Peter Marcus

Left, right in agreement on state testing

The Colorado Statesman

Education policy can lead to strange bedfellows. Several school policy debates playing out at the legislature this year have brought an alignment between the left and the right, offering hope that there is a middle road when it comes to education reform.

The most recent example occurred Monday in the House Education Committee when Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, brought a bill that would allow certain districts to opt out of mandated tests for all but third, eighth and 10th grades, and the ACT tests in 11th grade.

Will hearings lead to clean air... or hot air?

The Colorado Statesman

Hearings kicked off this week for air quality rulemaking that would make Colorado the first state to regulate detection and reduction of methane emissions by the oil and gas industry.

The plan — touted by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat — aims to capture 95 percent of emissions by requiring expedited inspections for leak detection and repair, as well as controls on storage tanks and other emissions sources. The target is on hydrocarbons, including both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane.

Legislators gun down efforts to repeal last year’s gun bills

The Colorado Statesman

It was a tough week for Republicans and gun rights activists as they watched several of their efforts to roll back gun control backfire. A gaffe by one Senate Republican made national headlines, while interest waned on attending legislative hearings seeking to expand gun rights.

The legislature this week heard two separate measures seeking to repeal a law backed by Democrats last year that banned high-capacity ammunition magazines, while also debating another measure that sought to give school districts the right to arm teachers.

Detractors form road block to US 36 toll road proposal

FasTracks, other transportation projects aren’t on such a fast track
The Colorado Statesman

Funding the state’s transportation system has long been a controversial issue. Facing shortfalls, state transportation officials and local governments are examining ways to creatively fill a $770 million gap, including tolling and gas and vehicle mileage-based taxes.

But convincing voters to raise revenues for roads and highways has never been an easy conversation; taxpayers have never appeared hungry for an increase.

Election bill likely to get swift signing

HB 1164 deals with residency requirements; GOP lambasts it
The Colorado Statesman

The longest floor debates of the legislative year have revolved around a controversial measure that aims to fix problems revealed by a Democratic-backed election law passed last year that some Republicans equate to “Stalin-like” policy.

The multiple hours of debate have offered Republicans an opportunity to lambast last year’s House Bill 1303, suggesting that the measure was so flawed that Democrats must now come back with a “fix it” bill this year.

Last year’s law permitted same-day voter registration and required that all voters receive a mail ballot.

State Rep. Angela Williams faces suit for ‘retaliation’

Progressive activist hires high profile attorney
The Colorado Statesman

A progressive activist is threatening to sue state Rep. Angela Williams for “retaliation” after a Denver County Court magistrate in November rejected a request by Williams for a protection order against the activist.

Boulder County resident Darren O’Connor, a member of the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition (CFRC), has hired the high-profile civil rights Denver-based law firm of Killmer, Lane and Newman to handle the case.

Renewable energy has helped rural counties

Surprise, surprise?
The Colorado Statesman

Lawmakers on Wednesday heard from renewable energy industry leaders and county commissioners on how energy portfolio mandates are helping to increase business and create jobs, as well as boost tax revenues in rural Colorado.

The hearing before a joint meeting of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committees came as Democrats have killed several Republican measures this year to scale back or repeal a rural renewable energy standard backed by Democrats last year.

Republicans misfire on repeal of gun bills

The Colorado Statesman

Republicans might as well have been firing blanks at Democrats this week as the first major gun control debate of the year unfolded without hitting the target.

The centerpiece hearing involved a bill that sought to repeal last year’s law that mandated universal background checks in the state. The bill died Monday on a 3-2 party-line vote in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee.

The law passed by Democrats last year aims to close a loophole that allowed private sales and transfers without a background review.

City of Arvada faces lawsuit over ‘secret’ council election

Election of Zenzinger’s successor is subject of suit
The Colorado Statesman

An Arvada resident has sued the city for conducting a secret ballot election in which the City Council elected a successor to Rachel Zenzinger, who stepped down in December to fill a vacancy in the state Senate left by Sen. Evie Hudak.

Russell Weisfield and his attorney claim that the council’s four rounds of secret voting violated state law, particularly a 2012 law backed by the legislature that specifically addresses secret ballots by a public body.

GOP candidates to petition on to ballot addition to also going through the caucus system
The Colorado Statesman

Two Republicans have opted to petition onto their respective primary ballots this year, enlisting the support of those who were behind the recent recall efforts of three Democratic state senators in order to collect the necessary signatures for their own campaigns.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Lakewood will try to petition onto the gubernatorial ballot to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper, and state Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs will seek signatures to petition onto the U.S. Senate ballot to challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.