In case you missed the opening day of the 2015 legislative session, we’ve captured the highlights here for you.
It’s that time again, PeakNation™. The legislature is finally out of session. We think. Until special session. Welcome to the fourth annual Colorado Peak Politics legislative awards where we honor the winners and shame the losers.
This year wasn’t as rancorous as last year – Democrats were on their best behavior since it’s an election year. As usual, Democrats, who control the Colorado House, the Colorado Senate and the Governor’s Mansion, promised Coloradans the world and delivered very little.
Without further ado, we bring you, first, the Losers of the 2014 Legislative Session. There were many.
Democratic leadership gone wild – From Senate President Morgan Carroll storming off her perch to whip votes in the middle of a vote to Speaker Mark Ferrandino throwing a temper tantrum about putting State Treasurer Walker Stapleton on the House floor, this year’s Democratic leadership has proved that nothing is too low for them. But, that’s not all. Several Democratic initiatives not only fizzled but blew back in their faces (see: radical abortion bill and equal pay measure).
Colorado’s women – Speaking of the equal pay measure…. This was, perhaps, one of Democrats’ biggest flops of the session. In an attempt to gin up the so-called “war on women”, Democrats pushed an equal pay resolution, hoping to highlight Republicans’ aversion to government-controlled pay. The only problem? As it turns out, Republican politicians pay their ladies better than Democrats, leading to cries of hypocrisy that extended all the way up to fragile U.S. Senator Mark Udall.
Colorado’s first-time homebuyers – We have a problem here in Colorado – a lack of cheap housing near fun stuff. Part of the problem is that trial lawyers have run amok raking in huge profits with construction defects. This was going to be the legislature that addressed that. We snickered knowing Morgan Carroll’s undying allegiance to trial lawyers. Turns out we were right. Sorry.
Sen. Andy Kerr – When you are a vulnerable incumbent, typically you try not to make any waves. Kerr has managed to do the opposite. From his embarrassing fumble on an election year abortion bill to two years of bizarre votes against his district, he’s in for a rough re-election campaign.
John Morse – You know why.
Bald Eagles – One of the negative affects of wind energy is the negative impact it has on birds, specifically bald eagles (um, our national bird). Republican Rep. Libby Szabo introduced a resolution to protect bald eagles from wind turbines. It failed on party line vote. It would seem that devotion to nature extends only so far as it lines the pockets of green energy investors.
Alan Salazar – Oh, poor Alan. He’s on this list because he harassed and marginalized Sen. Steve King’s plan for an air fleet to fight forest fires. And told the media that there was no way that King’s plan would happen. Until it basically did. Sorry, Alan. This wasn’t your year.
Stay tuned for the Winners of the 2014 Legislative Session, which can be found here.
Earlier this week we called out House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) for blocking Treasurer Walker Stapleton from sitting on a task force set to study Coloradans’ retirement savings. After two days of pressure, Ferrandino ultimately caved and let Stapleton on the task force, but not before throwing a temper tantrum on the house floor:
Stapleton’s Campaign Manger Michael Fortney described Ferrandino’s rant as “fairly aggressive.” We would call it unprofessional and not befitting of a statesman. It’s one thing to debate an idea and to question a policy, but it’s quite another to lob personal attacks from the House floor. If Ferrandino ever wonders what’s wrong with politics, he should take a look in the mirror.
You know Democrats are up to no good when they set up a task force to study the state of Coloradans’ retirement savings, yet they deny the state Treasurer a seat at the table. Treasurer Walker Stapleton is the only statewide official who sits on the board of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), and his expertise would be invaluable to the task force. So why block him from participating?
Turns out, Stapleton isn’t bought into the task force’s pre-determined agenda. House Bill 1377, which was introduced at the last minute by House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, creates a task force that is supposed to make recommendations for the establishment of a state-run retirement plan for private sector employees.
The prospect of such a move is downright terrifying. The state can’t even manage PERA properly, and we’ve seen what a disaster Social Security has become. Why on earth would anyone in his right mind think the creation of another government run retirement plan is a good idea?
As Stapleton put it in his recent release:
“Under no circumstances would I support a Colorado run retirement plan for private sector employees. Frankly, it frightens me that Democrats are even asking for such recommendations. Our current public employee plan, PERA, is $26 billion in the hole. We should start by turning the titanic away from the iceberg before we start placing more passengers on the ship.”
Stapleton is exactly right. Democrats should be focused on fixing PERA, not trying to launch a government takeover of private sector retirement plans.
Yesterday, the Democrat-controlled Colorado State House State Affairs Committee passed a bill that they have equated to Jessica’s Law. But, does it really do the same thing? The answer is no. The bill, H.B. 1260, was sponsored by Boulder liberal Rep. Mike Foote and was the Democrat-approved version. Republican state Rep. Libby Szabo also introduced her version of Jessica’s Law, H.B. 1264, which was killed in committee on a party line vote.
The key features of Jessica’s Law are the tough minimum sentencing requirements and lifetime probation for sexual predators. Foote’s bill offers a tiered system of sentencing, which drops mandatory sentencing down to as little as 10 years. From the bill: at least 10-16 years and up to a maximum of natural life for a class 4 felony; at least 18-32 years and up to a maximum of natural life for a class 3 felony; and at least 24-48 years and up to a maximum of natural life for a class 2 felony.
H.B. 1260 also lacks sex offender registration and reporting requirements, compared to H.B. 1264, which requires that if paroled, offenders must remain on parole for the remainder of their natural life.
Colorado is just one of a handful of states that does not have a Jessica’s Law on the books. The rejection of such a law last year landed liberal Speaker Mark Ferrandino in hot water with Bill O’Reilly. “Jessica’s Law” is named after Jessica Lunsford, a young girl from Florida who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a paroled sexual offender.
The issue is that Jessica’s Law-type laws not only act as punishment once crimes have been committed, but also as deterrents to would-be predators. Passing a Jessica’s Law-in-name-only leaves Coloradans with a false sense of security when the truth is that our law does not have the same impact as the surrounding states. This is dangerous.
We just don’t understand why Democrats wouldn’t want the absolute highest level of protections available for children. Why pass such a watered down bill when a perfectly acceptable alternative was available? The reason? Democrats put politics in front of Colorado’s kids safety. This is really dangerous.
Is Speaker Mark Ferrandino hearing voices? That’s the only explanation we here at the Peak have for his comments earlier this week in The Denver Post.
Continuing their belief that, if they don’t talk about their progressive agenda in 2013, Colorado will forget it ever happened (Platform: Amnesia 2014™). Democrats claim there’s no need to revisit last year since they offered everyone a chance to compromise last year. Here Ferrandino talks about the compromise they offered last year during the renewable energy mandate debate:
“We were willing to make compromises last year, but the other side walked away from the table after a week-and-a-half of negotiations.” [the Peak emphasis]
The problem with this statement? No one’s quite sure who “the other side” Ferrandino is referring to. House Minority Leader Mark Waller thinks Ferrandino might be referring to the co-ops:
Former House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said Ferrandino must be referring to the co-ops because his caucus was shut out of the process entirely.
Following yesterday’s performance by the Democrats at the opening of the 2014 session, we’ve decided to help them package their agenda, so Colorado really understands what the 2014 legislative session is all about. We’re calling it the Amnesia Platform.
After seeing quite clearly it’s toxic to run on what the liberal agenda they passed in 2013, Democrats are trying to make 2013 go away as quickly as possible, but, without, you know, changing any of it.
In speeches by both Senate President Morgan Carroll, and Speaker Mark Ferrandino, the heavy-handed pleas for bipartisanship illustrated what Democrats know: their only hope for a successful 2014 campaign season is for Coloradans everywhere to forget 2013 ever happened.
We appreciate the sentiment, and in one part classical conservative thought we agree: bad laws (especially those with the best of intentions) are prevented by having a very spirited debate between both sides. That being said, Dems passed a whole host of bad laws last session that were not even close to being bipartisan in nature (that is, unless you count the opposition against them).
So in that other part of classical conservative thought, the need for self-responsibility, we will demand you stand by your 2013 record and come November let the good folk of Colorado decide.
We look forward to coming back together in a bipartisan manner in 2015, but until then: Remember 2013!
Another year begins and still no punctuation mark for sarcasm has gone mainstream and we assume Speaker Ferrandino is lamenting the same. How else could he keep a straight face while trying to pass off such bald-face lies he told The Colorado Statesman?
In a preview of this year’s upcoming legislative session, Ferrandino had this to say about the many times the Democrats ignored Coloradans last session:
“House Speaker Mark Ferrandino of Denver scoffed at the idea that Democrats pushed an agenda that ignored constituents in any part of the state.
‘That is hysterical because I don’t remember any time we shut down debate,’ the Denver Democrat said. ‘Everyone was allowed to speak, we never closed debate. Unlike what happened the year before, we limited testimony, but that’s been something that’s happened in this legislature for a very long time and will continue to happen. But everyone had a say.’
‘There’s a difference between having your voices heard and getting your way,’ Ferrandino added. ‘Just because you don’t get your way, doesn’t mean your voice isn’t heard.'” [the Peak emphasis]
As a simple rebuttal here’s a tweet from at-the-time Denver Post reporter Tim Hoover: Continue reading
Don’t tell us PeakNation™ over the Christmas holiday you missed this recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; no worries, that’s why you have us.
While people all around the country have been touting the ever-lowering unemployment rates in their states—and who wouldn’t? People able to provide for their families is a great thing!—the Mercatus Center took a look behind those numbers; unfortunately, all is not as well as it seems. From the report:
“The most widely cited sign of progress toward a healthy economy has been the declining unemployment rate; however, the fall in the unemployment rate has largely been due to a shrinking labor-force participation rate rather than strong job growth.
…In the two most recent jobs reports, the labor-force participation rate has been at its lowest levels in nearly 35 years. Further, the entire drop in the unemployment rate in 2013 so far—from 7.8 percent in December 2012 to 7.0 percent last month—has been from the decline in the labor force rather than from job growth.” [the Peak emphasis]
That’s at the national level, but things don’t look much better if we focus just on Colorado. In fact, compared to May of 2013 (the peak of jobs in Colorado last year), we have lost almost 20,000 jobs since then. Yet, at the same time Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9% to 6.5%. No wonder China is beating us at math.
As the Mercatus Center pointed out, our drop can be almost completely accounted for by workers leaving the workforce. It doesn’t matter to the unemployment rate when you lose 20,000 jobs if over 30,000 people drop out of the labor participation force. The end result is the same.
Then again, when you pass fake “job bills”, perhaps you just end up with fake jobs. Thanks Speaker Ferrandino!
According to his family, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon’s death at 63 last night was a complete surprise. His son, Ben, told The Denver Post that his father had a massive heart attack.
“I thought he was going to outlive us all,” Ben Gordon said. “He was the most fit person I knew. He was so strong.”
Born in 1950 in Detroit, he earned an academic resume — undergrad in economics and political science at the highly-respected University of Michigan, a law degree from Boston University—that would have allowed him to pursue almost anything he wanted. Gordon, instead, became a public defender. Even after starting his own practice, he felt a need to continue helping the less fortunate, taking on many cases pro bono. This led Westword to name him its “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year” in 1988. In 1992, he was first elected to the Colorado State Legislature, where he served as Assistant House Majority Leader, and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders. He was highly respected for his statesmanship, as demonstrated by the many Facebook tributes to him from both sides of the aisle: Continue reading