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Ramsey ScottRamsey ScottDecember 22, 201510min95
An education group, with the support so far of Front Range Democratic lawmakers, is planning to ask voters this November to allow the state to keep more tax money for public schools. It’s a proposal that anti-tax groups would vigorously oppose. Lisa Weil, executive director of Great Education Colorado, said her group is still in […]

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Kelly SloanKelly SloanDecember 20, 20156min82
The Colorado office of R&R Partners hosted their annual holiday party on what became a snow-packed evening for the metro area last Tuesday, December 15th. Billed as an “ugly sweater party”, the event drew a collection of unique attire, and some prominent names from the state’s political and business communities. R&R Partners is one of […]

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John TomasicJohn TomasicDecember 20, 20157min64
Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, will be pushing lawmakers next year to simplify the patchwork tax regime in Colorado that he said places an enormous burden on businesses in the state. “Colorado has the most complicated structure,” he said Thursday at an event hosted by the free-enterprise and business-promotion […]

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Ramsey ScottRamsey ScottDecember 20, 20157min71
Democratic lawmakers have teamed with the libertarian Independence Institute to craft 2016 legislation that would lower a major hurdle for Coloradans seeking access to public records. In an unusual pairing of players from opposite sides of the political spectrum, state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, and state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, are working with liberty-politics […]

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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanDecember 20, 20154min690

Energy-tight buildings reduce our thinking capacity unless they’re properly ventilated, according to a Harvard University and Syracuse University double-blind study conducted recently. Who knew?

After spending decades making our buildings more energy efficient, it turns out that the CO2 and volatile organic compounds trapped in these “tight” buildings can make us dumb.

The Harvard School of Public Health study placed “knowledge worker” volunteers in spaces where researchers could control the different chemicals they breathed. Researchers increased and decreased CO2 and VOCs, one at a time, to understand their cognitive impacts.

The VOCs introduced to the study spaces are common to commercial buildings, coming from paints, carpet, particleboard, cleaning products and adhesives. During the study, some days had high CO2, some days had high VOCs, and other days, the “green building” days, had amounts more closely reflecting fresh, outdoor air.

The knowledge worker volunteers did their normal jobs in these spaces. At the end of each day, volunteers took cognitive performance tests, simulations that presented practical situations requiring practical solutions.

On the high CO2 days, volunteers’ cognitive performance was halved. With VOCs, the cognitive diminishment was even greater. On enhanced green days, when buildings were ventilated to approximate fresh air levels, crisis response scores went up 131 percent, strategic thinking scores went up 288 percent, and information usage scores went up 299 percent.

According to Joseph Allen, the lead researcher and Harvard faculty member on the study, “This is a big deal. The findings are strong, the magnitude of the effect is quite large, and we weren’t testing anything exotic.”

A follow-up study about to be published indicates that the cost benefit of ventilating buildings to fresh air levels is enormous. Researcher Allen said in a Living on Earth segment on National Public Radio that the per-employee cost of an energy-tight building is $30. The per-employee cognition improvement benefit of a “fresh air” building is $6,000.

United Technologies, a leader in the building technology industry, sponsored the first study. John Mandyck, UT’s chief sustainability officer, calls the study is a “game changer.”

“With optimized indoor environmental quality,” Mandyk said, “test scores over nine cognitive domains doubled. That really means better thinking in better buildings, and I think what’s most important here is that productivity often comes with a learning curve. In this case, all people have to do is breathe because the intelligence is in the air with readily achievable conditions that Harvard and its study partners found in this research.”

Study results have implications for Colorado’s Capitol, which has undergone renovation in recent years to restore its original beauty and make it energy-efficient. Coloradans will surely tolerate some leaking from the Capitol’s spacious 19th century windows if the fresh air keeps everyone in the building sharp as tacks.

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 20, 20156min72
Fifty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Denver attorney Richard Lamm, the vice president of the Young Democrats of Colorado, wrote a series of columns about the thinking of the young generation, tackling subjects that included civil rights, conservation and the national debt. “It will surprise no one to say that my […]

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Jared WrightJared WrightDecember 20, 20152min77
Gov. John Hickenlooper last week awarded the inaugural Colorado Governor’s Citizenship medals to five individuals and organizations to recognize “meritorious contributions to strengthen Colorado communities and develop new opportunities for Coloradans throughout the state,” his office announced. Recipients of the medals, bestowed by Hickenlooper at a ceremony last Thursday at the Governor’s Residence, included Colorado […]

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Jared WrightJared WrightDecember 20, 20152min700

Editor:

In a guest commentary by Hadley Heath Manning published by The Colorado Statesman earlier this month, she states: “According to the state government, a single-payer healthcare system would cost about $25 billion annually, effectively doubling the state budget, and increasing payroll taxes by 10 percent.”

First: She writes that this is “a single-payer healthcare system.” ColoradoCare is not a single-payer healthcare system. Medicare payments will stay the same and Medicaid recipients will won’t pay more than currently. With ColoradoCare, the current confusing, profit-oriented payment system of multiple insurance companies deciding on payment and treatment issues will be replaced by a simple, efficient payment system — a cooperative nonprofit owned by Coloradans via their elected board of directors.

Second: She writes that this will “cost about $25 billion annually.” Currently in Colorado we pay over $30 billion for health care via premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copays. So, in effect, ColoradoCare will cost less and will cover everyone in the state.

Third: She writes that ColoradoCare would result in “effectively doubling the state budget.” Premiums will be collected through a payroll tax, but the program will be administered by an elected board — not by the state. This is a plan developed in Colorado by Coloradans. It will take government and the insurance companies out of the picture and put the patient and the doctor in charge – the very patient-centered model Ms. Manning advocates.

The facts are: ColoradoCare is the answer to our healthcare problems in Colorado. Now is the time — let’s pass ColoradoCare.

Joseph Rogers
Denver


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 18, 201512min80
Hillary Clinton’s go to Viking, a man with bona fide political chops A television screen filled with images of protesters and vigils and presidential candidates competes for space on one of Denver attorney Steve Farber’s office walls, chock-a-block between framed newspaper clippings, memorabilia and photographs of Farber with some of the most recognizable faces in […]

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 17, 201512min950

CENTENNIAL — Colorado Republicans on Saturday elected former congressional candidate George Leing as Republican national committeeman. That’s national committeeman, not woman, an emphasis made clear at a tense and sometimes raucous special meeting of the GOP State Central Committee that saw an unsuccessful attempt by some Republicans to nominate a Denver party officer who happens to be a woman for the post.

Leing, who has previously chaired the Boulder County Republican Party, won on the first ballot over two former vice chairmen of the state GOP, Mark Baisley and Don Ytterberg. He is filling a vacancy created by the resignation of former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, who gave up the national committeeman post after being named executive director of business advocacy group Colorado Concern.

Former congressional candidate George Leing accepts the nomination for Colorado’s Republican national committeeman on Dec. 12 at a special meeting of the GOP State Central Committee at Valley Country Club in Centennial. Leing won the election to fill the term of former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Leing will serve out the remainder of Kopp’s term, which ends on the last day of the Republican National Convention in July. The state party will elect a permanent national committeeman at the April state convention to serve a four-year term starting the day after that.

Leing joins state Republican Party Chairman Steve House and Republican National Committeewoman Lily Nuñez as a member of the Republican National Committee, the governing body for the national GOP. He ran last year against U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, earning the distinction of receiving the most votes nationwide for a losing congressional candidate.

Vowing that he wouldn’t be afraid to “carry conservative principles” to the national party, Leing promised likewise to represent the voices of Colorado Republicans before the Republican National Committee. “It’s about you — this is your voice that’s going to be heard in Washington,” he told the crowd.

“I’m running because I think we need a party that’s open to all,” Leing said, accepting the nomination. “We need a party that’s not constantly changing the rules of conventions. I’m for openness and transparency. I’m going to fight so all our national delegates are seated and able to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

Leing, an attorney whose parents emigrated from China shortly before the communist takeover, said he began to become a “constitutional Republican” when he learned his little sister, who was too young to travel, was trapped in the country and lived under communist rule until she was able to flee.

Republican national committeeman candidate Mark Baisley, a former vice chairman of the state GOP, hams it up while he shows his campaign brochure to former Jefferson County School Board member Julie Williams at a Dec. 12 meeting of the Republican State Central Committee at Valley Country Club in Centennial. Baisley came in second to George Leing, who takes over for Mike Kopp.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“It tells me I have to be thankful every day for our country, for the Constitution and for the rights we have under it. It also tells me we have to fight for our rights, we have to fight to preserve them everyday,” he said.

After resolving — at least for Saturday’s meeting — a longstanding controversy over who can carry whose proxy votes, Republicans gave Leing 143.87 votes, or 54.5 percent of the total, enough to win outright over Baisley, who had 84 votes, and Ytterberg, who received 36 votes. (Fractional votes reflect that some county GOP offices, usually vice chairs, are split between two or three Republicans.)

But the ballots weren’t cast until after the Republicans settled another dispute, this time over whether Denver County Vice Chair Elaine Brofford could run for the post.

As Leing, Baisley and Ytterberg’s names were being placed into nomination, Huerfano County GOP Secretary Marcy Freeburg, a former legislative candidate, rose to nominate Brofford. “It’s national committeeman,” said House, after doing a double take. “There’s no rule!” Freeburg retorted. “Yes there is,” said House, sounding increasingly weary.

After some consternation and huddling with state party attorney Chris Murray — “Have we repealed the law of common sense?” he later sighed — House declared, “In this particular case, as chair, I rule you cannot nominate a female as national committeeman.”

Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, state Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and radio talk show host Randy Corporon listen to speeches as the ballots are counted in an election on Dec. 12 at Valley Country Club in Centennial to fill Colorado’s Republican national committeeman position.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Immediately, hands shot into the air. “Point of order!” at least a few Republicans barked.

“If we adopt a strict interpretation of the bylaws for committeeman and committeewoman, does that mean we have to carry that same strict interpretation every time a ‘chairman’ is referenced?” asked Jefferson County activist George Athanasopoulos. “If we are going with a strict interpretation, we have to apply it uniformly, do we not?”

“A chairman is not a gender-specific term, it is used both for men and women,” House responded. “Wouldn’t that apply to committeeman?” Athanasopoulos shot back. “No, no,” some members of the crowd, sounding annoyed, murmured.

As officials scrambled, flipping through bylaws, Secretary of State Wayne Williams rose and read from the Republican National Committee rules. Then he shook his head and barely smiled. “It doesn’t say committeemen must be male, it doesn’t say committeewomen must be female. That’s what the rules say,” he said with something shy of a smirk. Brofford partisans let out a few subdued cheers.

“If Elaine should win,” said Arapahoe County Republican Lori Horn, “that means we’d have two women, it’s not balanced.”

Noting that the party has had two men and one woman sitting on the RNC for as long as anyone can remember — Colorado Republicans haven’t elected a woman as chairman in at least three decades — a few in the crowd jeered.

State Reps. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and Justin Everett, R-Littleton, share a moment of levity at a meeting of the Colorado GOP State Central Committee on Dec. 12 in Centennial.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Within minutes, however, a motion to allow Brofford’s name to be placed into nomination failed by an overwhelming voice vote.

“I’d checked on the RNC rules and knew the answer coming in,” a sanguine Brofford said later. “The next time I do something like this, I’ll hire a parliamentarian to come with me. There’s absolutely nothing in the rules that says that.”

The meeting, at Valley Country Club, was held under increased security, GOP officials said, because the state party has been on has been on what was described by some as “heightened alert” in the wake of publicized threats against Republicans in Colorado. (An Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy was parked outside the building and leaned against a wall for much of the proceedings.)

“It stems from the two incidents in Colorado Springs this week,” House told The Colorado Statesman. “The one lady who suggested that she should get her dead husband’s guns and shoot Republicans, and the other was the comment by the ACLU member.” (The co-chair of the Colorado Springs ACLU resigned last week after comparing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump with infamous Nazis in a Facebook post, concluding, “If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.”)

A grim-looking House added, “You have to take every one of those things seriously these days. As political as it may be, as crazy as it may seem, we’re taking it seriously, so our meetings will have notification to local law enforcement ahead of time and we’re going to have a law enforcement agent here. That’s the way we’re going to handle it.”

— ernest@coloradostatesman.com