado Republicans Are Pushing the Limits of Anti-Immigrant and Race-Baiting Rhetoric

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton endorser Tom Tancredo has partnered with State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) and his son Joe Neville to promote political messaging that reflects the anti-immigrant rhetoric of President Trump and pushes the limits of  limits of inflammatory and race-baiting statements. 

The new Tancredo-fronted group, Citizens for Secure Borders, claims to be “dedicated to providing the public with information regarding key issues related to preserving and promoting the safety and security of the public.” The group’s 501(c)4 articles of incorporation lists the home of Sen. Neville as its “principal office street address.” Its three board members are Joe Neville and two of his employees at consulting firm Rearden Strategic. Both Aaron Yates and Brandon Wark, like Joe Neville himself, are former employees of Dudley Brown’s right-wing gun rights advocacy groups, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners & National Association of Gun Rights. 

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Winners and Losers from 2018 Legislative Session

Since all political websites are legally required to produce a “Winners and Losers” list from the 2018 legislative session, here’s our contribution…

 

WINNERS

Rep. K.C. Becker
The House Majority Leader took a major political risk when she introduced a resolution to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock from the legislature, but she pressed forward with what she felt was the right thing to do and was ultimately validated for that decision. Lebsock, of course, was booted out of the State Capitol after a daylong hearing on March 2, marking the first expulsion of a sitting lawmaker in Colorado in more than 100 years. But it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t clear that there were enough votes to support expulsion when Becker was preparing the proposal (indeed, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville was working hard to hold Republicans together for a ‘NO’ vote).

 

Rep. Alec Garnett talks about the bulletproof vest he wears to work.

Rep. Alec Garnett
The two-term Democrat from Denver played a significant role in some of the most important discussions of the session, including partnering with Republican Rep. Cole Wist on a late attempt at passing controversial “Red Flag” legislation. Garnett was also responsible for one of the most powerful moments in many years at the legislature when he revealed — during Rep. Steve Lebsock’s expulsion hearing — that he had been wearing a bullet-proof vest under his dress shirt since the beginning of the session.

The next Speaker of the House will almost certainly be either Garnett or House Majority Leader K.C. Becker; both lawmakers proved in 2018 that they are up to the task.

 

Rep. Alex Skinny Winkler
Thornton Republican Alex Skinny Winkler was turned into a real boy legislator in late March to fill out the final six weeks for expelled Rep. Steve Lebsock. Winkler will now turn his attention to campaigning for a full term in HD-34, but residents in this Democratic-leaning district will almost certainly vote for a “Skinny Repeal” in November and return the seat to Democratic hands.

Oh well. At least Winkler gets to keep that giant legislator nametag.

 

Sen. Kerry Donovan
The first-term Senator represents one of Colorado’s largest (geographically-speaking) and most diverse districts in SD-5, and she delivered for rural Colorado in a big way in 2018. Donovan was a driving force behind two measures that will build out high-speed, broadband Internet service in some of the state’s most hard-to-reach areas, giving voters good reason to approve her re-election bid this fall.

 

RMGO
Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) group have been relatively quiet in recent years, but they returned with force late in the legislative session to effectively kill bi-partisan “Red Flag” legislation that sought to temporarily remove firearms from the hands of emotionally-unstable Coloradans. The “Red Flag” bill had high-profile co-sponsors — Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver)and Rep. Cole Wist (R-Centennial) – and prominent support from the Colorado law enforcement community…but when Brown put his foot down, most of the Republican caucus scattered like cockroaches.

We would certainly argue that the RMGO’s militant opposition to any sort of gun violence legislation is neither sustainable for the organization nor helpful for House and Senate Republicans, but that’s not really the point here. The RMGO’s penchant for getting aggressively involved in Republican Primaries over the years has scared the wits out of the even the most right-wing legislators; Dudley Brown asketh, and RMGO receiveth.

 

Anybody Who Profits From Photocopiers and Ink Sales
There were a record number of bills introduced during this legislative session that together formed an absolute mountain of paper documents. The House and Senate combined to produce 786 different pieces of legislation, which works out to an average of nearly 9 bills for every member.

 

LOSERS

 

Republican Leadership
Whoever invented the phrase “herding cats” would have loved watching Colorado Republicans over the last couple of months. Both Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville had a hell of a time corralling their respective caucuses; Republican lawmakers largely planted their flagsalongside a right-wing base and a few heavy-handed interest groups (see RMGO above), leaving virtually no room for compromise. Internal battlesplayed out regularly as members such as Rep. Dave Williams prioritized short-term soundbites and appearances on Fox News over getting anything done in the legislature. Even (theoretically) straightforward decisions turned into public freak-out sessions.

 

Sen. Tim Neville
In 2015, the Jefferson County Republican looked like the next big thing for the Colorado GOP, pulling the strings for the caucus behind the scenes and setting himself up for a U.S. Senate run. Neville’s statewide ambitions were rudely extinguished at the 2016 Republican State Convention, and he’s now one of the top targets for Democrats in 2018 as they look to re-take control of the State Senate. Neville has obstinately remained a right-wing voice in a senate district that is fairly equally-divided among Democrats and Republicans. In his last legislative session before asking voters to send him back for another term, Neville continued to act like a lawmaker from a solid-red area, seemingly showing no interest in trying to appeal to the rest of the voters in SD-16.

 

Sen. Randy “Boob Grabber” Baumgardner

Sen. Randy “Boob Grabber” Baumgardner
State Sen. Randy “Boob Grabber” Baumgardner narrowly escaped expulsion from the Senate in April thanks to Sen. Cheri Jahn and some helpful covering-up by Senate President Kevin Grantham and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert. Colorado Pols readers are plenty familiar with Baumgardner’s story, so we won’t rehash his terrible year in this space. We’ll just leave it at this: When your legislative legacy is earning the nickname “Boob Grabber,” you can be confident in your place as a 2018 “Loser.”

 

Sen. Cheri Jahn
State Sen. Cheri Jahn (Wheat Ridge) served four terms in the State House and is on the back end of her second term in the State Senate. Her (likely) final legislative session played out in strange fashion, leaving her a questionable legacy and an even murkier political future.

Jahn spent the bulk of her career as a Democrat before announcing in late December that she had changed her party registration to “Unaffiliated,” thus relegating herself to a caucus of one for her swan song under the Gold Dome. It is unclear how Jahn might have benefitted from her newfound “independence,” other than perhaps setting herself up for a job with a group like the “Centrist Project.” Jahn has long been a champion of predatory payday lenders and whatever cause was supported by right-leaning “business” lobbyists such as CACI (Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry), so her departure from the Democratic Party was thus both unexpected and unsurprising.

Jahn will perhaps be most remembered for her curious “NO” vote that saved Sen. Randy “Boob Grabber” Baumgardner from being expelled by the State Senate over multiple charges of sexual harassment. That’s not ideal.

 

Governor John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper called the 2018 legislative session the most successful of his governorship, which is interesting because the Governor appeared to have very little to do with anything that happened in the last five months. Hickenlooper took no political risks in his final legislative session – normally a time when an incumbent Governor makes a push to shore up a legacy – and seemed to spend most of his time “aw-shucksing” questions about a potential bid for President in 2020. When he did speak out on an issue, Hick displayed a maddening propensity for carefully taking every side possible – even on questions about sexual harassment under the Gold Dome.

When Hickenlooper made a last-minute pitch to House and Senate Democrats (he showed up at 10:00 pm on the final day of the session to wrangle votes on a PERA reform bill), it was emblematic of his 8 years in office and a Dickensian glimpse of what might have been.

 

 

You’ve Got To Be Kidding, Paul Rosenthal

A Tweet from Dan Haley, CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association from that organization’s end-of-session debrief, provoked spit takes from, well, everyone who wasn’t in that energy industry-friendly room:

Full stop. It’s true that Rep. Paul Rosenthal, Democrat representing southeast Denver, lost the Democratic primary for re-election to his House seat after failing to qualify for the primary ballot at the assembly. But whatever votes Rosenthal may have taken on oil and gas during his time in the legislature, that was not the only reason, or even a principal reason, for his failure to win a spot on the 2018 ballot.

As our readers know well, Rep. Rosenthal was accused of several incidents of sexual harassment as part of the revelations of widespread harassment in the Colorado General Assembly that began last fall. One complaint failed because the alleged incident was from Rosenthal’s time as a candidate, not as a lawmaker where the House would have jurisdiction. But those allegations, combined with Rosenthal’s total lack of preparation for a competitive primary, are the real reasons why Rosenthal didn’t qualify for the ballot. As for Rosenthal’s voting record in the House, we believe liberal Denver voters would be at least as upset by his votes against relief for homeless people as his votes in favor of fracking.

Given the oil and gas industry’s recent push to highlight their gender diversity and pay lip service to liberal social issues, the choice of COGA’s CEO to give a platform to a disgraced lawmaker who lost his seat over sexual harassment allegations in order to make excuses for his disgrace is…well, it says a lot.

And it doesn’t say anything good about the oil and gas industry.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 8)

Today is the 73rd anniversary of VE Day. 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… 

► It’s (Primary) Election Day in several states. Voters will make some important choices today in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia.

In West Virginia, ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship might be surging at the right time. If Blankenship is able to win a three-way race for the Republican Senate nomination, re-election will get a whole lot easier for Democratic Sen. Joe Minchin (and the 2018 cycle will get a lot worse for Sen. Cory Gardner, chair of the NRSC).

In Ohio, Republican candidates are jockeying for the right to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Also in Ohio, former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich tries to resurrect his political career with a victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Republicans in Indiana are fighting a nasty battle to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is widely considered to be among the most vulnerable incumbents of 2018.

And in North Carolina…there are some moderately-interesting primary races for a couple of Congressional seats.

For more on today’s big races, check out Politico’s “seven things to watch.” That’s two more “things to watch” than the Huffington Post will discuss.

 

► The 2018 legislative session in Colorado comes to a close on Wednesday. In the meantime, lawmakers are rushing to complete work on several important pieces of legislation, including a transportation and infrastructure bill that was the first Senate bill introduced this year (SB-1). Blair Miller of Denver7 explains the transportation compromise:

According to the chamber leaders, the amended bill would put $495 million in General Fund money into transportation projects this year, and an additional $150 million next year.

The state would then send $50 million in General Fund money each of the following years.

The amended version also would ask state voters to approve a $2.3 billion transportation bonding measure in 2019, which the lawmakers say would be paid off by the General Fund appropriations. The funds would be split: 70 percent would go to state highway projects, 15 percent to local road projects, and another 15 percent would go to transit “multi-modal” projects.

The maximum estimated repayment could amount to $3.25 billion when combined with transportation money passed during last year’s session.

 

► The Republican-controlled Senate killed a “Red Flag” bill on Monday despite wide support among law enforcement officials. From the Denver Post:

A contentious measure that would have allowed Colorado judges to order the seizure of guns from people considered a “significant risk” to themselves or others was rejected Monday night by Republicans in a GOP-controlled state Senate panel.

The so-called “red flag” legislation — House Bill 1436 — failed on a 3-2, party-line vote in the Senate’s State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, as expected.

The measure’s demise comes after it cleared the Democratic-controlled House on Friday night by a 37-23 vote — with only two Republicans voting “aye.” One of those was Assistant House Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, a prime sponsor of the legislation along with Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver.

Despite its legislative failure, the “Red Flag” bill will likely reverberate for months as candidates for major office in Colorado are asked to give their opinions on the proposal.

 

President Trump is expected to squash a waiver of sanctions against Iran, a key part of the United States’ participation in a controversial 2015 deal with Iran over its nuclear weapon pursuits. From the Washington Post:

The decision follows the failure of last-ditch efforts by the three European signatories to the agreement to convince Trump that his concerns about “flaws” in the 2015 accord could be addressed without violating its terms or ending it altogether.

While the deal itself contains no provisions for withdrawal, Iran has threatened to reactivate its nuclear program if the United States reneges on any of its obligations under the pact’s terms.

France and Germany, whose leaders visited Washington in recent weeks to appeal to Trump, have warned that nullification of the agreement could lead to all-out war in the Middle East. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in Washington on Monday, said that as far as he knows, the administration has no clear “Plan B” for what to do next.

The New York Times reports that Trump has already informed French President Emmanuel Macron of his intentions to essentially scuttle the Iran deal.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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One Election Away: Iowa Passes Six-Week Abortion Ban

As the Des Moines Register reports:

With a middle-of-the-night vote that followed hours of heated debate, Iowa Republicans have approved a measure that would ban most abortions in the state and give the state the strictest abortion law in the nation.

The move came in the final days of the legislative session, after mounting pressure from the Legislature’s most ardently anti-abortion corners to pass the so-called heartbeat bill before adjournment. It was accompanied by legislative threats and predictions — even hopes — the resulting law will be challenged in court.

Senate File 359, if signed into law, would ban nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can occur about six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.

Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds hasn’t said for sure if she intends to sign the bill into law, but she campaigned for office as a pro-life conservative and the pressure on her to sign the bill is very intense. Passage of this legislation will of course provoke an immediate court challenge and in all probability an injunction against enforcement while that lawsuit takes place. That legal battle, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, is exactly the point of this legislation–setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade before the most conservative Supreme Court in decades.

Here in Colorado, the political press corps can scarcely be bothered to report on abortion bans and onerous restrictions like mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds introduced year after year by conservative Republicans in the state legislature. The presumption is that with Democrats in control of one chamber and the governor’s office, abortion ban bills “aren’t a story” since they stand no realistic chance of becoming law.

What’s happening in Iowa is a sobering reminder of how wrong that complacency is. The worst case scenario is never more than a single election away. If the Republicans in office in Colorado right now had the legislative majority they’re going to pitch Colorado voters to give them this fall, and a Republican governor like the one they want Colorado to elect, they would not hesitate to pass the bill Iowa’s legislature just passed.

And that is something every voter in Colorado needs to know.

Colorado Dems just introduced one of the most progressive reproductive health bills in the U.S.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Democratic state lawmakers introduced a bill yesterday that aims to increase access to all reproductive care and protect Coloradans from the Trump administration’s rollbacks.

The Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Act would require all public and private health insurance plans regulated by the state of Colorado to cover the entire gamut of reproductive care, from cancer screenings and prenatal care to contraceptives and abortion, at no cost to the patient. And the bill guarantees that coverage for everyone, regardless of gender identity, income, or immigration status.

According to the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) it’s a “proactive bill with some real teeth,” and the bill aims to address a key barrier to reproductive care: affordability.

“When it comes to marginalized communities, affordability is one of the biggest hurdles,” said COLOR’s Karla Gonzales Garcia. “You can have the right to seek reproductive health care and abortion, but if you can’t afford the care, you can’t access that right.”

Maternal mortality is on the rise in the U.S. Graph shows # of deaths per 100,000 live births. Credit: Rob Weychert/ProPublica

In addition to improving access to services like abortion and contraception, the bill also seeks to improve maternal health, a critical undertaking given that the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world by a wide margin. And that rate continues to rise while other countries have managed to make childbirth safer.

Women of color bear the brunt of the country’s maternal health crisis. Women of color are more likely to die during childbirth, and black women are at particularly high risk, dying during childbirth at three times the rate of white women.

“A lot of it is due to complications in labor and during pregnancy, but a lot of it is also happening postpartum when people don’t have appropriate care for healing or post-delivery complications, when they frankly don’t have health coverage and then they’re having long-term health consequences and even dying,” said Garcia. “And so we see this legislation as really important to addressing maternal mortality and maternal health issues for women of color.”

As it stands, women who receive Medicaid coverage during pregnancy also receive 60 days of postpartum care. This bill would extend that coverage period to 180 days.

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RMGO Desperately Works To Kill “Red Flag” Bill

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports–despite bipartisan support for legislation to temporarily remove firearms from persons in a mental health crisis while preserving due process rights, Colorado’s gun lobby led by no-compromise gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is working overtime to lock down Republicans against the bill. As a result, the final vote in the House has been pushed back to Friday:

The bill, introduced Monday, would allow family members or law enforcement to ask a judge for a temporary extreme risk protection order that would allow officers to take firearms and ammunition away from people deemed to be in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The temporary order would stay in place for seven days, during which the person can petition to have their weapons returned…

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and some Republicans have said the proposal is more of a gun bill and less of a mental health bill, as the bill’s proponents and state sheriffs and police organizations have said – in support of the measure.

The final recorded House vote on Friday will be a good indicator of how successful GOP backers of House Bill 18-1436 have been at winning over their own. Politically, this bill sets up a major predicament for Republicans, who have paid much lip service to the need to “focus on mental health” as a response to mass shootings in lieu of measures outlawing specific guns or gun components. Now, with just such an opportunity before them, we’ll see if Republicans really mean what they say about “focusing on mental health”–or if it’s just another deflection from politicians with no authentic desire to address gun violence.

We know that’s where RMGO stands. Now let’s find out if RMGO still owns the GOP caucus. If the right thing gets done here, we’ll be first in line to praise the Republicans responsible for making it happen.

Pleasantly surprise us for a change.

Just A “Concerned Citizen?” The Google Says No Way

Jeffrey Cummings.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd has a story about the debate over transportation funding at the Colorado legislature with less than one week remaining in the 2018 session–a story seriously deficient in terms of proper disclosure of the principal source:

Maybe no one understands the sorry state of Colorado’s roads more than business owners like Jeff Cummings with Duffy Crane and Hauling…

“I would use insanely frustrated,” Cummings said.

Trucks that used to make two deliveries in the metro area a day, he says, now can only get in one. And he’s had to double the number of drivers it takes to haul the same amount of goods, as federal regulations restrict how many hours a trucker can be on the road and more and more time is spent in congestion.

And who is this concerned citizen mad at, you ask? Democrats, naturally!

After years of gridlock on the roads and at the State Capitol, Senate Republicans and Democrats reached a compromise last month that included $500 million for transportation this year.

A ballot measure is also asking voters to approve a $3 billion bond in November, but House Democrats didn’t like the deal and have been working on their own proposal for the last month.

“To have a unanimous vote on that topic, and that much bipartisanship is a big day in this state and it appears to be flushed down toilet in one day. Disappointed,” Cummings said.

CBS4’s longtime political reporter Shaun Boyd does note at one point in her story that Jeffrey Cummings has “been lobbying lawmakers for years to increase funding for transportation.” But readers of Boyd’s story might well think that Cummings has been “lobbying” for more transportation funding in some kind of personal capacity–or strictly as the owner of his own trucking business.

But as about five seconds of Googling makes plain, you’d be wrong:

At the Colorado Motor Carriers Association (CMCA) recent annual meeting, Jeffrey Cummings, the President of Duffy Companies, was selected as its Chairman of the Board for the upcoming year.

In this capacity he will lead CMCA, who represents over 650 companies that are either directly involved or affiliated with trucking and transportation in Colorado. Overall trucking related businesses employ almost 100,000 people within Colorado with an overall payroll exceeding $4.8 billion.

That’s right, folks. Jeffrey Cummings is in fact one of the state’s leading transportation industry lobbyists, representing over 650 trucking companies at the state capitol. Cummings was chairman of the board in 2016 and currently serves as the group’s Legislative and Governmental Affairs Chair. In addition, Cummings sits on the board of the state’s workman’s comp provider Pinnacol Assurance, and a member of the top-flight business lobbying group Colorado Concern.

And yes, Jeffrey Cummings is a registered Republican.

Negotiations over a final transportation deal continue as of this writing, and it’s still possible that an agreement will be reached that pleases the transportation lobby. Either way, this story from CBS4 Denver supplies no counterweight to Cummings’ blasting of Democrats for their supposed intransigence–and the failure to disclose that Cummings is a top Republican lobbyist greatly misrepresents his easily discernible partisan motives.

Reporting what somebody thinks about something is fine. But let’s be honest about who that somebody is.