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Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 18, 201816min919

THEY GRABBED A CLIPBOARD ... It looks like a lot of Coloradans took the advice of a certain soon-to-be-former president. In his farewell address, delivered just over a week before leaving office, President Barack Obama said an oft-quoted line — "If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself" — that might have launched a thousand candidacies, including quite a few here in Colorado.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 6, 20186min608
Velma Donahue and her daughters Leila and Maya lead the Pledge of Allegiance with Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Senate chambers at the state Capitol in Denver. Her husband, Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue, killed by a careless driver when he was investigating a crash along Interstate 25 near Castle Rock on Nov. 25, 2016, was the inspiration for the Move Over for Cody Act. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

The Colorado Senate honored the family of the late Trooper Cody Donahue Monday after passing the Move Over for Cody Law last session. This year, lawmakers will consider a bill to help sustain insurance for the families of fallen officers.

While law enforcement officers are in mind, Senate Bill 148 also would extend insurance coverage for up to one year for any state employee killed while doing his or her job.

Donahue was working at an accident scene near Castle Rock, when he was hit by a food truck that allegedly had room to move to another lane. Last year lawmakers passed a law that toughened the punishment on those who don’t slow down and move over for first-responders and parked utility vehicles.

Donahue’s widow, Velma Donahue, and daughters Maya and Leila led the Pledge of Allegiance in the Senate Monday.

Afterward, she talked to Colorado Politics about the value of the proposed benefits for future families like hers. Her husband was killed on Nov. 25, 2016, and after Dec. 1, his wife and daughters were uninsured.

“I felt punched in the gut,” she said. “The funeral hadn’t even been completed yet.”

A change in the law is vital, she said, to give grieving families time to get their life  back in order after losing the family member who provided their insurance.

“It was devastating,” she said. “I was so scared. I thought. ‘Oh my God, what if something happens before I get this going?’ I didn’t even know what to do.”

The bill will get its first hearing Thursday afternoon before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It enjoys capable bipartisan sponsorship: Sens. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, with Reps. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, and Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs.

Humenik said the state has lost six employees on the job in the last five years, and the issue isn’t about finances as much as compassion for those who serve the citizens and ultimately sacrificing their lives for that service.

“This allows time to take some of the stress off the families, so they don’t have to think about this kind of business, about what to do next with their insurance, This gives them a year to figure that out.”

After leading the pledge Monday, Donahue’s wife and sister, Erin Donahue-Paynter, were lauded for their advocacy, which Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, called a “heroic, honorable and effective” effort to pass the Move Over for Cody Law last year.

Lawrence said of public servants on the roadside: “They’re watching out for us, and it’s important we need to watch out for them.

Another sponsor of the traffic law, Kim Ransom, R-Littleton, said she has become a friend to Velma Donahue; Ransom’s husband also was killed in a traffic accident, she said.

“I think this is a special follow-up for what the Donahues have been through,” Ransom said Monday morning.

The Senate presented the family with a framed display of all five pages of the legislation and the pen the governor used to sign it into law.

House Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, examines a framed copy of the 2017 Move Over for Cody Act in Senate chambers at the state Capitol in Denver on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue, the inspiration for the law, was killed by a careless driver on Nov. 25, 2016, while pulled over to investigate a crash along Interstate 25. Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, along with state Reps. Kim Ransom, R-Parker, and Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, presented the law, including a pen used to sign it by Gov. John Hickenlooper, to Donahue’s widow, Velma Donahue, and their daughters Leila and Maya. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 15, 201710min1394

Hours after releasing a lie detector test he says debunk claims he sexually harassed a fellow lawmaker, state Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton made public his detailed response to a formal complaint filed last month by state Rep. Faith Winter, but the Westminster Democrat dismissed the polygraph as a stunt and said Lebsock’s statements don’t prove anything.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 30, 20172min1434

Game on.

The Colorado legislature returns to the Capitol Monday to settle some things once and for all, unlike what might happen with the fix to flawed bill that’s costing special districts their share of marijuana taxes.

More certainly they’ll settle who are the champs and who are the chumps in politcal kickball.

Reps. Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, and Alec Garnett, D-Denver, as well as Sens. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, have summoned fellow lawmakers to the softball field at Metro State University of Denver at 7 p.m. for the first Bipartisan Charity Legislative Kickball Game.

The softball field is in the Regency Athletic Complex at 1600 West Colfax in Denver.

To sponsor the game, Walmart donated $10,000 for hurricane disaster relief through the American Red Cross, as part of retailer’s $30 million pledge to hurricane relief. Metro State donated facilities and umpires, while each legislator participating in the game is raising or donating at least $100 each.

“It’s really important for the Colorado legislature to show solidarity with fellow states,” Moreno said. “Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida and other states that have been impacted by these hurricanes need our help. All the money we can raise is going to a good cause.”

Nordberg said the a group of legislators had talked for awhile about doing bipartisan events to support good causes outside politics. He hoped this would be the first of many such events.

“If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol share, it’s our total lack of athletic ability,” he said.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 14, 20175min926

Two Lakewood Republicans are considering whether to challenge U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter's bid for a seventh term in the 7th Congressional District, Colorado Politics has learned. Jerry Natividad, who mounted a brief campaign last year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, and Mark Barrington, who has run for legislative and city council seats, both said they're thinking about running for the seat — particularly after Perlmutter said in April he was running for governor and wouldn't seek reelection, then dropped from the gubernatorial field in July and then declared in August he was back in the congressional race.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 3, 20175min787

Fans of the state’s history in flight can pay tribute to a pilot from Denver pilot who broke racial barriers, the late Marlon Green, at a banquet next month.

Green won a landmark Supreme Court case that allowed African-Americans to be airline pilots. He died in 2009 at age 80. The Colorado Aviation Historical Society will posthumously induct Green into its hall of fame Oct. 14 at Lakewood Country Club.

The society will also present a special award to a group of Coloradans who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Air Force during World War II. The organization will also recognize its Wright Brothers 50-year Master Pilots.

An Air Force veteran who lived in Denver, Green sued Continental Airlines in 1957. The airline invited him to take its flight test after he failed to note his race on the application. After he passed, the airline refused to hire him, while taking white Air Force pilots with less experience.

With the support of then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Green fought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he won a unanimous decision, in 1963.

He was still kept from becoming the nation’s first black commercial airline pilot, however. Instead, American Airlines hired David Harris, in 1964, a few months before Green was hired by Continental in 1965, eight years after he first applied. He flew for Continental Airlines until 1978.

In 2007, The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum called Green the “Jackie Robinson of Aviation.” In 2009 author Flint Whitlock published the book “Turbulence Before Takeoff: The Life & Times of Aviation Pioner Marlon Dewitt Green.”

In 2010, Continental Airlines named a 737 in Green’s honor.

Tickets are $45 each for the event from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. that Saturday. Those who would like to attend should contact banquet chairman Dave Kempa at 303-521-6761 or dave@airdenver.com.

Colorado’s rich history in flight is reflected in its museums, as well as military installations and private employers. Aviation in today supports 265,000 jobs, according to a 2015 report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

In its last session, the legislature exempted sales taxes on historical aircraft used in public displays at least 20 hours a week, partly as a tribute and partly to encourage public education and the preservation of history.

House Bill 1103 was sponsored by Reps. Dan Nordberg, R-Col0rado Springs, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, with Sens. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

The bill notes that The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located in the Lowry neighborhood of Denver has more than 50 historical aircraft on display, about half of which are on local from private owners

Legislative analysts also cited historical aircraft at the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs and the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.