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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 11, 20177min75
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville says if voters put Republicans in charge of the legislature and the governor’s office next year, you can expect big changes on how the bills get paid in Colorado. The state budget, $28.5 billion, is the most important thing the legislature does. It pays for everything from schools to prisons, […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 30, 20174min270

Pat Steadman, the former state senator and public citizen extraordinaire, was honored with a lifetime achievement award last weekend at One Colorado Education Fund’s annual Ally Awards, which honors those who have worked for the rights and good of LGBTQ Coloradans and their families were:

Term limits kept Steadman from running again last year. He’s the CEO of Behavioral Healthcare in Denver, but his resume reads like scroll of achievements on behalf of Coloradans.

An influential member of the General Assembly respected by both parties, Steadman was a member of the Joint Budget Committee. But before he was done, he helped rewrite the state’s liquor laws to eventually allow beer and wine in more grocery stores while helping protect and compensate liquor stores already in business nearby when the laws changed.

In 2013, after two years of trying, Steadman led the charge to pass legislation authorizing civil unions for same-sex couples.

He was honored by President Obama at the White House that year when he was presented the Harvey Milk Champion of Change Award.

He earned his bonafides in public policy more than two decades ago fighting to overturn Colorado’s Amendment 2, the citizen-passed constitutional amendment that banned state and local laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Another One Colorado honoree Saturday night worked alongside Steadman in that fight.

Jean Dubofsky, the first woman to serve on the Colorado Supreme Court in 1979 before returning to private practice, was then lead attorney in the Romer v. Evans case that led the high court to toss out Amendment 2.

The case happened at a pivotal time, she told Sarah Kuta of the Boulder Daily Camera last year.

“All of a sudden people just started understanding that, ‘Oh yeah, this is not a mortal danger, this is not a threat, these are the people who’ve already been around me all the time,'” Dubofsky recalled. “That’s the reason I think all of the change since Romer v. Evans moved so fast. I had no idea that things would move that quickly, but it’s really, to my way of thinking, just been terrific.”

One Colorado also honored Kaiser Permanente for being a health care industry leader in removing insurance plan exclusions for transgender people, as well as improving experiences for LGBTQ patients.

The civil rights law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai was honored for working on the relationship between the Muslim and LGBTQ communities, as well as representing Jessie Hernandez, the lesbian teen shot by Denver police as she fled in a stolen car in 2015.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 25, 20173min240

The recently retired principal of Will Rogers Elementary School has a new assignment: running for the state legislature.

Terry Martinez tells Colorado Politics is seeking the District 18 seat in Colorado Springs that will be vacated by Rep. Pete Lee, a Democrat who is term-limited.

The District 18 race includes fellow Democrat Graham Anderson and Republicans Jillian Likness and Donald Howbert, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Lee was first elected to the House in 2010 and was re-elected to his final term last November with 53 percent over Republican Cameron Forth and Libertarian Norman Dawson.

“It would be an honor to serve the people of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs in the state House” Martinez said in a statement. “We need leaders in the legislature with the passion and experience to help our communities overcome challenges and seek out new opportunities.

“My career as a teacher, principal and community leader allowed me to work with people to create real results, and I want to bring that skill to the state House of Representatives.”

A lifelong resident of Colorado Springs, Martinez’s education career includes Will Rogers and West Side schools. He ran the Valley Swim Team for many years, as well has his community involvement through New Life Downtown church.

His campaign provided an endorsement from a legislator who knows the legislative value of a background in education.

“Terry Martinez is the right choice for El Paso County,” state Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, a former school superintendent who sits on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.

“We need more representatives with the skills Terry has developed through his years as a teacher and principal to fight for educational opportunities for Colorado’s youth and to bring thoughtful leadership experience to the state House. I am proud to endorse his candidacy.”

Martinez lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Jennifer, and has three adult daughters.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJune 26, 20178min23

A group of liberal advocacy organizations for the first time released combined legislative scorecards this week, conglomerating assessments of the 100 Colorado lawmakers’ votes last session on key legislation the organizations said they plan to present to voters next year. A Republican who received among the lowest overall scores, however, dismissed the endeavor as a “political stunt” and told Colorado Politics he doubts the predictable rankings — Democrats good, Republicans bad — give voters any meaningful information.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJune 20, 20176min130

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office is expected to request on Tuesday that state budget writers approve supplemental funding for the Colorado Energy Office after the legislature hit an impasse at the end of the legislative session.

The governor’s office is asking for $3.1 million to preserve the office, which, in addition to promoting renewable energy, also assists schools, the agriculture industry and developers reduce energy costs.

While the Energy Office would be able to retain about 10 employees thanks to federal funds, another 24 staff positions are on the line.

The office would no longer operate programs that focus on agriculture, building development, and policy and research.

The governor’s office is seeking up to $3.1 million in the upcoming budget that starts in July to continue its operations. The split Joint Budget Committee is expected to be presented with the proposal on Tuesday.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, chairman of the JBC, said he believes the issue was addressed during the legislative session when lawmakers could not reach an agreement on continuing funding for the office. He said the question is better left for the full legislature to decide rather than the six members of the JBC.

It’s likely that the JBC will deadlock on the funding request on Tuesday, as it is split between three Democrats and three Republicans. A tie would kill the proposal.

“We objected to it being just a JBC action all the way back to the first of November when he (Hickenlooper) put it in his budget request. This is not just a budget request,” Lambert said. “There are a lot of questions over how is the money being used and a lot of what we consider unnecessary regulations and things that are restricting the energy industry.”

“A bill having failed, I just don’t think it’s the right process for the JBC to come back and fund something that did not make it through the legislative process. I’m quite concerned about that. It’s bad precedent,” said Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, a member of the JBC. “On the other hand, I’m not opposed to the idea of an energy office, I’m voting against the process.”

The third Republican member of the JBC, Sen. Kevin Lundburg of Berthoud, has already expressed concerns with the Colorado Energy Office and is likely to oppose the funding request.

The governor’s office believes that it has an obligation to request supplemental funding because it was “unforeseen” that the legislature would not act on maintaining funding. Supplementals are authorized for several reasons, one of which includes “unforeseen” events.

“The governor has agreed that he is open to a process where we re-examine the mission of the Colorado Energy Office to make sure it includes ‘all of the above’ energy – all forms,” said a Hickenlooper spokeswoman. “He has received encouragement that the office could be funded through the JBC for the current year while that process goes forward.”

Lambert, however, does not believe an “unforeseen” event took place, pointing out that the legislature debated the subject this year, though it was unable to reach a resolution on the last day of the legislative session.

Funding would have been included in the 57-page Senate Bill 301, which would have provided the $3.1 million while also doing away with certain programs. It was supported by Hickenlooper’s Energy Office.

The Republican-controlled Senate had included provisions that would have made changes to a host of renewable energy and other programs in the state, including eliminating some of those programs. The Senate version would have expanded the Colorado Energy Office’s focus to include nuclear and hydropower, while giving the oil and gas industry a greater voice.

It also focused heavily on natural gas, aiming at eliminating a prohibition on investor-owned utilities owning natural gas reserves. An investor-owned utility is owned by private investors and members. The legislation would have directed the state to create rules allowing an investor-owned utility to acquire an interest in Colorado-based natural gas reserves for up to 50 percent of its needs.

A provision of the legislation also would have raised registration fees for electric vehicles, which had some Democratic lawmakers concerned.

Democrats approved a trimmed bill, which would have continued funding for the Colorado Energy Office, but it also would have stripped many of the provisions stemming from the Senate.

The discussion became bogged down in politics, especially following a home explosion in Firestone in April linked to natural gas leaking from an old pipeline. The incident killed two men. Republicans and Democrats could not find enough common ground to advance the bill in the split legislature.

“That was the situation we were put in, either we adhere to the Senate position or recede to the House position, and that was just unacceptable,” Lambert said. “Maybe next year we can try again.”