Legislative News

Hopeful GOPs meet in smoke-filled room; seek senate takeover

The Colorado Statesman

So, you think the days of conducting politics in smoke-filled rooms have fallen by the wayside?

Not so, at least not on the evening of June 10 when the Senate Majority Fund held a reception featuring cigars, drinks and insight into the 2014 elections. The venue was the estimable Churchills at the Brown Palace Hotel, where the menu consists of an extensive list of vodkas, single-malt scotches, small-batch bourbons, and premium spirits and wines. And, according to the tony club’s offerings, more than 60 cigars — meaning something for every palate from their customized humidor.

Cantor’s stunning defeat brings quick response in Colorado

It was just a matter of hours before the GOP gubernatorial campaigns in the state went into spin mode, and in some cases damage control, after news broke Tuesday night that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., shockingly lost his primary election to a political neophyte who had virtually no name identification in that state and even fewer dollars in his campaign war chest. It was viewed by many as a blow to immigration reform in Congress, since Cantor had been at the forefront of the issue and considered more moderate on the subject than many of his House colleagues.

Schuller, Polis air their views

Foes on fracking drill away at each other
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado’s top oil and gas advocate, Tisha Schuller, finally got her chance on Tuesday to drill away at U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who has become the face of a campaign that could lead to banning hydraulic fracturing across Colorado.

Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, challenged Polis to a debate back in December 2013. She called on the congressman to debate her after Polis demanded that COGA halt legal action against so-called “fracking” bans in several local communities.

Ballot proposal aims to restructure legislature

The Colorado Statesman

Following a failed attempt to secede from the state of Colorado, the so-called “51st state movement” has morphed into an effort to restructure the state legislature with the aim of giving rural Colorado more of a voice.

The newest attempt comes in the form of a proposed ballot initiative that would reorganize the legislature with a model similar to U.S. Congress. The House would be based on land area and each county in the state would have its own representative, reducing the House from 65 to 64 representatives.

Shared sacrifice and managing expectations

Colorado’s pension fund still has a long way to go
The Colorado Statesman

Pension financing experts say it will take “shared sacrifice” in order to solve the crisis of unfunded liabilities facing current and future retirees.

Greg Smith, executive director of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, said Colorado coined the term “shared sacrifice” when it began its push for PERA reform in 2009.

The state faces at least $23 billion in unfunded pension responsibilities, much of which was exacerbated by an economic downturn that began in 2008, sinking investments and causing pension managers to scramble for a solution.

School funding push a ‘success’ in the end

The Colorado Statesman

After months of wrangling over a spending package for K-12 education, all sides of the debate came together for a signing ceremony on Wednesday in which stakeholders were able to put the contentious legislative session aside to bask in the reflected glory of dramatically increased education funds.

Gov. John Hickenlooper joined lawmakers, lobbyists, school leaders and teachers at Ponderosa Elementary in Aurora where students watched the governor sign two education spending bills.

Senate: Less contentious than last year

The Colorado Statesman

After a rocky start, Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle were able to put aside contention and differences to conduct a bipartisan legislative session with shared values, including funding education and recovering from recent natural disasters and the economic downturn.

House: More productive than partisan

The Colorado Statesman

House leaders from both sides of the aisle pointed to a productive legislative session in which they traded the political jabs from last year for a session focused on recovery from recent natural disasters and making investments in economic development, jobs and education.

Turmoil in Democrats’ own caucus

Keeping everyone corralled is hard with a majority of only one
The Colorado Statesman

As the gavel came down Wednesday and sine die was declared on the 2014 legislative session, Democrats continued to squirm over bad blood within their political family after several lawmakers on the left battled it out over controversial bills.

The contention was first highlighted in the Senate last month when Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk, sponsored a measure that aimed to protect reproductive health care rights.

Local control efforts moving ahead for now

The Colorado Statesman

Proponents of a series of proposed ballot initiatives that would authorize local governments to ban hydraulic fracturing are moving ahead after negotiations around a legislative fix failed.

Coloradans For Local Control had watched the negotiations carefully; they are proposing ballot questions that would authorize local control over oil and gas development, potentially expanding fracking bans in some towns, cities and counties.