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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 24, 20176min1040

Colorado’s political right has made its heartburn abundantly clear by now over Senate Bill 267, the eleventh-hour, catch-all, bipartisan legislation that wound up funding a little of this and a little more of that — and unexpectedly became the sleeper of the 2017 legislature. The bill’s title purported to address the “sustainability of rural Colorado” but, as it turned out, reclassified the endlessly debated hospital-provider fee; authorized the lease-purchase of state buildings to fund highways; gave a $30 million lift to rural schools; the list goes on.

Just to underscore the indignation among true believers in the state’s law on tax limitation — which SB 267’s critics say was trampled — the venerable (and once influential) Colorado Union of Taxpayers, or CUT, has named a number of the bill’s legislative supporters to a “wall of shame.” It’s evidently a first for the decades-old group. CUT’s ire, and the wall itself, are mostly directed at black sheep in its own flock — i.e., what it deems wayward Republicans. All but two named to the wall are in fact members of the GOP:

…those legislators who sponsored SB17-267 and those CUT pledge signers (indicated by *) who flagrantly violated their pledge to Colorado Taxpayers: Senators Randy Baumgardner*, Kevin Grantham*, Lucia Guzman, Kevin Priola*, and Jerry Sonnenberg; Representatives Jon Becker, KC Becker, Phillip Covarrubias*, Lois Landgraf*, Polly Lawrence*, Kimmi Lewis*, Larry Liston*, Clarice Navarro*.

Some recent history: While much of legislative leadership as well as some rank-and-file members in both parties were patting themselves on the back for the considerable compromise that went into SB 267 (signed into law by the governor in May), the Republican right rebelled. Went ballistic, really. Particularly the reclassification of the hospital-provider fee aggrieved the likes of the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute, among others, because it effectively allows the state to hold onto surplus tax revenue it otherwise would have to return to taxpayers under constitutional taxing and pending limits. Hardline fiscal conservatives also didn’t like how the bill uses a technical loophole to borrow highway-construction funding without first seeking voter approval.

The fact that a number of Republicans signed onto the measure in both chambers — the Senate, which they control, and the House, which they don’t — drew epithets like “betrayal” and “sellout” from the right. Independence’s Jon Caldara and like-minded advocates were left nearly speechless (not literally in Caldara’s case, of course):

Support for the measure by some of the legislative GOP has in fact led to something of a rift in Republican ranks, as highlighted by a heated Twitter exchange we captured not long ago.  Some of the sharpest barbs flew between Caldara and roving Republican operative Tyler Sandberg:

Founded in 1976, CUT describes itself as “our state’s long-serving advocate for taxpayers.” Its familiar scorecard ratings of lawmakers, assessing their fiscal conservatism or lack thereof, have at times held considerable sway among Republicans at the Capitol.

CUT’s leadership includes a cast of longtime, tax-battling stalwarts, including Greg Golyansky as president and Marty Neilson, in charge of outreach.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJune 26, 20178min94

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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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinJanuary 25, 201711min82

Voters in rural areas of Colorado would continue to be able to approve a property tax of up to five mills to fund mass transit systems in their local communities through 2029, under a bill approved by the House Transportation and Energy Committee Wednesday, Jan.25. House Bill 17-1018 extends the statutory authority of regional transportation authorities (RTAs) to ask local voters to approve such a tax within a specified area to be served by mass transit. Under current law, RTAs can seek voter approval to levy a property tax until Jan. 1, 2019.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyDecember 29, 201628min79

Symbolic of the divisiveness of our politics, many Coloradans will look back at the 2016 election with violent contempt, reflecting on a political year that saw the rise of President-elect Donald Trump, while others will reminisce with sublime glee over a cycle where voters bucked the political establishment. In a year full of tectonic shifts on the national political landscape, Colorado had its share of drama and surprises, though voters sent back many familiar faces to serve in Congress and at the state Capitol. Here’s your bite-size, highlight reel for the 2016 election season in Colorado.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanJuly 21, 20165min640

Four of the six legislative leaders are retiring: Democratic House Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghorst, Senate President Bill Cadman, Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel and House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso. House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran and Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, both from Denver, will return. With four members of leadership waving goodbye, perhaps it’s not surprising that they achieved a remarkably high level of agreement once they maneuvered bills to their final vote.


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Jared WrightJared WrightApril 13, 20162min760

By TCS Publisher and Editor in Chief Jared Wright @_JaredWright_ DENVER — Good morning and Happy Wednesday. A crazy political world we live in: All it takes is one day of Matt Drudge exaggeration to rile up the natives back home. Stay safe out there. "Shame on the people who think somehow that it is right to threaten me and my family over not liking the outcome of an election." — Steve House Now, your substrata feed straight from Colorado's politics pipeline: Smallwood makes ballot in Senate District 4 — Yesterday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office notified Jim Smallwood of his campaign’s success in acquiring a ...


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Jared WrightJared WrightMarch 28, 20162min850

The Colorado Statesman Hot Sheet VOL. 01 NO. 52 | MARCH 28, 2016 | COLORADOSTATESMAN.COM/THE-HOT-SHEET | © 2016 SAVE THE DATE: The Colorado Statesman cordially invites you to an "End-of-Session Bash," Thursday, May 12, 4:30 - 6:30 pm at The University Club, 1673 Sherman St., Denver. More information coming soon. By TCS Publisher and Editor in Chief Jared Wright @_JaredWright_ DENVER — Happy Monday! To those legislators in the state House, good luck debating the heck out of this year's Colorado budget. Do your constituents proud; prove that the Joint Budget Committee did its job and did it well. To the Senate, enjoy the week of regular business while it lasts. In other news, more key county assemblies for both the Democrats and Republicans took place this Easter weekend.