Get More Smarter on Friday (April 16)

Happy World Voice Day. Please yell out responsibly. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The Indianapolis Star reports on yet another mass shooting in the United States, this one at a FedEx distribution site in Indianapolis:

Officers arrived to a “chaotic and active” crime scene, according to IMPD Deputy Chief of Investigations Craig McCartt.

Eight people, plus the suspected gunman, were found dead in and around the facility. It’s believed the shooter died by suicide shortly before police arrived.

McCartt said at a Friday morning news conference that the shooter arrived at the building and began “randomly” firing in the parking lot — with no confrontation or argument before the shooting started. He then went inside the building and continued shooting. Four people were found dead outside and four were found dead inside.

 

► Republican State Rep. Ron Hanks, the “Insurrectionist Man of Mystery,” continues to press his case as the biggest asshole in the Colorado legislature. Hanks attempted to give lawmakers a history lesson on Thursday and warmed up with a really tasteless joke. From 9News:

Hanks (R-Penrose) falsely alleged that the three-fifths compromise was not “impugning anybody’s humanity” while debating a civics education bill on the House floor Thursday.

“The three-fifths compromise, of course, was an effort by non-slave states … to try and reduce the amount of representation that the slave states had,” Hanks said. “It was not impugning anybody’s humanity.”

This comment was preceded by another where he referenced being mistakenly called up as Rep. Mike Lynch (R-Wellington).

“Being called Mr. Lynch might be a good thing for what I’m about to say … no, just kidding,” Hanks said.

Hanks’ ridiculous comments earned him national headlines.

 

Let’s check in on more state legislative news:

The House of Representatives approved the annual state budget bill despite a few mindless protests from Republican lawmakers.

A bill that would reduce sentencing requirements for felony murder convictions is on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis. On Thursday, Gov. Polis signed into law a bill that allows victims of child sexual abuse more time to bring civil lawsuits against perpetrators.

Lawmakers are considering making significant changes to admission requirements for colleges and universities.

A new law will give formerly incarcerated people with firefighting experience more opportunities to return to the firefighting profession.

Legislation that would have required ski resorts to provide more transparency about injuries on the slopes died in committee.

Pueblo County is opposing a proposal to speed up the process of reducing harmful emissions in Colorado.

Dave Perry of The Aurora Sentinel voices support for the “Colorado Option” healthcare plan being debated in the state legislature.

 

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel confirms a story first reported here at Colorado Pols about former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese withdrawing her name from consideration as Mesa County Attorney…which probably has something to do with the fact that Pugliese wants to run for Secretary of State and now lives in Colorado Springs.

 

 Republican Qaucus leaders were the ONLY two Members of Congress to vote NO on a routine reauthorization of the nation’s bone marrow registry and umbilical cord blood used in bone marrow transplants. Republican Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene represented the “2” in the 415-2 vote in favor of H.R. 941.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Not Tax Day (April 15)

For most people, tax day this year is on May 17th. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The defense rested its case in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of murder in the May 2020 killing of George Floyd. As The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Derek Chauvin said in court Thursday that he will not testify in his murder trial shortly before the defense said it has completed its case.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege” to not risk making any self-incriminating statements in Hennepin County District Court, where the fired Minneapolis police officer is charged with killing George Floyd late last spring in Minneapolis…

…Chauvin’s declaration came during a series of questions from his attorney, Eric Nelson, and outside the presence of the jury.

Nelson and Chauvin were seated at the defense table as the defendant held a cordless microphone and had his voice heard for the first time on the record during the trial.

Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial could begin as soon as Monday.

 

► You don’t need us to tell you that red states and blue states are very different. But as The Associated Press reports, one significant difference is bad for your health:

With coronavirus shots now in the arms of nearly half of American adults, the parts of the U.S. that are excelling and those that are struggling with vaccinations are starting to look like the nation’s political map: deeply divided between red and blue states.

Out in front is New Hampshire, where 65% of the population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following close behind are New Mexico, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts at 55% or greater. All have a history of voting Democratic and supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, at the bottom are five states where fewer than 40% have rolled up their sleeves for a shot. Four of them — Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee — lean Republican and voted for Donald Trump last fall. The fifth is Georgia, which has a Republican governor and supported GOP presidential candidates for nearly three decades before narrowly backing Biden.

 

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners are not doctors, but they are pretending to know more about the COVID-19 pandemic than the so-called “experts.” That’s not good news for the rest of us, which is why others are speaking out.

 

Let’s check in on state legislative news:

The State House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to the new state budget proposal.

Fox 31 News reports on opposition to proposed legislation seeking to reduce Colorado’s jail population.

Colorado lawmakers are freezing tuition rates at community colleges.

The Associated Press reports on legislative efforts to improve maternal care for minority women.

Lawmakers are considering legislation to improve health benefits for legislative aides.

The State Senate approved legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive professional licenses in Colorado.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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The GMS Podcast: Q*Bert Conquers the Spirit World

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast


 

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 14)

There are 254 shopping days until Christmas. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

More details are emerging on Tuesday’s big news that the United States will make a complete withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. From The New York Times:

President Biden, frustrated in his efforts to end America’s “Forever War” a decade ago, will announce on Wednesday a Sept. 11 deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 20 years, a move that immediately triggered similar action among the country’s NATO allies…

…In the hours leading up to Mr. Biden’s afternoon announcement at the White House, foreign and defense ministers met at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss “a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” as the American secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, told them on Wednesday.

The ministers, many of them attending the Wednesday meeting virtually, are expected to formally back the American withdrawal date in keeping with the alliance’s mantra “in together and out together.”

As The Denver Post reports, Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation voiced agreement with the decision.

 

The Durango Herald editorial board endorses the “Colorado Option” health care bill, which was finally introduced in a State House committee on Friday. From the Herald:

Coloradans – and especially rural Southwest Coloradans – are in trouble when it comes to health care costs. Before the pandemic, about 11.2% of people in Southwest Colorado couldn’t afford medical insurance, compared to 6.5% for the entire state. Because workers who lost their jobs in 2020 likely also lost insurance, that 11.2% is certainly higher now.

According to the Colorado Health Access Survey, even those with medical insurance in Colorado report skipping doctor visits when ill, struggling to pay medical bills and being unable to pay for rent, utilities, food and other necessities at times because of medical bills…

Some aspects of the health care industry work very well, as evidenced during the pandemic. But that doesn’t change what we know to be true: We have to find solutions that make health care more accessible and affordable for all Coloradans.

HB 1232 likely is not perfect, but it’s a big step in the right direction – and a signal to the health care industry that the time has come for change. [Pols emphasis]

Click here for more on the arguments and policy details.

In related news, Colorado’s Connect for Health insurance marketplace is seeing a record number of signups.

 

The Denver Post reports on efforts to make it more difficult for perpetrators of domestic violence to gain access to a firearm:

Colorado law since 2013 has required most people who are charged with domestic violence to relinquish their guns, but prosecutors and court officials acknowledge it’s loosely enforced, sometimes not at all.

Lawmakers got their first look Tuesday at a bill, HB21-1255, that would strengthen compliance, which state analysts say affects thousands per year.

Already, Democrats who control the Colorado legislature have sent two gun bills to Gov. Jared Polis to sign, which he is expected to do soon. One requires secure storage of firearms and the other mandates that lost or stolen firearms be reported, both of which were in the works before the mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers last month.

Attorney General Phil Weiser told lawmakers during a hearing that they must pass this third piece of gun legislation, because domestic violence is a crisis in Colorado, citing a statistic that of the 70 domestic violence-related deaths in 2019, two-thirds were due to a gun.

Elsewhere in state legislative news:

The Colorado Sun is tracking the status of legislation dealing with the spending of stimulus funds.

The “long bill” — also known as the annual state budget bill — will be the major topic of discussion in the State House today.

Colorado Newsline discusses legislative efforts to improve long-standing maternal health disparities.

Legislation to reform Colorado’s felony murder sentencing is headed to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, as is a bill to expand Colorado’s ability to import prescription drugs from other countries.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 12)

Happy Birthday, David Letterman. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is officially in the “fourth wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Colorado is now experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19 as infections and hospitalizations rise, but the increasing level of vaccination should make it less severe than the deadly spike late last fall, state officials said Friday.

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have risen most in people younger than 50, who are less likely to have been vaccinated, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said. It’s good news that the vaccine is protecting older people, who are most vulnerable to severe symptoms, but younger people need to keep up precautions until they get the shot, she said.

“This fourth wave is going to look different,” she said during a news briefing with Gov. Jared Polis.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 454 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon. It was the highest total since Feb. 18.

 

► Corporate backlash to Republican efforts aimed at restricting voter rights is apparently growing. As The Washington Post reports:

More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders gathered online Saturday to discuss taking new action to combat the controversial state voting bills being considered across the country, including the one recently signed into law in Georgia.

Executives from major airlines, retailers and manufacturers — plus at least one NFL owner — talked about potential ways to show they opposed the legislation, including by halting donations to politicians who support the bills and even delaying investments in states that pass the restrictive measures, according to four people who were on the call, including one of the organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor.

While no final steps were agreed upon, the meeting represents an aggressive dialing up of corporate America’s stand against controversial voting measures nationwide, a sign that their opposition to the laws didn’t end with the fight against the Georgia legislation passed in March.

As CNN reports, last week’s threats against corporations from Republican politicians appear to have backfired:

The virtual meeting with CEOs from a cross-section of industries underscores the growing tensions between the business community and Republicans in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

The Zoom call took place despite threats of reprisal from former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and state lawmakers in Georgia.

“It was a defiant stand against those politicians trying to silence them,” Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told CNN Business.

Sonnenfeld helped organize the event, along with the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism and the Leadership Now Project.

 
The “Colorado Option” health care bill was finally introduced in a State House committee on Friday. After several hours of discussion, a vote was delayed until Tuesday to allow for continued negotiations with the health care industry. As Colorado Newsline reports:

Just after 10 p.m., the committee voted to delay a vote on the bill until Tuesday to allow for more negotiations on possible amendments.

“The plan was to go ahead and vote on it (Friday), but there was significant progress made during the hearing,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, the Denver Democrat who chairs the House committee. She referred to conversations that took place Friday between the sponsors and some organizations representing health care providers.

The two-phase legislation would establish a possible path to the Colorado Option, envisioned as a lower-cost, nonprofit-managed health insurance plan sold on Colorado’s individual and small group markets. The Colorado Option would only become available starting in 2025 if private insurance carriers failed to meet voluntary targets in phase one of HB-1232.

Click here for more on the arguments and policy details.

 

Elsewhere in state legislative news:

As discussions continue around the state budget, Axios reports that the word of the month is “equity.”

The Colorado Sun reports on the status of a proposal to establish a Front Range passenger train system.

As Colorado Public Radio explains, legislation about improving Colorado’s roads and bridges intentionally leaves out funding for RTD.

The Denver Post updates on the status of composting grandma.

Lawmakers are debating a potential loosening of Colorado’s liquor sales laws.

CBS4 Denver reports on progress toward creating a prescription drug affordability board.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel previews the legislative week ahead.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 9)

Today is the 99th day of the year; 2021 starts to look really old tomorrow. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As Bruce Finley reports for The Denver Post, Colorado officials are taking new steps to prepare for what they expect will be another bad wildfire season:

Facing a worsening wildfire predicament, Colorado leaders on Thursday braced for more big burns and declared they’re shifting state strategy and millions of taxpayer dollars toward early detection and aggressive rapid response to squelch flames before they spread.

More aerial assets including a $24 million helicopter, prepositioning of air tankers that haul water and fire-snuffing slurry, and increased teamwork among local, state and federal agencies have placed Colorado in what officials described as an unprecedented state of readiness.

“Colorado used to talk about a fire season. It is now a year-round phenomenon,” Gov. Jared Polis said after a meeting of federal and state authorities, referring to the impacts of climate change…

…The core “wildfire season” in the state has increased by 78 days since the 1970s, officials said, with fires breaking out even in freezing temperatures. And human population expansion into burn zones — Polis pointed to some 300,000 houses built in woods requiring “perimeter defense” against wildfire — increasingly constrains what land managers can do.

 
► The Public Option is in the House!

The public option bill had been delayed in attempt to find compromise with hospitals.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, efforts to push an assault weapons ban in Colorado have stalled as key allies ponder a different approach:

Any major push to pass an assault-style weapon’s ban in Colorado is looking increasingly less likely, with the legislature’s highest-profile advocate for stricter gun laws saying now isn’t the time.

“It diverts all of the attention,” said Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial.

Instead, Sullivan wants to focus efforts on policies he believes would be more effective at preventing gun violence. Technology, he said, can circumvent bans on specific types of weapons…

…Democratic Gov. Jared Polis told CPR’s Colorado Matters that he is not focused on the type of firearm that was used in the massacre. Instead, Polis would like Colorado to strengthen universal background checks.

Elsewhere in state legislative news:

The Denver Post looks at how lawmakers plan to allocate funds from an unexpected budget surplus. As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the State Senate approved a proposed budget in a preliminary vote.

Lawmakers are advancing legislation to better fund mental health and substance abuse programs.

Denver7 reports on legislation to better protect children from domestic abuse.

A bill in the State Senate seeks to require more transparency from ski resorts on injuries suffered on the slopes

Alex Burness of The Denver Post reports on legislative efforts to deal with death threats toward lawmakers.

 

 

The Associated Press reports on President Biden’s Thursday announcement on actions his administration is taking to promote gun safety:

President Joe Biden put on a modest White House ceremony Thursday to announce a half-dozen executive actions to combat what he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.

But he said much more is needed. And while Biden had proposed the most ambitious gun-control agenda of any modern presidential candidate, his moves underscored his limited power to act alone on guns with difficult politics impeding legislative action on Capitol Hill.

Biden’s new steps include a move to crack down on “ghost guns,” homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and are often purchased without a background check. He’s also moving to tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces like the one used in Boulder, Colorado, in a shooting last month that left 10 dead.

As CBS4 Denver reports, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) was with Biden at the White House for Thursday’s announcement.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: All-Stars and A-Holes

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, that guy we talked about last week (Danny Moore) who was the Chair of the Congressional Redistricting Commission…he got shelled; Colorado is getting some All-Stars because of our awesome non-racist voting systems; we have more reasons for another edition of “Legislating with Crayons“; there is yet another recall scam going after one of the most popular Governors in the country; and we check in again with “The Boebert Report.”

Also, we all got our shots! Well, the first of them, anyway.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 8)

Happy birthday, Buddha! 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Roughly 1 in 4 Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but a similar percentage of people in the United States say that they will NOT get vaccinated, which could threaten the country’s ability to reach herd immunity this summer. COVID-19 hospitalizations are slowly increasing in Colorado, and officials in Jefferson County are moving back to “Level Yellow” because of rising cases. A government building in Elbert County was also recently closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, a wave of infections in the Upper Midwest and Northeastern U.S. has health officials concerned about a potential fourth surge of the pandemic. As The New York Times reports:

Michigan is in tough shape. New cases and hospitalizations there have more than doubled in the last two weeks, and the six metro areas in the United States with the greatest number of new cases relative to their population are all in Michigan.

Several other states in the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota and Illinois, have also reported significant increases in new cases and hospitalizations. And in the Northeast, New York and New Jersey have continued to see elevated case counts.

Illinois is seeing a spike in cases as well. The daily average for new cases there has jumped about 56 percent in the past two weeks, to about 2,832 a day. Hospitalizations have risen about 28 percent from two weeks ago. Wisconsin and North Dakota have also seen their average case counts jump 50 percent or more in the last two weeks.

While new cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide have declined from their peaks in January, new infections have increased after plateauing.

A rise in infections around the world is also worrying health officials. The French Open tennis tournament has been delayed as France deals with a new lockdown. In Brazil, COVID-19 deaths surpassed 4,000 in a single day for the first time this week; with a death toll of more than 337,000, Brazil trails only the United States (562,000+) in total COVID-related deaths. Cases are also rising dramatically in India, which is struggling to increase vaccination rates as infections climb.

 

All of the far-right candidates seeking seats on the Grand Junction City Council were defeated on Tuesday, a sign that the influence of Trumpism and Lauren Boebert might already be waning in conservative circles. Newly-elected Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown made an unsuccessful last-minute pitch on behalf of these candidates earlier this week.

Voters in Grand Junction also agreed to lift a 10-year moratorium on marijuana dispensaries.

 

President Biden is announcing new executive orders on gun safety, as The Washington Post reports:

In the White House Rose Garden, the president is expected to announce new rules on firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track, among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons.

Biden also will announce David Chipman as his pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, although it is unclear how the nominee will fare in an evenly divided Senate. Chipman is a senior adviser to a gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

As The Denver Post reports, Biden’s announcement includes a regulation on a weapon used in the Boulder King Soopers shootings:

A senior administration official with knowledge of the coming executive orders said Wednesday that by early June, the U.S. Justice Department “will issue a proposed rule to make clear that when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, that firearm is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.”

Colorado Newsline notes that the Biden administration will also distribute model “red flag” gun legislation for consideration by state legislatures (Colorado already has a “red flag” law).

 

As Denver7 reports, the “Long Bill” has been introduced.

The Colorado Joint Budget Committee has released its appropriations bill, also known as the long bill, earlier than normal this year. Committee members say this year’s budget is more focused on addressing funding inequities in the state.

Here’s more on the happenings at the state legislature:

Lawmakers are considering protections for pregnancies involving surrogates.

Colorado Newsline outlines some new stimulus bills being discussed at the State Capitol.

A new state agency devoted to early childhood education is under consideration.

Discussions are underway on a bill that would require more diversity on state panels.

Legislation that would provide free mental health treatment options for teenagers is moving along.

Colorado is one of 11 states looking to expand the importation of prescription drugs from other countries.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 7)

Happy National Beer Day. Please celebrate responsibly. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The decision by Major League Baseball to move the 2021 All-Star Game to Denver — a reaction to draconian voting restrictions recently passed by the Georgia legislature — has been a major topic of discussion nationwide. On Tuesday, media outlets both local and national pushed back against odd Republican efforts to paint Colorado voting laws as more restrictive than those of Georgia. As The Denver Post reports:

Last week, Major League Baseball made it clear that voting rights were at the core of the decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. But Tuesday’s official MLB release about the July 13 game moving to Denver did not discuss voting or get political in the least bit, with Commissioner Rob Manfred saying he appreciated the Colorado Rockies’, Denver’s and the state’s “flexibility and enthusiasm to deliver a first-class event for our game and the region.”

Gov. Jared Polis also ducked questions about Colorado’s election laws on Tuesday morning, but Denver Mayor Michael Hancock didn’t shy away from politics in an interview with The Denver Post. He said moving the game and all related festivities in Denver and at and Coors Field is a direct result of Colorado’s inclusive and accessible voting system that’s often referred to as the gold standard in the U.S.

“This is a cautionary tale for any state, any city who wants to restrict access to one’s rights to vote,” Hancock said. “For every action, there’s going to be a reaction.”

He added: “Even in a partisan environment we still make sure that nothing trumps full access to the ballot box. Voting is the heartbeat of democracy … You lean in and make it more inclusive. You don’t restrict.”

 

► Senate Bill 21-078, which requires Coloradans to do more in reporting lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement authorities, is on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis after winning final approval in the State Senate. We have more on the legislation here.

 

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the ouster of Republican Danny Moore as the chair of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, including the apparent fact that many Colorado Republicans still believe — despite no evidence — that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, lawmakers are looking at a new discussion surrounding this year’s debate on the state budget:

Colorado lawmakers are about to begin the annual process of debating and finalizing the next state budget, and the difference from last year’s budget couldn’t be more extreme.

The state has billions of additional dollars to spend, in stark contrast to the previous year when the pandemic forced the state to cut more than $3 billion. The legislature’s bipartisan Joint Budget Committee introduced its agreed-upon spending plan to the full Senate this week, after working on it through months of negotiations and public hearings.

The budget totals almost $12 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of $1.2 billion, or 11 percent, over the current General Fund spending levels.

The Colorado Sun outlines eight things to know about the “long bill” in 2021.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 5)

Happy Singmogil. Please celebrate responsibly. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Health experts continue to warn that we could be nearing another surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. As CNN explains:

The highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant has fueled an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in parts of Europe. And experts worry the US could be next if Americans don’t double down on safety measures until more people are vaccinated.

What’s worse, experts say, is that the variant is changing the pandemic’s playbook and could spell trouble for younger groups that haven’t yet been vaccinated.

As The Washington Post reports, an increase in infections is particularly worrisome in India:

India on Sunday reported more than 100,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a grim measure achieved by only the United States and briefly Brazil, and a sign that the infections in the nation of 1.3 billion could be spinning out of control.

India, which has one of the world’s largest vaccine-manufacturing capacities, is immunizing citizens at a rate of 2 million a day but has not made significant headway, with just 5 percent of the population having received a first dose. India is also slowing down its vaccine exports in the face of domestic demand, with potentially dire consequences for other countries.

Experts believe that changes in behavior, waning immunity from prior infections and the spread of new variants are all contributing to the dramatic rise in cases.

Here in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis extended a statewide mask order for another month at the request of local health officials.

On the subject of COVID-19 vaccinations, we still don’t know if Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have received their vaccines.

 

The Denver Post reports on an influx of federal money coming to Colorado:

Over the next 13 months, nearly $2 billion will move from the federal treasury to the bank accounts of Colorado’s counties, cities and towns — a redistribution of tax dollars that experts and officials say is without parallel in modern American history.

“The sheer amount of money that is flowing is unprecedented,” said John Swartout, the executive director of Colorado Counties Inc., a membership association for city and county officials. “There’s been nothing like it.”

For Colorado’s local governments, the money represents an opportunity they have never had and may not get again soon. It’s a chance to fill holes in budgets and bridges, to address decades-long addictions and afflictions, to build up and better their towns.

The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package that passed Congress last month without a single Republican vote and was signed into law by President Joe Biden.

 

► Let’s get some updates on the State Legislature, which will begin to tackle “The Long Bill” (the state budget) this week…

Lawmakers are looking for ways to expand access to birth control via Medicaid.

Police accountability will be a hot topic in the next few weeks.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, some gun owners want lawmakers to know that they oppose an Assault Weapons Ban that doesn’t exist.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports on legislative efforts to address a shortage of child care options in Colorado.

The Colorado Sun reports on a proposal to pay school board members for their time.

Here’s more from The Denver Post on the plastic bag ban discussion.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the Colorado Republican Party’s historically unsuccessful new leadership team; the election fraud truther on the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission; infrastructure week (for real this time); and another segment of “Legislating With Crayons,” in which Republicans unwittingly make the case for a new media literacy bill.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on April Fool’s Day (April 1)

This is the only day in 2021 where it will make sense that Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is in Congress. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► President Biden on Wednesday revealed details on his massive infrastructure plan, further signaling a new era of ambitious action from the federal government.
“It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” said Biden in a speech outside Pittsburgh. “It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.”

Via The New York Times (3/31/21)

 

CBS4 Denver takes a look at what Biden’s infrastructure plan could mean for Colorado.

 

► As POLITICO reports, Democrat Kerry Donovan, a State Senator from Vail, raised more than $614,000 in just 55 days for her campaign to take on Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) in 2022. This is a YUGE number and solidifies Donovan as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in CO-03. Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports that Donovan’s fundraising total actually exceeds $700k.

But perhaps the most interesting note in that POLITICO story is from Illinois, where incumbent Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger raised $1.1 million DESPITE having voted to impeach former President Trump.

 

► Republican Danny Moore, the chairperson of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, is a lizard man from outer space. We don’t know if that’s true or not, but we’re following Moore’s logic that you can say anything you want so long as you couch it as an “opinion.”

 

► It’s a story that would otherwise be perfect for April Fool’s Day: A group of Republicans in Colorado is organizing yet another pointless effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis.

 

► It might be Spring Break for you, but not for the state legislature…

Lawmakers are preparing for the big annual budget battle. As The Denver Post reports, a 3% wage increase for state employees is among the suggestions being discussed.

Officials are debating a change to the state’s foster care system that would allow people to remain in foster care until the age of 21.

Republicans tried and failed to filibuster legislation focused on transgender rights, because that’s what they do.

Denver7 reports on efforts to limit the use of ketamine by first responders. The proposal is part of a broader package of law enforcement reforms expected in the legislature.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 31)

Today is the last day of the Q1 fundraising period for most elected officials and candidates. If you’ve opened your email in the last few days, you probably already knew this. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

What time is it? Infrastructure time!

As The New York Times reports:

President Biden will unveil an infrastructure plan on Wednesday whose $2 trillion price tag would translate into 20,000 miles of rebuilt roads, repairs to the 10 most economically important bridges in the country, the elimination of lead pipes and service lines from the nation’s water supplies and a long list of other projects intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run.

Biden administration officials said the proposal, which they detailed in a 25-page briefing paper and which Mr. Biden will discuss in an afternoon speech in Pittsburgh, would also accelerate the fight against climate change by hastening the shift to new, cleaner energy sources, and would help promote racial equity in the economy…

…the scale of the proposal underscores how fully Mr. Biden has embraced the opportunity to use federal spending to address longstanding social and economic challenges in a way not seen in half a century. Officials said that, if approved, the spending in the plan would end decades of stagnation in federal investment in research and infrastructure — and would return government investment in those areas, as a share of the economy, to its highest levels since the 1960s.

The Washington Post has more on how Biden’s proposal breaks down into specific buckets, from highways and road maintenance to boosting U.S. manufacturing and fixing problems with the electric grid and clean drinking water systems.

 

► To vaccinate, or to vacillate? As Colorado Newsline reports, many Members of Congress are still not vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus:

Members of Congress were among the first people in the U.S. to have access to the sought-after COVID-19 vaccine when the initial doses became available in December.

Three months later, a States Newsroom survey across 22 states — making up a large swath of Congress — found at least 155 members of the U.S. House and Senate have been vaccinated, based on a tally of responses from their offices and other public statements. Most, but not all, are Democrats, even as pollsters find greater hesitancy and even disinterest among Republicans in the broader U.S. adult population when it comes to the vaccine.

At least 14 legislators say they have not been vaccinated, either because they have been waiting to do so or because they don’t plan to at all. All but but one are Republicans. Dozens of others among the 237 surveyed declined to share their vaccination status.

Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) has been vaccinated (twice) and has publicly acknowledged as much. Yet many elected officials, most of them Republicans, have avoided vaccines despite the obvious risks:

With the average age for House members at 58 and senators averaging 64, many lawmakers also were at increased risk of severe complications or even death if they contracted the virus. (One member of Congress, Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas) died in February after being diagnosed with COVID-19, and Luke Letlow, who was elected to represent a Louisiana district in December, passed away from complications of the virus before he could be sworn in.)

As for Colorado’s Congressional delegation, all six Democrats have been fully vaccinated. On the Republican side, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has said he will not get the vaccine. Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) said in December that she didn’t need to get the vaccine, though her office did not confirm one way or the other. Likewise, Colorado Newsline could not confirm if Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) had been vaccinated or planned on being vaccinated (Lamborn also tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020).

Since we’re on the subject of COVID-19 and public officials…

 

► Republican Danny Moore, the chairperson of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, is a full-on believer that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent. Maybe he’s not the best person to be leading a redistricting commission. Evan Wyloge has more on this story for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman.

 

► It might be Spring Break for you, but not for the state legislature…

Governor Jared Polis does not agree with parts of a proposed bill that seeks to implement more specific markers for greenhouse gas emissions restrictions. The Colorado Sun has more on the discussion.

Colorado is poised to become the first state to offer public housing benefits to people regardless of their immigration status. Meanwhile, a bill to create an immigration legal defense fund is advancing in the State House.

Marianne Goodland reports on a legislation regarding actuarial review of health benefit mandates, which is a phrase we only partially understand.

Legislation is moving along that seeks to ensure that county commissioner districts are accurately redrawn every 10 years.

A bill ending the statute of limitations on lawsuits for child sex abusers has made it out of the legislature and is on the way to the desk of Gov. Polis.

The Colorado Springs Independent takes a look at several new and pending pieces of legislation.

State lawmakers have halted a proposal to build a fence around parts of the State Capitol.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 29)

It’s a beautiful day today. Tomorrow, maybe not so much. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The Washington Post reports, health officials are starting to sound the alarm about a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic:

A day after the United States surpassed 30 million coronavirus cases, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday gave a heartfelt warning, her voice at times near breaking, about the ongoing rise in infections.

“I’m going to lose the script and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Rochelle Walensky said at a White House news briefing Monday. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared.”…

…The recent U.S. seven-day average, at just under 60,000 daily cases, is a 10 percent increase vs. the prior seven-day period. Hospitalizations have risen, too. The seven-day average death rate, which typically lags behind cases and hospitalizations, increased by 3 percent, Walensky said.

The news isn’t all bad, fortunately: Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are proving to be 90% effective in real-world studies.

In related news, many top health officials from the Trump administration are now openly discussing how badly the administration failed in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brett Giroir, Trump’s coronavirus testing czar, told CNN, “When we said there were millions of tests available, there weren’t, right? There were components of the test available, but not the full meal deal.”

 

► Here in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis is providing new updates on our COVID-19 response. Jefferson County is seeing a worrying uptick in COVID-19 cases. As Westword explains, there is a real risk that Colorado could have to move back to more restrictions in order to keep the virus at bay, even though more Coloradans are starting to get vaccinated.

 

► Colorado Republicans selected Kristi Burton Brown to be their new Party Chairperson. Brown held off former Secretary of State Scott Gessler in a marathon voting process that required three ballots to reach a majority. As we explain in a separate post, this was not a good ending for “The Honey Badger.”

 

► It might be Spring Break for you, but not for the state legislature…

As Colorado Newsline reports, lawmakers are considering making permanent changes to the criminal justice system after a significant drop in jail populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Colorado Times Recorder looks at Democratic efforts to kill the inevitable GOP anti-abortion bills that pop up every legislative session. In a separate story, The Times Recorder fact checks a silly pharmaceutical industry claim that efforts to limit drug prices in Colorado would violate federal law.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would essentially require businesses in Colorado to accept cash — something that many retailers started to refuse during the pandemic.

The Colorado Sun reports on HB-1189, which seeks to increase monitoring of toxic emissions.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel updates on the progress of legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for filing civil cases against alleged sexual abusers.

Federal officials have given Colorado approval to move ahead with a state legislative proposal to conduct modified CMAS testing this year.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 26)

It might actually start to FEEL like Spring later this weekend. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law new voting rules that significantly restrict voter access and prohibit allowing people to bring water to someone standing in line to vote. This is part of a broad effort around the country by Republicans to make it harder for non-Republican voters to cast a ballot. As The Washington Post reports:

The measure is one of the first major voting bills to pass as dozens of state legislatures consider restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, when President Donald Trump attacked without evidence the integrity of election results in six states he lost, including Georgia.

The new law imposes new identification requirements for those casting ballots by mail; curtails the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots; allows electors to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters and requires counties to hold hearings on such challenges within 10 days; makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line; blocks the use of mobile voting vans, as Fulton County did last year after purchasing two vehicles at a cost of more than $700,000; and prevents local governments from directly accepting grants from the private sector.

The 95-page law also strips authority from the secretary of state, making him a nonvoting member of the State Election Board, and allows lawmakers to initiate takeovers of local election boards — measures that critics said could allow partisan appointees to slow down or block election certification or target heavily Democratic jurisdictions, many of which are in the Atlanta area and are home to the state’s highest concentrations of Black and Brown voters.

The measure, backed by Republicans, sailed out of the state House and Senate on party-line votes in a single afternoon.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, Republicans seeking to roll back voting rights are relying on a false narrative that they created themselves:

Republicans are deeply concerned about voter fraud because their voters believe the 2020 election was stolen from them, we are told, and Republicans merely want to restore their confidence in future elections.

This claim is absolutely central to the massive new wave of GOP voter suppression efforts — and utterly, insultingly preposterous to its core. Yet because we hear it constantly, it regularly skates past without even being remarked upon.

But it’s nonsense, and it should be called out as such every single time.

The Republican assault on voting rights is getting even more absurd in Missouri, where state lawmakers are trying to pretend that a ballot measure approved in 2020 with 53% of the vote didn’t win by enough votes for them to proceed with funding the measure.

Elsewhere, Vox.com wonders if Republicans understand that they are cutting off their own nose to spite Democrats.

 

The Denver Post has more on efforts led by Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) to convince President Biden to sign an executive order banning the importation of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Neguse’s efforts are spurred by Monday’s shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder.

Meanwhile, 9News reports that the suspected Boulder shooter did pass a background check when he purchased the weapon allegedly used to kill 10 people. The gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action held a vigil for victims on Thursday.

 

► As The New York Times reports, some far-right extremists who promoted the false “stop the steal” Presidential election narrative have found a new battle:

Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”

If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government.

Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 25)

Today is National Lobster Newburg Day; please eat your lobster responsibly. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The alleged shooter in the Boulder King Soopers massacre on Monday made his first court appearance today. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa is being held without bail as he awaits the opportunity to enter a plea on 10 first-degree murder charges. Alissa’s defense attorney asked a judge for more time to conduct a thorough mental health evaluation of her client.

In related news, President Biden called Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver on Wednesday to express his condolences for Monday’s shootings at a local King Soopers.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the weapon used in Monday’s shooting is essentially an assault rifle packaged as a handgun.

 

► Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) is leading an effort to convince President Biden to sign an executive order banning the importation of assault weapons. From The Washington Post:

More than 60 House Democrats are pressing Biden to take “life-saving action” and sign an executive order that would ban the importation of assault weapons after back-to-back mass shootings killed 18 people in the United States.

Days after Biden expressed support for “common sense steps” that could curb gun violence, the Democrats sent a letter Thursday morning urging him to keep his campaign promise and ban foreign firearms, including semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines…

…“This week, my community in Boulder witnessed a horrific and senseless mass shooting in which 10 individuals tragically lost their lives,” Neguse said in a statement. “Our hearts are breaking from this tragedy, and we know this grief is not ours alone, but carried by a nation that has witnessed the horrific pain of gun violence far too many times. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

 

► As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun, state lawmakers may look to add Colorado to the list of states (currently at seven) that have banned assault rifles:

Already lawmakers at the state Capitol are having preliminary conversations about if and how to move forward with such a bill. It’s unclear if there’s enough political will and time left in the 2021 lawmaking term to get the complicated policy done…

…Democratic state Reps. Judy Amabile and Edie Hooton, who also represent Boulder in the Colorado legislature, also support a state assault-weapons ban like Fenberg does.

“We want to be very thoughtful,” Hooton said. “We want to make sure what we introduce we can pass, we can enact. There are some clouds breaking.”

Lawmakers acknowledge that a Congressional assault weapons ban would be more effective than a state version, but they’re waiting for Congress to take action. Colorado Public Radio has more on the state proposal.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers are considering legislation to create a fee on certain types of insurance coverage in order to create a fund that could be tapped in the event of a natural disaster.

Colorado Public Radio examines the different discussions taking place around efforts to fund a transportation infrastructure overhaul.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports on legislation intended to protect animals that are a part of traveling shows.

 

►  Colorado may have made its final revisions (fingers-crossed) to the color-coded COVID-19 dial.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 24)

With any luck, you will not be traded to Cleveland today. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► President Biden called on Congress to re-enact an Assault Weapons Ban after mass shootings in Georgia and Boulder, Colorado. But as The Associated Press reports, Republicans are already digging in:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday morning to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.

“This Senate will be different,” said Schumer, D-N.Y., a day after a shooting at a crowded Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killed 10 people, including a police officer. “The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”…

…Many in the GOP base are still strongly opposed to gun control of any kind. In Tuesday’s hearing, which was scheduled before the Colorado shooting, Republicans showed no signs of wavering. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that every time there is a shooting, the Senate engages in “ridiculous theater,” with Democrats proposing laws that he said could take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Republicans have argued that background checks would not stop most mass shootings and would prevent some lawful gun owners from purchasing firearms.

“We already know this pattern is predictable, over and over and over again,” Cruz said.

That might not be the argument you think it is, Sen. Cruz. It’s also worth noting that some right-wing media outlets are voicing agreement on banning “weapons of war.”

Elsewhere, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) has been making appearances on a lot of national television shows, including CBS This Morning. “It does not have to be this way,” said Neguse.

Governor Jared Polis has ordered flags in Colorado to be flown at half-staff for 10 days to honor the victims of the Boulder shooting.

 

► While it may seem that 2020 had fewer gun deaths owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, 2020 was actually a record year for gun violence. Westword looks at how the National Rifle Association (NRA) helped pave the way for mass shootings.

 

► State lawmakers are discussing potential gun safety measures in response to Monday’s shooting in Boulder. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

The state senator who represents the district where the tragedy occurred said he’s drafting a bill to restore cities’ ability to enact gun restrictions above and beyond the state’s laws.

The shooting came just days after a district court judge in Boulder ruled that the city does not have the legal authority to enforce its 2018 citywide ban on assault-style weapons and magazines with a capacity to accept 10 or more rounds. The judge cited a 2003 state law that preempts local gun restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, of Boulder, said that lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Statehouse had lightly discussed repealing that 2003 law over the past week, but the talks accelerated among legislative leaders “only in the last 18 hours.”

Colorado Public Radio has more on the push from legislators to move quickly on gun safety discussions.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers are trying to figure out if they can legally do more to increase property tax revenues for public education.

Governor Jared Polis and state lawmakers will soon embark on a “Build Back Stronger” tour.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that seeks to give victims of sexual abuse more time to consider legal action against perpetrators.

Senate President Leroy Garcia’s bill to create a veteran suicide prevention pilot program made it through a committee hearing.

 

► Don’t miss this bonus episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) in which he refers to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “schlub”:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Senator Hickenlooper Gets More Smarter

Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver)

Check out a new BONUS episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver).

Hickenlooper joins hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii to discuss what it has been like to serve in the U.S. Senate after decades of public service in Colorado. Hickenlooper also talks about the COVID-19 stimulus bill; the “For the People Act”; his thoughts on ending the filibuster; and whether or not Jason can come along on a tour of Area 51 (Hickenlooper is the Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee).

Senator Hickenlooper also makes a big announcement about his first town hall meeting, so take a listen!

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

*Note: Our interview with Senator Hickenlooper ended before news of the Monday shooting at a Boulder King Soopers, which is why the topic is not mentioned here.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 23)

We don’t know what to say anymore, either, but this is a good start. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The Denver Post reports, authorities have identified the names of 10 people killed during a shooting rampage at a King Soopers in Boulder on Monday. President Biden ordered flags at the White House to fly at half-staff in honor of the victims of Monday’s shootings. Biden plans to speak about the Boulder shooting this afternoon.

Police have also identified the suspect in Monday’s shooting as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. As Yahoo! News reports, Alissa apparently suffered from severe mental problems:

Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect’s 34-year-old brother, told The Daily Beast that authorities searched his house all night after the shooting.

Alissa described his brother as “very anti-social” and paranoid, adding that, in high school, he would describe “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”

“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.’ She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head,” Alissa said, admitting that he believes his brother is mentally ill.

 

► As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, the Metro area has dealt with a disproportionate number of mass shootings in recent years:

Colorado has a disproportionate share of survivors of gun violence and of people like (State Rep. Tom) Sullivan, whose loved ones were killed. A 2019 analysis by The Denver Post found Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas.

 

► State lawmakers are speaking out about Monday’ shooting in Boulder. Meghan Lopez of Denver7 is following along with a running Twitter thread:

 

► Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) sent out a fundraising email TWO HOURS AFTER the Boulder shootings asking for donations to her campaign as she fights against any form of gun control. On Tuesday morning, Boebert issued a statement saying that she “refuses” to use the Boulder shootings as a springboard for advancing political issues.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis are planning a statewide listening tour to discuss how Colorado can best spend billions of dollars in federal relief money from the American Recovery Plan.

Colorado Republicans seem to be having some sort of competition about who can introduce the worst legislation.

A media literacy bill passed out of the State House on Monday and now heads to the State Senate.

Legislation intended to create more accountability on the use of ketamine by first responders is moving along at the State Capitol.

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require ski resorts to be more transparent about injuries suffered on the slopes.

A proposal to privatize Pinnacol Assurance is kaput.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 22)

RIP to your March Madness bracket. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) takes center stage in a Washington Post story detailing a significant anti-child poverty program included in the American Rescue Plan:

Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) tapped out the longest text messages he’d ever written one night in January, urging Susan Rice, a top Biden aide and a friend, to include a full-scale anti-child poverty measure in the coronavirus rescue plan to be unveiled within days…

…An unlikely coalition of Democrats across the ideological spectrum mounted an 11th-hour push in the final weekend before the American Rescue Plan for President Biden to go big on tackling child poverty. They prevailed over what one person involved in the process called the “cost police” in Biden’s inner circle, those anxiously warning about the ballooning cost of the stimulus package.

This under-the-radar success created what could be the most consequential piece of the $1.9 trillion package — one that, if made permanent, could approach the impact of the programs established under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty…

…The program’s impact probably will be profound. It expands the federal child-rearing subsidy by 50 percent — and parents of toddlers will get even more. A family with two young children and no income will now get $600 a month. The parents of 90 percent of the country’s children will benefit, and 27 million children will be lifted from poverty, according to analysts.

 

► Governor Jared Polis plans to lift the statewide mask mandate on April 4. From The Denver Post:

Colorado will further relax the COVID-19 restrictions managed through the state’s color-coded dial next week, with plans to ease the statewide mask order in two weeks, then turn over control of most public health orders to local governments in mid-April.

The proposed changes to the dial include reopening bars in most parts of the state for the first time since last summer and lifting all statewide limits on the size of personal gatherings.

While this is all good news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, COVID-19 infections are trending in the wrong direction nationally:

New coronavirus infections are rising in several U.S. states, despite record vaccinations — an increase experts attribute to the growing reach of new variants and widespread pandemic fatigue after a year of public health restrictions. The seven-day average of newly reported cases climbed 2.6 percent on Sunday, even as overall hospitalizations and deaths remain down.

In Florida, a state where coronavirus measures are lax, authorities in Miami Beach declared a state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew this weekend as large crowds of rowdy spring break revelers turned violent and disruptive.

 

► Now, let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Alex Burness of The Denver Post reports on what lawmakers are considering for new law enforcement reforms. The legislature is also looking at changing sentencing guidelines in Colorado so that people who did not commit murder can’t end up serving life in prison for something they didn’t do.

Denver7 breaks down the proposals laid out for efforts to fix Colorado’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.

Colorado Newsline reports on an affordable housing measure that has been years in the making.

Colorado Public Radio elaborates on how and why Colorado’s budget looks better than expected.

Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that directs more resources toward state parks and wildlife preservation efforts. Polis also approved legislation directing $30 million in grants to help improve “main streets” in Colorado.

The Associated Press considers whether Colorado may be able to do more on waiting periods for gun purchases. Westword has more on the good and bad news about ongoing efforts to promote gun safety.

Marshall Zelinger of 9News looks at the behind-the-scenes work done at the State Capitol in a story that includes the lede of the week: “Conjunction junction is their function.”

 

John Aguilar of The Denver Post looks at how local governments plan on using their share of billions of stimulus dollars on the way as a result of the American Rescue Plan:

Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said the city will likely put the $22.6 million allocated to Lakewood toward a budget that lost $18 million last year.

“This is triage,” Paul said. “There is no pork in this for us. I see it as backfill to what we lost.”

Since the city eliminated the sales tax on groceries more than a decade ago, Paul said Lakewood didn’t have the revenue cushion others had when people flooded grocery stores to stock pantries. He said 70 positions remain vacant on Lakewood’s payroll, a result of pandemic-pinched spending by the city.

“We have to use (the Rescue Act money) for the right here, right now,” Paul said.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel considers a similar story from a Western slope perspective.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 19)

Good news, hoop heads: The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is back after a one year COVID-19 absence. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The public option bill is in the House (and, also, the Senate). From Colorado Newsline:

A group of Colorado Democrats officially introduced legislation that would potentially create the Colorado Option: a lower-cost, nonprofit-managed health insurance plan sold on the individual and small group markets that all providers would be required to accept.

Under the legislation, the Colorado Option would only become available — starting in 2025 — if private insurance carriers failed to reduce premiums by 20% over two years for standard individual and small group plans sold on the state’s exchange.

The public option would be carried by a quasi-governmental nonprofit entity called the Colorado Option Authority, set up by the state and managed by a board of directors. Individual and small group plans carried by the authority would have to achieve a 20% cut in premiums as compared with 2021 rates, and all health care providers in the state would be required to accept the plans.

The health care industry is all fired up in opposition to this, which should tell you everything you need to know about which side to be on.

 

► House Minority Leader Hugh McKean (R-Loveland) is about four months into his job. It’s not going well. McKean appears to be in over his head at the State Capitol.

Now, let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun, and Colorado Public Radio have more on the unveiling of a public option plan.

Jon Murray of The Denver Post looks at how lawmakers plan to fix Colorado’s transportation infrastructure problems. Colorado Public Radio also reports on the transportation discussions.

Colorado Newsline looks at the progress of legislation that would improve wages and working conditions for farm workers.

A proposal to put a fence around parts of the State Capitol continues to draw opposition from former Colorado leaders.

 

► Now that Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commissions have been selected, it’s time to get to work on those new maps…maybe. As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter:

This week, Gov. Jared Polis, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Colorado General Assembly, and the co-chairs of the campaign for Amendments Y and Z urged the congressional commission to push ahead using population estimates from 2019. There are, however, questions about the legality of doing so.

Jeremiah Barry, a legislative attorney and legal counsel for the congressional redistricting commission, said he isn’t opposed to using the estimated data to get the commission’s work started, but he thinks the Colorado Supreme Court should be asked first if that’s OK.

State lawmakers are now planning to do just that, said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat. Initially, legislative leaders were going to ask the Colorado Supreme Court to push back September and December map-drawing deadlines placed in the Colorado Constitution when voters passed Amendments Y and Z in 2018. That’s no longer in the cards.

The redistricting commissions should be able to start working on maps based on 2018 Census data, at the very least.

 

 Colorado is doing a great job of vaccinating adults over the age of 65. We aren’t doing quite so well with everyone else. The last subgroup to become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine is activated today; the next step is to open up eligibility for all Coloradans.

President Biden, meanwhile, says the U.S. should hit his goal of 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days by today — 40 days ahead of schedule.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 18)

Happy Oil Expropriation Day! Please celebrate responsibly. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As CNN reports, the United States could be facing a new surge of COVID-19 infections:

Health officials have repeatedly warned about a potential fourth surge as state leaders eased restrictions and several lifted mask mandates. The first warning sign came when case numbers, after weeks of steep declines, appeared to level off — with the country still averaging tens of thousands of new cases daily. That kind of plateau previously predicted surges, some experts have said.

Cases of the worrying variants — notably the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant — have also climbed and are set to become the dominant strain by the end of March or early April…

…Now, as the country inches closer to 30 million reported infections, cases are rising by more than 10% in 14 states this week compared to last week, according to Johns Hopkins University data — with half of those states seeing a rise of more than 20%.

Wear your masks and get your shots, people!

 

► All three Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation — Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lambornvoted AGAINST reauthorization of the “Violence Against Women Act.” Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs has some nutty thoughts on his opposition to the bill.

 

POLITICO magazine tackles a question that we have been openly pondering in this space for weeks:

Via POLITICO magazine (3/18/21)

 

Democrats are relentlessly hyping President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, while Republicans are trying to change the subject to Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head and the Mexican border. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, arguably the shrewdest Republican strategist in Washington, has started floating a half-hearted anti-stimulus message that the coming recovery would have happened anyway…

…It may be an overstated political cliché that if you’re explaining, you’re losing. But you’re almost certainly losing if you’re explaining, ahead of time, why the economic boom you’re expecting on your opponent’s watch shouldn’t be attributed to your opponent. One lesson of the volatility of the past dozen years is that fairly or not, the president’s party tends to get the credit or blame for the economy—or at least for the way people perceive the economy. Biden is visiting swing states this week to sell American Rescue Plan’s focus on giving Americans vaccines and money, but with economists across the ideological spectrum forecasting explosive growth, many veterans of the 2009 stimulus wars believe the economy will be all the sales pitch the bill needs.

Elsewhere, Vox.com examines efforts by Republican Attorneys General to sue the federal government for giving money to local and state governments.

 

► Let’s get you caught up on the Colorado legislature…

Lawmakers are working on a couple of bills intended to help protect immigrants from being arrested over civil immigration violations.

The Associated Press reports on the status of legislation that would grant a minimum wage and overtime rights to thousands of farm workers in Colorado. 9News also reports on Senate Bill 87.

As the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, it is now up to the U.S. Department of Education to determine how many restrictions can be granted this year on standardized tests in Colorado.

CBS4 Denver reports on efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in Colorado.

Colorado Newsline reports on legislative efforts to balance the scales between landlords and tenants. The Colorado Sun has more on a proposal to make it easier for municipalities to require the construction of more affordable housing.

9News reports on an idiotic piece of legislation sponsored by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean that carried a $2.7 BILLION price tag.

Efforts to build a fence around parts of the State Capitol have not been well-received.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 17)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s too cold and virus-y to get black out drunk. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Republican Attorneys General are threatening to sue the federal government for providing stimulus funds to state and local governments. As The Washington Post explains:

Twenty-one Republican state attorneys general on Tuesday threatened to take action against the Biden administration over its new $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus law, decrying it for imposing “unprecedented and unconstitutional” limits on their states’ ability to lower taxes.

The letter marks one of the first major political and legal salvos against the relief package since President Biden signed it last week — evincing the sustained Republican opposition that the White House faces as it implements the signature element of the president’s economic policy agenda.

The attorneys general take issue with a $350 billion pot of money set aside under the stimulus, known as the American Rescue Plan, to help cash-strapped cities, counties and states pay for the costs of the pandemic. Congressional lawmakers opted to restrict states from tapping these federal dollars to finance local tax cuts.

How dare the federal government make it harder for states to take things away from people! Republicans will do everything in their power to stop you from getting help…and that’s a really weird political strategy.

Republicans would do well to take the advice of former GOP Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. As POLITICO reports, some Republicans are finally seeing how much they screwed up here by focusing their attention on Dr. Seuss and genderless Potato Head toys:

…in conservative circles, a feeling of missed opportunity has taken root in the wake of the passage of the Covid-relief bill last week. Republicans were never expected to support the measure and unanimously opposed it when the time came for a vote. But in interviews with top GOP operatives, Trump confidantes, and congressional aides, there was a common refrain that the party could have done more to frame it for the public. Instead, periodic claims that the bill was bloated with progressive add-ons and bailout money for blue states were overshadowed by a more relentless focus on the culture wars du jour…

…None of the attack lines seemed to resonate with voters, who began receiving stimulus checks as early as last weekend and appear overwhelmingly supportive of the law. A CBS-YouGov survey released on Sunday showed 71 percent of adults believe the American Rescue Plan will benefit the middle class more than wealthy Americans. The bill’s passage coincides with an uptick in vaccinations and recognition from Democrats and allied teachers unions that schools need to reopen soon — which together have the potential for improving the electoral landscape for Democrats as they try to keep both chambers of the Congress.

 

As CNN reports, there is an obvious similarity with Russian election interference efforts and Republican proposals to roll back voting rights:

A new US intelligence report that finds Russia interfered in the 2020 election to help Donald Trump and hurt Joe Biden also underscores a fundamental truth: The gravest threat to US democracy comes from within.

The report, released by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, finds that Moscow sought to inject misleading information about Biden into the campaign through officials and others close to Trump.

The real bombshell it contains is not the confidence of the spy agencies that Russia hoped to subvert American democracy. It is that US intelligence experts effectively confirmed that for the second election in a row, Trump acolytes repeatedly used, knowingly or otherwise, misinformation produced by the spies of one of America’s most sworn foreign adversaries to try to win a US election. [Pols emphasis]

Some Republicans will no doubt decry any comparisons to Russian election meddling, but they’re clearly on the same side of this fight.

 

► Keep wearing those masks, people! COVID-related hospitalizations are rising in Colorado, as The Denver Post reports. Meanwhile, more mass vaccination sites are opening around the state.

 

► Let’s get you caught up on the Colorado legislature…

Governor Jared Polis signed a bill that suspends standardized testing for certain grades in Colorado on account of COVID-19. Another bill to restructure CMAS assessments is winding its way through the legislature.

A bill that seeks to slow the increase of prescription drug prices is expected to be opposed by the pharmaceutical industry…which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

The Colorado Springs Independent summarizes some new and pending laws in Colorado.

Democrats are working on legislation to enhance protections for agricultural workers.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 15)

You survived #Snowpocalypse2021! here’s a look at snowfall totals around the Denver Metro area. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

If you live in the Denver Metro area, or anywhere else that was impacted by heavy snowfall, please do not try to drive today. From The Denver Post:

Road and traffic officials are asking people not to drive in the Denver area on Monday if possible.

“Today is the day to stay home,” AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said. “I can tell you that for everyone who runs a fleet in Colorado … today is the day we’re worried about…

…The outlook for the roads is, in some ways, worse than it was during this weekend’s blizzard, which dropped 27.1 inches of snow at Denver International Airport to make it the city’s second largest snowstorm in 75 years and the largest since 2003.

Traveling by air is not much of an option today, either; all flights in and out of Denver International Airport were grounded until at least Monday afternoon.

 

► The Colorado legislature is not in session today on account of the snow, but there’s still legislative news to discuss…

Colorado Newsline previews the coming battle over a Public Option health care proposal:

Under the draft bill, the state would first ask private insurance carriers to reduce their premium rates on all three levels of a standardized individual plan by 20% in every zip code in the state.

If, by 2025, insurance carriers hadn’t met those reduction targets — or if fewer than two standard plans were offered on the individual market in any zip code — then the Colorado Option would kick in…

…The proposal’s health-care-industry critics say insurance carriers wouldn’t be able to reduce premiums by 20% from 2021 levels, so if the bill passed, the public option would be inevitable. Though the bill hasn’t been introduced, opponents have already poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into fighting it at the Capitol.

Elsewhere…

The Colorado Sun explains legislation — which could get the Governor’s signature this week — that will change how Colorado handles standardized tests this year.

Pro tip: Before you agree to sponsor legislation, it’s a good idea to take some time to understand your own bill.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that goes after institutions that cover up child sexual abuse.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel previews the week ahead at the State Capitol.

 

As The New York Times reports, nationwide Republican efforts to make it harder to vote in 2022 are spurring a new voting rights movement:

State and national voting-rights advocates are waging the most consequential political struggle over access to the ballot since the civil rights era, a fight increasingly focused on a far-reaching federal overhaul of election rules in a last-ditch bid to offset a wave of voting restrictions sweeping Republican-controlled state legislatures.

The federal voting bill, which passed in the House this month with only Democratic support, includes a landmark national expansion of voting rights, an end to partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts and new transparency requirements on the flood of dark money financing elections that would override the rash of new state laws.

The energy in support for it radiates from well-financed veteran organizers to unpaid volunteers, many who were called to political activism after former President Donald J. Trump’s upset win in 2016. It is engaging Democrats in Washington and voting rights activists in crucial states from Georgia to Iowa to West Virginia to Arizona — some facing rollbacks in access to the ballot, some with senators who will play pivotal roles and some with both.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 11)

Almost all of the weatherpeople say snowpocalypse is coming on Friday, which probably means it’s going to rain a little. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The Washington Post digs deep into Republican efforts to roll back voting access across the country:

The GOP’s national push to enact hundreds of new election restrictions could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, when Southern states curtailed the voting rights of formerly enslaved Black men, a Washington Post analysis has found.

In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then.

Proponents say the provisions are necessary to shore up public confidence in the integrity of elections after the 2020 presidential contest, when then-President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud convinced millions of his supporters that the results were rigged against him.

But in most cases, Republicans are proposing solutions in states where elections ran smoothly, including in many with results that Trump and his allies did not contest or allege to be tainted by fraud. The measures are likely to disproportionately affect those in cities and Black voters in particular, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic — laying bare, critics say, the GOP’s true intent: gaining electoral advantage.

The 2022 Republican Party: If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em.

 

► The House of Representatives on Wednesday gave final approval to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. As The New York Times explains, the measure is expected to be a big boost for the American middle class:

The economic relief plan that is headed to President Biden’s desk has been billed as the United States’ most ambitious antipoverty initiative in a generation. But inside the $1.9 trillion package, there are plenty of perks for the middle class, too.

Whether they are direct stimulus payments, an array of tax benefits or an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, the bill will bring a big economic lift to middle-income families.

Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) was the lone voice on the American Rescue Plan for Colorado Republicans, offering up a confounding opposition speech on the House floor. This came only after Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) joined with Republican colleagues in a silly attempt to adjourn at 10:07 in the morning.

Not a single Republican voted in support of the ARP. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, this is really not good politics for the GOP:

Republicans are in a political bind. They stand uniformly opposed to a bill that the American people really like. And they clearly have no real reason for their stance other than the unstated one: They weren’t consulted enough and didn’t want to give Biden a big win in his first 50 days in office.

That’s not a politically defensible position. But its the position Republicans find themselves in at the moment.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Denver next week to promote the ARP.

 

► Let’s check in on the state legislature, where Republican lawmakers seem more interested in playing games over masks than anything else…

Colorado Newsline reports on a massive state stimulus package announced on Wednesday:

The $700 million COVID-19 recovery plan includes several elements of a stimulus proposal Polis released in the fall — housing assistance; shovel-ready infrastructure projects; workforce and economic development; rural broadband investments; and additional relief for small businesses.

Over the past year, Colorado’s economy fared better than legislators on the Joint Budget Committee expected last June when they cut $3 billion in state spending. So legislators from both parties and the governor’s office want to use some of the extra general fund money to help the state recover from the pandemic-driven economic downturn.

As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, the current legislative session could see the biggest changes to marijuana laws in Colorado since weed was first legalized in 2014.

The State Senate passed a bill regarding the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

Legislation to remove a prohibition preventing municipalities from creating their own affordable housing regulations is moving forward.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports on a measure to fund out-of-school education initiatives.

 

Nearly five years after being snubbed by Senate Republicans as Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland was finally confirmed by the U.S. Senate…as Attorney General

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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