Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 10, 20188min241
First an apology: if you can’t live without Capitol M (and if that’s the case, I worry about you) and missed last week’s column, I was confined to bed, battling the Capitol Crud. Take your Vitamin Cs and your other immune-boosting agents, please.   Unveiling: the Capital (with an A) M. I’m scouting people and […]

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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 29, 20183min2017
It lasted for the better part of 40 minutes, but Democratic Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp of Arvada said it felt like a lot longer than that. Late Monday morning, Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton launched into a filibuster of a bill to amend the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund Act. The bill would allow the organization […]

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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 18, 20183min1886

With one day to spare, (whew!) Gov. John Hickenlooper Thursday signed into law the first bill passed by the 2018 General Assembly, a measure to help Colorado nurses.

The new law would allow Colorado’s 78,000 nurses to participate in a 25-state compact that allows them to work across state lines. The compact had a deadline of Friday; without action Colorado nurses would have been limited to just four states that hadn’t passed a revised compact.

The bill, Senate Bill 27, started out in the Senate last Thursday, won final approval on a 33-0 vote on Friday, preliminary approval in the House Tuesday and a 58-2 vote on Wednesday. It’s not quite the record – bills can get through both chambers in as little as three days – but for an early session bill it’s quite the feat.

“But the speed with which Senator Jim Smallwood’s SB-27 flew through the Statehouse had heads spinning and showed how quickly lawmakers can move when they absolutely must,” the Senate GOP said in a statement Wednesday. Smallwood, a Parker Republican, teamed up with Sen. Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat, to get the bill started. In the House, the measure was sponsored by Rep. Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican, and Rep. Tracy Kraft Tharp, an Arvada Democrat.
“Nurses are the unsung heroes of our medical community, and this legislation allows those licensed in the State of Colorado to practice outside of our state without the need for redundant, costly, and unnecessary licenses in other states,” Smallwood said. “SB-27 will facilitate telehealth nursing services, online education, and will even allow our nurses to assist other states in times of natural disaster.”
UPDATED: the Colorado Hospital Association also weighed in on the governor’s action. “Health care was once again the beneficiary of bipartisan efforts working to ensure that Colorado’s health care system remains strong and effective,” said Steven Summer, CHA President and CEO in a statement Thursday.  “It is due to efforts like the [Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact] that Colorado continues to serve as a national model in how legislators can reach across the aisle to ensure patients and communities continue to have access to outstanding health care”.
Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City said he is optimistic that this won’t be the last time lawmakers find speedy solutions to Colorado problems.

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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 19, 20171min650

The Colorado Association of Realtors named Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp of Wheat Ridge and Matt Gray of Broomfield its legislators of the year last week.

The association previously has presented the designation this year to Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver; Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker; and Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch.

Kraft-Tharp, who is in her third term, chairs the Houser Business Affairs and Labor Committee. She also sits on the Legislative Audit Committee.

Gray, a former deputy district attorney in Broomfield, was elected to the House last year. He serves on the  Finance, Local Government and Business Affairs and Labor committees.

“Rep. Kraft-Tharp and Rep. Gray have consistently supported issues important to Realtors,” CAR chair Ann Hayes said in a statement. “Both of these legislators have enhanced the ability of Coloradans to achieve the American dream of homeownership.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 28, 20173min807

Colorado Politics has told you before that other Republican candidates could learn a lot about politicking from Mike Coffman. Now a statehouse candidate has.

The congressman from Aurora has been running races in Colorado since before people knew Milli Vanilli was fake. And in 29 years, Coffman has never lost a race — not for state House, state Senate, secretary of state, state treasurer or the U.S. House.

So you can’t blame fellow Republican Grady Nouis for picking a campaign theme that worked well last year for Coffman’s re-election against former state Sen. Morgan Carroll: “One of Us.”

Grady Nous
(Courtesy of Grady Nouis’ campaign website)

It resonated among voters because the campaign had a clear theme that Mike Coffman, soldier and statesman, was his own man, not the byproduct of Donald Trump and the Washington swamp. And when it comes to campaigning among a diversity of minority and ethnic groups since his district became more liberal after the 2010 Census, Coffman is everywhere. Hence, his supporters proclaimed in his ad that he was “One of Us.”

The theme was used in a TV ad that won a national award.

Nouis is a political newcomer from Westminster. He kicked off his campaign to unseat Rep. Tracy Kraft Tharp, D-Arvada, in October.

She won the seat in 2012, beating Republican incumbent Robert Ramirez by more than eight percentage points in 2012. In 2014 and 2016, Kraft Tharp won re-election over Susan Kochevar, including a 9-point win last year.  That mirrors Coffman’s spreads over Carroll last year and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in 2014.

Nouis, a North Dakota native, moved to Colorado in 2012.

On his website, he says, “I stand with the moral conviction that equality, unalienable rights, personal responsibility, limited government, rule of law, free enterprise, free markets, and private property rights are the most important principles of true freedom. Government only gets power from the consent of the governed. I believe that we are all born with the same opportunity, not that we will necessarily achieve the same success in life.”

Team Coffman was amused by the borrowed theme.

“As my mother says, imitation is the highest form of flattery,” said Coffman campaign spokesman Cinamon Watson.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJune 19, 20178min799

Colorado has some of the nation’s toughest non-discrimination laws but still has work to do, Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said at a Denver rally for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered equality Sunday. Coffman, the lone Republican on a stage filled with Democratic elected officials and candidates, told the crowd she could also be the only Republican attorney general in the country taking part in an LGBT pride event.



Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 8, 20174min301

Remember a few weeks ago when Senate Republicans were looking for a couple of their bills? Well, House Democrats are missing something, too: Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp’s regulatory relief bill.

The caucus put out a video over the weekend asking where the bipartisan House Bill 1270 has gotten off to in the Senate.

“After years of failed partisan effort, my bipartisan bill with Rep. Polly Lawrence and Sen. Don Coram passed the House with strong bipartisan support,” the Democrat from Arvada says in the 55-second video. “That was April 3. It’s a month later and it still hasn’t been introduced in the Senate.”

The bill would give state agencies discretion in dealing with first time offenders of minor offenses if the business has 50 or fewer employees.

It hasn’t been assigned to a committee, and the session ends on Wednesday. Sayonara, regulatory relief.

The shelved bill limited offenses to those with fines of less than $500 or puts people, property or the environment at risk.

The business would have 30 days to address the violation.

Hold the phone, that sounds familiar.

One of Senate Republicans’ most beloved  bills, Senate Bill 1 (yup, top of the party’s priority list), did much the same thing, except for businesses with up to 500 employees instead of 50.

Opponents called Senate Bill 1 a “get out of jail free card,” and said 500 employees barely fits the description of a small business. According to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, 49 percent of the state’s employers have fewer than 500 workers.

The SBA uses the 500 figure as a cut-off, and doesn’t break down the numbers to 50 employees, but notes that those who employ less than 100 people is the largest segment, about 36 percent.

That bill was killed in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on March 2, the day before House Bill 1270 was up for a final vote on the House floor.

Who chairs Business Affairs and Labor? Tracy Kraft-Tharp.

We joke about it in the hallways all the time at the Capitol: That building runs on spite and retribution.

And sometimes not so much: those missing bills that senators were trying to track down in their video? Both passed and were sent to the governor.