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Tom RamstackTom RamstackFebruary 11, 201821min387

H.R. 1153: Mortgage Choice Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1153 in the House.

The Mortgage Choice Act of 2017 approved this week is intended to make mortgage lending easier for financial institutions by excluding some charges from the points and fee calculations. It also is supposed to incrementally drive down the cost to consumers to obtain a mortgage. The bill has the support of the Credit Union National Association. “These common sense changes will help low and moderate income families as well as first-time homebuyers access affordable mortgage credit and experience the benefits of one-stop shopping by ensuring that safe, properly underwritten mortgages pass the qualified mortgage test,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., who sponsored the bill. It limits the points and fees for “Qualified Mortgages” to no more than 3 percent of the loan value. It also removes title insurance purchased from a company affiliated with the lender as well as escrowed homeowners insurance premiums from the points and fees calculation.    

Passed.

No  D   DeGette, Diana CO 1st
No  D   Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R   Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R   Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R   Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R   Coffman, Mike CO 6th
Yes  D   Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

H.R. 1997: Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1997 in the House.

The “Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act” is intended to promote U.S.-Ukraine cooperation for cybersecurity while both the Ukraine and United States are concerned about Russian hacking. This week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that the Russians are likely to try to hack American computer systems to influence the upcoming midterm elections. He also said the United States is unprepared. Under the legislation the House approved this week, the U.S. will offer Ukraine support to secure its government computer networks. In addition, Ukrainian officials hope to reduce their dependence on Russian information and communications technology. In return, the U.S. government will get opportunities for cybersecurity information-sharing. The sponsors of the bill said it is authorized under the U.S.–Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership and the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances. The bill still needs Senate approval.

Passed.

Yes  D   DeGette, Diana CO 1st
Yes  D   Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R   Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R   Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R   Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R   Coffman, Mike CO 6th
Yes  D   Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

H.R. 1892: Honoring Hometown Heroes Act

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1892 in the House.

The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act modifies the federal flag code to give governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., authority to “proclaim that the U.S. flag shall be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a first responder (public safety officer) working in such jurisdiction who dies while serving in the line of duty.” The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., said in a statement, “First responders are the nation’s front line of defense here at home. In the unfortunate times when the ultimate sacrifice is given, they deserve the respect of having our nation’s flag flown at half-staff. Amending the Flag Code is the least we can do.” The standards for handling and displaying the U.S. Flag are defined by the U.S. Flag Code. It authorizes the president to order the flag to be flown at half-staff when governors or high-ranking U.S. government figures die. H.R. 1892 extends the authority to governors to honor local police, firefighters and emergency responders killed in the line of duty.

Passed.

No  D   DeGette, Diana CO 1st
No  D   Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R   Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R   Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R   Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R   Coffman, Mike CO 6th
No  D   Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

H.R. 772: Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 772 in the House.

This bill clarifies the Obamacare menu labeling rules to give restaurant owners greater flexibility in posting the nutrition information of the food they sell. The “Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act” is a response to concerns of the food industry, which has complained that food labeling provisions of the Affordable Care Act placed too much of a burden on them. Current law requires chain restaurants, convenience stores, movie theaters and supermarkets with at least 20 locations to post nutrition information on their in-store menu boards to comply with the requirements. The Food and Drug Administration announced in November the rules would take effect May 7. The guidelines would have required a listing of calorie counts next to each food item on the menu. Supporters of the Obamacare rules say the menu labeling requirements encourage public health by informing consumers about their food orders. However, pizza chains and other fast food restaurants say the rules can be misleading. Nutrition information can vary widely depending on toppings customers choose, the restaurants say. Instead, they want to post nutrition information on their websites. The Republican-endorsed H.R. 772 would give them that option. They also could list the nutrition information through phone recordings or mobile apps.

Passed.

No  D   DeGette, Diana CO 1st
No  D   Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R   Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R   Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R   Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R   Coffman, Mike CO 6th
No  D   Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

H.R. 4547: Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 4547 in the House.

H.R. 4547 would increase oversight of the Social Security Administration’s payee representative program, which handles payments to persons who are too young, disabled or elderly to manage their benefits themselves. The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017 was a reaction to reports of abuses by payee representatives who sometimes embezzled money paid to more than eight million beneficiaries under the program. The House bill is intended to protect the beneficiaries through a more rigorous process of selecting and managing payee representatives. Complaints about abuses came from government watchdog groups and stakeholders in the program, which the Social Security Administration has used since 1938 to administer funds. Some of them testified during congressional hearings leading up to passage of H.R. 4547. Provisions of the bill would increase the number of performance reviews of payee representatives. The reviews would be done by the Protection and Advocacy system of each state. The legislation also would eliminate the requirement for spouses and parents who live with their children to file annual payee accounting forms.

Passed.

Yes  D   DeGette, Diana CO 1st
Yes  D   Polis, Jared CO 2nd
Yes  R   Tipton, Scott CO 3rd
Yes  R   Buck, Ken CO 4th
Yes  R   Lamborn, Doug CO 5th
Yes  R   Coffman, Mike CO 6th
Yes  D   Perlmutter, Ed CO 7th

 

Sources: GovTrack, press statements, congressional and media reports


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 28, 20184min5145

Candidates, campaigns and political parties aren't the only ones gearing up for the election, the Colorado Democratic Party warns in this month's Democratic Dispatch newsletter. The Russian government-aligned hackers who broke into email accounts belonging to Democrats — including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, her campaign chairman John Podesta and state Sen. Andy Kerr — in order to influence the last election look like they're back for more, and no one involved in politics is safe, the state party's tech team advises.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 27, 20173min473

If only the IRS were so considerate: Denver Auditor Timothy O’Brien gave fair warning this week as to what areas of Denver government he will train his sights on next. His office has released his 2018 Audit Plan, which provides an extensive overview of the different agencies, services and activities O’Brien and his staff will scrutinize in the coming year.

Included in the lineup, according to a press release from the auditor’s office : “Use-of-force policies in public safety, airport financial management practices, homeless policies, property tax processes and Denver’s cybersecurity.”

Here’s more detail on some of the areas of inquiry:

Included in the plan is a second look at the oversight and use of mill levy funds by Rocky Mountain Human Services, Denver’s community centered board designed by the state to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 2018 Audit Plan includes a possibility of reviewing Denver Human Services’ oversight and monitoring of public funds, as well as the impact of state regulations that will change the way all community centered boards operate.

The Auditor also plans to take a close look at Denver’s airport operations. Audit plans include airport security and coordination practices, financial and administration management and revenue-sharing with the Westin Denver International Airport Hotel. Many community members have expressed concern and Auditor O’Brien plans to exercise his ability to audit the airport to make sure the organization is using tax dollars effectively.

Additionally, Auditor O’Brien plans to look into homeless services in Denver. The audit might include an analysis of the effects of certain social policies and might also assess the resources dedicated to addressing homelessness and the collaboration among agencies citywide.

How does O’Brien decide who goes under the microscope? The press announcement says he “considered input about the city’s risks from a wide range of sources and people.”

Get all the details by browsing the audit plan; here’s the link again.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 25, 20173min753

Whether or not the Russians really are controlling our elections any more than they controlled our weather back in the 1960s — remember that one? You don’t? Ahem; Millennials can just skip to the next sentence — ballot security is not to be taken lightly. Especially in the Digital Age.

Well, you can rest assured elections in the City and County of Denver are among the most cybersecure anywhere. So says the Center for Digital Government. It awarded Denver first place in the City Government category of its Cybersecurity Leadership and Innovation Awards for showing a commitment to providing a secure 2016 election.

Notes a press announcement from the Denver Elections Office and Denver Technology Services:

In its 17th year, this award recognizes the commitment of state and local governments, as well as educational organizations, towards keeping confidential data secure, despite evolving threats.

“Elections are critical services for citizens and our reliance on technology has exponentially grown over the past 10 years,” said Amber McReynolds, Director of Elections for the City and County of Denver. “It is imperative we maintain voter confidence and deliver secure elections which requires commitment, collaboration, coordination and communication.”

The press release also informs us:

2016 marked the first time the City and County of Denver and the Colorado Secretary of State worked together to share network traffic information, jointly utilizing tools provided by the Colorado Division of Homeland Security. This strong intergovernmental collaboration, alongside the pre-election validation of equipment and day-of monitoring, ensured that election integrity remained intact.

And there’s this sobering reminder:

“Cybersecurity threats are on the rise, and as stewards of some of the public’s most important and sensitive data, it’s more critical than ever that we recognize the government, education and healthcare organizations that are raising the bar when it comes to the best ways to protect that information,” said Teri Takai, executive director of the Center for Digital Government.

Now, mail in those ballots!


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandOctober 12, 20178min618
The increasingly polarized political dialogue in the United States is due, at least in part, to Russian manipulation of social issues, according to two national security experts who visited Denver Thursday. The panel on cybersecurity took place during a luncheon hosted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s chamber of commerce. It […]

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 3, 201711min532

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Tuesday he isn’t ruling anything out, but the Democrat downplayed rumors he might join Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, on a presidential ticket. Hickenlooper responded with a laugh when Ben Sherman and Anna Palmer, co-authors of Politico Playbook, asked him about the possibility at a Playbook Exchange discussion at the offices of financial giant S&P Global in Denver.