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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 20, 20176min351
With allies like Joe Salazar and Jared Polis, who needs Republicans? Salazar, a Democratic state representative running for attorney general next year, called out Democrats running for governor Wednesday, Jared Polis and . former state Sen, Mike Johnston want to move the state to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 204o. In an “open letter” […]

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Tom RamstackTom RamstackSeptember 14, 20174min1432

 

Republicans and Democrats in Congress proposed more revisions to the nation’s health insurance this week while Colorado politicians struggled with the same concerns over skyrocketing premiums that are fueling the national controversy.

Governor John Hickenlooper continued to argue for a bipartisan plan while a gubernatorial candidate who wants his job recommended a Medicare-for-everyone option.

Hickenlooper (D) spoke to a Fort Collins business group this week, where he described health insurance as a factor weighing on other economic priorities.

He developed an alternative to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that he says could provide health insurance to a large number of underserved persons but lower premiums.

He announced the plan last week with co-developer Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich as the Colorado Division of Insurance said it has approved an average health insurance premium for next year of nearly 27 percent.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate for governor Cary Kennedy unveiled a plan this week that would give all Coloradans an option to purchase insurance through the state’s Medicaid, Health First Colorado or state employee health plan.

The former state treasurer said the plan would encourage the kind of competition that would bring down insurance premiums.

“We can offer more choices, address the rural disparities in access and affordability and lower costs,” Kennedy said in a statement. “That’s why today I am proposing giving everyone in Colorado the ability to buy into our public health insurance plans.”

Kennedy’s plan is similar to a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., to extend Medicare and Medicaid benefits to nearly the entire U.S. population.

Although Sanders first announced his plan during his failed run for president last year, he discussed a revised version this week that would make insurance premiums adjustable based on income. Low income persons would pay no premiums while the wealthiest people and corporations would be charged high rates.

The revamped Sanders plan drew criticism from Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on Thursday.

“The Bernie Sanders socialized medicine plan is not the answer to fix our broken healthcare system,” Gardner said in a statement. “Year after year, Coloradans are forced to reckon with rising insurance premiums and fewer choices and anyone who thinks a government takeover of our healthcare system is the answer is not serious about finding real solutions for the American people.”

He said the current Obamacare system was “a failure in states across the country, including Colorado, and it is not reasonable to think more government is the solution.”

Extending Medicare beyond senior citizens it was designed to protect would leave the retirees with even fewer health insurance resources, Gardner said.

Meanwhile, Republicans continued to propose more health insurance solutions during hearings this week as time runs out in the current congressional session. Insurance companies predict premiums will take another leap upward nationwide next year.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 13, 20175min15530

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is seeking advice from conservatives as he weighs whether to join Colorado's crowded Republican primary for governor in next year's election. "Here we are, once again looking at this possibility, and I assure you it is, in my own mind, the possibility — the possibility of running for governor," said Tancredo at a meeting of the Arapahoe County Tea Party Tuesday night in Centennial.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 10, 20178min420

The dog days of August are over, and now the political doghouse is howling in Colorado. These week we saw our governor on the national stage, his lieutenant governor step into the spotlight on the state’s biggest stage and President Trump asserting himself in a Colorado case involving gay rights.

So many stories this week didn’t make the cut into the top five, but here are the ones worth revisiting, because of their wide impact on Colorado politics and Coloradans lives. Here are the stories our staff thought ranked as the best in the first week of September.

 

Gov. John Hickenlooper talks with reporters at the Colorado Democratic Party's election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Hickenlooper said recently he wants to make sure that the health reforms made in Colorado are secured against a likely repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act coming out of Washington. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Gov. John Hickenlooper talks with reporters at the Colorado Democratic Party’s election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

5. Voters might weigh in on how districts get drawn

A bipartisan group is trying again to take some of the political gamesmanship out of how legislative and congressional districts are drawn in Colorado. The way it works now is that legislators draw them, which gives outsized advantage to the political party that has the majorities in the state House and Senate after the U.S. Census. As a result parties control the outcomes (and candidates) in most districts based on which voters are put in which districts. Opponents, however, see a scheme to take away political power from minorities and other “communities of interest.”

Read the full story here.

 

In this March 10, 2014 file photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips cracks eggs into a cake batter mixer inside his store in Lakewood, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

4. Trump adds ingredient to gay cake court case

The Trump administration is siding with a Lakewood baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012 by filing a brief in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case. LGBTQ activists say it’s the clearest sign yet that President Trump harbors animosity toward their cause, regardless of what he said on the campaign trail.

Read the full story here.

 

Transportation The Gap
Looking north towards Castle Rock in, December as heavy traffic moves along I-25 which is two lanes in each direction. (Photo by Mark Reis/ The Colorado Springs Gazette)

3. Tap the brakes on no new taxes for roads

In the last legislative session, raising sales taxes for transportation was a no-go for Republicans who opposed asking Coloradans to pay more. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, however, aren’t yet through with the idea of gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot in 2018.

Read the full story here.

 

In this June 27, 2017, file photo, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

2. Hick on the Hill: Colorado’s king takes healthcare national

A U.S. Senate committee and organizations on both sides of the political fence on healthcare got to hear from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this week. Hick and Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich drafted the proposal as Congress continues its efforts to repeal, replace or fix the Affordable Care Act.

Read the full story here.

 

Donna Lynne
Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne was introduced by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, background left, at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on March 23, 2016. Lynne, if confirmed will replace Joe Garcia. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/ The Denver Post via the AP file photo)

1. Lynne is in the governor’s race

Things just got more interesting in the 2018 governor’s race, as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s second-in-command, Donna Lynne, joined the Democratic primary field that already includes such well-known candidates as Jared Polis, Cary Kennedy, Michael Johnston and Noel Ginsburg. Can she carve out a niche as the moderate pro-business choice with Hick’s team behind her? We’ll see.

Read the full story here.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 3, 20175min560

State Rep. Pete Lee, a term-limited Colorado Springs Democrat, announced Saturday night that he’s running for the Senate District 11 seat held by state Sen. Mike Merrifield in next year’s election.

Lee was among several candidates for Congress, the Colorado Legislature and statewide offices at a three-hour forum sponsored by the El Paso County Democratic Party and the Colorado College Democrats at the college’s Armstrong Hall. Roughly 100 students and community members showed up to hear the candidates describe their platforms and answer questions.

Merrifield didn’t respond to an email inquiry from Colorado Politics, but according to Lee, Merrifield does not plan to seek a second term.

Two of the four declared Democratic gubernatorial candidates — former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and businessman Noel Ginsburg — also appeared at the forum. The other two, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and former state Sen. Michael Johnston, sent representatives to a mixer beforehand but didn’t participate in the discussion. (Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne is exploring a run but hasn’t made her candidacy official.)

Kennedy and Ginsburg were in agreement that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limits government spending, needs to be revised, saying the 1992 constitutional amendment doesn’t allow funding for education to keep pace with Colorado’s growth.

“If we don’t take on TABOR,” Ginsburg said, “we can’t solve our education problems.” He said he’d work to pass “TABOR 2.0,” which would retain the right of voters to approve tax increases but strip its ratcheting effects that suppress spending after economic downturns.

Blaming TABOR for starving schools for decades, Kennedy lamented that Colorado ranks 42nd in state funding for K-12 education, despite having a booming economy. She noted that she wrote Amendment 23, the only measure to increase state funding for education approved by voters in the past three decades.

“We can’t let our state become the next California. We need to keep Colorado affordable, we need to protect our state’s open spaces and public lands,” Kennedy said.

She also took aim at the Trump administration. “We are going to fight the nonsense we see in Washington,” she said. “We will fight (President) Donald Trump in the courthouse and in the statehouse. We are not going to let him take this state backwards.”

Ginsburg pointed to his role helping found the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation, which shepherds classes of third-graders through college — “turning a 90-percent dropout rate into a 90-percent graduation rate” — and said it typified the approach he would take to governing the state.

“My form of leadership is to take on difficult problems, to build coalitions and make difficult things happen for the state of Colorado,” he said.

Merrifield, a Colorado Springs Democrat, is serving his first term representing one of the few districts in the Colorado Springs area in which Democrats have an advantage. The Senate district includes downtown Colorado Springs and surrounding neighborhoods, stretching south to Stratmoor and west to Manitou Springs. At the end of August, 33 percent of its active, registered voters were Democrats, 25 percent were Republican, and 39 percent were unaffiliated.

Legislative candidates in attendance included state Rep. Tony Exum, who is seeking reelection to House District 17; Terry Martinez and Graham Anderson, who are running in a primary for Lee’s House District 18 see; and Liz Rosenbaum, running in House District 21.

The Democrats running in the 5th Congressional District included Betty Field and Stephany Rose Spaulding, and newly announced candidate Marcus Murphy, a civil rights attorney who introduced himself as a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Also participating were secretary of state candidates Jena Griswold and Gabriel McArthur; state Rep. Steve Lesock, a Thornton Democrat running for state treasurer; and attorney general candidates Michael Dougherty, Brad Levin and Phil Weiser, who were joined on stage by a surrogate representing state Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat.