Tea Party Promises and Empty Talking Points May Doom Neville

Republican Scott Tipton got elected to Congress in 2010 in part by saying pretty much whatever the hell he wanted to say without any real eyebrow raising from GOP supporters. But since he hasn’t been able to come close to accomplishing, well, anything he promised, the right-wing and Tea Party factions of the GOP are pretty pissed off.

This is a lesson that new Republican state senator Tim Neville may want to remember. Neville upset state Rep. Jim Kerr last week for the right to replace Mike Kopp, who resigned from SD-22 to spend more time with his family. Neville seems destined to face a primary next summer, which could be as nasty as the 2006 battle that got Kopp elected over the appointed Kiki Traylor, and if he does, he’ll probably half some serious ‘splaining to do. Neville won the vacancy by promising unicorns and rainbows to the GOP faithful, as The Colorado Statesman notes:

He promised to “pass a Right to Work law in this state,” said it was time to “put an end to illegal immigration in this state” and vowed to stop “Gov. John Hickenlooper’s sanctuary city policy.” He also promised: “I will fight to protect our rights to keep and bear arms” and pledged to “oppose all tax increases, even those disguised as fees.”

Uh, yeah. Good luck with all that. Kerr was more judicious in his promises, in large part because he’s been in the legislature for nearly 8 years and has an idea of what you can actually accomplish; his reluctance to promise the moon may have cost him the vacancy appointment, but at least he wasn’t going to throw out empty platitudes. Come next summer, plenty of potential Republican candidates will be able to point to Neville’s nonsense with extravagant promises of their own…and this will all start back up again, and again, and again.

Because of the timing of Kopp’s exit, SD-22 will see consecutive elections in 2012 and 2014, which opens up what could be a long and vicious cycle of Tea Party talking points nonsense. Kopp, in fact, seemed resigned to at least a primary in 2012:

“I don’t want to prognosticate too early, however, the maps I saw of this district lead me to believe the real fight will be a family feud, a primary type of fight,” he said, and then he hastened to add: ” I’m not saying there will be, I’m not encouraging that, but if there’s going to be a fight, that’s where it’s going to be.”

We wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Neville, like Traylor in 2006, only lasted one session in the legislature before being ousted in a primary (although for entirely different reasons than Traylor, who was a moderate candidate). Republican supporters were apparently enamored with Neville’s “leadership” in the 2011 Jefferson County School Board races, oddly ignoring the fact that the two Republican-backed candidates were absolutely destroyed at the ballot box. Preston Branaugh and Jim Powers were both awful candidates who ran awful campaigns; if Neville was indeed instrumental in that fiasco, it doesn’t bode well for his 2012 prospects.  

State Sen. Mike Kopp Resigns

Republican Sen. Mike Kopp, the Senate Minority Leader, announced his resignation this morning in order to spend more time with his family. Kopp’s wife, Kim, died late this summer after a long battle with cancer. From Fox 31/CW2:

“On the eve of an extended period of personal reflection concerning the road that lies ahead of my family and me, it has become apparent that I will be unable to devote the kind of quality attention necessary to serve the remaining three years of my senate term,” Kopp said in a letter to senate Secretary Cindi Markwell Tuesday morning.

Kopp was elected to the State Senate in November 2006. He served as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair from 2007 – 2010. He was elected Minority Leader at the end of the 2010 session after Josh Penry stepped aside.

In his letter, Kopp said he resigns with “a heavy heart.”

“The last five years have been among the most fulfilling for me,” Kopp said. ” I have truly enjoyed serving the people of Senate District 22 and all of Colorado. However, I must now dedicate my service to my four beautiful children.

Kopp was easily re-elected to a second term in 2010 in a South Jefferson County district that was heavily Republican. A Republican Party vacancy committee will determine his replacement.

CO Senate Republicans Announce Committee Assignments

The Colorado Senate Republicans today announced their committee assignments for the upcoming legislative session. The full press release is after the jump.

Today Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp released the Senate Republicans’ committee assignments for the 2011 legislative session. “It’s critical that Senate committees have members with the background and experience to deal with the tough issues we face in Colorado,” said Senator Kopp.

Kopp’s appointments were focused on including professional and demographic diversity in each committee. The committee appointments are listed below.

Business Affairs, Labor & Technology

Sen. Al White – Ranking Member

Sen. Ted Harvey

Sen. Shawn Mitchell

Agriculture & Natural Resources

Sen. Greg Brophy – Ranking Member

Sen. Ted Harvey

Sen. Al White

Finance

Sen. Keith King – Ranking Member

Sen. Greg Brophy

Sen. Mark Scheffel

Judiciary

Sen. Kevin Lundberg – Ranking Member

Sen. Steve King

Sen. Mark Scheffel

Education

Sen. Nancy Spence – Ranking Member

Sen. Keith King

Sen. Scott Renfroe

Local Government & Energy

Sen. Ellen Roberts – Ranking Member

Sen. Bill Cadman

Sen. Kevin Grantham

State, Veterans & Military Affairs

Sen. Bill Cadman – Ranking Member

Sen. Kevin Grantham

Health & Human Services

Sen. Shawn Mitchell – Ranking Member

Sen. Kevin Lundberg

Sen. Ellen Roberts

Transportation

Sen. Scott Renfroe – Ranking Member

Sen. Steve King

Sen. Nancy Spence

Appropriations

Sen. Ted Harvey – Ranking Member

Sen. Kevin Grantham

Sen. Kent Lambert

Sen. Al White

Audit

Sen. Keith King

Sen. Steve King

Legislative Council

Sen. Mike Kopp

Sen. Bill Cadman

Sen. Scott Renfroe

Sen. Mark Scheffel

Legal Services

Sen. Greg Brophy

Sen. Ellen Roberts

Capital Development

Sen. Scott Renfroe

Joint Budget Committee

Sen. Kent Lambert

Do Republicans Think They’ll Take the State Senate?

Are Colorado Republicans poised to take control of the State Senate? Judging from a media advisory sent out today by the Senate Minority Office, perhaps they think they’ll soon be in charge:

Media Availability for Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp

Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp will be available Wednesday, November 3, 2010 to discuss the dynamic of the State Senate of Colorado for the 2011 legislative session.

Those interested in one-on-one interviews should contact Jesse Mallory.

WHO: Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp

WHAT: Media Availability

WHEN: Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WHERE: By request

Ummm…You Sure You Really Want to Propose Cutting Medicaid?

The Colorado Senate Republicans sent out a press release late yesterday that they might have wanted to think about a little more first. The release doesn’t offer anything specific in terms of policy, but criticizes Medicaid eligibility in Colorado (full press release after the jump):

Today Senate Republicans called for new priorities in state spending and less reliance on federal dollars as Colorado is facing a $60 million budget shortfall.

“The Democrats’ partnership with Washington is not working for Colorado taxpayers,” said Senate Republican Leader Mike Kopp. “Colorado businesses and families cannot afford anymore financial burdens because Democrats in the state legislature and Governor Ritter speculated on federal funding and guessed wrong.”

Colorado has expanded Medicaid eligibility adding hundreds of thousands of people to its rolls ballooning the state’s caseload widening the budget gap. In 2001 Colorado’s Medicaid caseload was around 275,000 while in FY 2009-2010 it grew to over 476,000. One estimate projects Colorado’s Medicaid / CHIP enrollment to grow by 44% over the next four years alone to 897,000 – a number Colorado cannot afford.

It’s the other side of John Boehner’s buck-passing coin–that didn’t take long.

Look, we get the message they’re trying to push here: Democrats spend too much money, blah, blah. Nothing new here. But by wading into the Medicaid example, the only plausible alternative here is that Senate Republicans think Medicaid should be drastically reduced. Do they really want to go there in an election year? Do they really want to tell voters that they would cut Medicaid? That’s not exactly a comforting thought in a down economy.

Senate Republicans Call For New Spending Priorities & Less Dependence On Washington

Democrats’ partnership with Washington not working for Colorado taxpayers

Today Senate Republicans called for new priorities in state spending and less reliance on federal dollars as Colorado is facing a $60 million budget shortfall.

“The Democrats’ partnership with Washington is not working for Colorado taxpayers,” said Senate Republican Leader Mike Kopp. “Colorado businesses and families cannot afford anymore financial burdens because Democrats in the state legislature and Governor Ritter speculated on federal funding and guessed wrong.”

Colorado has expanded Medicaid eligibility adding hundreds of thousands of people to its rolls ballooning the state’s caseload widening the budget gap. In 2001 Colorado’s Medicaid caseload was around 275,000 while in FY 2009-2010 it grew to over 476,000. One estimate projects Colorado’s Medicaid / CHIP enrollment to grow by 44% over the next four years alone to 897,000 – a number Colorado cannot afford.

“The promise of increased federal Medicaid funding was one of the arguments used to sell Obamacare. Under the expanded eligibility rules in Obamacare, Colorado taxpayers will be forced to bear the financial burden of the Democrats’ out of control entitlement spending,” said Kopp.

“We cannot afford this unsustainable partnership with Washington any longer,” said Kopp. “It is time we created real priorities in the state budget and stopped the budgeting gimmicks that have plagued the budget setting of the majority party.”

It’s About Time for Senate Uniforms

According to a press release from the Colorado Senate Democrats, there could be some new laws created this weekend:

This weekend, President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) attends the annual meeting of the Uniform Law Commission, of which he is a member…

…Saturday, President Shaffer will present a proposal to the commission for a potential “uniform law.”

We think it’s about time that the Senate created some new “uniform law,” and we’ve got some suggestions. First, this is our proposal at right for Senate uniforms beginning next January, as sported by Shaffer and Republican Senate Leader Mike Kopp (left to right).

Our second suggestion has as much to do with fashion as it does security. The Sergeant At Arms should now be wearing the uniform modeled by Sir Sean Connery — an outfit that would be both dashing, distracting, and really, really fierce-looking.

Full press release from the Senate Democrats after the jump.

This weekend, President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) attends the annual meeting of the Uniform Law Commission, of which he is a member.  The Uniform Law Commission provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of the law. This week-long meeting will consider potential uniform law proposals which could be implemented nationwide to help states run more efficiently and effectively.  Click here for the complete agenda of the annual meeting.

Saturday, President Shaffer will present a proposal to the commission for a potential “uniform law.” If the commission accepts the proposal, it will start drafting uniform language which could be implemented nationwide.  President Shaffer’s proposal will draft unifying language to better site transmission lines across municipal, county, and state lines so we can better transmit energy to places that need it most. This proposal could also apply to natural gas pipelines.

“We need to do what we can to harness this homegrown energy, such as natural gas, and cut through the bureaucratic red tape,” said President Shaffer. “This is not just about making common sense uniform laws, it’s about job creation in our booming energy sector, and making sure we keeping America safe by restricting our reliance on foreign energy.”

According to a Colorado Energy News report published on March 2, “We continue to rely on foreign oil for approximately 60 percent of our energy needs. Switching to natural gas would provide greater energy security, as 98 percent of the natural gas used in the United States comes from North America, and 32 out of 50 states produce natural gas.  The natural gas industry also supports more than 2.8 million jobs in the United States.  Using natural gas for electrical generation in moving towards a low-carbon energy industry will not only increase emissions reductions, but also support local economies and reduce reliance on foreign fuel sources.”

Denver Post reports that, “Rockies energy producers have long faced a shortage of pipelines to transport gas to other parts of the country, which creates a local surplus and depresses prices in the region.” That is why President Shaffer is proposing a uniform law to make transmission and transportation of energy easier.

This map shows that natural gas resources aren’t distributed evenly across the states, and if states that lack reserves want access to his homegrown energy source, then the U.S. needs a robust network of pipelines to facilitate efficient and cost-effective transmission.

President Shaffer continued:  “This proposal is about taking the best practices for moving energy and standardizing them across state lines.  This is a great opportunity to partner with traditional energy and new energy producers to discuss best practices that can be codified nationwide.”

According to President Shaffer’s proposal, the demand for electricity in the U.S. is projected to increase 18-39% by 2030.  Currently, 1/3 of our country’s wind power is sitting on the grid without any way to be transmitted.  By unifying these laws, President Shaffer hopes to change that.

In his proposal, Shaffer highlights the problems with the existing, conflicting laws.  He states, “Developers often encounter obstacles to approval in multiple counties and states for a single project. Projects have been delayed, cancelled, and even avoided due to the costly and convoluted process.”

“Consistency across state boundaries for energy transmission will lower general implementation costs, and streamlined regulatory environment will allow for more rapid response to fluctuations in both supply and demand.  Lower barriers to entry will permit energy options to meet our rising need for energy more efficiently and effectively. Consumers will probably see lower rates as unnecessary hurdles are eliminated in favor of an inclusive process that promotes responsible, consistent development.”

New Senate Minority Leader: Mike Kopp

No surprise here, as Lynn Bartels reports in “The Spot“:

Colorado’s next Senate minority leader ripped Democrats today, saying with them in charge, “We’ve had an assault on freedom within our state.” [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, made his remarks after he was unanimously elected minority leader. He takes over after the session ends, which is scheduled for May 12…

…Kopp, who was first elected in 2006, also said Democrats refused to work in a bipartisan manner, which brought eye-rolling from those who knew what the Capitol was like under Republican control.

While current Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry was largely ineffective in getting anything done for Republicans, as the unofficial spokesperson of Republicans at the Capitol, he at least had the sense to avoid silly cliches like the “assault on freedom” nonsense that Kopp used today. It will be interesting to see if the election of Kopp signals a more Tea Party-esque positioning for Senate Republicans; if so, it’s going to be another disappointing election for the GOP this fall.