With the historic passage of Senate Bill 11, which will authorize civil unions in Colorado, local LGBT activists and their supporters will be popping the champagne cork tonight.
According to a press release from Colorado Springs Pride:
Civil Unions has passed in Colorado and history has been made!
Come join the celebration Tonight, Tuesday, March 12th, 5pm at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media!
There will be guest speakers, music, wine, beer, food and fun. All to celebrate the passage and legalization of Civil Unions in Colorado!
Invite your friends, family, and co-workers! All are invited to come and celebrate with us!
The public is welcome to come out and celebrate Colorado's joining league on this issue (once Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the bill) with states such as Vermont and Hawaii.
The lead sponsor on Senate Bill 13-196 is Senate President John Morse, the Colorado Springs Democrat. The Denver Post first reported on the likely introduction of this bill earlier this month, interviewing horrified Republicans and an incredulous Democrat.
Senate President John Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, announced he was working on a bill that would hold manufacturers and sellers of assault-style weapons legally liable for damage inflicted with such firearms.
Even some Democrats shook their heads.
"That's crazy. That's absolutely nuts," said Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, predicted the liability bill will help his party pick up "three-plus" Senate seats in the next election.
"He's out of his mind," was Morse's response.
"The country is clamoring for solutions and new ideas. Politically, this is more helpful than it is hurtful. We need to figure out how to make sure we don't have 6-year-olds being killed by military-style assault weapons."
Below is the Bill Summary:
The bill concerns liability for the discharge of an assault weapon.
It defines an assault weapon as any firearm except:
• Shotguns; and
• Bolt-action rifles.
The bill establishes strict liability against a person who discharges an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge. It creates an exception for damages occurring within a dwelling if the assault weapon was used to defend the person or others from another person who was about to use physical force against the person or another person within the dwelling. The bill establishes certain exceptions to liability for an owner of an assault weapon.
The bill establishes liability for a person who owns, obtains, or possesses an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third person if the person was negligent in storing the assault weapon or allowing a third party to come into possession of the assault weapon.
The bill establishes liability for a seller and transferor of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person:
• Negligently entrusted the assault weapon to a third party whom the person knew or reasonably should have known might use the weapon to cause bodily injury to the third party or others; or
• Sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.
The bill establishes liability for a seller, distributor, or manufacturer of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.
The bill requires sellers, distributors, and manufacturers to:
• Use the highest degree of care in selling, transferring, distributing, and storing assault weapons; and
• To receive information to have reasonable grounds to believe that the weapon will not be possessed by a person who may use it dangerously or unlawfully.
The bill specifies that failure to do so constitutes a violation of state law.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is going to sue any municipality that bans fracking. That's what the governor told CBS4 in Denver.
CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd sat down with the governor, who was blunt. He told Boyd the state will sue any local government that bans hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling technique that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to extract natural gas.
As the report notes, the state first sued Longmont after it passed a fracking ban. Longmont-based activist Sam Schabacker told us that the citizens of Longmont sought the ban to prevent wells from being placed "next to homes, a middle school and a reservoir."
Fort Collins is mulling over a ban of its own, with a vote slated for March 5. According to this Coloradoan article, the mayor of Fort Collins, Karen Weitkunat, is reportedly feeling the pressure following Hickenlooper's statement:
“I personally don’t like the idea of getting sued,” she said. “My responsibility as a public official is to protect the city as well. ... I have back-and-forth feelings on that, but I don’t want to have the wrath of the governor by any means.”
Meanwhile, back in the Springs, our City Council seems poised to allow for drilling, by scheduling the second reading of the oil and gas ordinance on March 12.
Legislation that will provide in-state tuition to Colorado high school graduates, regardless of their residency status, passed out of the state Senate Monday on a 23-12 vote.
Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs was one of three Republicans to vote in favor.
We reported on Hill's supportive vote in the Senate Education Committee, which signaled that he would be breaking with many of his Republican colleagues over SB 13-033.
At that time, Hill shared an op-ed he had written explaining the free-market reasoning behind his vote.
It is time for liberty-loving individuals everywhere to champion the solutions free markets have to bring. To date, they have led to the creation of trillions of dollars of real wealth, released billions from poverty, and spawned millions of innovative businesses and ideas. However, the success of free markets is not complete. We must champion free-market based immigration reform that includes workers as well as goods, and if we are successful, we will continue the trend of wealth creation, equal opportunity, and the success of the American experiment.
ASSET, as SB 13-033 is known, would “classify a student as an in-state student for tuition purposes if the student attends a public or private high school in Colorado for at least 3 years immediately preceding graduation.”
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed ASSET last session, as well, only to see it die in the Republican-controlled House. This session, however, the Democrats hold a strong majority in the House, making it likely the bill will make it to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.
Read Hill's full op-ed after the jump.
Is it possible that state Rep. Joe Salazar knew the size of shitstorm he was about to cause
Monday Friday when he launched into his impolitic diatribe over House Bill 1226, banning guns on college campuses? Probably not.
Here's what he said:
Maybe he has never heard of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, ’cause why the Thorton Democrat decided to frame his vote in favor of the bill using the mythical response of women to rape is anyone's guess.
But he did. And now Twitter is punishing the rest of us with an onslaught of "jokes" based on the various ways liberals might suggest women avoid being raped.
If you've ever wondered if the majority of Twitterers are funny or insightful, just visit #LiberalTips2AvoidRape for confirmation. They're not. Far from it.
Do you support collective bargaining for Colorado firefighters?
According to a survey conducted by Meyers Research, if you don't, you — and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach — are in the minority of Coloradans.
From the press release:
Results from a statewide survey released today by Myers Research reveals strong voter support (86%) for ensuring collective bargaining rights for Colorado fire fighters. (See attached memo.) The timely results of this survey are arriving just as a firefighter collective bargaining bill, Senate Bill 13-025, passed the Senate on Tuesday, February 6, 2013, and moves to the House.
The survey of over 600 voters in Colorado in late January has a margin of error of +/- 4.0. (See attached memo.) Respondents were asked the question:
And as it relates to firefighters in Colorado, do you favor or oppose allowing firefighters to negotiate with local governments over issues like better safety equipment, ensuring safe staffing levels, and health care and survivorship benefits if they are killed in the line of duty?
State Rep. Pete Lee tried to get his economic gardening bill through the Republican-controlled state House last year to no avail.
This session, with his colleagues in the Democratic Party in charge of the Legislature, the Springs Democrat appears to be having better luck. Yesterday, the bill passed out of the House Business, Labor & Economic & Workforce Development Committee and it's way to the Appropriations Committee.
The bill would create
an economic gardening pilot project in the Colorado office of economic development (office). Through the pilot project, staff members of the office and small business development centers (SBDCs) who have been trained and certified in economic gardening principles and practices provide 12 months of strategic assistance to at least 20 Colorado-headquartered second-stage companies and SBDC clients selected by the state director of SBDCs in the office. The state director reports annually on the results of the pilot project to the general assembly, and the pilot project terminates in 2016.
According to the bill, this pilot project would assist business owners of "companies that are beyond the start-up stage but have not yet fully matured, with innovative products or services that satisfy market needs" by providing them with "specialized business assistance to refine core strategies and from access to in-depth market research, competitor analyses, geographic information systems, search engine optimization, and other strategic information, as well as from relationships with mentors and advisers."
One of the joys of being a state representative must be the opportunity to call and hold a town hall meeting.
This Saturday, freshman state Rep. Tony Exum Sr. will be hosting his first town hall meeting of the 2013 session. He will be joined by Boulder's Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, the House majority leader.
On tap will be a discussion of the two bills that Exum has so far introduced this session.
HB 13-1123 "authorizes a person, including a veteran, to waive confidentially requirements applicable to the person's personal information, obtained by the division of employment and training in the department of labor and employment from the person's claim for unemployment benefits, to enable the division to make the information about the person available to potential employers. The division is directed to offer this waiver to applicants for unemployment benefits."
HB 13-1119 "requires the department of revenue to place the word 'veteran' on a driver's license or identification card if the person presents the proper documentation. A dishonorable discharge does not qualify."
If you want to talk shop with Exum, stop by Sand Creek Library (1821 S. Academy Blvd.) Saturday morning by 10:30.
A coalition of public officials and others from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs is pushing Colorado's congressional delegation to secure funding for help with watershed protection and mitigation after wildfires in Colorado claimed more than 600 homes and 100,000 acres of forest land last year.
A letter dated today, Jan. 9, was sent by leaders in El Paso and Larimer counties, the cities of Colorado Springs and Greeley, Pikes Peak Council of Governments, Colorado Springs Utilties, Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, Colorado Municipal League, and Colorado Counties Inc.
The money would come from a bill for disaster help for Hurricane Sandy, which the House of Representatives failed to act on last week.
In the Pikes Peak region, the Waldo Canyon Fire ignited June 23 and destroyed 345 homes and charred more than 18,000 acres. The High Park fire, which started June 9 in Larimer County, claimed 259 homes and some 87,000 acres. The Waldo killed two people in the city, and the High Park, one.
Here's the letter:
We are writing to urge you to support the inclusion of $19.8 million for Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funding in the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance. The EWP program is a critically important tool in assisting our communities by implementing emergency recovery measures for restoring our watersheds, and protecting life safety and critical infrastructure damaged by this summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires. Both El Paso and Larimer counties believe that EWP is needed to allow the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to fund critical wildfire restoration and mitigation projects.
Waldo Canyon Projects
The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities need additional funding to reduce flooding, sedimentation and debris flow impacts on facilities critical to collecting, storing and conveying raw drinking water to approximately 70% of city residents.
El Paso County is working with private landowners, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), School District 14 and others to protect the City of Manitou Springs and Highway 24 West from significant erosion and flooding issues which also threaten lives and property in the Ute Pass areas of Chipita Park and Cascade. Additionally, the Navigators and Flying W Ranch need additional funds to protect public and private facilities, including significant historic structures such as Glen Eyrie Castle.
High Park Projects
High Park fire area water providers (City of Fort Collins, City of Greeley and the Tri- Districts) use the Cache La Poudre River to supply drinking water to over 300,000 residents as well as many water-dependent industries that support the economic viability of the region. Watershed restoration funding is critical to reducing sediment loads and infrastructure damage, and therefore maintaining a safe, economical drinking water supply in the region.
Over 200 miles of roads exist within the High Park fire burn area in Larimer County. This includes 42 miles of Larimer County roads, 25 miles of State Highway, 40 miles of US Forest Service Roads, and 98 miles of private roads. These roads provide customary and emergency access to the residential and traveling public, as well as access to fire fighters. Emergency watershed restoration funding would assist in protecting or restoring the integrity of these roads by reducing peak runoff flows and preventing debris hazards and damage.
We are pleased to announce that, after reading through Colorado Ethics Watch's 2012 report on the state's most egregious lapses in ethics, El Paso County and Colorado Springs appear to be in the clear.
Ethics Watch, the Denver-based nonprofit that spends its time combing through the Secretary of State's website and otherwise poking its nose into the affairs of elected officials and government agencies, has put out a list of the Top 5 scandals from 2012.
Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, had this to say in a press release:
“The five scandals detailed in this year’s Ethics Roundup are the clearest examples of where our enforcement system is working, and where it is lacking. When a city council is its own ethics panel, or where a public official who has been convicted of crime related to his office and awaits trial for more such crimes is still in office, we know we have a problem. The sooner local governments and our state legislature recognize the shortcomings in our enforcement systems, the sooner we’ll have government that we can all trust.”
Three of these scandals were local to their communities, and while interesting to watch from afar, had no impact on Colorado Springs.
One of the scandals involved the state's 10 public trustees appointed by the governor. From the press release:
This year, Colorado’s public trustees lost the public trust by accepting excessive gifts from for-profit companies for the entertainment of trustees and highly questionable spending of taxpayer money by some individual trustees without sufficient oversight. Following a complaint filed by Ethics Watch, in March, the IEC found that the Public Trustee Association of Colorado violated Amendment 41 and ordered them to pay nearly $3,000 in fines. And in July, Governor Hickenlooper requested the resignation of all 10 of the appointed public trustees amid reports of questionable spending.
Even though El Paso County's public trustee, Thomas Mowle, was one of the 10 forced to resign by the governor, that scandal skipped right over us, too.
As Toro tells the Indy, not only was Mowle not implicated in the complaint, "Mowle was held up as the example of how the office should be run." And Hickenlooper re-appointed Mowle to his position.
The final scandal involves Secretary of State Scott Gessler. From the press release (which you can read in full after the jump):
Controversial Secretary of State Scott Gessler made a name for himself while attempting to reshape Colorado election and campaign finance laws in this election year. He earned fame of a different kind when a review of public records revealed evidence of misuse of public funds by Secretary Gessler, including the use of state funds to cover travel expenses for partisan events, which implicates several laws against public corruption.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler has announced that he is taking his show on the road.
On Thursday, Gessler will be visiting the office of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder (1675 West Garden of the Gods Road) from 2 to 3 p.m. to discuss what should be done in the future to strengthen the "integrity" of state elections.
In his press release, Gessler states: "By many measures, the November election was a success. But there is always room for improvement. We want to hear from Coloradans about their experiences and how we can make our elections even better going forward.”
Perhaps this will be another opportunity for the Republican to rehash his favorite subject.
Full press release after the jump.
Even before the conference room at the downtown Antlers Hilton hotel had filled, it was clear that the El Paso County Democratic Party was ready to celebrate — and election results on the national level certainly did nothing to dim that.
But it was in the state contests where the effect may be felt soonest, since victories in two local House districts are likely to help give Democrats control of that chamber in January. (They appear poised to hold onto the Senate, too.)
In House District 17, where political newcomer Tony Exum, a Democrat, is set to unseat Republican incumbent Mark Barker.
"My goal from the beginning has just been to hopefully help give people access to the things they need to improve their qualify of life; whether that’s an education, keeping their homes, healthcare — those things that impact people’s lives," said Exum in a quick interview with the Indy. "And just to vote smart on things that improve the quality of life; and things that don’t improve the quality of life, vote smart on those things, too. And do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking."
Meanwhile, having defeated GOP challenger Jennifer George in House District 18, incumbent Rep. Pete Lee said he plans to keep doing what he's been doing. "The big issue is the economy, Colorado’s economy, and job creation," Lee said. "So I wanna work across the aisle with our colleagues up there to see what we could do to invigorate Colorado’s economy and create more jobs."
And as far as the civil-unions bill that died so dramatically in the last session?
"It’ll pass," he said flatly.
(Seconds after this, screaming started in the main conference room as it was announced President Barack Obama had retained office.)
On a more nonpartisan note, Democrats — like folks the world over — were drawn to the triumph of Colorado's marijuana decriminalization bill, Amendment 64. With 63 percent of precincts reporting, it enjoyed a comfortable 53.6 percent to 47.4 percent lead.
"Make no mistake: Our victory tonight will change this country," wrote the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in an e-mail soon after the outcome was assured. "We have put a serious dent in the armor of our federal government's decades-old failed war on marijuana. Citizens in other states now know that if Coloradans can change their laws, they can too. Politicians are now realizing that making marijuana legal is in fact a mainstream, majority-support issue, and will begin to champion our position."
That said, local medical-marijuana advocates remained ambivalent. In one Facebook posting, Audrey Hatfield, president of Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patient Rights, wrote, "Congrats on winning A64! Time will tell ... Hopefully all the ended friendships and personal attacks where worth it all ..."
Ultimately, and regardless of any hoped-for outcomes, however, Exum seemed to say it best, when he responded to our question about how he was feeling: "You know, I was just happy the campaign was over."
El Paso County Republican Party Chairman Eli Bremer did his best to keep the crowd upbeat.
In the ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel, the Republicans had hung a stage-wide flag. FOX News was on the TV as results rolled in.
Bremer called up to the stage the Republican candidates present who sailed to easy victories: County Commissioners Dennis Hisey and Amy Lathen, and state House Rep. Janak Joshi.
"God bless all of you for being here," Lathen told the crowd.
But there weren't very many high notes for the beleaguered Republicans. Before it was clear that they had lost the race for the White House, it was becoming clear that they were going to lose their one-seat majority in the state House.
In the two competitive House races the Republicans faced in the Pikes Peak region, they lost by sizable margins: Incumbent Rep. Mark Barker fell to newcomer Democrat Tony Exum Sr. in House District 17, while Jennifer George, the first-time candidate who raised an eye-popping $180,000 from 800 donors, failed in her bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Pete Lee in House District 18.
George's campaign wasn't here tonight; it opted to hold its Election Day party at the Ritz downtown.
County Commissioner Sallie Clark faced a challenge from former Democratic Party county Chairman John Morris but pulled off a victory, securing her place for a rare third term. Rare, because the voters also voted overwhelmingly in favor of ballot initiative 1B, which undid the 2010 term-limits ballot initiative that allowed for three terms.
Not many people were fazed by the result of 1B; County Commissioner Peggy Littleton pointed out that she always thought that the voters would vote to strike the term-limit extension. Lathen put it bluntly: "You can't spend two years telling the public how evil we are, and not expect that outcome."
"We put it back on the ballot for folks to get a second try at it," said Clark. "Obviously, my constituents felt that I have done a good job, and I will continue to do a good job for my constituents that I represent."
And Clark said she's excited to do that job.
"There are so many things going on," she said, such as the recovery from Waldo Canyon Fire, "that I want to see move in the right direction."
Clark pointed out that there were reasons to celebrate, including passage of the ballot initiative supporting the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority extension as well as the tax increase for the El Paso County Sheriff's office. "If people see a value in paying more taxes, and you put it on the ballot," she said, "they will vote in support."
And then, of course, there was the confirmation that House District 16 incumbent Joshi and newly elected HD 21 Rep. Lois Landgraf would be headed to the state Legislature — albeit in the minority party.
"We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us," said Joshi. "This just means that we have a lot of extra work."
Fresh off being rated a "C" by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian organization, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by a lunch full of media members last Friday. The event was one that all people of all political persuasions could love: to cover the Great American Beer Festival, which concluded the next day.
In a quick, eight-minute speech (see below for the full audio) Hickenlooper touches on the power of craft beer to put the U.S. on the map, but begins his remarks with a little candor: "What can I say? You guys are my peeps," he says to laughter. "In every sense, when we’re trying to make decisions about how me make decisions around government, the artisan nature of craft beering, right — the combination of inspiration and hard work, right, just being willing to do the work — is exactly what, too often, we don’t get in government."
The governor talked about beginning home-brewing in 1971, then opening Colorado's first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Co., in 1988 and Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in 1993, among others. (He's since relinquished any ownership stake in the businesses.) The industry now provides 4,400 jobs in the state, and it's growing.
“That’s what this country needs, right? Everybody’s fighting over jobs — we need more artisan, craft-based industries like craft beer," Hickenlooper says. "And people taking the time to really put care and attention into individual batches and creations, and then people saying, ‘Well, this is worth an extra 50 cents, or an extra 75 cents.’"
GABF, now in its 31st year, is certainly doing its part, with organizers estimating that it brings around $7 million to the city of Denver.
"But it also becomes a kind of a beacon to the rest of the world," the governor says. "And people forget this, but when foreigners come to the United States and they purchase craft beer, that’s no different than an export, right? That’s bringing money into our country."
Mentioning that he had just met with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, about Colorado's status as the "Ground Zero for the new universe of beer making," the governor said he expected the liquid to be a big part of the United States' marketing efforts overseas.
Of course, it being the season, Hickenlooper couldn't resist a relevant comment or two. Grinning, he made his place in the race clear: "I’m considered somewhat of a bad Democrat, but I love President Obama, just for the record."
Planned Parenthood is beaming.
Colorado's Secretary of State announced this morning that the proponents of the so-called Personhood Amendment failed to raise enough signatures to get it on the fall ballot. According to Denver News 7, advocates came up about 4,000 signatures shy of the threshold.
The amendment sought to prohibit "the intentional killing of any innocent person," even if that "person" was a fetus created through a rape or incest.
From a press release, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ CEO and President Vicki Cowart:
Women across Colorado are sighing with relief. Today is a victory for women’s health.
The fact that Personhood Colorado was not able to qualify their measure on the 2012 ballot demonstrates how out of touch their agenda is with Colorado values.
Health decisions should be left to a woman, her doctor, her family and her faith — not politicians— Coloradans know this.
Let today be a signal to personhood supporters who return to Colorado year after year with anti-woman, anti-family, anti-patient privacy ballot proposals—Coloradans have said ‘no’ to intrusion into our personal, private medical decisions and we mean it.