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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandApril 20, 20186min149

If the "blue wave" that some predict is coming crashes ashore in Colorado, Democrats want to make sure their candidates don't miss out on a single legislative race. The state Democratic Party announced Friday it has placed candidates in every state House and Senate race. The party hasn't fielded candidates in every race in at least the last four elections and likely going back plenty of years before that.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 1, 20182min267

Martha Smith Farm Bureau
Colorado Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, congratulates Martha Smith at the Capitol Wednesday for winning the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Rancher National Discussion Meet. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Farm Bureau)

Colorado lawmakers congratulated Martha Smith at the Capitol Wednesday for winning the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Rancher National Discussion Meet.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, delivered a speech to congratulate Smith and deliver a joint tribute from the House and Senate.

“Members, we have a hero here in front of us today,” he began.

He explained the winners from each state and have a boardroom discussion on how to help first-generation farmers. Participants are judged on their strength in making their points courteously.

“And, no, I have never won this contest,” Sonnenberg joked.

Smith is Colorado’s first national winner, winning the title over competitors from almost every state, and the Farm Bureau’s national meeting in Nashville this month. Her prize was a new Ford pickup truck.

“Martha was an outstanding representative for Colorado and for young farmers and ranchers across the country,” Chad Vorthmann, executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said in a statement. “It is talented people like her who will lead the agriculture industry into the next generation and help us continue to feed people around the world.”

Smith lives in Denver and is an area manager for Channel Seed. She is a native of Virginia and graduated from Iowa State.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 15, 201815min383
Mark Hillman may be the kind of guy Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he extolled the virtues of America’s “yeoman farmer.” Born in Burlington on the eastern plains, raised on his family’s farm, Hillman early on became a sort of rural Renaissance Man. A plowman-politician who by his 20s had also worked as a […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 11, 20182min410

The Colorado Senate’s majority Republicans are pitching upgrades to the information superhighway — as well as to plain-old paved highways — as a boon to rural Colorado.

A press announcement touting the legislation said both proposals — the first two Senate bills introduced on opening day Wednesday — demonstrated a “commitment to assisting parts of rural Colorado that often feel left behind by the boom times enjoyed by the urbanized Front Range.”

The announcement said Senate Bill 1, “is a tax hike-free roadway modernization package that also could have broad economic benefits, if approved by voters next fall.”

Senate Bill 2’s provisions boosting rural broadband — a complicated measure Colorado Politics’s Marianne Goodland covers in greater depth — is intended to help bridge the digital divide.

SB 2 author Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, had this to say about both measures’ impact on farm-and-ranch-and-wide-open-spaces districts like his:

“In tandem, our first two bills of the session are meant to provide a double shot of economic assistance to rural parts of the state that often lag behind economically … It’s our way of helping to bridge the urban-rural divide so that every part of the state prospers.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 24, 20173min403

Editor’s note: This is a new feature for Colorado Politics. Each week we’ll introduce you to the difference-makers who work behind the scenes.

Effie Ameen has been working with lawmakers at the Capitol for almost 16 years, since joining the Office of Legislative Legal Services. She’s been the secretary of the Senate since November 2015.

Originally from Ohio, the mountains are what she loves best about Colorado. Here are some other things we learned:

What does a Senate secretary do?

“I don’t even know. No, it’s a lot of administration. It’s tracking purchases, and it’s the budget and what supplies we need. Then there’s a lot of hiring when it comes to the session-only employees. My staff grows by about 15 people during the session. In session, it’s helping the Senate run smoothly by working with the legislators and other staff.”

What do you like about this job best?

“I love the rules and getting to be in the role of parliamentarian.”

Government gets a bad rap sometimes. Does it deserve a bad rap?

“I don’t think so. I think people see the messes that happen, and that’s with any job. With government it’s more front and center, but having been here for a long time and from a nonpartisan perspective, I feel like the process works. You have your ups and downs like anything else, but I think overall it evens out.”

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

“Maybe in my next life I’d be on the grounds crew for a professional baseball team. I want to go out there and mow the lines on the field and that kind of stuff.”

Which sports teams do you pull for and why?

“I’m a Cleveland sports fan. I grew up in northeast Ohio, so those are my teams. Go Browns—this could be our year.”


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 25, 201727min427

By one measure, state Rep. Justin Everett, a House Republican serving his third term in the Colorado General Assembly, and state Reps. Chris Hansen and Chris Kennedy, a pair of Democrats in their first terms, stand as far apart as any lawmakers at the Capitol, based on the votes they cast in the just-completed 2017 regular session. Considering all the bills that made it to final, third-reading votes in the session — 490 in the House and 459 in the Senate — between them, these three legislators cast the most ‘no’ votes and the most ‘yes’ votes, respectively, according to an analysis prepared by bill-tracking service Colorado Capitol Watch.