Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJanuary 5, 20173min379
Colorado’s so-called “marijuana czar” is stepping down. Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination, has started a consulting firm, which will assist governments in implementing legalization. Freedman is joined at the new firm, Freedman & Koski, by Lewis Koski, the deputy senior director of enforcement for the Department of Revenue, where Koski works on casino gambling, liquor […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJanuary 5, 20175min216
Legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle believe this is the year to pass robust construction defects reform in an effort to spur affordable housing development. Lawmakers outlined their legislative agendas Thursday at a forum hosted by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. After a disappointing outcome last year on the issue, Republicans and Democrats […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJanuary 5, 20175min268
A task force made recommendations Tuesday in an effort to address a conundrum with mental health holds after Gov. John Hickenlooper last year vetoed legislation on the subject. The task force was created after Hickenlooper in June expressed concerns with a bill that would have created a tiered system, where facilities designated for mental health […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 4, 20175min273

Better pay and more funding in general are at the top of the list whenever public education lobbies the legislature. And nowhere are those concerns more acute than in Colorado’s small-town schools. A couple of recent reports by the state’s community news media highlighted the needs as well as some efforts to address them.

The Elbert County News profiles Elizabeth School District Superintendent Douglas Bissonette’s quest for pay equity between rural public schoolteachers and those teaching in Colorado’s metropolitan areas. Right now, the pay disparity is so lopsided that Bissonette says his district has lost 30 percent of its teachers in the past four years. Reports the News:

The high attrition rate in Elizabeth led the district to commission a study by Mountain States Employers Council over a two-year period. Exit surveys were done with all departing employees to find the main reasons they were leaving. At the top of the list: the relatively low salaries for teachers in Elizabeth compared to other area districts.

And this:

Bissonette has found that his district is not alone in its struggle. He’s discovered a large disparity between salaries in the rural schools and compensation for the cost of living, with 74 percent of rural district and small school salaries averaging in the bottom 10 percent of the state.

Bissonette has since launched a crusade of sorts. The News says he compiled extensive documentation and on Dec. 9 delivered a PowerPoint presentation on his findings at the Colorado Association of School Boards Convention. He also has taken his show on the road elsewhere around the state. His ultimate goal?

His mission has caught the attention of the state Legislature, and while he didn’t reveal specifics, one legislator has taken a particular interest in the project. Bissonette hopes the attention brought to the issue will result in solutions to adjust the salaries of rural and small-school teachers.

Meanwhile, the Sterling Journal-Advocate reported the other day on an effort by a lawmaker from another rural clime, Republican state Rep. Jon Becker, of Fort Morgan, to take up the cause of school funding on a broader scale. Becker says he will resuscitate a proposal he championed unsuccessfully in the legislature last year:

Becker’s solution: Re-direct Colorado Lottery money to public school districts until they’ve caught up with the funding they lost during the 2008 recession. He understands that the parks-and-recreation crowd will object, but he sees the move as necessary if Colorado ever hopes to bring public education back up to par. He introduced a bill in the last legislative session that would have referred such a question to the voters, but it ended up going nowhere.

Key public education stakeholders like the lobbies representing school administrators as well as school boards balked at his bill, but he says that won’t deter him from trying again:

“I’m going to keep putting it forward until we get this question referred to the voters, or until someone tells me why it’s not a good idea,” he said. “I challenge the teachers’ union, CASB and CASE to tell my why this is not a good idea.”



Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJanuary 3, 20173min252
When Colorado House Republicans return to the legislature next week under new leadership, the caucus will be operating without a chief of staff. Instead, House Republicans will split the staff leadership position between two roles, one acting as an operations director, and another as the legislative director. “It helps maximize a lot of our talents,” […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJanuary 3, 201713min278
As the controversial and conflicting Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights heads into its 25th year, at least two Republican state lawmakers believe the law is in need of a tuneup. Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction and Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa are heading down a road as bumpy as the crumbling state highways that have […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 1, 20178min252
The most important relationship to watch in Colorado over the next four months is House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senate President Kevin Grantham. The pair have a lot they could fight over and little in common except an outsized influence over the lives of nearly 5.4 million Coloradans. After several legislative sessions of gridlock over […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusDecember 29, 20164min301
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s trusted spokeswoman Kathy Green is saying goodbye to a terrible 2016 with a new job opportunity in a much more hopeful new year. After two-and-a-half years serving as the governor’s communications director, Green is leaving government for private consulting, a move that is sure to sadden many in the cabinet and Colorado […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusDecember 29, 20165min346
The election for Colorado treasurer is just under two years away and already a crowded field of Republicans is expressing interest in the position. At least four candidates have told ColoradoPolitics.com they are considering a run, and others are being encouraged to run. Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, is term-limited in two years, so the Colorado GOP […]

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