Dan Njegomir, Author at Colorado Politics
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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 15, 201710min3480

Free-market think tank Independence Institute released a study Thursday that concludes the all-renewable-energy plans of two Democratic gubernatorial contenders — former state Sen. Michael Johnston and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis — would add $45 billion to Colorado ratepayers’ utility bills. Independence called Polis’s and Johnston’s goal of a fossil-fuel-free power generation in Colorado by 2040 a “green energy fantasy.”

Independence, which is critical of government mandates and subsidies for renewable energy development, commissioned the Energy Ventures Analysis study and touted it in a press statement earlier today:

“We commissioned the study because no one was asking these candidates how they would implement such a plan and the candidates themselves haven’t provided many details,” said Independence Institute Executive Vice President Amy Cooke, who also directs the energy and environmental policy center.

The $44,880,000,000 figure represents the cost of adding the necessary wind and solar capacity, utility scale battery storage, and retiring the state’s entire coal and natural gas fleet. Not included within the scope of the study are transmission costs, land acquisition costs, nor reclamation of retired sites, which are believed would add billions of dollars more.

But Polis, the five-term Boulder congressman now on the campaign trail for governor, pushed back on Twitter in a volley with Cooke and Independence President Jon Caldara. Polis contended he doesn’t want to mandate 100 percent renewable energy for Colorado but rather wants to achieve that benchmark by 2040 through other means:

To which Caldara replied:

Polis sniped back:

 

Polis’s plan states, “For our climate, for our national security, for our health, and for our economic growth we need a bold goal of 100% renewable energy.”

How to arrive at that goal if not by a flat-out mandate?

Polis says in his plan, “As I travel the state, I’m excited to hear your ideas to help us reach this goal. We need great ideas from everyone.” According to the plan, those ideas include:

  • Appointing PUC Commissioners who support consumers and renewable energy.
  • Encourage roof top-solar by ensuring homeowners, schools and businesses receive full retail rate for the energy they produce through rooftop solar panels.
  • 21st Century electrical grid.
  • State-based contingency fund for PACE financing for solar home improvements.
  • Special districts for small to medium scale renewable energy.

…the list goes on. So, Polis is saying as governor he’d foster a climate in which Colorado would get to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2040. He says he would not ratchet up the state’s current 30 percent mandate for power generated by renewables.

Johnston, similarly, sidesteps a call for a mandate in his “100 by 40 plan” to “make Colorado a national leader” in renewable energy use. How would Johnston do it? You can watch his 5 minute 14 second energy pitch here. His plan’s key provisions are accelerating the closure of coal plants (he wants to help retrain coal miners for new jobs); creating incentives “that will spur innovation and accelerate the growth of renewable energy,” and investing in “the development of energy storage.” The video doesn’t offer details of how Johnston as governor would implement those three priorities.

Caldara wasn’t buying any of it, taunting Polis in Thursday’s tweet-off:

Caldara again:

…and Polis:

 

Here’s the question Caldara didn’t ask, but that might be of interest to those Coloradans who actually do want a fossil-fuel-free future: If Polis and Johnston are indeed promising (Independence’s word) 100 percent renewables by 2040 — but aren’t willing to mandate it — are they really in a position to promise anything at all?

Call it a promise or call it a goal; skeptics in the green movement might ask: How committed are they?


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 14, 20173min3210

Denver’s attempt to rein in the “dark money” that drives, and sometimes distorts, a lot of campaign messaging has landed the city in court. A lawsuit filed in Denver District Court Wednesday by a public-interest litigation foundation out of Arizona — the libertarian-leaning, Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute — contends that provisions of the campaign-reform ordinance enacted by the Denver City Council in September are unconstitutional.

The suit was filed on behalf of two political-advocacy nonprofits that are a familiar presence on Colorado’s political right — the Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation and the TABOR Committee.

The new Denver campaign law, which has assorted other components not challenged by the suit, takes effect in January.

Calling the targeted provisions of the new law “unfair and unconstitutional,” a Goldwater press statement Wednesday says the measure, “requires nonprofits to give the government a list of their donors — including their occupations and employers — any time those groups spend as little as $500 communicating with voters about city ballot measures.” In other words, it effectively turns advocacy groups like the two plaintiffs into political or issue committees regulated by campaign laws.

The press statement continues:

…By undermining nonprofits’ speech rights, individual privacy is undermined as well.

“Since the 1950s, the Supreme Court has protected donors’ privacy when they contribute to nonprofits, ruling that government officials can’t force advocacy groups to turn over the identities of their supporters to public officials. But Denver’s new ordinance disregards this precedent entirely,” said Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Matt Miller. “Nonprofits have the right to educate and speak up for what they believe in, and that’s why we’re asking the city of Denver to stop the enforcement of its donor disclosure ordinance.”

Goldwater also quotes the Colorado Union of Taxpayers’ Marty Neilson:

“Putting donors’ names, addresses, employers, and occupations on a government list makes them vulnerable to harassment and intimidation, … Nonprofits should be able to choose whether or not to make their donor lists public in order to persuade people to listen to what they have to say, but that should be their decision to make, not the government.”

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that the Denver Elections Division declined to comment on active litigation.

Goldwater says the Denver law is “the latest in a trend of cities cracking down on nonprofit donors’ First Amendment rights.” Santa Fe, N.M., enacted such a law in 2015, and one is under consideration in Tempe, Ariz.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 14, 20172min3920

Just in case its members needed to be reminded that all politics is, ultimately, local, the Colorado Republican Party sent its members an e-missive this week urging them “to focus on the task at hand” — i.e., politics here in Colorado — in the wake of maverick Republican Roy Moore’s loss to Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s special Senate race Tuesday.

Acknowledging different factions of Republicans “have different feelings about yesterday’s election,” state GOP Chair Jeff Hays wrote:

… Here in Colorado, we have a governor’s race to win, three constitutional offices to protect, and a state senate majority to retain. That would have been true today regardless of the outcome in Alabama. …

The more energy we spend consternating about Alabama, the less we’ll have for Colorado, the state where God has placed us. If you want a government that will keep Colorado Colorado instead of engineering our transformation into California, call your county Republican office. Volunteer. Work. Contribute. Keep your eye on the ball. We can’t change Alabama’s past, but Colorado’s future is ours to mold, if only we have the will.

Unmentioned in Hays’s appeal, of course, is that while the U.S. Senate’s razor-thin Republican edge got even thinner after the controversial Moore’s defeat, a lot mainstream Colorado Republicans like U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner breathed a sigh relief. ‘Nuff said already about that.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 12, 20173min3280

Rightward-bound Colorado Peak Politics gets a two-fer in our book this week for alerting us to not only a thought-provoking snapshot of a potential state Supreme Court Justice (see below) but also to gubernatorial hopeful and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis’s problematic voting record as a member of the House Rules Committee.

Not problematic with regard to which way he votes but rather the fact he has missed 47 votes in the committee this year — fully a third. That gives the Boulder Democrat the worst record for missed votes of anyone on the committee.

Peak Politics learned about it via Twitter, from venerable Capitol Hill news source Congressional Quarterly:

CQ’s Shawn Zeller also had tweeted earlier:

CQ hasn’t missed the fact the internet entrepreneur and self-made millionaire is vying to be Colorado’s next chief exec. Peak snarks:

Ouch. Is Polis campaigning? We haven’t heard of a plethora of campaign events. Is he just disengaged? We wouldn’t blame him after being passed over time and time again for a leadership position in Washington, D.C. Where is he if he’s not in committee?


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 12, 20173min1380
The Millennial Policy Center's Jimmy Sengenberger, Rock 'n' Roll edition. (YouTube.com)
The Millennial Policy Center’s Jimmy Sengenberger rocks for tax cuts. (YouTube.com)

Could that be the Millennial Policy Center’s Jimmy Sengenberger on YouTube, rockin’ and rollin’ his way through an ad hoc appeal to Congress to pass the tax-reform bill?

By golly, it is. The youthful policy advocate and talk radio presence is joined by similarly youthful bandmates Jason Dashiell, Josh Loun and Eric Barney in a tribute to the tax cuts now pending in Congress.

The ubiquitous Sengenberger, who regularly makes a right-of-center pitch to today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings while wearing yet another hat as president of the Millennial Policy Center — and whose polemics periodically appear on Colorado Politics’ opinion pages — wails:

“Run, run Congress, Trump’s got tax cuts to sign;
Trump make them hurry, just get everybody in line…”

You get the idea. You won’t hear any denunciation of a “Trump tax heist” from this batch of Millennials; as far as they’re concerned, lawmakers can’t get the pending tax plan to the Oval Office fast enough.

And in case you’re wondering, the Millennial Falcons Blues Band’s retro-rockabilly number, with its forced lyrics, isn’t intended so much as a worthy addition to the Chuck Berry song book as it is simply a self-consciously spoofy way of making a serious political point.

Whether or not you buy their line, it is fun to see Sengenberger go to town on the harmonica. You wouldn’t have thought a baby-faced policy wonk had so much old soul.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 12, 20172min2140

It’s an interesting question: If a judge really is supposed to read the law dispassionately, does that leave any room on the state’s highest court for a justice whose apparent credo is, “We must take sides; neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim”?

Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, none too happy with the tilt of the Colorado Supreme Court to begin with, notes that the quotation, from the late Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, is featured in the banner on Melissa Hart’s Facebook profile. Hart, a University of Colorado Law School prof who was touted in 2015 as a prospect for an opening on the top court at that time, has made the short list again, this time to replace Allison Eid (who moved up to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in the federal judiciary).

Opines Peak:

We must take sides? Must we? As a judge? Really? If liberals want an activist judge, it would appear that they’ve found one, but it’s so awkward to be so blatant about it.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 11, 20174min6480
(iStock image / KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

Longtime advocates of Colorado’s bold step into legal recreational marijuana back in 2012 are sure to feel vindicated by new federal data indicating teen pot use is down markedly in the state. Indeed, legalization-movement pitch man Mason Tvert was practically on the media’s doorstep with the news this afternoon:

The federal government published survey data Monday that shows the rate of current marijuana use among Colorado teens decreased significantly last year and is now lower than it was prior to the state’s legalization of marijuana for adult use.

The rate of past-month marijuana use by individuals ages 12-17 dropped nearly 20% from 11.13% in 2014-2015 to 9.08% in 2015-2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now lower than it was in 2011-2012 (10.47%) and 2012-2013 (11.16%). Marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in December 2012, and legal adult marijuana sales began in January 2014.

Here’s a link to the federal website with the hard data Tvert references — for you numbers crunchers and fact checkers.

And here’s a comparison of Colorado with other states in light of the new data, compiled by the pro-pot legalization BSC Group and its Marijuana Moment website:

An antidote to the naysayers? Arguably, though if we’ve learned anything about statistics, it’s that there always appear to be more statistics that can and will be used to counter them. The latest numbers, for example, seem to contrast with some of the data in a previous iteration of National Survey on Drug Use and Health. As we noted earlier this year, legalization foes wrote Gov. John Hickenlooper in April, contending among other things:

The only representative sample of teens ever conducted in Colorado, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that Colorado now leads the nation among 12 to 17-year-olds in (A) last-year marijuana use, (B) last-month marijuana use, and (C) the percentage of people who try marijuana for the first time during that period (“first use”).

Meaning, we’ll probably be hearing from the other side this time around, too. Stay tuned.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 11, 20173min1790

Above-board, play-it-straight and by-the-book Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams hardly comes across as a riverboat gambler. (To say the least.) Which is why he can be forgiven for a friendly wager his office announced today with his counterpart in West Virginia.

Williams has bet West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner that the Colorado State University Rams football squad will beat Huntington, West Virginia-based Marshall University’s Thundering Herd in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque on Saturday. The stakes: Williams and Warner are each pledging $50 to a food bank in their respective states. The donations to both food banks will be made in the name of the winning team.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office contends in today’s press release, “Williams’ SOS record is undefeated when it comes to football wagers”:

Last year he and North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (no relation to Marshall University) bet on the Super Bowl game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Each office collected food to be donated to their respective food banks, with the donations being made in the name of the winning team, which turned out to be the Broncos, 24-10.

The two food banks collectively received more than 1,100 pounds of all kinds of food, from peanut butter to tuna to mac-and-cheese (no relation to Warner).

In addition, Williams waged a bet with Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert a year ago when their two alma maters played in the 2016 Poinsetta Bowl. The Brigham Young University Cougars defeated the Wyoming Cowboys 24-21. To Williams’ delight, Staiert wore a BYU shirt at work for a full day.

OK; we’ll look the other way. This time.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 11, 201710min230

Regardless of their politics, those who have served in elected office alongside Morgan Carroll will tell you she's one politician who doesn't flinch. Now the chair of the state Democratic Party, Carroll is a veteran of the campaign trail who carved out a reputation as a dogged warrior. After years in the legislature, where she was known as a forceful voice for her caucus and her party platform, she now brings her combat skills to a new calling that also will require her to be a unifier. Have Democrats closed ranks since 2016's smackdown between the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton? And what are the party's prospects in a state where unaffiliated voters outnumber either Democrats or Republicans? Carroll takes on those and other questions in today's Q&A.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 11, 20172min3430

As the state’s chamber of commerce, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry is a voice for the state’s business community, a mover and shaker at the Capitol and a catalyst for civic action. It’s also a convener at large in state politics, bringing together top elected officials as well as hopefuls for public office to talk about the issues of the day.

An example is a panel it hosted in August, drawing most of Colorado’s Washington delegation to brief business leaders in Denver. And January 25, it will conduct a forum at which candidates for governor in the 2018 race are scheduled to make their case to CACI’s influential audience.

As reported in a CACI press release the other day, seven gubernatorial hopefuls of both parties already have agreed to join the dais for the event: Republican Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Democratic businessman Noel Ginsberg, Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, Republican investment banker Doug Robinson, Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Republican provocateur and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. Still pending are Democratic former state Sen. Michael Johnston, Democratic former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Republican entrepreneur Victor Mitchell.

Colorado’s key influencers — as well as its political junkies — won’t be able to resist this event, moderated by Denver CBS4’s Shaun Boyd. Want to attend, or even help sponsor the gathering? You can start by clicking here.