Peter Marcus

SoS Gessler seeks to limit ethics probe

Secretary of state narrowly avoids legislative audit after partyline vote
The Colorado Statesman

Attorneys for Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to limit a probe by the Independent Ethics Commission into whether he misspent public dollars. Just one day earlier, the secretary narrowly escaped an audit of his office’s use of discretionary funds after the Legislative Audit Committee tied on a vote to authorize the investigation.

Children’s Caucus hears about drug use among state’s youth

The Colorado Statesman

Lawmakers on Monday heard from child welfare, law enforcement and health care experts on how drugs are endangering Colorado’s children in light of the recent passage of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in the state.

The first presentation this year to the Colorado Children’s Caucus — a bipartisan gathering of lawmakers concerned with issues facing Colorado youth — turned into less of a discussion on marijuana, and more about the child welfare system.

Committee passes bill on collective bargaining

The Colorado Statesman

The Democratic-controlled legislature on Wednesday began debate on a labor union bill that would ensure collective bargaining rights for Colorado firefighters, pushing the measure through the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a party-line vote of 3-2.

Legislature seeks health care reform prescription

Mental health, Medicaid expansion at top of list
The Colorado Statesman

State lawmakers agree that a simple Band-Aid fix is not enough to address health care reform. But how to go about expanding Medicaid and mental health services, launching a health benefits exchange and discussing women’s health care rights is proving to be a difficult and divisive task.

There is consensus that the state needs to make advancements in mental health, but advocates are fearful that connecting the conversation to recent incidents of gun violence will only add to negative stigmas.

Lawmakers are proposing:

District Court sides with county clerks over Gessler

Ruling favors so-called “inactive” voters in state
The Colorado Statesman

Denver District Court Judge Edward D. Bronfin on Monday struck a blow to Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler by ruling against the secretary and in favor of county clerks who want to mail ballots to so-called “inactive” voters.

Gessler’s office in 2011 filed a lawsuit against Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson for mailing ballots to inactive-failed to vote (IFTV) voters. Shortly after, Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz joined the lawsuit in support of Johnson.

Judiciary issues take center stage

The Colorado Statesman

Judiciary issues could become the most difficult and contentious topics facing the legislature this year. Lawmakers will tackle the uncharted world of recreational marijuana regulation, a troubled child protection system and polarizing discussions on gun control.

But it is also the bigger judiciary picture that lawmakers will need to focus on. Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender — in his last annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the legislature on Jan. 11 — described the judiciary in Colorado to be “alive and well.” That’s not to say, however, that there isn’t still work to be done, Bender implored legislators.

Battle brewing over beer in supermarkets

Priola bill would expand licenses from one to five for retailers
The Colorado Statesman

Another legislative brouhaha is brewing this year over whether to allow more supermarkets and convenience stores in Colorado to sell full-strength beer, wine and liquor.

The battle is nothing new to the legislature. This year would mark the fifth most recent attempt at allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer. The last effort was in 2011 when two bills that would have allowed the sale died.

Gessler grilled on secretary of state’s practices

Elected official says he’s working to further ‘American Dream’
The Colorado Statesman

Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler on Monday defended using office resources to clear non-citizens from state voter rolls. His remarks came as Democratic lawmakers grilled the secretary over glitches with online voter registration, prohibiting mailing of ballots to inactive voters, and controversial relationships with county clerks.

Morse’s meandering opening day speech creates a stir

The Colorado Statesman

Newly designated Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, opened the legislative session with an unscripted “top secret” speech in which he shared an underlying message of working together for the greater good. But getting to that point took a winding 18-minute journey into Morse’s past days as a paramedic, during which he described a horrific traffic accident that left a father holding the IV bags as he watched his son perish.

Governor, legislators key into business issues at Capitol

The Colorado Statesman

The governor and legislative leaders unveiled their business agendas for the session that began on Wednesday. Legislation addressing research, economic development and job creation remains the focus for Democrats, while Republicans continue to look towards easing regulatory burdens and doing “no harm.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, kicked off the flurry of business activity during a news conference Monday in which he announced a bipartisan bill that seeks to accelerate research and development activities through $15 million in state funding.