Archive for the 'Colorado State Legislature' Category

Media omission: Cadman promotes bill previously torpedoed by anti-abortion forces

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Republican Senate President Bill Cadman took to the radio yesterday to announce plans to introduce a bill allowing prosecutors to treat a fetus as the victim of a crime but, apparently, with specific language allowing for abortion.

Cadman told KNUS 710-AM that his bill “does provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires.”

Colorado already has a law, passed in 2013, allowing prosecutors to file additional charges, but not murder, in a crime involving the destruction of a fetus.

To ensure that the law does not turn into a back-door abortion ban, the measure specifically identifies the pregnant woman as the victim of the crime and states that nothing “shall be construed to confer the status of ‘person’ upon a human embryo, fetus or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”

This anti-personhood language enraged anti-choice Republicans, like Sen. Scott Renfroe, who during a 2013 committee hearing, called the legislation the “Let’s-Go-on-Killing-Babies” bill.

In 2011, a bipartisan attempt to pass a similar bill was killed over similar objections by abortion foes.

Yet, when asked on the radio yesterday about why these types of measures did not become law, Cadman blamed pro-choice legislators.

Well,” replied Cadman, “attempts have been made over the years, but they have been resoundingly defeated on a party-line basis. Frankly, I think much of it is out of political correctness and probably, to be more specific, a fear of eliminating the right of those who wish to terminate their pregnancies over the wish of those to keep theirs.”

On the radio yesterday (See below.), Cadman referenced 38 states with “fetal homicide” laws like the one he’s proposing. As you can see here, these laws vary widely, with 23 defining life at early stages of development and are considered personhood measures. Some specifically exempt abortion or exclude pregnant women as perpetrators. Some, like Iowa’s, allow for penalties for terminating a pregnancy without the consent of the pregnant person.

Cadman did not provide details of his bill.

Anti-abortion activists said in 2013 that they launched last year’s “personhood” initiative in response to the failure of a “fetal-homicide” bill here in Colorado, that would have conferred legal rights to a fetus and opened the door to a state-wide abortion ban. Colorado’s failed personhood amendment would have gone beyond any fetal-homicide law currently on the books.

Partial Transcript of GOP Senate President Bill Cadman on KNUS’ Kelley and Company, March 30, 2015:

Krista Kafer:  Right now, all we have now is this little law that makes it illegal to terminate the pregnancy of a woman that wants to keep her baby. What are you planning to do?

Cadman: At the core, what you are talking about is what passed in 2013 which, obviously, created the crime of unlawfully terminating a pregnancy, which is all about the woman. But what about the other victim? What about the victim, just like in this case. And there have been countless others. What about the baby? Why doesn’t a baby in Colorado, or an infant, or whatever you want to define–why don’t they receive the same protection in Colorado that they do in 38 other states? And that’s what we are proposing in Colorado is providing the same protection in Colorado to both victims that they would receive in 38 other states.

Steve Kelley: So you are going to introduce a fetal homicide bill?

Cadman: Right. A protection for the unborn.  A protection for both victims in a case where a woman is violently attacked, just like in this recent case, in the recent situation in Longmont.  And to provide justice, it’s to provide justice for both victims

Kelley: Well how is it that we haven’t had something that’s common-sense [like this]? …

Cadman: Well, attempts have been made over the years, but they have been resoundingly defeated on a party-line basis. Frankly, I think much of it is out of political correctness and probably, to be more specific, a fear of eliminating the right of those who wish to terminate their pregnancies over the wish of those to keep theirs.

…Kelley: How do you then placate those or assure those who would push against this that your ulterior motive is not incrementalism in trying to overturn abortion on demand?

Cadman: You know, it’s very clear, and the draft I’m working on is very clear. And I’m not exactly ready to release it. But it does provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires. So, specific protections in the law. What we are really talking about is being able to prosecute a criminal for a criminal act and defining that that there are two victims in these situations, not just one. Sixty-six thousand children born in this state every year do not have the same protections as in 38 other states. We need to fix that.

Kafer: I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t get some pushback on the personhood side… Have you gotten any pushback from this crowd?

Cadman: That’s the nature of this place. But I think at its core, we would all agree that there is no justice if you cannot prosecute for a victim. And so, that’s a step in the process. And I have not received any opposition yet. But, again, the bill hasn’t been introduced. The language hasn’t been subject to review.  But again, back to its core. It’s about providing justice that’s frankly deserved and demanded.

How in the world will new GOP state chair set priorities?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

On Saturday, Steve House was awarded the honor to lead Colorado’s Republican Party. Now what?  How will he prioritize, and how will he deal with the fires and ashes surrounding him as I type? That’s the story flowing from House’s not-so-surprising victory over incumbent chair Ryan Call, and there’s lots of material to work with.

The first fire: The developing campaign to recall of Rep. Dan Thurlow. Will Steve House support a Republican-recalling-a-Republican? Will the new chair get out in front of this one and say, that’s not how we treat our own?

That fire will be burning for a while, you get the feeling, and it may be fueled by anger over how House sets his priorities as chair. He rose to power with promises to turn the state-party county entities into “franchises,” empowered to raise money and innovate.

But which counties will get the dough? There’s House’s friend, Pueblo GOP Chair Becky Mizel and others like her, who have virtually no hope of electing Republicans. Does she get an equal slice of the Republican empowerment pie? Does she get any pie, given other needs?

And there’s next year’s election. Do you throw more money at Tony Sanchez or Susan Kochevar, if they run again in 2016, as House’s own supporters would likely want? Dive deep into the Jeffco or Adams School Board races?

The Tea Party hates the thought, but should Steve House consider the Colorado state house be a lost cause at least until after 2020, especially with state Sen. Laura Woods, who won by a few hundred votes in a GOP wave year, teetering out there with a new voting record on her back and the GOP senate majority arguably resting in her hands? And in a presidential cycle, Michael Bennet looks tough to beat, analysts say.

In addition to making decisions about all of this, Steve House needs to wade though whether to ax/destroy/dismember the state Republican Party’s Independent Expenditure Committee, which was so maligned by the forces that elected House. Will he kill it?

Will Steve House throw money behind Matt Arnold’s efforts?  Marilyn Marks? Or other Tea-Party led crusades?

Plus House has to decide about his executive director. What’s really going on with Ted Harvey?

Oh, and there’s the GOP ground game that needs money–perhaps more now than before Saturday’s election, because centrist precinct captains and others may be fleeing the party, sources tell me.

In any case, if this sounds like insider baseball, it is. And for Steve House, the game is on.


GOP State Senator’s “like” of Facebook page doesn’t signify an endorsement

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

A Facebook page has emerged calling for the recall of Rep. Dan Thurlow, who’s voted against his caucus numerous times during the current legislative session, angering talk-radio hosts and their allies.

Among the 111 people who’ve liked the “Recall Dan Thurlow” page Colorado State Sen. Owen Hill. Thurlow and Hill are both Republicans.

I called Hill to find out if his “like” of the page meant he endorsed a recall of Thurlow, and he told me it doesn’t signify an endorsement of the effort.

“I like a lot of pages on Facebook to hear what’s going on,” Hill told me. “Facebook is a phenomenal way to keep track of information.”

“I’m concerned personally about many of his votes,” Hill added.

Radio host leaves clues for identity of writer of anonymously-authored document

Friday, March 13th, 2015

On his Facebook page yesterday, KLZ AM-560 radio host Ken Clark posted a document and posed the question, “This is Dan Thurlow’s voting record so far, what do you think?”

Clark freely acknowledged that he didn’t write the piece, which criticizes Thurlow, a Republican who’s been voting against his caucus, for nine votes opposing right-wing legislation. For example, Thurlow’s vote against a ban on “conversion therapy” is noted in the document with the comment: “Thurlow thinks that is a great idea and was the only R in the entire house to vote for it.”

The document states that Thurlow is an “idiot” for voting against a bill that would have allowed the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to allow “transfers of machine guns, destructive devices, and certain types of firearms” if the transferee met certain conditions, loosening the current regulator regime.

In describing Thurlow’s vote against the machine-gun-transfer bill, HB 1086, Clark’s secret-source states: “This was my bill, it would have mandated CBI sign off on form 4s for NFA license packets if the person passes a background check.”

So judging from this “my bill” line in the document posted, and other comments about email, Clark’s source appears to be a legislator who sponsored HB 1086.

And Clark acknowledges in the comment section that Clark deleted a reference in the anonymously-authored document to HB 1171 as  “my freedom of conscience protection bill.”

The sponsors of both those bills are Rep. Patrick and Sen. Tim Neville. (See HB 1171 here and HB 1086 here.)

So, while we can’t be sure, it looks like Clark’s source is either Rep. Patrick Neville or Sen. Tim Neville.

Asked about the situation, Clark said it was “an editing error on my part.”

In any case, it’s a lesson for all of us who receive leaked or anonymously-authored documents. Read them carefully before posting them to avoid disclosing your sources or giving hidden clues to bored bloggers who love to expose anonymous sources.


Media omission: Klingenschmitt Compares Planned Parenthood to ISIS

Monday, March 9th, 2015

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, who last year suggested that Rep. Jared Polis would “join ISIS in beheading Christians,” has said he’s “very proud” of South Dakota State Rep. Isaac Latterell, who wrote a blog post last month comparing Planned Parenthood the Islamic State.

“I am discerning the spirit of god on this state rep from South Dakota,” said Klingenschmitt in Tuesday’s edition of his online video series called Pray in Jesus’ Name, beginning at about the five minute mark below. “His name is Issac Latterell. And he is taking a stand to protect the innocent, and I am very proud of that.”

“Father, we ask your blessing, on South Dakota, on all of America, Father, that we would stand against terrorism in all its forms, stand against murder of innocents in all of its forms, that we would be consistent in our policy and stop funding the abortion business with American tax dollars,” he said later. “God, wake us up as a nation to stop the slaughter of innocents.”

As I reported for RH Reality Check this morning, the last time Klingenschmitt brought up ISIS, saying Polis wants “to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy,” Ryan Call denounced Klingenschmitt’s comments.

This, in turn, led Klingenschmitt, a Republican who goes by the name of “Dr. Chaps,” to say his remarks were “hyperbole” and that “some Democrats do not have a sense of humor.”

Ryan Call responded to Klingenschmitt’s comments about Polis by telling KDVR Fox 31 Denver, at the time:

Call: “Gordon, as I’ve said before, does not speak for the Colorado Republican Party. His views do not reflect my personal position or the position of the party.

“But this tired, ineffectual tactic of trying to brand all Republicans based on these comments — the Todd Akin approach — it’s not going to work this time around,” Call continued. “Voters are too sophisticated. They know that one legislative candidate in Colorado Springs doesn’t reflect the views of Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner.”

Now Call is locked in a battle with businessman Steve House over who will be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party, with a vote scheduled for Saturday.

Neither Ryan Call nor House has denounced Klingenschmitt’s comparison of Planned Parenthood to the Islamic State.

Klingenschmitt’s comments begin at about the five minute mark here:


Fact check: Did GOP state chair abandon two candidates in close races?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

It’s not easy to fact check some of the allegations flying around in the contest between Ryan Call and challenger Steve House to become chair of the Colorado Republican Party. But it’s worth a try, especially when the salvos appear in the media.

On public television Friday, for example, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel reported an “allegation” that Call could have put two state legislative candidates “over the top” if he’d helped them pay for advertising during the “last couple weeks” of their campaigns, as they were “fighting hard” for a victory. But Call refused, and they lost.

Kopel (Watch at @1:30 here): House’s particular claim against Call is that Call refused to provide the support for two candidates who ended up losing very close state legislative races, Tony Sanchez, who was almost elected to the state senate, and Susan Kochevar, who almost won a house race, and her win would have put the House in Republican hands. So the argument is that they were close. They were fighting hard, and Ryan Call wouldn’t do a mailer for them in the last couple weeks that could have put them over the top. I don’t know the details of that. But that would be the allegation. Certainly, any chair of major party has to be able to work with all the groups of the party, the sincere moderates, the squishy moderates, the hard-core ideological people—and then have strategies to help them all get elected. [BigMedia emphasis]

Yes, you’d want a major party chair to work with all sides, but is the allegation true? Did Call screw his own party up?

Kopel, a Democrat who made the statement on Channel 12′s Colorado Inside Out, told me via email that he was “just summarizing House’s campaign speech” and does not know “know what went on” in the Kochevar and Sanchez races.

Asked about Kopel’s statement, Sanchez did not respond, but Kochevar emailed me a Feb. Facebook post in which she wrote that she lost by 1,500 votes, and she “did not receive any money from the state party.” Kochevar was selected by a vacancy committee in July, after Robert Ramirez dropped at the last minute.

Sanchez lost to Sen. Andy Kerr by about 1,000 votes.

“Shortly after Dec. 31 [after the election], I received a phone call from Ryan Call informing me that if I did not fire my campaign finance company, the Republican Party would not have campaign funds for a future campaign.  I perceived this as a threat. I find it reprehensible that a party chairman would threaten a viable candidate,” Kochevar wrote on Facebook. “My campaign finance reporting was handled by Campaign Integrity Watchdog, which is owned by Matt Arnold. Steve House will not let personal grudges interfere with party success. He understands limited govt and will unify all factions within the party.”

Call did not return an email seeking comment, but his backers say the GOP state chair invested strategically, with limited funds, in the most promising races statewide. The decisions were tough, but in the end the GOP did better than it’s done in a decade or more, they say. In Jeffco itself, the thinking goes, Larry Queen had a better shot than Sanchez and Kochevar, who were both expected to receive big-time support from RMGO. And both Sanchez and Kochevar were seen, with no grudges involved, as weaker candidates.  I’m not saying I agree with this logic, but I’m offering it in the absence of a statement by Call himself.

In any case, it appears that the allegation, repeated by Kopel, that Call did not do invest in the Sanchez and Kochevar campaigns, even as the races appeared to be close, is true, at least in Kochevar’s case. What role personality clashes played or whether a marginal amount of increased cash would have made a difference in the races is not known.

Republicans vote March 14 on whether to retain Call for a third two-year term.


Reporter puts representative’s eight-hour gun delay in proper context

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland offered up a good tidbit of reporting in an article published yesterday, in which she aired out State Rep. Patrick Neville’s complaint that his gun purchases were twice denied because he failed a background check.

But Goodland put the problem in context by also reporting that Neville’s denial, due to a clerical error, was resolved in fewer than eight hours.

Goodland also reported the testimony of Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

Sloan cited statistics showing that almost 6,000 sales and transfers were halted because the buyer failed the background check. Some of the checks failed, Sloan said, because the buyers had convictions for crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and drug offenses.

So, in a post last week, I was wrong to write that no gun was denied to anyone who was legally entitled to one. It appears, in Neville’s case, an eight-hour delay occurred, due to a clerical error.

Isolated mistakes like Neville’s will inevitably happen, but is it worth it to keep thousands of real criminals from buying guns? That’s the question that flows from the facts reported by the Statesman. Are we willing to tolerate Neville’s rare nnninconvenience to keep guns out of the hands of murderers?

Reporters should ask Neville what his reality-based alternative to Obamacare is

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Conservatives are still wondering around, from interview to interview, saying they want to dump Obamacare. And here’s “the key thing,” as articulated by freshman Colorado State Senator Tim Neville on the radio Saturday:

Neville: “The key thing is the Republican Party, and those of us up in the Senate and the House, need to make sure we have something to replace it, and we’re working on a little bill along those lines this year.”

Neville didn’t spill the beans on his Obamacare alternative right away, but he circled back to it later in the interview, aired on KNUS’ Weekend Wake Up.

Turns out, he was referring to his bill requiring hospitals to list the prices of common procedures, when third parties aren’t paying for it.

Neville @10:45 below: “Going back to the health care, what do we have that’s going to replace this? I have a pretty moderate bill requiring transparency and requiring–and I hate to require any business to do anything–but allowing people to actually get prices so that if they want to pay for a health-care procedure, they actually have an opportunity to get a price instead of having to go through the billing department. And if they don’t have insurance, they really don’t know what they are going to get charged, if they just want to pay for their procedure. We have so many people in high-deductible plans–$6,000 deductibles or higher–and so many people who have decided, ‘I’m not going to mess with it.’

…”If we allow the forces of the marketplace to be unleashed, I’m a huge fan of high-deductible programs, health-saving accounts that are tax-deductible, and the ability for people to have skin in the game to make important decisions, rational decisions.”

A price list, so people without insurance know exactly how much they probably can’t pay? Skin in the game!

Maybe the idea has merit, but Neville is overflowing with audacity to frame this bill as anything related to the Obamacare alternative that conservatives are desperately seeking. And of course, if he says it in front of a real reporter, or even if he doesn’t, he should be asked about it.

In Neville’s case, the anti-Obamacare passion runs deep. He said Saturday that he challenged fellow Republican Jim Kerr for the Jeffco Senate seat after Kerr went “off the rails” and supported the bill (SB-200), which established Colorado’s market-based health-insurance exchange and had the support of the business community and GOP leader Rep. Amy Stephens, among others, at the time.

Neville, beginning at 4:50 below: “Senate bill 200 was what put me over the edge to be involved in politics, when I was running for a vacancy. There was a Republican legislator that wanted to move up from the House to the Senate. I actually campaigned for him, considered him as a friend. But he kind of got off the rails, along with the other people who voted for 200. And people weren’t getting it. Sometimes you can send a message with a phone call or a letter and sometimes you’ve got to have a little bit more involvement…. One of my first bills was to repeal the state health care exchange, and, of course, it fell one vote short.”

You wouldn’t expect KNUS talk-show host Chuck Bonniwell, who interviewed Neville Saturday, to ask about the GOP’s real alternatives to Obamacare, but other reporters should pick up the slack, whether it’s Neville or Sen. Cory Gardner.

Reporters shouldn’t let gun misinformation or hyperbole slide by at state legislature

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

ColoradoPols did us a favor yesterday by trotting out some of the ridiculous misinformation delivered in 2013 by opponents of gun safety laws. And Pols pleaded with local reporters to correct such falsehoods if they pop up this year.

As a example of what should be done, I direct your attention to a 2013 Post editorial that corrected GOP Sen. Kent Lambert’s statement, cited in the Pols post yesterday, that that lawmakers had “effectively banned gun ownership.”

Labert’s statement, The Post wrote, was “not supported by the facts.”

Dahh, you say, but as Pols pointed out, that’s what we need when our elected leaders stray from the obvious facts.

And it’s also what we need when elected officials stray into wild hyperbole, that may not be demonstrably incorrect, per se, but should be called out as… wild hyperbole.

Last time around, for example, we heard this from respectable people under the gold dome:

Lambert: And now, you know, with everybody having their guns confiscated or taken away here over the next couple years, almost completely overturning the Second Amendment, what’s going to happen to our crime rate? [BigMedia editorial comment: two years have passed! Every legal gun owner still has her gun.]

And this in 2013:

State Rep. Kevin Priola compared banning some ammunition magazines to putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII.

And this in 2013:

Rep. Kevin Lundberg said on the radio that Colorado is getting “so close” to the point where he’ll be having his gun pried away from his “cold, dead hands.”

It’s bad when a guy like State Sen. Randy Baumgardner claims falsely, as he did in 2013, that “hammers and bats” killed more people in America in 2012 than guns did.

His facts should be corrected.

But the scare tactics about gun confiscation should be confronted as well,  with the simple fact that it’s been two years now and not a single legal gun holder has lost her weapon.

In covering teen pregnancy-prevention program, reporters should emphasize that IUDs stop pregnancy from occurring

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

The Ft. Collins Coloradoan advanced a story Monday that Boulder Rep. KC Becker is working on a bill to provide $5 million in funding for a state teen-pregnancy prevention program that, in a privately funded multi-year pilot phase, reduced teen pregnancies by 40 percent and teen abortions by 35 percent–and saved Colorado tens of millions of dollars to boot!

The Coloradoan quoted Sen. Kevin Lundberg, who’s the Assistant Republican Majority Leader, as objecting to such funding because the program relies on the distribution of free or no-cost intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other long-lasting pregnancy -prevention implants, and Lundberg (along with twice failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez) believe IUDs cause abortions.

But IUDs work before pregnancy occurs!

“Any statement that IUDs aren’t contraception simply isn’t medically or scientifically accurate,” said Dr. Jennifer Hyer, a Denver Ob-Gyn, in a statement distributed by NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “As a licensed, practicing Colorado OB-Gyn I recommend IUDs for my patients all the time. They are among the most effective forms of contraception, especially for at-risk women, because they automatically prevent pregnancy. That’s why Colorado’s program was so successful, and access to long-acting contraceptives needs to continue if we want to keep reducing the teen birth and abortion rate.”

The Coloradoan correctly pointed out that the “definition of pregnancy used by CDPHE and other scientists has pregnancy beginning at the implantation of the fertilized egg.”

The definition of pregnancy is so central to the debate around this teen-pregnancy-prevention bill that the Coloradoan should have been even more explicit, saying that the mainstream scientific community, meaning the scientific establishment of nerdy medical people, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have defined pregnancy as beginning at implantation, not before.

Pregnancy: Is established only at the conclusion of implantation of a fertilized egg.
34 This scientific definition of pregnancy is also the legal definition of pregnancy, accepted by governmental agencies and all major U.S. medical organizations.

So Lundberg’s personal belief that IUD’s work by “stopping a small child from implanting” is not only wrong, but it’s not relevant.  (By “small child” Lundberg was referring to zygotes, or fertilized eggs, which are formed prior to pregnancy, which starts once the egg implants in the uterus.)

In an RH Reality Check piece yesterday, I reported:

Under the Family Planning Initiative, about 30,000 IUDs and other long-lasting contraceptive implants were distributed during a five-year pilot program. Participating clinics in 37 of Colorado’s 64 counties serve 95 percent of the state’s population.

The initiative saved $23 million in Medicaid costs since it started five years ago, and continuing the family planning initiative will save $40 million in Medicaid funds, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has estimated.

Republicans hold a one-seat majority in Colorado’s senate, but observers say the teen pregnancy program funds may still clear the chamber, even without the support of Lundberg, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee. Becker, the state house sponsor, has said her bill has a Republican co-sponsor, who has yet to be named.

Scientists used to think that birth control worked, in some cases, by stopping implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall. But scientists now say that not only emergency contraception but other forms of birth control prevent implantation.