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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 8, 20183min982

An independent inquiry that reportedly found sexual-harassment allegations against Republican state Sen. Randy Baumgardner to be credible has prompted minority Democrats to call for his resignation.

A statement issued today through the Senate Democrats’ press office on behalf of the entire caucus chides Republicans for having “taken no action” and accuses them of leaving the public in the dark.

Here’s the full statement:

“Through media reports, we understand that an independent investigation has found sexual harassment allegations against Senator Randy Baumgardner to be credible — allegations that he inappropriately touched a staff member on multiple occasions.

Victims and the public at large deserve swift, deliberative, and transparent action in response to these allegations. Instead, despite having access to the independent investigation’s findings for weeks, Senate GOP leadership has taken no action and said that the public may never know what happens. Good faith efforts by our leadership to clarify the process and move things forward have been rebuffed and delayed.

We have no choice but to call for Senator Baumgardner to resign from public office. In the meantime, he must also be stripped of his committee chairmanships.”

As KUNC-FM public radio’s Bente Birkeland reported last week, the former legislative aide who made the allegations in a complaint she had filed with the legislature told Birkeland of the finding by the firm that conducted the investigation, Employers Council:

The woman said she learned of the results of the investigation from a Senate staffer on Tuesday (Jan. 30, 2018). The woman said the staffer told her “the evidence suggests there should be a consequence.”

…She told us in November that Baumgardner, a Hot Sulphur Springs Republican, slapped and grabbed her buttocks four separate times during the 2016 legislative session. She alleged that the incidents took place at the Capitol while she worked.

The Senate GOP released a statement by Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City last week on the controversy surrounding Baumgardner, of Hot Sulphur Springs:

“We remain bound by confidentiality requirements that exist to protect the integrity, fairness and legality of an ongoing [their emphasis] complaint review process …. We are not free to detour from that process simply because someone shares something with the press. If and when we can say something, we will. Until then, we will continue to follow and respect the process.”

 


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Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsFebruary 8, 20185min457

We’ve heard a lot recently about electric vehicles and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s intent to use part of the Volkswagen settlement to build a network of rapid-charging stations. Certainly, the technological advancements in electric vehicles and their offerings should be commended and pursued further. But we also need to recognize that these vehicles are part of the answer, not the answer.


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 10, 20183min441

With the 2018 legislative session now underway, a few lawmakers are taking on new responsibilities. That includes Rep. Barbara McLachlan, a Durango Democrat.

McLachlan this week was named vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee. She replaces fellow Democrat Rep. Faith Winter of Westminster, who is now the committee’s chair. Winter replaced Democratic Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs, who resigned her House seat to run for the Third Congressional District seat currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez.

According to a Wednesday statement from Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver, committee leadership positions are rarely awarded to first-term lawmakers. McLachlan is starting her second year in the state House.

“It’s an honor to be selected,” McLachlan said. “Transportation and energy are critically important issues in my district, and as vice-chair of the Transportation & Energy Committee I will work to ensure that rural areas of Colorado are not overlooked.”

Duran and Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City both identified transportation as top priorities for the 2018 session. The top priority bill of the Senate Republicans, known as Senate Bill 18-001, intends to ask voters for permission use existing state dollars to obtain bonds for a portion of the state’s $20 billion transportation wishlist. The bonds would use about $300 million per year in state revenues.

Grantham told the Colorado Senate during his opening day speech Wednesday that “there isn’t a Republican or Democrat way to fill a pothole, but I’d argue there is a Colorado way, and that’s if we do it together.” However, Senate Bill 1 is sponsored solely by Republicans, which could spell trouble if and when the measure heads over to the Democratic-controlled House.

Last month, the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting revealed the state would have surplus revenue heading into the 2018-19 fiscal year. The initial bump is expected to be about $200 million more in individual income taxes, a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Tipton supported. Shortly thereafter, Gov. John Hickenlooper revised his 2018-19 budget request to devote $148 million of that surplus to transportation funding.

Hickenlooper is expected to address transportation funding during his State of the State address on Thursday.


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 4, 20188min358
The four leaders of the Colorado General Assembly laid out their priorities for the session that starts next week, and while there’s room for agreement on just what the priorities are, how to get there is another matter. The leaders spoke during a question-and-answer session Thursday morning for the fourth annual Legislative Preview Breakfast hosted […]

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Jessica MachettaDecember 14, 20173min623

Lawmakers will meet Dec. 15 at the statehouse to discuss hiring an independent consultant that would manage complaints of sexual harassment in the Capitol.

Formal complaints are currently filed with House or Senate leadership, and though the process ensures confidentiality, some have said concerns about pushback have made them stay silent.

“We have a current reporting system and we have a zero-tolerance policy for such things,” Senate President Kevin Grantham said when complaints first surfaced in November, “but we’re going to have someone come in and see where the holes are, where we can fill the gaps, review and possibly overhaul the way we do things to make it a better system.”

That review will look at best practices, including record keeping, protections against retribution, online reporting, and safeguards to allow patterns of harassment to be detected and handled appropriately.

“This is about working together to address what clearly is a problem,” House Speaker Crisanta Duran said. “I am glad that all four caucuses have agreed to set up a comprehensive review of our harassment policies, and I hope that through this process we can create a welcoming and respectful workplace for everyone.”

The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council includes Grantham, Duran, Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, House Majority Leader KC Becker, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

According to the agenda, the committee will consider hiring a human resources professional. It will also review review the legislature’s existing workplace harassment policy and discuss whether more workplace harassment training is needed for lawmakers and legislative staff.

Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, set off a firestorm when she filed a formal complaint against Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, with Duran’s office alleging Lebsock made sexually crude remarks to her at a gathering at a bar at the end of the 2016 legislative session. KUNC’s Bente Birkland reported that former lobbyist Holly Tarry and former legislative aide Cassie Tanner also accuse Lebsock of behaving inappropriately.

Reps. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, Randy Baumgardner, R-Breckenridge, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial, have also been accused of sexual harassment.

All four lawmakers have denied any wrongdoing.


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Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsNovember 21, 20174min561

House and Senate leadership will meet to review of how workplace harassment issues are handled in the General Assembly, according to a Tuesday press release. The meeting is in direct response to allegations of workplace harassment involving four Colorado legislators.

The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council is hiring an independent consultant to review the legislature’s existing procedures regarding workplace harassment and issue recommendations to the legislature, as well as to determine the review’s scope and timeline.

The review will research the matter and seek input from those involved, and will then hold a hearing on the recommendations and proposed rule changes.

The review will also look at:

· A best-practices survey of workplace harassment policies in other states and the private sector.

· Whether an independent body or other neutral third-party organization should be established to handle workplace harassment complaints, and potential models to consider.

· Suitable methods for reporting complaints, including online reporting options.

· How confidentiality should be handled in workplace harassment or sexual harassment complaints.

· Suitable remedies for complaints of workplace harassment.

· Record keeping.

· Protections against retribution.

· Proper safeguards to allow patterns of harassment to be clearly detected and handled appropriately.

· Best practices for awareness and training on what constitutes workplace harassment and the procedure for filing a complaint under the policy.

 

Research and input will be gathered from a wide range of sources, including the Office of Legislative Legal Services, Legislative Council, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state Department of Personnel and Administration, the state attorney general’s office, human resources and employment law experts, victims’ advocacy groups, legislators, employees and others who do business at the legislature.

Legislative leaders have agreed to discuss formalizing proposals for workplace harassment training to be conducted annually for all legislators and staff and to be expanded to offer the most comprehensive training available. Currently, workplace harassment training is held every two years and is mandatory for all legislators and all new staffers.

The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council includes Senate President Kevin Grantham, House Speaker Crisanta Duran, Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, House Majority Leader KC Becker, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. The date and time of the Executive Committee meeting will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.

Four state lawmakers face allegations of sexual harassment: Rep. Steve Lebsock, Rep. Paul Rosenthal, Sen. Randy Baumgardner and Sen. Jack Tate. All of them have denied any wrongdoing.

House Speaker Crisanta Duran issued a statement saying, “This is not a partisan issue; this is about working together to address what clearly is a problem.

“I am glad that all four caucuses have agreed to set up a comprehensive review of our harassment policies, and I hope that through this process we can create a welcoming and respectful workplace for everyone.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 6, 20171min164
Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

On the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, a couple of Colorado state lawmakers will pay tribute Wednesday to Israel in a live telecast that also will loop in Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and c.

Some of the details of the event are still being worked out, but a Senate GOP staffer says Republican state Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City and Democratic state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, of Commerce City, will read a tribute from the Senate floor. Remarks from c also will be streamed in.

The Colorado lawmakers’ remarks are scheduled for 2 p.m.