State Gov

Monday, January 5, 2015

DMV is the place to be

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 11:35 AM

The lesser of two evils? - RAY ZANDVOORT
  • Ray Zandvoort
  • The lesser of two evils?

I find it hard to imagine a scenario where I would be happy to go to the DMV.

Still, the folks at the county seem convinced that many of you will be relieved that you can now visit one of our local Department of Motor Vehicle Offices for several services that previously were only offered bythe State Department Revenue Office. Apparently, the wait time at this lesser-known bureaucratic hellhole is an hour or more. Customers usually wait an average of 15 minutes at the local DMV offices (so they say). The new services are:

· Issue a copy of the customer’s motor vehicle record
· Duplicate the Driver’s License for a minor
· Issue a motorcycle endorsement (must present proof of completed Motorcycle Safety Foundation course)

The downside is that you'll have to pay an extra $5 county service fee if you get any of these things done at the DMV. You are, of course, still welcome to save your $5 and wait longer at the state office. 

To find your nearest DMV check here. To see the current wait times for each office, click here
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dirty, rotten fraud: AG issues warning, ads

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 12:13 PM

screen_shot_2014-12-10_at_11.41.32_am.png

Fruitcake isn't the only rotten thing that shows up in force during the holiday season, the Colorado Attorney General's Office notes.

Cases of fraud spike around this time of year, especially fake charities seeking your money. Fraud in general — from identity theft to predatory lending to investment fraud —  is one the biggest categories of crime that the Office deals with throughout the year. With that in mind, the AG's Office has created advertising it hopes will raise awareness of these scams and make them easier to report.

Oh, and they threw in some anthropomorphic animals just for fun.

Read on:

COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES CONSUMER PROTECTION INITIATIVE

StopFraudColorado.gov Microsite Will Help Coloradans Avoid and Report Fraud

DENVER—One of the most important missions of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office is protecting Colorado consumers and businesses from dishonest advertising and unscrupulous businesses. Consumer protection issues have long been the most “clicked through” part of the office’s website. So to emphasize its consumer-protection outreach and to meet the demand for timely and credible information on scams and help victims, Attorney General John Suthers today announced the launch of a new microsite, StopFraudColorado.gov .

StopFraudColorado.gov makes it easier for Coloradans to learn about common types of fraud, get tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and streamlines the process for filing fraud reports. By reporting fraud, Coloradans help the office identify patterns of fraudulent behavior and prioritize limited resources to the most egregious cases that involve widespread harm to Colorado consumers and businesses.

“Over the next several months, Coloradans will be introduced to six anthropomorphic animals representing the most common scams we see: identity theft, charity fraud, predatory lending and investment fraud,” said Attorney General Suthers. “As people begin spotting these animals on buses, billboards, websites and TV stations throughout the state, we hope that they will remember stopfraudcolorado.gov whenever they need information about a particular type of fraud or need to report a fraud that has occurred.”

Because charity fraud spikes during the holiday season, the first animal to debut is a boar which asks the question “How do you know your donation is finding the right pockets?” And because identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States – and as many as one in three Coloradans may be an identity theft victim – a chameleon will ask “How do you spot an identity thief?”

The new consumer protection website , and the statewide marketing campaign introducing Coloradans to the site, is being funded out of settlement moneys recovered by the Colorado Attorney General which were earmarked for consumer education and outreach efforts.

Heinrich Marketing was retained to create and implement the marketing campaign for the Colorado Attorney General Office’s consumer protection campaign after its successful work with the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline. The campaign is aimed at increasing awareness of consumers’ ability to report incidences of fraud to the Attorney General’s Office.
Copies of the first two :15 videos are available for download from youtube.com/stopfraudco

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Visualize the growth of fracking

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:17 PM

CENTER FOR WESTERN PRIORITIES
  • Center for Western Priorities

We all know that there's an oil and gas boom underway in the state, but it's often tough to visualize what that means.

That's why I was so thrilled by the animated maps that the Center for Western Priorities just released. I'm probably revealing my geeky side by saying this, but these things are awesome. You definitely want to hit the link and see them for yourselves, but just to give you a quick preview, they show the number of oil and gas wells in the state from 1990 to 2013 as a series of red dots. You start in 1990 and watch the red dots grow as each successive year ticks off. 

The growth is truly astonishing.

Some might remember that Gov. John Hickenlooper forged a last minute deal that kept several oil and gas related initiatives off the ballot this month. Hickenlooper agreed to form an Oil and Gas Task Force that would explore ways to better shield communities from the impacts of the industry while also allowing it to grow. Many Colorado communities have passed or sought laws that either banned oil and gas development within their borders or created limitations like setbacks. The state has fought those restrictions.


DENVER — The Center for Western Priorities (CWP) released a series of animated maps today that show, for the first time, the tremendous pace and scale of Colorado’s oil and gas drilling boom as it progresses in and around communities across the state.

Using publicly-available data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, CWP mapped and created animated GIFs of every oil and gas well drilled near the key population centers of Greeley (displayed below), Rifle, and Durango between 1990 and 2013. In total, almost 28,000 wells have been drilled over the last twenty-four years around these three communities.

“The scale of recent drilling around Colorado’s population centers is striking. We need to balance the economic impacts of the oil and gas boom with the quality of life needs of Colorado’s local communities,” said Greg Zimmerman, Policy Director at CWP.

Zimmerman also pointed to the relevance of these data and visualizations given the current task force process underway in Colorado: “Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force has a real opportunity over the coming months to design recommendations and policies that strike a balance between energy development and the health and welfare of Coloradans. As the energy boom continues to spread into populated areas, we need assurances that communities have a seat at the table and that their very real concerns don’t fall on deaf ears,” said Zimmerman.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dems look on the bright side

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Irv Halter admits defeat against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Irv Halter admits defeat against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Kathleen Ricker, petite and wearing red cowboy boots, took to the stage when the dust had settled and convinced the crowd at the Mining Exchange's Gold Room to join in her a chant.

"We are," she shouted, stomping her boot on the stage.

And the crowd chanted back loudly, "Peak Dems."

This wasn't a great night for the Chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party, or any of her fellow partygoers. Their great hope for a Democratic County Commissioner? Quashed. It was clear early on that District 5 Candidate Jariah Walker wasn't going to beat incumbent Peggy Littleton. As expected, candidates for long-shot state house seats in conservative districts were clear losers. Less expected, incumbent Rep. Tony Exum, in House District 17, appeared to be losing to perennial Republican candidate Kit Roupe. (She eventually triumphed — though Exum was considered popular, the seat is known to flip every election.)

"Hello, Peggy? This is Jariah." Jariah Walker concedes the race in County Commission District 5 to Peggy Littleton. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • "Hello, Peggy? This is Jariah." Jariah Walker concedes the race in County Commission District 5 to Peggy Littleton.

And then there were the big losses: Sen. Mark Udall falling to Republican Cory Gardner and Irv Halter losing his bid to take incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's seat. What's more, it wasn't yet clear that Gov. John Hickenlooper would hold his office (it appears now that he will).

So why the jubilance? Well, El Paso County Democrats aren't strangers to disappointment. As Ricker put it, "We win some, we lose some, but we still have a voice."
A member of the crowd reacts to the election results. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A member of the crowd reacts to the election results.

And though the midterms proved a boon for Republicans nationwide, the news wasn't all bad for Democrats in conservative El Paso County. Democrat Rep. Pete Lee kept his seat, and Mike Merrifield took back Senate District 11 from Sen. Bernie Herpin, who won the seat in a recall election that saw the ouster of then-Senate President John Morse. 

"It feels good to take this seat back," Merrifield said, his eyes twinkling.

Michael Merrifield celebrates after winning Senate District 11. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Michael Merrifield celebrates after winning Senate District 11.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

Supreme Court move will likely make gay marriage legal in Colorado

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 9:54 AM

FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review the findings for the 4th Circuit of several circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals on same-sex marriage.

The refusal means the lower court ruling stands in the states in question, making same-sex marriage legal in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. But it also indicates that the Supreme Court doesn't intend to intervene in any lower court rulings on same-sex marriage at this point. So that also probably means that Appeals Court rulings in other districts that have made same-sex marriage legal will become final. That includes rulings in the 10th Circuit, which includes Colorado.

In all, the Supreme Court's move will likely mean that same-sex marriage will soon be legal in 30 states. The Washington Post has a good explanation of the situation here.

The move by the Supreme Court isn't exactly what either side was looking for. Same-sex marriage proponents had hoped the courts would make such marriages legal across the country. Opponents, of course, had hoped for the opposite. The move likely means that the justices do not want to weigh in on the debate until more states have legalized the practice.

All the same, proponents are celebrating today. Check out this release from the Freedom to Marry campaign:
Supreme Court Lets Marriage Wins Stand
Decision not to review lower-court victories means number of states with freedom to marry to skyrocket, but still falls short of national resolution


New York – Today the Supreme Court denied review of five cases seeking the freedom to marry, leaving standing marriage victories in several federal circuits and opening the door to the freedom to marry in many more states, while deferring for another day the national resolution that Freedom to Marry, businesses, elected officials, and families across the country had urged now. The Court’s decision not to review the rulings means that soon as many as 60% of the American people will be living in freedom to marry states, with a majority of the states (30) having the freedom to marry for all.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court leaves in force five favorable marriage rulings reached in three federal appellate courts, ensuring the freedom to marry for millions more Americans around the country. The Court’s letting stand these victories means that gay couples will soon share in the freedom to marry in 30 states, representing 60% of the American people. But we are one country, with one Constitution, and the Court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places. As waves of freedom to marry litigation continue to surge, we will continue to press the urgency and make the case that America – all of America — is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should finish the job.”

With the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the cases, favorable marriage rulings in the 10th Circuit, the 7th Circuit, and the 4th Circuit will soon go into effect. Marriage bans in every state within those circuits will be invalidated, adding Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin to the list of freedom to marry states. As a result of the Court’s decision, an additional 51 million Americans will live in a freedom to marry state.

In total, 41 federal and state courts in the past year have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples with only one federal and one state ruling going the other way. Five of these marriage wins were before the Supreme Court for possible review.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

New law ushers in more elder abuse reports

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Older people have new protections. - BORYA
  • Borya
  • Older people have new protections.

Many said it was long overdue.

Colorado legislators passed a law last year that went into effect in July. It greatly expanded the list of professionals and other people who must report any suspicions that a senior citizen is being abused. Apparently, the law is working, as reports have skyrocketed locally.

Sadly, seniors are at risk for a range of abuse from physical to sexual to financial. The new law, similar to protections in other states, seeks to root out perpetrators and keep older citizens safe.

Read on to hear about how the law has impacted our area in it's first month:
Mandatory Reporting of Elder Abuse: 1st Month Report Card

El Paso County, CO, August 26, 2014 – With the passage of Senate Bill 13-111 since July 1, 2014 in Colorado certain professionals are now required to report abuse, caretaker neglect and exploitation of at risk-elders. An at-risk elder is any person who is 70 years of age or older. If you are a mandatory reporter and you witness or become aware that an at-risk elder has been or is at imminent risk for mistreatment (abuse, caretaker neglect, or exploitation), you must make a report to law enforcement within 24 hours.

Some local agencies are seeing increased reporting of elder abuse since the law went into effect. In July of 2013 Adult Protective Services (APS) at the El Paso County Department of Human Services received a total of 114 reports of abuse or neglect of at-risk adults and in July of this year received a total of 179 reports; an increase of 57%. In 2013, APS had a monthly average of 85.5 reports so far this year they’ve seen a monthly average of 120.4 reports; a 41% increase. The Colorado Springs Police Department has seen referrals received from and sent to APS increase from 80 in January to 150 in July; an 87.5% increase. Silver Key Senior Services saw its largest amount of referrals in July of this year at 29 compared to 21 in January.

The new law requires medical professional, social workers, law enforcement, court appointed guardians and conservators, fire protection personnel, community centered board staff, financial institutions, care facilities, home care placement agencies and clergy to report elder abuse to law enforcement. They must report if they observe abuse or exploitation of an at risk elder; or if there is reasonable cause to believe an at risk elder has been abused or exploited or is at imminent risk of abuse or exploitation. The person needs to report to law enforcement within 24 hours after observation or discovery. Willful failure to report is a class three misdemeanor and can include up to six months in jail and/or a $750 fine.

The SPEAK UP campaign by Adult Protective Services offers some signs an adult is suffering from abuse or neglect.

· Sudden changes in behavior, finances or lifestyle
· Physical injuries, dehydration or malnourishment
· Extreme withdrawal, depression or anxiety
· Absence of basic care of necessities
· Kept away from others
· Unsanitary living conditions
· Personal Items or money missing
For more information on mandatory reporting visit the Pikes Peak Elder Abuse Coalition website at www.StopandPreventElderAbuse.org.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

GMO labeling makes the ballot

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Voters will have a chance to decide whether genetically modified foods should be labeled.

Petitions for Initiative 48 have been deemed sufficient by the Colorado Secretary of State. If passed, the initiative would label most food items, though there are notable exceptions, including restaurant foods. For more information, check out our earlier article on the GMO labeling effort here

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
“Labeling Genetically Modified Food” will appear on November ballot

DENVER, August 20, 2014 – Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced today that the proposed ballot measure concerning “Labelling Genetically Modified Food” was found to be sufficient as required by statute.

Proponents submitted petitions for Proposed Initiative 48 to the Secretary of State’s office on August 4. A five-percent random sample of the submitted signatures projected the number of valid signatures to be greater than 110 percent of the total number of signatures required for placement on the ballot.

Because the random sample verification established that the projected number of valid signatures totals 145.06 percent of the amount required for placement on the ballot, Proposed Initiative 2013-2014 #48 is sufficient and will be certified to the 2014 general election ballot.

Under Colorado law, and barring a successful protest, the initiative will be numbered “Proposition 105.”

Petition verification summary:
screen_shot_2014-08-20_at_12.56.08_pm.png

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Court orders Boulder to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall - BOULDERCOUNTY.ORG
  • bouldercounty.org
  • Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall
While a full resolution to the larger issue is likely still months off, Attorney General John Suthers scored a victory in the fight over same-sex marriage yesterday.

Suthers, who is defending Colorado's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage against myriad state and federal lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, asked the Colorado Supreme Court to stop Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At one point, Denver, Pueblo and Boulder were issuing the licenses, but a judge stopped Denver, and Pueblo stopped voluntarily. That left Boulder as the last county in the state issuing the licenses.

The court ordered Hall to stop issuing licenses, and she has complied. (Those actions came after the Independent's deadline, and thus today's story on the issue is now outdated.) Thus, Colorado same-sex couples who want to wed will likely have to wait until a judicial resolution is reached on the ban.

That resolution could either come from the Colorado Supreme Court, which is expected to reach a decision early next year, or from a federal court. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear the case soon, though a final federal resolution on the issue of same-sex marriage may come from the U.S. Supreme Court.

So far, lower courts have ruled consistently that Colorado's ban is unconstitutional, though they've stayed their rulings pending appeals.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Colorado fails test on executive orders

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Sunshine is a good thing. - JOE SHLABOTNIK
  • Joe Shlabotnik
  • Sunshine is a good thing.
Colorado gets a lot of accolades. For being the least obese in the nation. For being bicycle friendly. For leading the way on legalization of marijuana. Yadda, yadda.

But when it comes to transparency in states' executive branches issuing executive orders, Colorado gets a big F, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

The foundation recently analyzed access issues involving executive orders, including publication, where they can be found, and public process prior to issuance. The criteria used to judge how all 50 states are doing:
Are executive orders available online?
Are orders uploaded in a timely fashion?
Is the data presented in a commonly owned format (e.g. HTML or PDF)?
Is the text machine-processable—-can you search and find text, or are they unsearchable scans?
For what period of time are executive orders available? For the current year? Current term? Previous governor’s term? Since the beginning of time?
Scoring the highest for public accessibility were Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Washington. Besides Colorado, the worst included Georgia, Hawaii and Nevada.

But the news wasn't all bad, as this part of the foundation's report shows:
Although executive orders are generally covered by public records laws, only three of the governor’s offices (Colorado, Idaho and Kentucky) that we contacted were aware of state statutes that govern how soon their orders need to be published online — if they need to be published online at all. While it’s great that many governors’ offices are thinking about proactively publishing these documents online, codifying online publication into public records law ensures that the choice of making these records accessible is not left to the discretion of the state executive branch.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bensberg picked for lottery board

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
Former El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg has been appointed to the Colorado Lottery Commission as a Republican member. His term expires July 1, 2018.

The commission governs the operation of the lottery and conducts hearings on granting or suspending licenses for lottery sales. Here's more on the panel's duties, taken from the Colorado Lottery website:

The Colorado Lottery Commission plays an important role in the oversight and governance of the Colorado Lottery and in fulfilling their fiduciary duties with regards to all Lottery games operated by the Lottery. Its mission is to ensure that all games marketed by the Colorado Lottery are done with security and protection of the integrity of the games and organization of the Colorado Lottery; and, to ensure that all Colorado Lottery games are representative of the values of the State of Colorado and its citizens.

The Commission is composed of five members who are appointed by the Governor with the consent and approval of the Colorado Senate. At least one member of the Commission must have been a law enforcement officer for at least five years; one member must have been a Colorado practicing attorney for at least five years; and at least one member must be a certified public accountant who practiced accountancy in Colorado for at least five years.
Bensberg says he didn't seek the appointment, but is eager to serve on the five-member board.  His first meeting is Wednesday. And no, he won't be cashing in any million-dollar tickets. Commission members are barred from playing lottery games.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

UPDATE: NARAL comes out against Colorado's proposed abortion ban

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 8:54 AM

As predicted, the bill has died.

Here's the take from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains:

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado Statement Responds to the Defeat of HB14-1133
(Concerning Protecting Human Life Beginning at Conception)



Sponsors: Representatives Humphrey, Buck, DelGrosso, Everett, Holbert, Landgraf, Nordberg, Priola, Saine, Sonnenberg, Swalm, Wright and Senators Renfroe, Grantham, Harvey, Lambert, Lundberg, Marble, Scheffel



Statement by VP of Public Affairs Cathy Alderman



DENVER – “Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado applauds today’s defeat of House Bill 1133, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey.

“Today, by a vote of 9-2, House Bill 1133 was postponed indefinitely. This measure was an unconstitutional and outright ban on abortion in almost all circumstances. House Bill 1133 offered no exception for rape or incest, requiring survivors of rape or incest to give birth to their attacker’s child, or face prosecution for a felony.

“We even witnessed an attempt to introduce an amendment that would create a ban on abortion after 20 weeks — which would have left many Colorado women’s lives in danger. The majority of abortions later in pregnancy are performed because of high-risk medical conditions, and only make up two percent of all abortions.

“The type of policy sponsored by Rep. Humphrey and Republican leadership goes against the needs of Colorado women and families, and the values of the majority Colorado voters. A poll of Colorado voters found that 62 percent of Colorado voters agree that, ‘A woman should be allowed to have an abortion based on her personal values and her doctor's advice.’ Seven out of 10 Americans back the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade making abortion legal in the United States.

“Politicians should be focused on policies that support women and families and not ones like House Bill 1133 which seek to restrict access to necessary reproductive healthcare services for women.”

###


——— ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, 4:42 P.M. ——-
PROGRESSOHIO
  • ProgressOhio

A Republican bill in the Colorado House has drawn the ire of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

House Bill 1133 would ban all abortions. It's unlikely to pass given that the legislature is controlled by Democrats. Other states, however, have been passing restrictive abortion laws as of late, including notable changes in Texas that have led many clinics to close.

Here's what NARAL had to say about the proposed Colorado law:


Abortion Ban Bill in Colorado

Background on the policy:

• Colorado is a historically pro-choice state. In 1967, Colorado was the first state to legalize abortions, six years before Roe.
• Almost every year, there is a failed attempt to pass legislation to ban abortions in Colorado.
• Anti-abortion, anti-birth control “personhood” ballot measures have failed repeatedly. The most recent ballot measure, Amendment 62, failed by a landslide 70% -30% in 2010. Political analysts agree that the personhood measure contributed to Ken Buck’s loss in his Senate race against Michael Bennet. Another “personhood” initiative will be on the ballot in 2014.

HB 14-1133 – Outright Abortion Ban Bill

• The proposed bill is being heard on Tuesday, March 11, in committee. This bill would ban all abortions and emergency contraception, even for survivors of rape and incest.
• Physicians who perform abortion services or prescribe emergency contraception would be charged with a class 3 felony, which could result in up to 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
• The proposed bill defines pregnancy and “unborn human” at the moment of fertilization.

What we believe:

• HB 14-1133 violates the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and criminalizes physicians.
• Protecting private, personal medical decisions is a mainstream Colorado value.
• Colorado voters have said repeatedly that government and politicians don’t belong in reproductive-health-care decisions.

What you should know:

• Doctors who provide abortion services or emergency contraception could go to prison if this legislation is enacted. A Class 3 felony is a minimum 4-12 year sentence.
• HB 14-1133 makes no exception for survivors of rape or incest.
• Colorado House Republican leadership this year signed on as a co-sponsor.
• HB14-1133 is part of broader, national strategy by anti-choice Republican leaders to ban abortion.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Gessler under fire for budget problems

Posted By on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 8:24 AM

Secretary of State Scott Gessler
  • Secretary of State Scott Gessler
Secretary of State Scott Gessler is known as "the Honey Badger" for his tenacious political dealings. But the liberal group ProgressNow has given him a new name as of late: "the Money Badger."

The nickname stems from a rather animated debate on who is to blame for the budget problems in Gessler's office. Gessler, who is running for governor, entered his office with a surplus of about $7 million, but is now scrambling to make ends meet. A big reason for that is that Gessler slashed fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office.

But Gessler says he's not to blame for the money problems, and he refuses to raise fees. For insight into just how ugly this has gotten, check out some of the press releases that have come out this month.

From Gessler's office on Feb. 5:

Democrats Sling Mud at Gessler

While Democrats demand respect at the Capitol, today they descended into petty insults, at one point equating Secretary of State Scott Gessler to a pig.

During a briefing by the legislature’s non-partisan budget staff, Democrats questioned why Gessler wouldn’t raise fees on Colorado businesses to offset the legislature’s spending appetite. JBC Vice-Chair Pat Steadman (D-Denver) went so far as to say that the JBC should file a lawsuit to force Gessler to increase fees on non-profits, charities and small businesses.

“As Colorado small businesses claw their way out of this recession, the Democrats’ answer is to raise fees to pay for their partisan election bill and pet projects,” Gessler said. “My office submitted a fiscally responsible budget that meets the spending obligations of the legislature without raising fees on our businesses and non-profits. If the Democrats want to spend taxpayer money to get a judge to force fee increases on Colorado charities and businesses, I will fight it tooth and nail.”

Democrats rejected the non-partisan staff’s recommendation and instead chose to insult Gessler, who wasn’t in the room. When asked about collecting more information from the Secretary of State’s office, some members requested Gessler explain in-person at their next meeting. But Vice-Chair Steadman disinvited him and referred to Gessler as a pig saying “When you wrestle with a pig, you get dirty.”

“While the Democrats on the committee pat themselves on their backs for their partisan performance in the people’s house, Coloradans are left wondering, ‘These are the people we elected?’” Gessler said. “I would be more than happy to explain how our reduced fees have benefitted Colorado businesses and charities while keeping our fees the lowest in the country. It’s a sad state of affairs when our majority party is insulting individuals, broadcasting those insults and denying any chance of responding.”

Gessler’s written response is due to the committee on February 17.

# # #
From ProgressNow on Feb. 17:

So much for the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Colorado’s Secretary of State Scott Gessler has never been one to play by the rules. Since taking office in 2011, Gessler has faced scandal after scandal over his own efforts to tilt the playing field to his and his party’s advantage. Gessler is the only statewide politician in office today in Colorado who has been found by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to have “violated the public trust for private gain.”

Now we learn Gessler can’t even manage his own department’s budget. After slashing fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office, news reports have revealed that the Secretary of State’s office is millions of dollars in the red. Gessler blames political opponents, but these were his decisions. Cutting fees on business is a great way to pander while running for higher office, but taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for it ...

Don’t take my word for it. Even the conservative Grand Junction Sentinel [1] says Gessler is wrong to blame others for his own mismanagement:

"Unfortunately for the [Joint Budget Committee], Gessler loves an audience and he will undoubtedly use the grandstand the budget committee is providing him to loudly proclaim his victimhood. But the JBC holds the higher moral ground in this dispute. Gessler got himself into this predicament by sharply cutting business fees for his cash-funded office, when his office had a large surplus several years ago, refusing to put a portion of the surplus into the state general fund as lawmakers demanded."

Over the past three years, Scott Gessler has caused more controversy, and been hit with more ethics scandals, than any politician in this state. By simple yardsticks of scandal and mismanagement, he’s the worst Secretary of State Colorado has seen in decades—maybe ever. Enough is enough: tell Scott Gessler to withdraw his request for millions more taxpayer dollars to cover his office’s avoidable shortfall. He’ll receive your message instantly, and we’ll share your comments with the media and other public officials.

The only thing Scott Gessler is better at than getting into trouble is making excuses. If Gessler can’t manage the finances of a single department, how could anyone even consider entrusting him with more responsibility? It just doesn’t make sense. Let Gessler know you’re not buying it, and that you expect better.

Thank you,

Amy Runyon-Harms

From Gessler's office Feb. 18:

Secretary of State filers deserve the truth on budget

By now, many of you have heard wild accusations, insults and downright fabrications about the Secretary of State’s office budget. I want to assure you my budget is sound, and while tighter than in previous years, I’m committed to maximizing and preserving your low filing fees.

When I became Secretary of State, one of my goals was to bring the department’s budget into compliance with state law. No department can maintain a surplus exceeding 16.5% of its spending. Beginning July 1, 2012, my office accumulated a $7 million surplus when state law only allowed $2.2 million in excess.

To reduce the excess surplus, I dropped filing fees across the board to chip away at those excess funds. I’m proud to say many of our filers took advantage of the reduction. Our fees are already among the lowest in the country, so reducing them may seem like a small deal, but we ultimately returned $3.5 million back to our filers. That’s $3.5 million that businesses can use to grow, or nonprofits can use to better serve their communities.

We coupled those fee holidays with long-term planning aimed at prolonging our federal election grant funds by bringing some of those costs in-house. In total, we absorbed $1.6 million from the declining federal funds and moved that responsibility to our cash fund.

Through both of these efforts, we brought our budget in line with state law, leaving $1.9 million in our surplus account. Unfortunately, the legislature sprung an election re-write bill near the end of the fiscal year that wiped out those surplus dollars, challenging our budget. Since a full 25% of our filing fees pay for elections in Colorado, this will have an impact on our ability to serve our paying customers.

As many of you know, the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee governs my department’s spending level, while I set the revenues through fees. Recently, through cooperation with the non-partisan committee staff, I revised my budget request to include less spending. Shockingly, the committee members rejected this reasonable approach and granted a higher spending amount wanting to force my hand to raise fees. One member even went so far as to threaten to sue my office to force me to raise fees.

To be clear, our office is operating within our budget. I will not be raising fees.

I want to reiterate my commitment to keep our fees the lowest in the country. My office will not have a shortfall and we’re going to meet our obligations to my customers and stakeholders. That means delivering top-notch customer service while charging as little as possible in fees.

My frustration is that more of the office’s resources will be devoted to my elections division than to supporting the department’s filers. We have exciting initiatives underway focused on increasing the efficiencies for our filers. These projects will be delayed because of resources necessary to meet the deadlines in the legislature’s election re-write.

That said, I’ve submitted a fiscally responsible budget that’s been endorsed by the non-partisan committee staff.

I will vigorously fight any attempts to force fee increases for businesses, nonprofits, charities, notaries public or bingo and raffle filers.

My aim is to provide clarity for my filers, so thank you for reviewing this and please contact my office with any additional questions or concerns you might have.

Thank you,

Scott Gessler

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Representative leaves loaded gun at state capitol

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Rep. Jared Wright
  • Rep. Jared Wright
Whoa, the Denver Post is reporting that Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita) has agreed not to arm himself in the state capitol anymore, after he left a loaded gun in a committee room on Feb. 6.

Responses to the incident are already coming in. Check out this one from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America - Colorado Chapter:
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, CO – Chapter released the following statement in regard to news reports that Representative Jared Wright (R-Fruita) left a loaded weapon in a House Committee room at the Colorado State Capitol.

"As a concealed-carry permit holder, Rep. Wright should understand the risks of leaving a loaded gun unattended. On any given day there are classes of school-aged children touring the Capitol. And we all know the horror stories of what happens when children find loaded guns. It is inexcusable,” said State Leader, Jennifer Hope.

She continued, "Rep. Wright claims he carries his weapon because it is his ‘duty to be a first responder.' To that we ask, how can someone respond to an emergency situation when they can't even locate their weapon? The sad irony here is that Rep. Wright sponsored legislation to expand concealed carry rights to gun owners without permits. We shudder to think of this reality as we see the example of ‘responsible gun ownership’ that Rep Wright has displayed."

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Friday, January 17, 2014

State looks at extending drinking hours

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 4:28 PM

FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

A new piece of legislation, House Bill 1132, would extend the hours facilities could serve alcohol. Right now, state law mandates that bars and the like cut off patrons at 2 a.m. — and, as anybody who drinks can tell you, that often means 1 a.m. or earlier — but Denver Rep. Crisanta Duran would like to see that pushed to 7 a.m.

The reasoning? Why, that flood of drunk-ass hooligans that flood the streets come closing time. Ever been on Tejon Street when the clubs let out? Yeah, that's an interesting experience. (Or, if you're early to bed, just make the Colorado Springs Police Department's blotter a regular part of your Saturday morning reading.)

"When you mix alcohol and large crowds exiting at the exact same time, that's when problems occur," Duran told the Denver Post. "We're giving cities the option to allow bars to stay open longer and serve if they want."

Of course, the bill also allows local municipalities to craft their own rules regarding when alcohol should be cut off, so your guess is as good as mine what the moral majority — read: City Council — would choose to do if presented with the option. I guess it will depend on how many retired generals get trotted out.

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Abortion ban introduced in state legislature

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Heather Surovik's son Brady, who died in utero due to the actions of a drunk driver, is the driving force behind a Nov. 2014 ballot initiative. - COURTESY PERSONHOOD USA
  • Courtesy Personhood USA
  • Heather Surovik's son Brady, who died in utero due to the actions of a drunk driver, is the driving force behind a Nov. 2014 ballot initiative.

Conservatives again have introduced a bill that would ban abortions in Colorado by defining life as starting with a fertilized egg. The legislation is similar to past, failed ballot initiatives widely referred to as "personhood."

While the bill has little chance of passing, it has stirred up liberals and pro-choice groups. (Just check out the release from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains below.) Pro-life groups are also rallying around a ballot initiative aimed for November 2014 that would create legal protections for fetuses. Read more about that here.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains responds to abortion ban introduced in Colorado State House

DENVER – For the second year in a row, anti-choice, anti-women’s health lawmakers in the Colorado House have introduced a bill that would define a person at conception, banning abortion and emergency contraception even for victims of rape or incest.

Rep. Humphrey, the bill’s sponsor in the House, introduced the HB-1133 today which would put the government in charge of personal, private medical decisions that should be made by the woman in consultation with her family, her faith, and her health care provider.

“Women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. The Colorado legislature has no place in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for PPRM.

Colorado voters have resoundingly rejected similarly dangerous measures to define personhood through the ballot process two times already in both 2008 and 2010 by margins of 3-to-1, making it clear that this style of legislation is not in line with our Colorado values.

“It is important that abortion remain a safe and legal medical procedure for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it,” said Alderman “Planned Parenthood will work with our coalition partners, the public, and our champions in both the State House and Senate to ensure that such out-of-touch and dangerous legislation isn’t passed.”

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