FOURTH OF JULY: How Colorado Legislators Will Celebrate Independence Day

It’s that time of year again – hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, kids running through the sprinklers, and fireworks (maybe).  It’s the Fourth of July and never have you seen so much red, white, and blue…and politicians.  We’re here to bring you the plans of Colorado’s state legislators.  Here’s how they responded when we asked what they were up to today:

Sen. Larry Crowder, SD-35

I will be in the Alamosa 4th of July Parade.

Senate President Pro Tempore Lucia Guzman, SD-34

My family and I (including our 2 dogs) will spend the 4th of July at Frisco, as we have done for many years .  We will attend their 4th of July Parade , which is a great Hometown parade.  We will hike a special trail to see the wild flowers, ride our bikes from Frisco to Vail Pass summit, golf at Keystone, and sail on Lake Dillon. We will grill our own dinner on the deck and view the fireworks while we give thanks for our great country!

Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath, SD-18

I’m heading up to Jamestown for their pancake breakfast.

Rep. Stephen Humphrey, HD-48

My family and I will be walking in the Greeley Stampede 4th of July parade and then enjoying some BBQ later in the day.  I’ll probably try to squeeze in “Lone Survivor” somewhere, haven’t seen it yet!  God bless and God save the republic!

Sen. John Kefalas, SD-14

Running in the 4th of July Firecracker 5K Race and marching in the Fort Collins Independence Day Parade.

Rep. Polly Lawrence HD-39

Please join me for the July 4th Parade in beautiful Highlands Ranch!

Rep. Beth McCann, HD-8

I will be proudly marching in the Park Hill Fourth of July parade. I do this every year; it’s a great parade – please join us at 1:30 p.m. on the Fourth – parade route is down 23rd Ave starting at Dexter Street. Food and fun activities available for all. Then I hope to catch some fireworks in the evening.

Rep. Clarice Navarro, HD-47

After I honor Veterans in Pueblo, Co (Home of Heroes), I’m hitting Pueblo West’s 4th of July Water Parade for an action packed soaking! Then off to the neighbors for some traditional cocktails and BBQ, all the while, I’ll be reflecting on why this Nation’s Independence is so precious to me and my family. I will neither confirm or deny the use of fireworks from “unregulated” Wyoming!

Have a great Fourth, PeakNation™!

 

PeakFeed: Democrat Senate President Suffers from End of Session Insanity

The end of session is tough on everyone.  But, it would appear that liberal Senate President Morgan Carroll is letting the pressure get to her.  Yesterday, she started making up rules as she went along.  First, H.B.14-1009, which would have changed the wildfire mitigation income tax deduction to the wildfire mitigation income tax credit, failed.

Two Democratic senators, Sens. Lois Tochtrop and Cheri Jahn voted no.  That’s when things got…awkward.  Carroll conferred with Boulder Sen. Rollie Heath and returned to her perch with an amendment to H.B. 14-1009 that would have laid over the bill until later in the day.  Yes, the same bill that was just killed. Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman called her out on this…odd…political maneuver.  Just watch:

From the video:

Cadman: “Members, welcome to the Senate where there’s no settled questions.  We’re asking that a bill be laid over, that we just killed, frankly. I would ask for a no vote.  If you voted against 1009, you should not support this motion.  This is not just procedural.”

Carroll: “Umm, this is a procedural question in the form of committee of the whole amendment 1.  The question is the adoption of the committee of the whole amendment 1.  Are there any no votes?”

Cadman: “Well, I guess in that sense all things here are procedural, that’s what we do.  The reality of this is it would undo what we just did. I would ask for a no vote.”

Carroll again asks if there are any “no” votes and literally stops in the middle of counting to to whip her members into submission tears obedience voting the right way.  While it’s tough to see her after she hustles off to the floor, her voice yelling at her members – we presume Jahn and Tochtrop – is unmistakeable.  She can be heard saying, “This is a procedural vote.” Another member responds with “this is NOT a procedural vote” and then “this is unconstitutional”.

Not only was this maneuver not kosher, but Carroll’s conduct is more fitting of the President of Sweet Valley High Student Council than President of the Colorado State Senate.

 

BACK FOR MORE? New Issue Committee Seeks Ballot Initiative to Ban Concealed Carry on College Campuses

UPDATE: We cited a Westword story that claimed Toltz’s family owns the Dependable Cleaners.  While this is technically true as the Toltz family does own the Dependable Cleaners chain, Ken Toltz is estranged from the Toltz family.  You can call off your boycotts of Dependable Cleaners, PeakNation™.  Steve Toltz called the Michael Brown Show today to clarify the relationship and assure his customers that he is not supportive of his brother’s activities – financially or otherwise.  Listen to the exchange below:

Apparently, the spanking that Democrats received when they tried to ban concealed carry on college campuses last legislative session no longer stings as badly as it did then.  A new issue committee, ironically named Safe Campus Colorado, filed late last month would seek to put on the ballot an initiative to “amend the current concealed carry law to exclude college campuses from the concealed carry law.”

The registered agent for this ill-conceived committee is none other than Ken Toltz, the well-funded, but failed, 6th Congressional District Democratic candidate whose family owns the Dependable Cleaners chain.  Toltz also is known for cashing in on Obama’s inauguration via Obama-Bling.org.

What’s puzzling is that Toltz would volunteer to venture into those dangerous waters.  While the Democrats in the state legislature shoved through five bills relating to gun control, the college campus concealed carry ban was the bill they couldn’t force feed Coloradans.  The bill was pulled by its sponsor, extremist Democratic state Sen. Rollie Heath, after the debate turned ugly for Democrats. During the debate, several rape victims testified and about-to-be-recalled newly-resigned former state Sen. Evie Hudak condescendingly told victims that “the statistics are not on your side”, causing a national uproar. continue…

 

TONE DEAF: Democrats Select Trial Lawyer & Tax Hike Cheerleader For New Senate Leadership

Senate Democrats chose not to listen to their caucus members urging moderation and selected two extreme liberals for their new leadership today after Senate President John Morse was recalled from office last month.

Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) – a trial lawyer on the left-wing fringes of the Democratic Party – was selected to replace Morse as Senate President. Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), who led the failed Prop 103 tax hike campaign in 2011, took Carroll’s position at Majority Leader.

More moderate members of the Senate Democratic caucus are likely to be displeased, as they hinted they would be to Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post last week.

Senator Mary Hodge (D-Brighton) and Senator Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge) both expressed hopes last week that their colleagues would select a leadership team other than Carroll and Heath, instead adding at least one moderate voice to the mixture.

“I think everybody wants some moderation in the House and the Senate,” Jahn told Bartels.

The selection of Carroll and Heath is also a rejection of the advice of former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, who advised Democrats to not be only the party of the Denver-Boulder corridor.

“The Democratic Party cannot be the party of metro Denver and Boulder,” Ritter told the New York Times. It has to be the party who understands the values, views and aspirations of people who live outside of those areas.”

With a 50% disapproval rating in the latest Quinnipiac poll, Democrats must figure their majority is already in peril so they might as well push through whatever they can get in 2014. We’ll see if their candidates feel the same way on the first Tuesday in November 2014.

 

TO MODERATE OR NOT? Colorado Democrats Debate Leftward Lurch Of Caucus In Leadership Fight

Did Democrats sleep through the recalls?

The historic recall elections of Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron have caused some Democrats to reflect on the sharp leftward shift their party took in the last legislative session. While some openly pine for a more moderate agenda, it’s not clear that Democrats will take that path.

As Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post reported:

With the swearing-in comes a power struggle for new leadership, and an attempt by Republicans to have a say, although Democrats will still hold the majority, at 18-17.

Conventional wisdom says Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, would be the logical choice to succeed Morse as president, but not everyone thinks that’s the direction the Senate should go when the leadership election is held later this month or in early November.

Carroll has declined to discuss the leadership race, but several Democrats said she has told them she is running for the post and they believe she has the votes.

Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, is running for majority leader, a position that would be vacant if Carroll is elected Senate president.

The problem for Democrats is both Carroll and Heath are left wing politicians from the metro area – the exact recipe that got Democrats in the bind they’re in right now.

Former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter warned about this in the New York Times the day after the recalls:

“The Democratic Party cannot be the party of metro Denver and Boulder. It has to be the party who understands the values, views and aspirations of people who live outside of those areas.”

In an implicit repudiation of Carroll and Heath as outside the mainstream, Senator Mary Hodge (D-Brighton) told Lynn Bartels she thinks that leadership team would be lacking a “moderate voice”:

continue…

 

PAPER AIRPLANES: With Wildfires Raging, Coloradans Must Wonder Why Democrats Didn’t Fund Tankers

As Colorado once again deals with devastating wildfires, many Coloradans are likely wondering why we still refuse to prepare for what is an inevitable issue — putting the fires out. In fact, a legislative fix was proposed this past session by State Senator Steve King (R-Grand Junction) to buy a set of air tankers, but Democrats voted against spending a mere $17 million to buy the planes.

While the bill, SB245, was signed by Governor Hickenlooper to create an air tanker fleet, there was no money attached to it. That’s led the press to refer to the endeavor as “paper airplanes” as they exist only on paper at this point.

What fools voted against funding the tankers?

That would be Democratic Senators Rollie Heath, Jesse Ulibarri, Pat Steadman and Mary Hodge.

Governor Hickenlooper also has culpability in this outcome. For a governor who bragged he didn’t veto a single bill because he was allegedly so effective at managing the legislative process to his liking, why couldn’t he manage to get $17 million for such a critical need as planes to fight wildfires?

To be sure, should Democrats have decided to spend the money on common sense things like air tankers in a state annually beset by wildfires, rather than banning guns or teaching sex ed to kindergartners, the tanker fleet wouldn’t be up and running for this current raft of fires.

But, with the Democrats voting against the tankers, they probably won’t be ready for next wildfire season either.

When reporters cover this latest foreseeable tragedy, we hope they remind readers that it was Democrats who decided their tax money was better spent banning standard capacity magazines than fighting wildfires.

Priorities matter.

UPDATE: A reader writes in to point out SB245, the air tanker bill, was classic Hickenlooper — with the governor making an empty gesture by signing the bill without any actual dollars attached to it. It allowed him to claim he did something without actually doing anything.

Think of it as partially commuting the death sentence for a real tanker bill that would have had real funding and real muscle behind it. 

Even when it comes to something as easy as forest fires, Hick is a weak suck.

 

HEY MIKEY, WHY DO YOU WANT MORE? Despite Revenue Gains, Senator Mike Johnston Stills Wants A Tax Hike

With the economy recovering and tax revenue increasing, you would think the calls for tax hikes would begin to recede, but then you would misjudge the aim of tax hikers.

They’re like a fat kid in a candy store — give ‘em one piece and they just want four more.

As the Associated Press’s Ivan Moreno reported yesterday, the state’s general fund is already increasing by $600 million over last year, and the overall budget surpassed $20 billion this year, with it expected to cross $22 billion next year:

Under the Senate spending plan, general fund expenditures, which lawmakers control, were expected to be about $8.2 billion next year, compared to $7.6 billion in the current budget year. The state’s total budget, which includes federal money and cash funds, would be about $20.5 billion.

That hasn’t stopped State Senator Mike Johnston from forging ahead with his plan to ask for a $1 billion+ tax hike from taxpayers this year. Or was it $2.75 billion?

We’ll say this for the tax hike set, at least they picked a better face forward for this campaign compared to 2011′s disastrous Prop 103. Zach Morris beats Mr. Burns any day as a poster child for policy.

Of course recent tax receipts may not keep pace with Magpul and associated industries leaving the state and many hunters boycotting Colorado over it’s gun control legislation. So maybe the tax hike is meant to make up for that lost revenue?

What’s the reason, Mikey? Why do you want more?

 

JOHNSTON’S TAX HIKE: What Coloradans Get for Their Money

Stevenson: “If we want equal outcomes for all children in Colorado, we’re going to have some unequal funding — that’s what equity is about.”

Yesterday, the Peak explored the different proposals to pay for Democratic Senators Mike Johnston and Rollie Heath’s one billion dollar education funding tax hike.  (Hint: They’re all income tax increases.)  But, why do Johnston and Heath need another billion dollars from Colorado’s taxpayers?  What exactly is in this bill?

The bulk of the bill deals with how education funds are dispersed throughout the state.  According to the Denver Post, the way the funds are distributed would be based on a three-part model from Rhode Island.  Here’s how it’s explained:

“First, the legislature would set an average state-local ratio — Johnston proposes a 64-36 split, Colorado’s current ratio. Next, each district’s property tax base per pupil would be adjusted to reflect the local median income and students on free and reduced lunch, a common measure of poverty.

Districts that lose funding as a result could increase local taxes to make up the difference or just absorb the loss.”

So, while this bill is paid for primarily through a statewide income tax increase, it would appear that local districts have a strong incentive to also increase property taxes once funds are redistributed. Additionally, smaller districts would be further encouraged to pass property tax increases due to a program that would offer matching state funds.

One of the largest complaints about the bill is its redistribution of funds.  EdNews Colorado sums it up pretty well:

“The central feature of the plan is a significant shift of funding to districts with the highest concentrations of at-risk students and English language learners. That would benefit districts like Denver and Aurora. Large districts with a lower concentration of such students, such as Cherry Creek, Douglas County and Jefferson County, would receive smaller increases in per-pupil funding.”

Even Democrats acknowledged that this could be too large a hurdle for Colorado’s voters.  Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson nonsensically told the Denver Post:

“I think we can make it make sense, but there has to be a really good, clear message.  If we want equal outcomes for all children in Colorado, we’re going to have some unequal funding — that’s what equity is about.”

Proponents of the bill also claim that it has additional transparency measures built in so that taxpayers can see how school districts spend money.  The bill also would provide separate funding for special education programs, a $600 per year per pupil grant to schools to pay for previously “unfunded education reforms”, and an “Innovation Fund” for under performing school districts.

But, overall, with Johnston’s original claim that his reforms would cost $2.75 billion and the ability of the state to ratchet up income taxes, again, is this bill worth the harm it will pose to the financial stability of middle class families?

 

COLORADANS BE DAMNED: Senate Dems Pass Gun Control Legislation

Despite protests and letters from constituents expressing dismay over the radical overreach by House and Senate Democrats, Senate Democrats forwarded their extreme gun legislation yesterday.  Here is where the legislation stands, and the next step for each.

  • HB1228: To require purchasers to pay for mandatory background checks HEADED TO HICKENLOOPER, who has indicated he would sign the legislation into law
  • HB1224: To ban magazines that would hold more than 15 rounds.  PASSED IN SENATE, Going back to House to vote on amendment
  • HB1229: To require universal background checks, including on private transfer of guns PASSED IN SENATE, Going to House to vote on amendment
  • HB1226: To add college campuses to the list of places exempt from concealed carry allowances Pulled by Senate Sponsor Democrat Rollie Heath
  • SB195 – To ban online firearm training and defines a “handgun training class” as a physical location at which a certified instructor offers a course (i.e., no online or video courses) HEADED TO HOUSE
  • SB196 – To hold liable manufacturers and sellers of certain semi-automatic weapons in Colorado for crimes committed with the guns they’ve manufactured or sold Pulled by Senate sponsor
  • SB197 – To prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence or who has been the subject of a restraining order from possessing a gun HEADED TO HOUSE

To tally, that’s one bill headed to the governor’s desk and four headed to the House.  Two of the bills headed to the House require approval of amendments and two require full vote.  The amendment to HB1224 bans any shotgun magazines that hold more than 28 inches of shotgun shells.  The amendment to HB1229 is a provision that would allow gun repairs without the background checks required for transfers.

While Mayor Bloomberg lost a battle in New York yesterday when his “Big Gulp” rule was struck down, his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, is still winning battles in Colorado to the detriment of Coloradans.

UPDATE: Former Republican State Rep. BJ Nikkel adds some snark:

 

FIRST VICTORY: Concealed Carry Ban Dies Due To Conservatives Who Fought Back

Sen. Giron hugs Kim Weeks after confirming her “no” vote on Concealed Carry Ban on campus at 6:55pm

UPDATE 4: Revealing Politics just published an op-ed by rape survivor Kim Weeks, who shares her horrifying experience at the hands of a rapist who stayed in her home for two hours as he raped her.  A must read, but not for the faint of heart.  Kudos to Kim for having the courage to share her experience with the world.  Did this op-ed cause Sen. Giron to change her vote?

UPDATE 3: There has been no word yet on how successful Mayor Bloomberg’s lobbyist, Adam “Machine Gun” Eichberg has been on forcing the concealed carry bill to the Senate floor. He’s been lobbying swing Senators furiously, possibly with promises of soft money support in their coming election efforts, but so far nothing has leaked publicly.

UPDATE 2: Senate President Morse and Senator Heath should listen to their favorite liberal blogs. They say the concealed carry bill has been a public relations disaster for Democrats, and that spiking the bill would make most sense. As Colorado Pols wrote after it was reported the bill was dead: “Democrats believe this leaves them in a more defensible position, and at this point, they’re probably right.”

Listen to your liberal base. End the public relations disaster and kill the “whistle” bill.

UPDATE: Senator Rollie Heath now saying he may bring the bill up. He-Said-She-Said civil war within Democratic Caucus playing out in full view thanks to Lynn Bartel’s coverage. Wanna bet whether Mayor Bloomberg’s top lobbyist (a.ka. Machine Gun Eichberg) or Joe Biden had something to do with Senator Heath changing his mind? 

Let there be no doubt at all, the tail is wagging the dog and the Democratic Senators themselves are just along for the ride. Bloomberg and Biden should just come down here and cast votes.Until then, it is chaos, pure chaos, in Democrat Senator Land.

——

After a hard fought battle by gun rights supporters, online and on the ground, legislative Democrats have decided to pull their bill banning concealed carry on college campuses.

Breaking just now via The Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee:

The sponsor of a bill banning concealed weapons on college campuses plans to kill his measure Friday, Democrats have confirmed.

Four Democratic sources close to the matter said the bill’s sponsor, Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, plans to kill the bill and it won’t be brought up for debate on the Senate floor.

House Bill 1226 already cleared the House and a Senate committee earlier this week amid controversial comments made by a House Democrat and one in the Senate about rape on college campuses.

Republicans have hammered Democrats over the rape remarks, jeopardizing a bill that already was in trouble. Two Democratic senators had openly said they were against it, Republicans needed only one more Democrat to kill the measure.

This is just the first battle in a larger war to stop the Democrats gun grab.

The next battle is stopping HB1224, the ban on standard capacity magazines over 15 rounds, that would kill hundreds, if not thousands, of Colorado jobs. Magpul Industries, and a number of companies reliant on Magpul’s business, will leave the state if the bill passes.

Not only that, but the Outdoor Channel has threatened to leave the state if it passes too.

Save Colorado jobs, stop HB1224. Spread the word.

And if you’re tweeting today, make sure to use the hashtags #COleg and #StandWithBrophy.

A reminder of how we got here, per 9News’ Kyle Clark:

As Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee reports it was our loyal readers of Peak Nation™ and Revealing Politics that helped crush this bill:

 
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