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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 LuningMay 25, 201727min1351

By one measure, state Rep. Justin Everett, a House Republican serving his third term in the Colorado General Assembly, and state Reps. Chris Hansen and Chris Kennedy, a pair of Democrats in their first terms, stand as far apart as any lawmakers at the Capitol, based on the votes they cast in the just-completed 2017 regular session. Considering all the bills that made it to final, third-reading votes in the session — 490 in the House and 459 in the Senate — between them, these three legislators cast the most ‘no’ votes and the most ‘yes’ votes, respectively, according to an analysis prepared by bill-tracking service Colorado Capitol Watch.



Joey BunchJoey BunchApril 18, 20172min104
Colorado women won’t have to make monthly trips to the pharmacy to get their prescription contraceptives anymore, thanks to Rep. Brittany Pettersen’s two-year effort. The Senate passed House Bill 1186 on a 22-11 vote and heads to Gov. John Hickenlooper. The measure passed the House 50-14 on March 21. The Senate sponsor was Don Coram, R-Montrose, […]

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Rep. Dan PabonRep. Dan PabonMarch 21, 20175min893

A few years ago, Colorado triggered a wave of innovation when it became the first state to update its laws so that ride-sharing digital platforms, Uber and Lyft, could continue to thrive while establishing proper safety and consumer protections. What we know now, two years after that effort, is that it was crucial for Colorado’s economy and lifestyle that our laws continue to keep pace with developments in modern commerce.



Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 16, 20174min54
A bipartisan bill to allow women to get a year’s worth of a prescription contraceptive with one pharmacy visit breezed through an initial vote on the House floor Thursday. Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Littleton, raised a logical question: Why just birth control? She voted against House Bill 1186 in the committee, after she quizzed insurance companies on why […]

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John TomasicJohn TomasicMarch 7, 20174min960

A bipartisan Colorado bill that would make it easier for women in one visit to the pharmacy to collect more of their prescription contraception in order to be guarded against pregnancy for longer stretches of time. The bill arrives as part of a legislative trend sweeping state capitals coast to coast that would give women greater control of their reproductive health. It’s a trend that may act as a hedge against cutbacks in contraception that might come of Trump-era conservative health policies.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicMarch 7, 20177min1524

An effort three years running in Colorado to ban gay conversion therapy moved forward on Tuesday. All 37 state House Democrats and one Republican voted in favor of sending the proposal to the Republican-controlled Senate. Sponsor, Rep. Paul Rosenthal, a Denver Democrat and co-founder of the legislative LGBT caucus, was hopeful that this year’s bill, <a href="http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/HB17-1156" target="_blank">HB-1156</a>, might receive the kind of welcome in the Senate that doesn't spell immediate doom.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicFebruary 13, 201710min730

Lawmakers today embark on their sixth week of the session. <a href="http://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/deadlineschedule.pdf" target="_blank">Eleven weeks to go</a>. What’s on the schedule at the gold dome this week? The “Most Accessed Bills” box on the General Assembly website offers a snapshot. It includes Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg’s <a href="http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb17-035" target="_blank">SB 35</a>, a “fracktavist beware” bill that would hike penalties for tampering with oil and gas equipment. The Senate agriculture and energy committee will hear the bill on Thursday. and Sen. Andy Kerr’s <a href="http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb17-099" target="_blank">SB 99</a>, which would add Colorado to the list of National Popular Vote Agreement states. The bill will be heard Wednesday in the Senate’s State Affairs committee. Eleven states that control 165 electoral college votes have so far <a href="http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/status" target="_blank">signed on</a>. The agreement would take effect once it secures commitments from states that represent a majority of electoral votes -- that's 270 electoral college votes. So, at this point, the proposal needs to win over states that can deliver a total of 105 more electoral college votes. That's not impossible. Imagine, presidential candidates would actually have to campaign again in more than four or five swing states.