Rep. Brittany Pettersen Archives - Colorado Politics
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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 18, 20176min1010

Ah, the bliss of two unflinching lefties like state Rep. Brittany Pettersen and ProgressNow Colorado‘s Ian Silverii, united not only in matrimony last month but also in their contempt for the president. How Colorado’s odd couples must look on with envy. You know, the mismatches in which one cheered Donald Trump’s stunning victory last fall while the other was just stunned. And still is.

Blogger Adam Bulger of marriage-minded website Fatherly talks to couples counselors and other experts — including one in Colorado — who contend the polarizing Trump presidency not only has divided society but also has upended politically mixed matchups:

Therapists, researchers, and divorce attorneys report that the Trump White House has made American marriage grate again. Couples have fought about politics since the invention of the ballot box. But marriage professionals say today’s political animosity is unprecedented.

Sure, as Bulger reports, there are still plenty of R ‘n’ D households where the spouses keep the peace the old-fashioned way: They change the subject. (For you millennials: Grandma was for Humphrey while Grandpa was a Nixon man. So they talked about sex instead. Kidding!)

Yet, combine the current political climate, in which people seem less constrained about voicing their political views, with modern social mores — couples feel less constrained about splitting up — and you have a potentially toxic mix. It can lead to some eye-openers:

Aaron Anderson, owner and counselor at the Marriage and Family Clinic in Westminster, Colorado, noted that Trump’s election brought formerly fringe political views into the mainstream. Some people feel comfortable expressing views they may have held for a long time but kept hidden.

“Now their spouse is saying something like, ‘Yeah, we should get rid of all the Mexicans. They are all murderers and rapists. Yeah, let’s nuke the hell out of North Korea,’” Anderson said. “All of a sudden, it makes their partner say, “Wait, do I really know who this is? I didn’t think I married somebody who thought like this.” Then, most of the time, it brings them to question other aspects of the relationship.”

Bulger also mentions the much-reported breakups among some political celebs, attributed at least partly to differences over the Donald.

Colorado has had its share of splits among high-profile political power couples — the Owenses, the Hickenloopers and, just this June, Colorado Attorney General  Cynthia Coffman and 6th Congressional District U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman — but in those cases, the spouses were pretty much on the same political page. Or, were they?

Sure, both Coffmans are staunch Republicans. But as to their sentiments about Trump: Remember the congressman’s election night victory rally, at which he offered no praise for the president-elect after having run a campaign distancing himself from him? (That was the campaign in which one of Coffman’s ads famously had him dissing the real estate mogul cum presidential candidate: “People ask me, ‘What do you think about Trump?’ Honestly, I don’t care for him much.”)

You’ll recall it was the attorney general who salvaged the moment, rushing to the mic as her husband walked off and shouting, “Go Trump!” The seeds of trouble in paradise?

OK, maybe that’s reading a bit much into what more likely was just a little ol’ political good-cop-bad-cop in an effort to patch things up with the new prez.

After all, if the Coffmans’ marriage was like everyone else’s, there were plenty of things to argue about besides the president. Even this president.



Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 22, 20176min2180

The legislative pushback on opioid abuse in Colorado got lost in the shuffle of winners and losers at the end of the session. Lawmakers and the Colorado Department of Human Services have a lot to show for the past few months.

Their work is warranted. The abuse of hard drugs is being called crisis in the state, and overdose deaths have doubled since 2000.

Colorado has the second-highest rate of prescription drugs abuse in the country, behind Oregon.

This past session, the legislature passed Senate Bill 74 to create a pilot program in Pueblo and Routt counties, where heroin deaths have soared.

Lawmakers also approved Senate Bill 193 to use $1 million of marijuana tax money for a substance abuse research center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

House Bill 1351 calls on the Department of Human Serves to study options under Medicaid for inpatient and residential recovery programs. Currently the state offers only four days of emergency treatment.

Rep. Brittany Pettersen’s name and influence have been common on the legislation addressing substance abuse the past two sessions.

“Our state and nation are facing a health crisis and it is imperative we take action to support people who are suffering from this disease,” said the Lakewood Democrat who has made her mother’s fight with addiction part of her congressional campaign.

“For far too long, these people have been disregarded because of the stigma associated with addiction. But after years of overprescribing, a large portion of the population is addicted to pain pills. Everyone knows someone who is affected, and inaction is not an option.”

At Pettersen’s request, lawmakers created a committee to study substance abuse disorders and suggest solutions for next year’s session.

The committee will study data about the scope of the issue, as well as existing practices. Pettersen said lawmakers would “study prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support strategies for opioid and other substance use disorders in Colorado.”

Programs for Pueblo and Routt

Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar, both Democrats from Pueblo, pushed for the pilot program for Pueblo and Routt counties.

In a newsletter to constituents, Garcia said Pueblo makes up 6 percent of Colorado’s population, but 18.1 percent of heroin abuse cases in 2014.

Senate Bill 74 will help increase access to addiction treatment, including behavioral therapy and medication, the local lawmakers said.

“This represents a bold and innovative effort to directly tackle some of the very serious challenges of opioid addiction, specifically in southeastern Colorado,” said Esgar.

Said Garcia: “There are many stories I have heard about families and their loved ones that struggle with opioid addiction. In our community of Pueblo, this epidemic has particularly harmed our young people, and are tearing homes apart, but there just aren’t enough treatment options available. I know this bill is critical not just for Pueblo and Routt counties, but for all of Colorado, to expand access to treatment so we can take a modest, yet very important step in combating the opioid epidemic.”

Federal aid

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, wrote in his column this month that drug addition epidemic in Colorado. He simultaneously announced Colorado will receive a $7.8 million federal grant for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

“I know that Colorado’s health care providers, law enforcement officers, educators, and community support groups are committed to saving lives and bringing an end to prescription drug and heroin abuse, and this grant will be extremely helpful for our state,” Tipton wrote.

The  Colorado Department of Human Services will use federal money on medication-assisted therapy, family therapy, the overdose medication Naloxone, emergency room studies, crisis services, training for doctors and nurses, residential treatment and training and equipping law enforcement.

“The Office of Behavioral Health continues to be concerned about the devastating effects of misuse of prescription pain medication and heroin addiction on individuals and our communities,” Nancy VanDeMark, the office’s director, said in a statement. “This funding will enable communities to expand the treatment and support they provide to individuals addicted to opioids.”