Let’s Talk About the Colorado Option Bill

Democrats are done waiting in Colorado

The much-anticipated “public option” health care reform bill is finally being discussed today in the House Health and Insurance Committee after negotiations between lawmakers and the health care industry failed to create a compromise agreement. This was probably inevitable given that hospitals and health insurance companies were spending a million dollars on television ads against this proposal BEFORE IT WAS EVEN WRITTEN.

For years, the private health care industry has been wagging its finger at lawmakers saying that the government shouldn’t regulate their ability to make ridiculous amounts of money (Colorado hospitals are literally the most profitable in the nation) and that they can cut costs by themselves. This bill responds to those arguments by saying, “Okay, show us.”

The goal of HB21-1232 is to reduce health care costs for Coloradans and small businesses by requiring the health care industry to make plans available in each county — by 2024 — that would reduce the cost of health care premiums by 20%. If the industry can’t meet this goal, then the state will move forward with creating its own “public option” plan for Colorado consumers by 2025.

Republicans are carrying water for the health care industry by making the absurd argument that this attempt to lower costs for Coloradans is only going to make things worse. Of course, Republicans don’t actually have any ideas of their own for what we could do instead. They just don’t want to do this.

Much like Congressional Republicans who universally opposed a COVID-19 stimulus package that was the most popular piece of legislation in modern American history, Colorado Republicans appear committed to the same sort of political seppuku on the public option. House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said on KHOW radio this week that “this…as I’ve told my Republican colleagues in the House, is the hill we die on.”

Uh, okay. As a December poll from Healthier Colorado found:

A two-thirds majority, (66%), of voters support this healthcare cost reduction initiative, while only 26% oppose it, and 8% of voters are undecided.

In that same poll, 1-in-5 Coloradans said that the current cost of healthcare is “very unaffordable for them and their family.” Nobody could argue with a straight face that the cost of health care is not a problem; every year prices go up and benefits go down for Coloradans. Health care costs have been outpacing wage growth for years.

Unless you have access to giant pills full of cash, you are probably not happy with the cost of health care in Colorado.

In recognition of the fact that opposing this bill is not politically wise, Republicans and the health care industry continue to trot out bogus scare tactics that have consistently been proven wrong. For example, one of their favorite arguments is that the public option bill would shift costs onto other markets, thus raising health care costs in a different manner. But this practice is explicitly prohibited in the language of the bill. Opponents also argue that passage will make it harder for minorities and low income Coloradans to afford health insurance; again, this is directly addressed (and prohibited) in the language of the bill.

Opponents say the public option bill will give “politicians” control over your health care. It will not.

Opponents say passage would force rural hospitals to close for some nebulous reason. But if more rural Coloradans have access to health insurance, then rural hospitals will be compensated for care more regularly, which gives them…MORE money, not less. Obamacare proved this argument false; any reduction in prices is more than offset by the sheer number of new customers who can suddenly afford health care.

As opponents run out of viable talking points, you’ll hear them shift toward a message that Democrats are attacking the health care industry and its workers at a time when it is most vulnerable (because of the COVID-19 pandemic). This is gross, and it’s also dumb. Global pandemics are a pretty good example of how important it is for more people to have access to health care.

Coloradans of all stripes want this bill to become law, while the health care industry and Colorado hospitals do not. In the end, this might be the simplest argument of them all.

Buck Says Critical Reporting on The Epoch Times Is ‘Similar’ to China’s Cultural Revolution

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“The Left is attempting to cancel an important voice for liberty — The Epoch Times newspaper,” wrote Colorado Congressman Ken Buck in a fundraising email today, spotlighting Buck’s claim that The Epoch Times had its U.S. House Gallery press credentials revoked.

Investigations by NBC, the New York Times and the Atlantic paint a picture of the newspaper as a hotbed of partisanship and pro-Trump misinformation, including promotion of QAnon and election fraud conspiracies.

In an interview posted on his Shootin’ Straight podcast yesterday, Buck asked Dr. Dana Cheng, one of the founders of The Epoch Times, if she thought there are “forces in the United States that are trying to limit” her newspaper’s “access to information or “de-legitimize The Epoch Times” as a press outlet.

Dr. Dana Cheng, Senior Editor of The Epoch Times

“Yes,” Cheng replied, “They are left media, like the New York Times, and the Atlantic, and NBC. They put a lot of effort to write hit piece to discredit us. And it is such a surprise. We thought that this is a free country and people respect each other’s speech. And people respect each other’s right to do media and respect different voices. But obviously, they are trying to suppress our voice. It’s agenda-driven.”

“My friends saying, ‘We thought that China is going to become America. But instead, America is going to becoming China,'” continued Cheng, whose Falon-Gong movement newspaper is on an anti-communist crusade. China has persecuted Falon Gong members.

Last year’s Times’ investigation described how The Epoch Times evolved to become a “partisan powerhouse” that’s “created a global-scale misinformation machine that has repeatedly pushed fringe narratives into the mainstream.”

Cheng complained to Buck about recent “hit pieces” with “a lot of lies” that have been directed at The Epoch Times.

“And they don’t care to check with us or they don’t care to find out whether it’s true or not,” she told Buck “It is clearly agenda-driven. And this is such a surprise. For us, we fled communists. And we thought, ‘This is a free country and we can enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of press. And we can provide a voice, that people can choose.”

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What Boebert’s “Spirit Realm” Talk Is Really About


 
This is a clip from an interview of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert on televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s Victory Channel with Pastor Gene Bailey, in which Boebert goes on a revealing tangent:

BAILEY: What do you want to tell the American Christians our there that are watching, what do they need to do?

BOEBERT: Well I would want to encourage everybody to say, “Don’t be distracted by what you are seeing in the natural.” There is certainly things that are going on in the unseen, that God is doing. God is working. He is always moving, and so just not to give up hope. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the acceptance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

So don’t get distracted by everything that you see on the outside. I believe that we are taking ground in the spirit realm. [Pols emphasis] And we will see that come to light. It has to take place there before we actually see it here in the natural…

If you’re not familiar with the well-documented intersection between evangelical Christianity and the “QAnon” conspiracy theory that Lauren Boebert professed to be “very familiar” with and she “hope[s] that this is real,” it may not be readily apparent that Boebert is describing a major component of the QAnon adherent worldview. A National Public Radio interview with Katelyn Beaty of Religion News Service last August explored this connection:

SHAPIRO: Your piece is called “QAnon: The Alternative Religion That’s Coming To Your Church.” Do the people you interviewed really see it as a belief system comparable to organized religion?

BEATY: They do. They are picking up on the overt spiritual language that Q, whoever that is, is using in his messages on the Internet, and they see that as connecting directly to the Bible, to the God of Christianity and to God’s hand at work in the world. So they see the QAnon messages as revealing truth in the world and that they are supposed to take up a spiritual battle to reveal truth.

For adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, Boebert’s religious talk isn’t code–it’s the language they also use in describing their movement. Just as QAnon believers appropriated the very real child sex trafficking issue to promote their belief in a global pedophile oligarchy of movie stars and politicians, they’ve also co-opted the rubric of Christianity. And make no mistake, plenty of religious leaders are upset about what’s happened:

[PASTOR] JEB BARR: As a Christian, as a church, we’re going to be spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because that’s the most important message in the world. So if the people spreading that message are also spreading easily debunked, crazy lies, why would the message be believed, right? Why would we listen to my friend Joe, who says he’s a Christian and who’s telling me about Jesus, if he also thinks that Communists are taking over America and operating a pedophile ring out of some pizza restaurant? [Pols emphasis]

For Lauren Boebert, this conspiracy theory cloaked in religiosity is nothing more than a return to her roots–the extreme politics she eagerly embraced in the Republican primary before being forced to temporarily distance herself from under general election scrutiny. Not least in defense of people of faith who reject unhinged conspiracy theories labeled by the FBI is a terror threat, which we continue to believe is most people of faith, it’s important to understand the difference.

What Boebert is talking about is not that old-time religion.

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

In Shift, CO Republican Leader Implies That Abortion Is an Election-Losing Issue for the Party

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown.

In a shift in tone following her election as chair of the Colorado Republican Party last month, Kristi Burton Brown, who built her political career on anti-abortion activism, signaled that opposition to abortion can no longer be part of Republicans’ strategy in Colorado if they want to win elections.

Brown’s remarks came during an interview last week with KHOW radio host Ross Kaminsky, who asked how Brown reconciles her social conservatism in a state that continues to shift to the left:

“When you talk about the pro-life issue, I’ll never apologize for wanting to protect and defend every child. That is absolutely what I believe; it’s in our platform as Republicans. However, we have to talk about the issues that are going to win us majorities. Any issue I care about, any issue any Republican across the board cares about, whether it’s the same or whether it’s 80 percent the same as each other and 20 percent a little different, if we do not win seats and majorities and actually get candidates elected, nothing we care about matters. So we have to win, we have to get back seats. Especially as chairman of the state party, that is my goal, not to push one particular issue but to actually win.” (Emphasis added.)

It’s a notable statement from Brown, whose unrelenting anti-abortion advocacy has been a hallmark of her political career, including during her tenure as vice-chair of the Colorado GOP.

Brown first gained notoriety in the Colorado political world by sponsoring Colorado’s first fetal personhood amendment in 2008 when she was just 20 years old, which would have made abortion illegal in Colorado by defining life as beginning at conception.

Brown later became a constitutional law attorney, doing pro-bono work for various anti-abortion causes and while continuing to back other personhood campaigns.

RELATEDLong-Time Anti-Abortion Activist Kristi Burton Brown Could Be Next CO GOP Leader.

Colorado voters across the political spectrum have shown a clear lack of support for anti-abortion policies, as evidenced by their rejection of four abortion bans at the ballot box over the past dozen years.

Most recently, voters rejected Proposition 115, which would have banned abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy. A county-level analysis of vote totals shows that even Trump voters played a role in the measure’s defeat.

Brown did not return an email seeking to know if the defeat of Prop. 115, for which she was a vocal advocate as vice-chair of the Colorado GOP, leads her to believe that Republicans can’t win seats while supporting anti-abortion policies.

Despite Brown’s apparent attempt to put distance between the Colorado GOP and political fights over abortion rights, many Colorado Republicans have been digging in their heels.

For example, Republican state lawmakers recently pushed two pieces of anti-abortion legislation, one bill that would have banned abortion under essentially any circumstances and another that would have created a public registry with sensitive and detailed information about patients who had abortions.

And then there’s Colorado Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who has been increasingly vocal in her opposition to abortion, including introducing a bill within her first week in office to defund Planned Parenthood.

Brown praised Boebert as a shining example of the types of candidates the party should run moving forward.

“Perfect representation of her district, built her life there, has a story there, the people in her district identify with her and her life,” Brown told Kaminsky referring to Boebert, who’d endorsed Brown in her race to become Colorado’s Republican Party chair. “And she got out there, did old-fashioned campaigning, and some pretty awesome modern twists to how she ran her campaign, and you see her walk away with a big win.”

Brown beat out former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who was seen as representative of the Republican establishment, in the battle for control of the party.

Friday Open Thread

“I believe the Republicans have never thought that democracy was anything but a tribal myth.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

Lauren Boebert Needs MTG To Hold Her Beer

Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

CNN reports on a legitimately yuge first full quarter of incumbent fundraising for none other than Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who came in like a wrecking ball to Congress along with fellow “Q-some Twosome” freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and has despite Boebert’s best efforts at making offensive headlines has consistently managed to position herself as the chief conductor of the post-Trump Republican crazy train:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene announced on Wednesday that her reelection campaign raised an astonishing $3.2 million in the Georgia Republican’s first three months in office, after reports detailed her embrace of conspiracy theories and support for executing prominent Democratic politicians.

“I am humbled, overjoyed, and so excited to announce what happened over the past few months as I have been the most attacked freshman member of Congress in history,” said Greene in a statement. “I stood my ground and never wavered in my belief in America First policies and putting People Over Politicians! And I will NEVER back down! As a matter of fact, I’m just getting started.”

The House voted in February to remove Greene from her committee assignments after reports of her comments surfaced showing her encouragement of political violence, suggestion that the Parkland, Florida, school shooting was a “false flag” operation and conspiratorial claim that a space laser controlled by Jewish financiers started a California wildfire in 2018.

But unlike MTG, Lauren Boebert, who draws her political strength from the same unhinged fringe-right backwaters of the Republican coalition, managed only a paltry $700,000 during the same first quarter of 2021–barely keeping pace with her incipient opponent Kerry Donovan, who raised nearly as much in far less time. What’s more, MTG represents a district so safely Republican (Cook PVI R+27 with today’s map) that it’s extremely unlikely she will face any threat other than a Republican primary–compared to Boebert’s as-yet unknown but almost certainly more competitive district, pending likely major changes to the state’s congressional map in the upcoming redistricting process.

What we’re trying to say, as nicely as we can, is that Boebert could find herself relegated to a lower tier of prominence by a fellow freshman member of Congress who appeals to the exact same audience and doesn’t need the help nearly as badly. There’s been surprising little press so far about the personal relationship between MTG and Boebert, which based on their common cause politically we would assume to be cordial. Does Boebert need more competent help, or less competition for the spotlight?

At least in the cash flow department, Boebert needs a little of MTG’s shine to rub off on her, and soon.

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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Biden Closes “AR Pistol” Loophole After Boulder

President Joe Biden.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter previewed a series of executive orders from President Joe Biden announced a short while ago this morning in response to recent mass shootings including the killing of ten people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder last month:

President Joe Biden’s administration will announce Thursday that it will further regulate a gun accessory allegedly used in the March 22 mass shooting in Boulder.

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.”

“As we know, the shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month used a pistol with an arm brace, which makes the firearm more stable and accurate,” added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In addition to this order to limit access to the specific configuration of AR-15 assault weapon used in the Boulder shooting, the Biden administration will also crack down on so-called “ghost guns,” guns fabricated at home using “finishing kits” and 3D printed parts to evade background checks. And in another nod to Colorado’s leadership on gun safety, the Department of Justice is being asked to draw up a “model” red-flag law to allow family members and law enforcement to temporarily take away guns from at-risk people like Colorado already has on the books.

In short, these are appropriate but limited actions that may nonetheless not satisfy the majority of the public in favor of stronger gun laws–but as NBC News reports they’re being characterized as just the beginning of a broader effort:

In a call with reporters Wednesday night, administration officials stressed that Thursday’s actions were just the first step and that Biden would still pursue legislative solutions to gun violence.

“This is an initial set of actions to make progress on President Biden’s gun violence reduction agenda,” one official said. “The administration will be pursuing legislative and executive actions at the same time. You will continue to hear the president call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence.”

As surely as we can predict another mass shooting tragedy, the debate over gun safety is far from over.

Thursday Open Thread

“I profoundly believe it takes a lot of practice to become a moral slob.”

–William F. Buckley, Jr.

Boebert Backfire? Soper Surprise? GOP Routed In Grand Junction

Rep. Matt Soper (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dan West reports, something unexpected happened in yesterday’s City Council elections in the conservative stronghold of Grand Junction:

Current Council Member Rick Taggart was re-elected, switching districts from At Large to District A. Dennis Simpson (District D), Abe Herman (District E) and Randall Rietz (At Large) also won their races.

Results are still unofficial in the race. Taggart was leading opponent Mark McCallister by more than 2,500 votes after the initial results were announced. Herman was ahead by nearly 3,000 votes over candidate Jody Green and Rietz led current City Council Member Kraig Andrews by more than 2,600 votes…

“I feel really good for the people that won tonight,” Taggart said. “Not so much for me, I’m thrilled for myself, but I’m really happy about council as a whole. I think it’s going to be a very good council and it’s going to help this city continue to move forward.”

As the Colorado Times Recorders confirms, these results amount to a sweeping defeat of Republican-endorsed candidates in one of the state’s most conservative incorporated cities:

Kristi Burton Brown, the newly elected chair of the Colorado GOP, who’s known in the state for being a huge proponent of anti-abortion and opponent of LGBTQ+ rights, encouraged voters to back all Republican candidates in the Grand Junction council election, among others, in a video from last Thursday.

Then, yesterday morning, she sent out an email endorsing four candidates, saying “The Republicans running for City Council are Mark McCallister (District A), Jody Green (District E), Greg Haitz (District D), and Kraig Andrews (At-Large).”

That’s a clean sweep, and Mesa County Republicans including state Rep. Matt Soper are losing their minds:

It’s simple–Dominion and Mesa County’s nutty Republican clerk stole the election for Democrats!

Unlike Rep. Soper we’re just kidding, but the results of yesterday’s municipal elections in Grand Junction are a very big deal whether Republicans accept them or not–and now we’re left to debate what it means for the future in this anchor city of a conservative stronghold Republicans in Colorado cannot afford to see eroded away. Did Lauren Boebert’s high-controversy low-productivity kickoff in Congress turn off Grand Junction’s swing voters? Was it a refusal to jettison Mark McCallister, whose racist social media feed was making fellow Republicans blush years before Boebert came on the scene?

Republicans west of the Divide are suddenly apprehensive. It looks like they should be.

Voter Suppression IS THE GOAL for Republicans

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is congratulated by Republicans after disenfranchising voters last month.

Losing the 2020 Presidential election has led many Republicans across the country to confront an uncomfortable truth: A majority of Americans just don’t like them.

For these Republicans, the solution to their electoral problem is not to find a better way to connect with voters or to adjust their policies or campaign strategies. Instead, their answer is to disenfranchise those pesky voters who refuse to support them. This is not hyperbole; Republicans have introduced more than 250 bills in at least 43 states that are blatant and obvious attempts to make it harder to vote. This devious strategy isn’t working in states like Colorado, but disenfranchisement has found smooth sailing in states such as Georgia.

Republicans have been defending these atrocities by hiding behind the suggestion that many Americans have lost confidence in our electoral process. Of course, the reason some Americans might say that they have lost confidence in elections is precisely BECAUSE Republicans keep telling them that they should no longer have confidence in our elections. This is The Big Lie that former President Trump initiated in his final months in office. Most of the GOP candidates for State Party Chair in Colorado campaigned primarily on this premise.

There was a time when Republicans used to dance around the topic of disenfranchisement with a “nudge nudge; wink wink” argument focused on trying to prevent the kind of widespread election fraud that already doesn’t happen. But in the months following the 2020 election, Republicans gradually stopped being quiet about the quiet part. In the last two weeks, two different columnists writing for the conservative National Review have directly posited that it would be preferable if America just stopped letting so many people vote altogether.

In a March 31 column laughably titled, “Not Everyone Should be Made to Vote,” Dan McLaughlin argues that it is wrong to encourage people to vote if they are not already interested in voting. You don’t need special glasses to read between the lines here.

This is a spade.

On Tuesday, Kevin D. Williamson took this theory a step further in a column titled, “Why Not Fewer Voters?” that is breathtaking in its horribleness:

There would be more voters if we made it easier to vote, and there would be more doctors if we didn’t require a license to practice medicine. The fact that we believe unqualified doctors to be a public menace but act as though unqualified voters were just stars in the splendid constellation of democracy indicates how little real esteem we actually have for the vote, in spite of our public pieties.

Right. We should have some sort of pre-voting exam before we hand someone a ballot. What could we call such a thing? Oh, let’s see…how about a “literacy test”?

The heart of Williamson’s position is more direct than what McLaughlin writes, but it’s the same argument: Only “good” voters should be allowed to vote because only “good” voters know what’s best for you.

If the question is the quality of policy outcomes, then both major camps have reasons to dread genuine majority rule. Conservatives ought to at the very least be mindful of the fact that if policy truly represented the preferences of the average American, then we would have fewer economic liberties and diminished Second Amendment rights; progressives should consider that if policy actually represented the preferences of the average American, then abortion rights would be limited and tax hikes would not fly, while we’d be spending more money on the Border Patrol and less on welfare as work requirements reduced the rolls.

What Williamson is saying here is really not that different from what many Republicans have been muttering since before Joe Biden was inaugurated as President: The only fair and just election is the one in which Republicans win. Period.

If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em!

If you have a problem with that…well, keep it to yourself. When big corporations such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines started speaking out against Georgia’s new voting restrictions, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded by threatening them to stay quiet. Or as Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan wrote on Twitter, “Get woke. Go broke.”

If certain Republicans are no longer going to pretend that they aren’t trying to suppress the vote in future elections, then the rest of us no longer need to pretend that we don’t see exactly what they are doing. It is at once horrifying and liberating to see all of the cards on the table.

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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Uncommon Courage: Another Big Gun Safety Bill Passes

Isabella Thallas.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on final passage this week of Senate Bill 21-078, the “Isabella Joy Thallas Act” requiring guns that are lost or stolen to be reported as such to police within 5 days of becoming aware they are missing:

The bill, if passed and signed into law by Gov. Polis, would require people who lose or have a firearm stolen to report said loss or theft to a law enforcement agency within five days of noticing it was missing.

Failure to do so would lead to a $25 fine for a civil infraction, while second or further violations would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable with fines of up to $500. A House-passed amendment says a family member or person who lives with the owner of the stolen or lost firearm may also report the loss to a law enforcement agency even if the owner does not.

Law enforcement agencies that receive such reports would have to enter any descriptions of the guns they receive – including manufacturer, serial number, model, caliber and more – into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Information Center database within five days.

FOX 31’s Deborah Takahara reports on how the bill received its name, for a young Denver woman who was shot to death with an AK-47 assault rifle stolen from a Denver police officer:

Isabella Thallas was killed on June 10, 2020, with a stolen weapon that was never reported. The “Isabella Joy Thallas Act” will require an owner to report a lost or stolen firearm within five days after discovering it is missing.

Isabella’s mother, Ana Thallas, said she was overcome with emotion when she learned a gun safety bill would be named after her daughter.

“Monumental, bittersweet. A lot of my frustration lies in the fact that my daughter’s life is gone and that’s the only time that change happens,” Ana said.

The details of the case that led to this law are extremely troubling. The suspect in the shooting of Isabella Thallas allegedly stole the murder weapon from his friend Denver Police officer Dan Politica, who did not notify his superiors about the stolen gun until he realized it “may have been used in this homicide.” The shooter was also charged with using a high-capacity magazine in a crime, but the owner of the weapon was a police officer exempt from the ban. The suspect fired over 20 rounds at Thallas and her boyfriend from his window in an argument literally over dog poop, and has pled not guilty by reason of insanity.

Stolen firearms are one of the principal means by which criminals obtain weapons they are unable to purchase through legal sellers. Requiring gun owners to report their weapons as lost or stolen should be a no-brainer even in the absence of a recent tragic lesson in such a law’s necessity–but was nonetheless met with blanket party-line opposition from Republicans, passing without a single GOP vote in either the Colorado House or Senate.

After the recent spate of mass shootings including the death of ten people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, debate over gun safety nationwide has retreated once again into the same circular arguments and sense of hopeless gridlock. Which is unfortunate, since some proposed solutions in the debate over high-powered semi-automatic weapons like the one used in the Boulder shooting and the killing of Isabella Thallas may need to come federally in order to be effective.

But in Colorado, our lawmakers are doing everything they can. Democrats in Colorado have sacrificed more than most politically to advance gun safety legislation for almost a decade now, persevering through some of the fiercest opposition in modern American politics on any issue. And in 2021, they’re still moving forward.

Seriously folks, give them credit for this. It requires courage not often found.

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