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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 26, 20174min4
Opponents said Colorado’s recreational marijuana shops would drive down nearby home prices, but so far buyers don’t seem discouraged at all, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin School of Business. In fact, public records show property values have risen faster within 528 feet of medical marijuana shops that added or converted to […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 21, 20173min2160

One of the most active and effective organizations for young voters is launching a campaign Thursday to crowd-fund $4,000 for research and advocacy around tax reform.

The Denver-based Millennial Policy Center think tank hopes to do the same kind of work it did, from a conservative point of view, on the healthcare debate last spring, publishing and publicizing an in-depth policy paper on the subject as Republicans were ramping up their attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The center, which defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1998, is urging those who want to support its work to learn more and donate on its website.

Donations to the nonprofit think thank are tax-deductible. The goal is to fund not only research, but social media, videos and other means of publicizing its findings. Besides healthcare, the policy center did laudable and even-handed work on college affordability this year, as well.

“The Millennial Generation is naturally attuned to opportunity and prosperity – the very goals of broad-based tax reform. Millennials are innovative, creative, and inherently inclined to freedom,” Jimmy Sengenberger, the Millennial Policy Center’s president and CEO, told Colorado Politics. “Just think about the unprecedented amount of choices and opportunities that we have before us – Uber and Lyft, and apps and plentiful smartphone options. Innovations like these only come through individual initiative and achievement, which stems directly from being free to think, free to act and free to choose.

“So much of our potential is stifled by government red tape and a complex tax code. If we want to unleash the unlimited potential of each and every individual, we need to cut the red tape and; perhaps more importantly, simplify the code! This is our once-in-a-generation chance to do it, and it’s time for millennials to step up to the challenge and embrace the future.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 21, 20175min18810

The man who made Conservation Colorado the engine of the state’s environmental movement is pulling out of the station. Pete Maysmith is becoming the senior vice president of campaigns for the national League of Conservation Voters.

Since taking over as executive director of the then-little-known Colorado Conservation Voters in 2009, Maysmith has led the organization to become the largest and most effective environmental organization in the state with 36,000 members, Colorado Conservation Voters merged with the Colorado Environmental Coalition, four years ago to become Conservation Colorado, an organization that enjoys a seat at the table with policymakers working on clean energy, public lands and the first statewide water management plan, among its initiatives.

Conservation Colorado spent $1.3 million on elections last year, winning 90 percent of the races in which it endorsed candidates.

“Pete has been a passionate defender of the landscapes and natural environment for which Colorado is famous, as well as an amazing organizer of the public to make sure these lands are protected,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statment. “It’s hard to imagine all that he will do at the national level. The quality of our air and water is in good hands.”

Said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver: “Under Pete’s leadership, Colorado has seen many notable conservation victories. We can always use more Colorado commonsense leading the way, and Pete’s knowhow combined with the League of Conservation Voters’ political muscle will help bring the issue of climate change to the forefront.”

Carrie Curtiss, Conservation Colorado’s deputy director, will serve as acting executive director through the end of the year, at which time she’ll leave after 11 years with the organization. Conservation Colorado will perform a national search for an executive director.

“We are so proud of Pete and the wisdom, tenacity and endless energy he has brought to Conservation Colorado,” Diane Carman, chairwoman of the organization’s board, said in a statement. “The fact that our national partner has recruited him speaks volumes about the power and success of this organization. Conservation Colorado is strong, healthy, and will work harder than ever to pass visionary environmental policies and elect pro-conservation candidates in 2018. We wish Pete the best and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Maysmith has been on the League of Conservation Voters board since 2015, doing electoral work with its Political and Campaign Committee. He’ll step down from that role to work for the league full-time.

“In the new reality that is the Trump administration, now more than ever we need to build our organizing and political power to ensure that our elected officials represent our values,” Maysmith stated. “I’m thrilled to take on the challenge of building the conservation movement nationally and in other states, and together we will fight the forces that seek to pollute our air and water and undermine our right to a healthy environment. I am certain that the organization is in good hands, and I will be cheering them over the coming months and years.”

Maysmith will be based in Colorado.

He will oversee the League of Conservation Voters’ federal and state independent electoral programs, as well as grassroots organizing and advocacy around issues.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Pete onboard as staff after serving a key role on our board and as a state leader,” Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation voters said. “Pete brings a record of success that will help us channel the energy the public is feeling right now to stand up to the most anti-environmental president in history and elect real environmental champions up and down the ballot in 2017, 2018 and beyond.”

In a statement released by the league, Maysmith said, “The need to have leaders in Washington and the states who will fight for our clean water, clean air, clean energy and public lands is clearer than ever before, and LCV’s two million members and state partners in 28 states stand ready to take back pro-environment majorities.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 20, 20176min385
With allies like Joe Salazar and Jared Polis, who needs Republicans? Salazar, a Democratic state representative running for attorney general next year, called out Democrats running for governor Wednesday, Jared Polis and . former state Sen, Mike Johnston want to move the state to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 204o. In an “open letter” […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 20, 20174min5060

Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates and Denver-based Conservation Colorado are releasing a report Wednesday that analyzes policies the legislature and state agencies could adopt to reduce carbon pollution and help fight off climate change.

The document backs goals set by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in his July executive order on climate change.

The report shows asks current and future legislators to:

  • Adopt a statewide goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and by 90 percent by 2050. (Hickenlooper’s order set a goal of a 26 percent reduction by 2025, “but we must build on that by establishing pollution limits for 2030 and 2050,” the two environmental groups said in a joint statement.)
  • Advance policies that reduce carbon pollution in electricity, transportation, industrial, commercial and other sectors.
  • Enact a market-based cap on carbon pollution. The groups cited a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program as possibilities.

The full report should be  available on both organizations’ websites today.

While interesting goals, the proposals have little chance of getting through the current legislature. Democrats hold a solid House majority, a nine-seat edge in the 65-member chamber, but Republicans control the Senate, 18-17. The statehouse GOP won’t budge on their support for oil and gas production. They look upon such recommendations from the left with extreme skepticism.

Next year, however, is an election that should shift the balance of power, potentially putting a Republican in the governor’s office, or Democrats could take the majority in the Senate.

Climate-change activists point to the high stakes.

”Climate change is already causing more severe wildfires, droughts, flooding and other harm to our communities and current carbon pollution reduction plans are not enough to avoid even more severe impacts in the future,” Jon Goldin Dubois, president of Western Resource Advocates, said in a statement. “Our state, businesses, local governments, and communities need to get behind comprehensive statewide action on climate change to reduce carbon pollution by 45 percent by 2030 and to ensure a healthy and resilient economy.”

Pete Maysmith, the executive director of Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, said the report offers a path forward on climate change.

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s important actions on climate change this summer set us on the right path, and now we need to embrace the challenge and implement specific policies that grow our clean energy economy and defend against the impact of climate change that we’re already feeling in our state.”

Here is the governor’s executive order on climate change.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 20, 20174min9450

In some races, certain endorsements matter much more than others, and Jared Polis bagged a big one early in the Democratic race for governor Wednesday.

Colorado Politics is the first to report that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers is backing the congressman from Boulder in the nine-candidate Democratic primary. Polis, in turn, cites the union’s role in his energy and infrastructure plans.

The high-profile union picked Polis over other such well-known Democrats as Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg.

While labor unions aren’t as politically potent as they used to, the endorsement remains coveted in Democratic circles.

On the other hand, it will continue to stir up Republican ire against Polis, which already includes his 2014 support for ballot initiatives to throttle fracking and the fact he’s one of the four millionaires most often credited with bringing the Democratic Party back to relevance in Colorado with his money and politically strategic activism.

Polis campaign boasted that the IBEW is one of Colorado’s oldest and largest labor unions in the state with about 7,000 licensed electricians, residential wiremen and utility workers.

“Jared Polis has held a strong record of supporting workers rights, energy independence, infrastructure investment and apprenticeship training in Congress and we are excited to support his campaign to lead our state into the future,” Jim Mantele, president of the IBEW Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers, said in a statement. “Jared is committed to listening to working families and making sure that they have a strong voice in his future administration. IBEW supports Jared’s plans for our state and we will be mobilizing our members to help his campaign succeed.”

Polis’s campaign said his “bold” agenda supports working families, including all-day preschool and kindergarten, addressing transportation and other infrastructure needs and moving the state to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2040,

Polis sees the IBEW having a role in the energy and infrastructure discussions, his campaign said.

“I am deeply honored to have the support of IBEW in this campaign,” Polis said in a statement. “IBEW brings deep expertise to our cause on energy policy, infrastructure investment and workforce development through their excellent apprenticeship training programs. Organized labor is an important part of making economic growth work for everyone and I’m honored to be the candidate for governor of Colorado who working families proudly support. Our campaign welcomes IBEW to our team.”

Since 2013, the IBEW PAC has given almost $33,000 to Colorado candidates, all of the them Democrats, records from the Secretary of State’s Office show.

The Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers is even more prolific in giving in races. In its last quarterly financial report, the organization’s small donor committee had $104,630 in its account. The committee spent more than $50,000 on state legislative races last November, records show.

Polis campaign said he won’t take PAC money.

(Editor’s note: This story was updated to include that Polis won’t accept money from political action committees.)


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 19, 201710min881
Mike Coffman showed up without an aide and ordered iced tea, 10 minutes early for a coffee meeting with a reporter in downtown Denver Monday afternoon. He was home from Washington for the U.S. House’s district work week. The Republican congressman from Aurora is still more than a year from his sixth Election Day defense […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 19, 20173min3280

You can’t blame the Colorado Farm Bureau for being in the afterglow of the sixth Pedal the Plains last weekend. The annual event highlights the very farm ranch communities on the Eastern Plains that the organization represents in the halls of power.

“This is one of our favorite events,” said Chad Vorthmann, the executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, told Colorado Politics. “Everyone is excited to be out in rural Colorado. And local residents are excited to have them, explain what they do, showcase their products, and their communities. It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring different Coloradans together.”

The 177-mile trek from Friday to Sunday — from Kersey to Keenesburg on Day 1, then Keenesburg to Brush on Saturday, then Brush back to Kersey on Sunday, a ride that gained about 1,547 feet of elevation while passing the farms, ranches and small towns that sometimes get overshadowed by the state’s more famous mountain sports events.

The Greeley Tribune reported there were more than 1,000 riders this year through Morgan, Logan and Weld counties. The Colorado State Patrol warned Saturday about nails and screws scattered in the road near Brush.

“There’s no better way to connect with our rural communities than by taking time out to ride a bike through them,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said when he announced this year’s route in April. “This tour is the perfect way to bring an economic boost to three of our stellar rural communities while wrapping up the summer’s riding season.”

Proceeds from the ride benefit the Denver Post Community Foundation, which makes grants to local communities, as well as Colorado FFA and Colorado 4-H.

The Eastern Plains’ political and advocacy powerhouse trifecta of Farm Bureau, Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development and Keep Electricity Affordable formed the #FarmPower team for the third year in a row, the Farm Bureau said, adding that their message was Tthe importance of energy production to agriculture.

Vorthmann rode not only in the 177-mile Pedal the Plains, but also the associated Century-Plus extenstion on Saturday for a total of 235 miles.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 18, 20173min521
Colorado has a transportation plan on the table to spend $68 million on mass transit, greener fuels and a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The only public hearing on the proposal is Monday afternoon in Denver. The money has to go for clear-air programs related to vehicle exhaust, according to the $14.7 billion […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 18, 20173min571
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck gave his most definitive answer to date on whether he will run for re-election in Eastern Colorado’s 4th Congressional or seek to become the state’s top prosecutor. Buck and state Rep. Cole Wist of Centennial have been the favorites to jump in the GOP primary for attorney general, but only if […]

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