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New Money Super PAC to Build GOTV Army

New Money Super PAC to Build GOTV Army for Conservatives
By: Aaron Gardner (Diary) | June 2nd, 2014 at 03:00 PM | 5

New SuperPACs seem to sprout up all the time, but one that brings new money to the conservative movement, and has a focus on ground operations rather than campaign ad wars, is worth noting.

Vote 2 Reduce Debt (V2RD) announced they will be targeting 11 United States Senate races this fall and they are already actively engaged in three states prior to tomorrow’s June 3rd primary elections in IA, CO and MT. The PAC is taking on two issues that get right to heart of conservative anger toward the establishment: out of control federal spending by government, coupled with the waste, fraud and abuse of the consultant class that resulted in an almost non-existent ground game during the 2012 election cycle.

It’s a big lift. The PAC’s national political strategist, Patrick Davis, a personal friend and the former National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Political Director who led the GOP to victory the last time Republicans wrested control of the US Senate back from the Democrats back in 2004.

Now, he’s coordinating the 11 state victory strategy for Vote 2 Reduce Debt by focusing on the nuts and bolts of political campaign, door knocking, phone banking and grassroots rallies designed to reinvigorate a base that has felt ignored, as well as to attract new voters to the cause by delivering a message that resonates with most people. “As we have been in the field leading into Tuesday primary elections, we’ve been able to identify that the federal debt is an eighty-percent issue, meaning that 80% of conservatives believe that the debt and economic issues are their top priority today.” Davis said.

The overwhelming national debt and how it will impact generations to come was the catalyst for Mr. Ken Davis of Ft. Worth Texas to decide to engage in the political process.

Ken Davis (no relation to Patrick Davis), who is highly regarded and very successful businessman, decided that after years of focusing his efforts in the private sector, he wanted to do something of vital importance for future generations: leave them with a secure nation, and ensure they are not saddled with insurmountable debt and the accompanying tax burden.

His commitment to the PAC as its founder and funder has led to the PAC’s ability to help such conservatives as Joni Ernst (IA), Cory Gardner (CO), and Rep. Steve Daines (MT) as they vie for republican US Senate nominations. According to Patrick Davis, “First we are influencing primaries in order to insure that the right candidates are nominated, then, with a conservative field secured we make the case to the base and broader conservative population.”

According to V2RD, there are approximately 26 million self-identified Christian conservatives who did not feel impelled to vote in the last election cycle or two. That group of disaffected conservatives is a major focus for the PAC’s turn out efforts.

Randy Hill , the PAC’s president, is a successful entrepreneur and businessman who is not a politician, something that may resonate well with conservatives fed up with Washington establishments pandering rhetoric. By pairing Randy Hill, a successful businessman, with Patrick Davis, the last political director to win back the US Senate for the GOP, V2RD may have the right recipe for appealing to the base in 2014 and 2016. If there are two things conservatives are fed up with, they are gluttonous government and losing

You can see more from V2RD on its twitter and facebook pages.

A Laundry List of reasons to oppose John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall

Weekly Clips for May 2, 2013 to May 16, 2013

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)

Obama golfs with two GOP senators

Washington Times: May 6: President Obama hit the links Monday morning with two Republican senators who have said they are interested in striking a bipartisan, long-term budget deal.

Mr. Obama headed out to the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base with Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Bob Corker of Tennessee, as well as Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.

The game wasn’t on the president’s schedule, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said it was part of an ongoing outreach effort to Republicans to help Mr. Obama break through partisan acrimony and try to build support for his second-term agenda, which includes tackling the nation’s fiscal woes, tightening the nation’s gun laws and overhauling the immigration system. Mr. Obama has already attended two private dinners with Republican lawmakers this spring.

Many lawmakers of both parties have criticized Mr. Obama in the past for aloof and failing appreciate their viewpoints.

“The president looks forward to discussing a range of topics,” Mr. Carney said. “This is in keeping with his engagement with lawmakers in both parties — in particular Republican senators — to see if he can find some common ground.”

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Mark Udall ‘Extremely Concerned’ About Warrantless Email Searches

Huffington Post: May 6: Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said Thursday he was “extremely concerned” over revelations that the FBI continues to believe it can conduct warrantless email searches despite a federal appeals court’s ruling that they are unconstitutional.

Using a public records request, the American Civil Liberties Union received a set of FBI documents Wednesday. An internal June 2012 department guide included among the documents shows that the FBI believes it can obtain the contents of emails without a warrant if the email was sent or received through a third-party service.

In at least one case before that guide was written, however, a federal court disagreed: In the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that emailers using cloud services have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are protected by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution’s warrant requirement.

“I am extremely concerned that the Justice Department and FBI are justifying warrantless searches of Americans’ electronic communications based on a loophole in an outdated law that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled was unconstitutional,” Udall said in a statement.

Many email providers, including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have adopted the 6th Circuit’s reasoning, asking for a warrant every time the government wants access to emails. But others may be less stringent in their requirements, turning over email on the basis of administrative subpoenas that are not given serious judicial review. It’s not clear how often the FBI actually applies for full warrants in practice.

Udall is one of a number of senators who have sought to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which governs how law enforcement agencies get access to emails, to always require a warrant. The Department of Justice has signaled its openness to the warrant requirement — but according to the latest documents, its apparent position is that until the law is updated, it can continue writing simple subpoenas.

The IRS’s Criminal Tax Division had previously taken a similar position to the FBI, but backed down after criticism from Udall. Neither the DOJ nor the FBI responded to requests for comment on Udall’s statement.

Udall said the ACLU’s disclosures about the FBI documents would “only harden my resolve that we must update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect Americans’ constitutional right to privacy.”

“Americans’ right to be free from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ applies regardless of whether it involves a letter stored in a desk or an email stored online.”

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Take care of U.S. citizens first

Coloradoan: May 12: I recently attended a roundtable meeting in Evans hosted by Sen. Mark Udall. The topic of discussion was illegal immigration. The invited guests (I was not one of them) consisted of approximately 10 to 15 members of the panel who are pro-illegal-immigration reform and two members speaking against the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill.

What drove me to attend and try to have my voice heard was an April 18 article in the Coloradoan titled, “Sen. Michael Bennet: Economic side of immigration bill helps Colorado.” When Sen. Bennet was questioned about the bill giving amnesty to illegal immigrants, he stated, “This is a citizenship that’s earned.” The phrase “earned citizenship” was repeated by Sen. Udall during this roundtable. I sat and listened to Sen. Udall’s response to table members’ questions, such as, “While we are in temporary status, will we qualify for student loans and grants?” and “Will our family members get moved further up in the line?” He promised the table members that he would definitely pursue those issues for them.

When I had my one minute for a question, I explained to Sen. Udall that when I retired from the Air Force after 20 years and my husband was still on active duty, we packed up our family and moved to Cheyenne, Wyo., where my husband was reassigned. Leaving our family behind was difficult, but the military, like many employers, doesn’t give you the option of saying no. Once the family was settled, I decided to pursue my graduate degree. I had two choices; drive over the pass to Laramie and pay in-state tuition or drive south to Fort Collins and pay out-of-state tuition. I drove south and attended CSU. I willingly paid out-of-state tuition because that was the law — I was not, at the time, a legal resident of Colorado. I shared my frustration that now you can live in this state, not be a U.S. citizen and pay less for your publically funded education than someone who is a citizen and served 20 years in the military. The senator was sympathetic and stated that he “wished the pot was bigger.”

The truth is, the pot of money is probably not going to get bigger. We need to get more involved in what our elected officials are doing and urge them to make sure that our tax dollars will be used to provide services to citizens of this country, not people who are not only not citizens but who broke our laws by coming into this country illegally.

Finally, I’d like to share my idea of “earned citizenship.” I saw it when I watched my 22-year-old Marine son, who served two tours in Afghanistan, plan his road trip back from Colorado to Camp Lejeune. With sadness in my heart, I watched him calling cemeteries to find out where his buddies are buried and then contact a Marine mom and dad who lost their only child, one of my son’s closest friends, during one of the deployments — that’s earned citizenship. Never forgotten — I hope our senators don’t forget us.

Chris Kelley is a Fort Collins resident.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)

Marijuana publications threaten lawsuit over Colorado’s new legal pot regs

Daily Caller: A Denver lawyer is threatening the first of what may be many lawsuits to come should Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sign into law bills dealing with the historic legalization of recreational marijuana.

But it’s coming from an unexpected quarter, over a portion of the regulatory bill that has gotten almost zero attention compared to the rest of the issues it deals with — how retail stores treat pot magazines.

According to the bill awaiting Hickenlooper’s signature, publications like High Times that feature glossy pictures of cannabis plants are to be dealt with more strictly than pornography, kept behind the counter and away from the prying eyes of children.

This amounts to a First Amendment violation, according to attorney David Lane, who is representing two marijuana magazines, the Daily Doobie and Hemp Connoisseur.

Lane is known for representing controversial and colorful clients, including former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill. What his clients have in common, in Lane’s estimation, is a valid claim that their freedom of speech is being violated.

In this case, Lane believes the violation is “blatant,” as he wrote in a letter to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, warning him that if the governor signs the bill into law, as expected, “he can expect a First Amendment lawsuit filed promptly.”

Legal expert Dan Recht, quoted on Denver Channel 7, said the issue isn’t as tangential as it sounds.

The government can regulate publications that deal with illegal issues more strictly than those about legal topics, he said. Given pot’s weird limbo status as being legal in Colorado, but illegal under federal laws, it’s yet another unanticipated can of worms resulting from Colorado having legalized pot.

“[T]his is a new issue, given that marijuana is newly legal in Colorado,” Recht told the TV station, “and I suspect that because it’s legal that this section will be found unconstitutional.”

He added that adult magazines like Playboy and Penthouse aren’t restricted to behind-the-counter display, even though they can only be purchased by adults.

“So it seems to me the distinction is not a fair one and frankly not a constitutional one,” he said.

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Election fraud bill signed by Gov. Hickenlooper

The Washington Times: COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 12, 2013 — Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Friday signed the highly controversial Colorado Voter Access & Modernized Elections Act, widely known as the Election Fraud Bill. Proponents claim the bill is about increasing voter turnout, but the devil is in the details. Perhaps more to the point: There are plenty of devils in the details.

Liberal media claim the measure is about enfranchising voters, but allowing same-day voter registration, eliminating residency requirements and the category of inactive voter are really about creating pathways to fraud.


SEE RELATED: Voter fraud bill introduced in Colorado


Last November, Colorado had almost 10,000 attempted fraudulent votes. Half of those were late registrants. Of the other 5,000 ineligible voters, 700 had attempted to vote twice, 2,600 were not residents of the state, and 50 were felons not eligible to vote.

Under the new law, those voters — and many more like them — could register to vote on election day with nothing more than a utility bill to prove their identity. Furthermore, they could vote in any jurisdiction they choose since residency requirements, currently 30 days, are erased.

There are no more provisional ballots — every ballot cast, fraudulent or not, counts.

The new law emphasizes mail-in ballots. The familiar neighborhood polling places are gone, replaced by a small number of regional centers. While about 70 percent of Coloradans vote by mail-in ballot, the remaining 30 percent are either forced to travel farther and wait in longer lines or are discouraged from voting altogether.


SEE RELATED: Recalls of Colorado anti-Second Amendment senators heat up


Again last November, almost 12,000 mail-in ballots were cast and rejected due to signature discrepancies. How many more made their way through the frequently lax signature verification process? How many were valid signatures were improperly rejected?

By eliminating the category of inactive voter, ballots are sent to every registered voter, no matter how long it has been since that voter actually cast a ballot. Proponents claim that it is simpler for voters who miss one election and then get inactive status: In fact, it takes multiple missed elections to be classified inactive.

Inactive voters are typically people who have moved away or died. The new law will flood the mails with ballots. One apartment dweller I spoke with said he got eight ballots at his address. The U.S. Post Office won’t verify that the person is still living at an address before delivering the ballot. An unscrupulous person can sign and return all the ballots.

“This bill challenges the very foundations of our republican form of government,” said Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “Our democratic institutions will be severely damaged by giving citizens reasons to question the integrity of the elections that select our legislators, our governor, and our president.”


SEE RELATED: Citizen-led petitions saved in Colorado


All Republican legislators and Secretary of State Scott Gessler were deliberately excluded from helping draft the bill. No Republican legislator voted for the bill at any stage; Secretary Gessler testified against it.

Also opposed were five of the state’s elected county clerks from Weld, El Paso, Arapahoe, Elbert and Douglas counties, who represent over one-third of Colorado’s nearly three million eligible voters. They were opposed because of their concerns about the likelihood of increased fraudulent voting under same-day registration.

Sponsors of the bill claim it was bipartisan because they enlisted the cooperation of two Republican Clerks: Jefferson County Clerk Pamela Anderson and Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner. Also supporting the bill were the clerks of La Plata and Boulder counties. The complex bill was written behind closed doors. No amendments were allowed.

Testimony on the bill lasted just four hours: The complex 126-page bill really needed months of study by a variety of experts.

Election laws should not be partisan issues. They affect the very foundation of Colorado’s election system and are of concern to all citizens.

Citizens from across the state turned out to testify against the bill. The Chair of the Prowers County Democrats called HB-1303, “…too complex, too rushed and too high risk!” On the Western Slope, Harvey Branscomb wrote, “As an experienced Democratic Party activist, I find myself blowing the whistle on an undemocratic process — rushing passage of a bill containing too many defects.”

Josef Stalin is reported to have said “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.” By increasing the pool of ballots, the law creates a superhighway to election fraud, but the law also goes to the heart of election integrity in another way.

It allows government to take control of what belongs to the people by pretending that elections are to be a government-run function, not a citizen-directed function.  Citizen watchers of the elections process, for example, are removed by this new law. Ballots are handled by the county clerks essentially behind closed doors.

Marilyn Marks of The Citizen Center, who testified against the bill, says that the bill is “…an attempt to pull Colorado back to the pre-1890’s voting methods that required decades of massive reform to curtail widespread corruption in American elections.”

Governor Hickenlooper has first-hand experience with the kind of elections system envisioned in this new law: Denver’s transition from paper poll books to a city-wide electronic poll book and its change from 210 neighborhood polling places to just 55 vote centers in 2006. The result led to an election that then-Mayor Hickenlooper called “catastrophic.”

Hickenlooper told The Denver Post that he vowed “to make sure this never, ever happens again.”

It looks like Colorado is going to have to learn those lessons all over again after all.

READ MORE from Al Maurer at Red Pill, Blue Pill

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Hickenlooper signs job-creation bills

Biz Journal: Ed Sealover: The theme of Monday’s bill signings might have been “The Day of Job Creation,” in a week that will be filled with such signings from the just-completed Colorado legislative session.

In the morning, Gov. John Hickenloopersigned two of the few bills extending state tax credits to come out of the 2013 General Assembly. In the afternoon, he signed the measure that expands eligibility for Medicaid — a change that one report said will create more than 22,000 new jobs in the state in the next 13 years.

First, the Democratic governor held a ceremony at Centennial Airport, in which he made law House Bills 1080 and 1287.

HB 1080 — sponsored by Reps. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, and Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada — expands a $1,200 incentive tax credit for airplane manufacturers to any company that refurbishes or repairs aircraft as well.

HB 1287, sponsored by Reps. Dianne Primavera, D-Broomfield, and Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, extends by five years a job-growth income tax credit for employers that economic development professionals have called the most successful in state history.

“These are … bills that incentivize job creation,” Hickenlooper said at the morning ceremony.

Robert Olislagers, executive director of Centennial Airport, suggested HB 1080 as a way for smaller facilities such as his to be able to keep and attract companies that turn aircraft into medical helicopters or repair private aircraft. At first, observers believed it would have only a small effect, as the nonpartisan Legislative Council estimated it would help produce only eight new jobs that are eligible for the tax credit next year.

But as the bill gained momentum — only four of the 100 legislators voted against it — Denver International Airport officialsbrought it up as part of continuing negotiations with the City of Denver to eliminate its part tax on aircraft equipment. Frontier Airlines has said it hopes to move hundreds of heavy-maintenance jobs back to this state if it can get rid of some onerous tax conditions.

And Olislagers said Monday that even before it was signed into law, the new tax break was partly responsible for Sierra Nevada Corp. hiring 140 new people since January. Other companies have called him as well, looking to bring jobs to his facility, at least somewhat because of HB 1080.

“The runways behind us are not just big slabs of concrete that connect Arapahoe and Douglas counties,” Holbert said. “They really act as portals of commerce that connect us to the world.”

HB 1287, meanwhile, extends from 2018 to 2023 the end of a program, begun in 2009, that allows relocating or expanding companies that create at least 20 new jobs, which pay at least 110 percent of the average county wage, to take a tax credit equal to 3.8 percent of each of those new jobs created.

This credit has been used to attract 27 companies that have said they’ll create roughly 7,200 jobs. It played a big part in getting both DaVita HealthCare Systems Inc. and Arrow Electronics Inc. to move their headquarters to Colorado and contributed to the state attracting 12 new corporate headquarters in 2012 alone, said Tom Clark, executive director of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

“This piece of legislation is the first time in our history that we were able to compete with Texas on an equal footing,” Clark said.

In the afternoon, Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, which expands Medicaid eligibility to all adults in Colorado that make 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less — $15,282 for an individual or $31,322 for a family of four.

While Aguilar’s goal was to help every Colorado resident get access to affordable health care, SB 200 may have other positive side effects for the economy as well.

After Colorado hospitals offered $1.7 billion in uncompensated care to uninsured and underinsured patients in 2011, the fact that they will be seeing a lot more people who have Medicaid insurance is important, saidSteven Summer, president/CEO of the Colorado Hospital Association. That will slow the cost shift by which private insurers are charged higher prices by hospitals to make up for the lack of money coming in from other patients, he noted.

Also, a Colorado Health Foundation studyreleased in February stated that the health care field will need more than 22,000 new jobs to take care of the newly insured patients. That could boost the economy by $4.4 billion in the next 13 years, it stated.

“This is supporting working Coloradans and improve economic security for working families and even for businesses,” Hickenlooper said.

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President Hickenlooper? No thanks, say Coloradans

Daily Caller: Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has consistently denied any interest in a presidential bid, despite persistent rumors to the contrary.

Now, Hickenlooper can point to polling data to help make his case that he’s not interested, if only because Coloradans wouldn’t vote for him.

A new poll, conducted by Colorado-based Ciruli and Associates, found that only 30 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of unaffiliated voters think Hickenlooper should run for president.

The news comes amid a long backdrop of both local and national speculation that he would make a strong contender.

At the beginning of the legislative session, when Democrats vowed to tackle the sorts of tough gun control legislation sought by President Barack Obama on the federal level, Politico included Hickenlooper as among Democratic leaders “who [aspire] to a national leadership role.”

A variety of news outlets – from the Huffington Post and the New York Times to local publications like the Denver Post and 5280 Magazine – have run speculative articles in recent months and years, all despite Hickenlooper’s consistent efforts to quell the rumors.

Even his ex-wife helped fuel the conjecture, after Hickenlooper revealed that she offered to remain married to him if he decided to try for the Oval Office.

If the poll is accurate, it would have been for naught; not even voters in his own party believe he could win the Democratic nomination.

The poll does show some Republican support for a “Hickenlooper 2016″ campaign, with 13 percent of Colorado GOP voters in favor. But the reasons why aren’t especially flattering.

“Those thirteen percent are mostly a mixture of a few Republican fans and a few who believe their party will nominate someone even more unacceptable,” the poll states. “Finally, there are some who just want to get him out-of-state to reduce the damage and open the governorship up.”

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/15/president-hickenlooper-no-thanks-say-coloradans/#ixzz2VEPHnVuk

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Letters urge governor to deny clemency for Nathan Dunlap, sentenced to death for 4 murders

Denver Channel: May 10: Gov. John Hickenlooper is being asked to “show courage” by denying clemency for Nathan Dunlap, sentenced to death for killing four employees of an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese during a robbery in 1993.

Letters to the governor from the Arapahoe County District Attorney and his deputy district attorney, the jury foreman on the last Colorado death penalty case from State Representative Rhonda Fields and from a former co-worker were made public Friday.  All of them argued that Nathan Dunlap deserves the death penalty for his crime because he admitted killing all four employees to eliminate witnesses in the case.

The only other inmates on Colorado’s death row were also convicted of killing a witness in a criminal case, the son of Rep. Fields, who was scheduled to testify against them.

The jury foreman on the Robert Ray case, who did not want his name released, wrote Hickenlooper, telling him “Mr. Dunlap, as he stated himself, killed people because they would be witnesses. Freedom, peace and justice are all values worth more than any one of our individual lives.”

The foreman called the Chuck E. Cheese murders as “Aurora’s original mass shooting.” He also addressed augments that racism played a part in placing Dunlap on death row.

“You must trust that your citizens are not racists or ignorant fools,” the jury foreman wrote.  “Show the nation that Colorado does not tolerate cowardly acts of mass murder.”

Rep. Rhonda Fields wrote the governor about her personal experience in the death penalty trials of Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens — the two men convicted of killing her son and his fiancé.

Fields also argued that racism did not play a part in any of the three death penalty verdicts — all rendered in Arapahoe County.

“It was not the fault of the DA back in 1993 or the DA in 2005 that Dunlap, Ray and Owens all chose to commit their murders in Arapahoe County.  It was the nature of the murders, not their locations, that cause the death penalty decisions.”

She called it “offensive” to suggest that race played a part in any of the cases.

Regarding the Ray and Owens death penalty verdicts, Fields wrote, “… the jurors believed that the killing of witnesses was the main factor that required the death penalty.”   She added, “I know that Dunlap, when asked why he killed his victims, answered that it was because they were witnesses to his crime.”

She concluded her letter to the governor by saying, “I think that granting clemency would send the wrong message to criminals and to witnesses.”

District Attorney George Brauchler and Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Maillaro wrote a joint letter to to Hickenlooper, stating, “He (Dunlap) took the lives of four Colorado citizens and justice requires he now pays with his own.”

“We ask you to take the courageous stop of not granting his request for executive clemency,” the two also wrote.

“It’s not John Hickenlooper putting Nathan Dunlap to death, it’s the governor of the State of Colorado defending the process that has lead us here,” Brauchler told 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart.

A former Chuck E. Cheese co-worker and high school acquaintance of Nathan Dunlap also wrote Gov. Hickenlooper, urging him to not grant clemency for the condemned murderer.

The woman, who did not want to publicly identified, told Hickenlooper, “(Dunlap) was always a vindictive, evil and mean dark person.”

She said Dunlap is a “bad person, he always has been and I believe he always will be … His actions did not just happen to occur on this one horrible night, it was from the monster that he always was.”

The woman relates personal interactions with Dunlap at school and at work where she said he used “intimidation and fear.”

The woman said she was scheduled to work the night of the murders but had changed her schedule in order to babysit. She said that decision saved her life.  She is now a nurse.

– DA’s response: http://ch7ne.ws/11Z9LxB

– Ray jury foreman and Rep. Fields responses: http://ch7ne.ws/16niHmb

– Letter from co-worker who was supposed to work the night of the shooting: http://ch7ne.ws/10odAtF

Dunlap has been sentenced to die by lethal injection during the week of Aug. 18.  The last person executed in Colorado was Gary Lee Davis in 1997.

Before that, the last person executed in Colorado was Luis Monge in 1967. Monge was executed in the gas chamber for murdering his wife and three children. Prior to his death, Colorado averaged one execution per year for the years the gas chamber replaced hanging in the state, which was 1934.

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Hickenlooper rolls out plan to make Colorado ‘healthiest state’

Denver iJournal: May 7: Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday announced “The State of Health: Colorado’s Commitment to Become the Healthiest State” — a plan designed to make Colorado the healthiest state.

The plan will create a comprehensive and person-centered statewide system to address a broad range of health needs, deliver the best care at the best value and help Coloradans achieve the best health possible.

“We will build on Colorado’s unique — including our strong health economy and infrastructure and our dedication to collaboration and innovation — to become the healthiest state,” Hickenlooper said.

The plan reflects input from stakeholders including healthcare providers, advocates, lawmakers, insurance companies and foundations. The plan focuses on these efforts:

Promote Prevention & Wellness: Five initiatives to help Coloradans stay healthy and become healthier, including efforts to prevent more than 150,000 Coloradans from becoming obese, support improved mental health and better oral health, reduce substance abuse, and encourage wellness among state employees.

Expand Coverage, Access & Capacity: Three initiatives to ensure Coloradans can access care at the right time and the right place, including efforts to reduce Colorado’s uninsured population by more than 520,000, strengthen Colorado’s health workforce and improve access to primary care.

Improve Health System Integration & Quality: Four initiatives that eliminate barriers to better care and improve our ability to work effectively to ensure person-centered care, including major expansions to patient-centered medical homes, facilitating better access to state information and services, integrating physical and behavioral health, and improved long-term services and supports for Colorado’s aging and disabled populations.

Enhance Value & Strengthening Sustainability: Three initiatives that promise to redesign financial incentives, refocusing them on value, not volume. These include $280 million in cost savings to Colorado Medicaid, payment reform across the private and public sectors, and investments in health information technology.

The full report is available by clicking here.

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Colorado volunteers to fill its skies with domestic drones

Daily Caller: May 10: Most of Colorado’s congressional delegation and Gov. John Hickenlooper have signed a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration asking the agency to turn the state into a testing ground for unmanned drones — even while acknowledging that the public remains uneasy about how they might be used by both the government and private individuals.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is leading the charge, touting the state’s varied terrain, its robust aerospace industry and an existing unmanned aircraft program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“Colorado has a unique mix of qualifications that makes it ideal for this designation and we urge the FAA to approve our state’s application,” the letter reads. The FAA is considering designating six areas in the United States for drone research.

In a speech at the National Press Club Wednesday, Udall was careful not to use the word “drone” too heavily, opting instead for the industry-preferred “unmanned aerial system,” or UAS.

“The public is well aware of the military applications of unmanned systems, for better or for worse,” he said. “But UASes have begun to demonstrate their potential in any number of other functions. They will certainly reshape the way we do things from search and rescue operations to natural disaster assessment to precision agricultural and resource management.”

“We need to integrate UASes into the American psyche in a way that isn’t threatening or scary,” he continued, noting that the word “drone” carries a stigma because most people associate them with “Hellfire missiles and the headline-grabbing work our government is doing overseas.”

They’re also associated with the concerns from civil liberties groups, including in Colorado, who see the potential for their misuse. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office in Western Colorado has begun using drones for search and rescue.

In a recent National Geographic article highlighting Mesa County’s drone, Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union encapsulated many people’s concerns about the growing use of the technology.

He worried that it would begin with “mostly unobjectionable” uses, such as supporting police chases or raids, but then creep into spying on Americans under the justification that it’s necessary for national security.

The scenario becomes more worrisome when considering armed drones.

Last year, a Texas sheriff proposed arming one of his department’s drones with weapons that can fire tear gas and rubber bullets, but during a demonstration, the $300,000 drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored car.

CU-Boulder is one of just 63 agencies and organizations already authorized by the FAA to test fly its own fleet of unmanned aircraft as part of a decade-old public-private partnership.

Although its aircraft are used by the university to study the weather, CU’s research is funded in part by arms manufacturers and defense contractors like Raytheon, SAIC and Lockheed, as well as by NASA, the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which commissions research on behalf of the Department of Defense.

One drone developed by CU researchers to chase storms has been used in U.S. Navy experiments to launch hard-to-track, sensor-carrying glider-drones the size of small birds that can land within 15 feet of their programmed target.

Applications like that tend to make the public nervous about how they will be used — whether by government agencies or private owners — especially as they get cheaper and easier to use.

“While recognizing the potential for unmanned flight systems that lower costs, reduce risk and allow access to environments that are currently inaccessible, we must also acknowledge the potential for misuse,” Udall said. “Our laws need to keep pace with this new technology.”

The right kind of laws protecting privacy and trespassing would help keep people from thinking about “a sky full of drones watching their every move,” he said.

In addition to Udall and Hickenlooper, Democrats Sen. Michael Bennett and Rep. Diana DeGette, along with Republican congressmen Doug Lamborn, Ed Perlmutter, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton, signed the letter to the FAA.

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Uber CEO: Hickenlooper is all talk when it comes to supporting innovation

Denver Post: May 7: The CEO of Uber – a technology darling that essentially transformed town cars into taxis with a smartphone app – slammed Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper during a recent appearance with Google D.C. Talks, the search giant’s series of panel discussions covering tech policy issues.

Uber launched in Denver last year and is fighting to stay in the market as Colorado regulators decide how the startup and its e-hailing service fit into state transportation rules.

“The PUC of Colorado tried to put some regulations – really the governor of Colorado and his Public Utilities Commission put out regulations that are essentially trying to put us out of business,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said at the April 23 event.

The remark drew surprise from the event’s host, CNN anchor Jessica Yellin.

“Hickenlooper? He seems so technology friendly,” Yellin said.

Kalanick continued criticizing Hickenlooper, who launched the Colorado Innovation Network in 2011 to support the state’s innovation ecosystem.

“He’s an entrepreneur and he’s technology friendly and he embraces innovation every step of the way until he actually has to,” Kalanick said. “He talks the talk, but we have not seen him walk the walk. … He’s trying to push that taxi agenda. He’s talking about innovation on one side, but trying embrace the taxi side at the same time, but you can’t do both. You just can’t.”

Hickenlooper’s spokesman Eric Brown issued the following statement Tuesday:

“The PUC is an independent regulatory agency under Colorado law. The governor was not involved in the issues related to Uber. Anything suggested to the contrary isn’t based on our state’s laws, regulatory structure or how we operate.”

Hickenlooper’s office, though, has told Uber supporters that the company is not following state regulations by failing to disclose the exact cost of a fare before riders get into a vehicle. Uber’s app provides an estimated cost.

“In multiple meetings over the past several months, PUC staff has explained these requirements to Uber’s attorneys and lobbyists,” Hickenlooper’s office states. “Uber insists, however, that its luxury limousine providers can provide transportation service without telling their customers what it will cost when the ride is arranged. Failure to disclose the price is contrary to regulations and public interest.”

Administrative Law Judge Harris Adams has held two public hearings to review regulations that could impact Uber’s operations. He is expected toissue his recommendations to the PUC within the next month or so.

Taxi companies have complained to the PUC that Uber has an unfair advantage because it can offer a taxi-like service without facing taxi regulations.

Uber contracts with third-party limo companies that are licensed with Colorado. The tech upstart, which has faced similar battles in states across the country, argues that it is merely connecting riders with drivers via an innovative smartphone app.

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Hickenlooper orders oil, gas commission to review enforcement program

Denver iJournal: May 9: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed an executive order that directs the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to undertake a review of its enforcement program, penalty structure and imposition of fines.

The review was ordered after HB13-1267 failed to pass the General Assembly. That bill would have taken a harder line on oil and gas spills.

“The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission should re-evaluate its enforcement philosophy and approach and strive to structure fines and penalties to ensure that operators comply with rules and respond promptly and effectively to any impacts from such violation,” the order says. “Appropriate penalties for violations of rules on those developing oil and gas constitute one tool available to the Commission. Penalties are designed to discourage violations and encourage prompt response in environmental or public health and safety concerns in the event that violations occur. For these reasons, Colorado requires strong and clear enforcement of the rules and assessment of fines and penalties accordingly.”

The order directs the COGCC to undertake a strategic review of its violation and penalty assessment program used to enforce its rules and state law. The COGCC is also directed to evaluate its rules, consistent with its statutory authority, regarding the adjustment of fines based on aggravating and mitigating factors so as to strongly deter violations and, equally strongly, encourage prompt and cooperative post-violation response and mitigation.

Not everyone is impressed.

“What the frack is the Governor doing?” Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action asked in an email. “Hypocritically, he killed this exact bill a few hours ago [Wednesday] in the legislature and now he’s trying to take credit for himself — and away from the people and their representatives — by saying he’s addressing this issue?  This Executive Order is an outrageous attempt to gain political cover and advantage for his failed policies to protect the public’s health from cancer-causing drilling and fracking chemicals.”

Per the governor, the COGCC must structure these adjustments so as to hold the oil and gas industry to the highest operating standards in the nation for protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources. In doing so, the order directs the COGCC is directed to:

Apply the statutory maximum as necessary to protect public health, safety, welfare, and environment;

Establish minimum fine amounts in the case of a violation that involves an especially egregious or aggravating factor;

Provide that certain violations or series of violations preclude the process for administrative orders on consent and must instead undergo the hearing process set forth in C.R.S. § 34-60-108;

Make clear the process for determining the date on which a violation occurs and thereby penalties begin to accrue; and

Post all violations and the basis for penalty assessment is made publicly available on the website.

“The Commission is directed to undertake any other necessary policy and rule changes consistent with this order and will detail its compliance with this order in a report to the Governor’s Office no later than December 10, 2013,” the order says.

In addition, the order says the commission is directed to report to the Governor’s Office each year by Dec. 10 on all violations, any and all penalties imposed regarding violations, and the rationale for the calculation of final penalty assessments, including fines.

Finally, the order directs the Commission to develop and adopt an “enforcement guidance” setting forth procedures for processing violations, including the issuance of notices of violations, calculating or adjusting penalties, and imposing and collecting fines.

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Categories: Colorado Politics Tags:

Tracking John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall in Media through January 25

Weekly Clips for January 10, 2013 to January 25, 2013

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D- CO) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)

Governor delivers third State of the State address

THE COLORADO STATESMAN

On the heels of “a hard year” in Colorado — punctuated by rampant wildfires and a mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater — Gov. John Hickenlooper urged lawmakers on Thursday to respond to adversity the way westerners always have.

Ernest Luning

“Even in the hardest of times we reach out to each other. We look beyond sorrow, and we fix our gaze on the horizon. Belief in a better tomorrow is the story of the West,” the Democrat said during his annual State of the State speech, delivered to a joint session of the legislature at the Capitol. He added, “We have an obligation to prevent similar tragedies, to do good, to bring light to darkness. We have an obligation to represent the best that is Colorado.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers policy proposals at his third State of the State address on Jan. 10 at the State Capitol.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

After calling for a moment of silence to honor the fallen “and to remember those who are still recovering,” Hickenlooper introduced representatives of last summer’s most high-profile struggles: Duran Cornelius, a Colorado National Guard firefighter, Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, Aurora

Police Chief Dan Oates, Fire Chief Mike Garcia and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall enjoy front-row seats for Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State address on Jan. 10 at the Capitol.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Then he ticked off a list of policy proposals that included spurring business development as the state lurches out of a recession, expanding health coverage for Medicaid recipients and battling climate change by “reducing pollutants and promoting sustainable development.” Though he cautioned that, “There are no easy solutions,” Hickenlooper also proposed instituting broader background checks for gun purchasers, part of a plan that also includes beefing up mental health policies unveiled in the wake of a mass shooting last month at a Connecticut elementary school.

Gov. John Hickenlooper embraces House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, as state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, on Jan. 10 in House chambers.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“Surely, Second Amendment advocates and gun control supporters can find common ground in support of this proposition: Let’s examine our laws and make the changes needed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” he said to thunderous applause from the Democratic side of the chamber.

He also mentioned civil unions and ASSET legislation, two long-stalled Democratic proposals virtually guaranteed to pass this session, after Democrats retook control of the House from Republicans.

Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar and state Sen. Kevin Grantham,
R-Cañon City, visit before the start of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s third State of the State address on Jan. 10.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“Some of us tried very hard, but it didn’t get done last year,” he said. “This year, let’s do it. Let’s pass civil unions!” After more applause from about half the room, he continued: “Let’s find an equitable and fair way for undocumented kids — kids who have grown up here and done well in school — to pursue a higher education.”

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino said after the speech that he was pleased how similar the message had been to his own session-opener delivered the day before, including standard calls for bipartisan cooperation in the wake of a divisive election season.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General John Suthers, all Republicans, sit alongside Helen Thorpe, the estranged wife of Gov. John Hickenlooper, as the Democrat delivers his State of the State address at the Capitol.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“That speaks volumes for the ability of Democrats and, hopefully, Republicans to get some of the big issues facing us solved in this legislative session,” Ferrandino said, adding that he was happy the governor talked about economic development, civil unions and gun safety. “He hit the right tone and I think he hit the right subjects.”

Ferrandino’s GOP counterpart, House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, delivered a more mixed assessment, suggesting that Hickenlooper had offered “a little bit of Republican red meat in the speech and some Democratic meat as well. When he talked about an all-of-the-above to energy in Colorado, that’s something we want to see happen. We want to see responsible oil and gas exploration and harvest in the state of Colorado.”

House Minority Leader Mark Waller and Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, both Colorado Springs Republicans, listen as Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his third State of the State address in House chambers.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

But he disagreed that broad generalities about gun control can bridge deep divides between lawmakers. “Give us a vision what the issue is truly about,” an exasperated-sounding Waller said. “Just mentioning one issue or one piece of legislation really didn’t talk about gun control — it’s just one tiny sliver of the pie.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, swung back equally hard at potential restrictions on gun sales or ownership.

“We have speed limits,” he said. “I’ve been passed before when I was doing the speed limit — the only way you really know is having someone checking every inch of the highway to make sure no one is going too fast. We can’t afford a government that big and, frankly, we don’t want a government that powerful,” he said, adding, “Criminals don’t care about background checks. That’s why they’re criminals.”

He also questioned whether Hickenlooper’s call for financial responsibility was at odds with his own spending plans.

“The governor himself said we are on an unsustainable fiscal course, but at the same time we’re talking about adding fuel to the engines to drive the train faster when you’re talking about increasing the federal mandates for health care,” Cadman said. “How do you grow something for more people, with higher quality and say it’s going to cost less? The magic wand of government doesn’t exist.”

State Rep. Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, had nothing but praise for the speech and its particulars, though she sounded skeptical that partisan struggles might be avoided.

“I think the governor hit all the priorities my constituents are interested in — jobs, medical coverage through the new Medicaid expansion and through the new Health Benefits Exchange. They’re very interested in funding K-12 and higher ed, and we want a stable funding mechanism, we don’t want a crisis every year or two,” she said. “The common ground will be difficult on gun control, especially, but we’re all aware of the need to improve education to be competitive worldwide. We have bipartisan support on the Health Benefits Exchange. But Medicaid is a problem, I know the other party did not like the fact that he is going to expand Medicaid, but I think it’s an investment, not a cost.”

Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, grinned and said simply, “To quote my mother, ‘part-time wonderful.’”

Hickenlooper brushed aside suggestions that he’s had it easy for the last two years with a Republican-led House and a Democratic-led Senate, the divided chambers potentially blunting each other’s efforts to send controversial legislation his way.

“They say I got lucky, but I don’t see it that way,” he said. “Our blessing was not divided government in the last two years; our blessing was in the many relationships we formed with lawmakers from both parties — and that you have with each other. These relationships endure. They span the geography of our state and they transcend political affiliation.”

Even as he flubbed the rhetorical climax of his speech — building on a Robert Louis Stevenson line about “punching holes in the darkness” — the homespun former brewpub owner endeared himself to at least one potential political opponent. Stumbling over the wording, Hickenlooper became tongue-tied saying, “Working together, we can punch holes in some pretty big —” and then stopped himself, interjecting, “Oh Jesus,” as the chamber filled with laughter. Smiling, he started the sentence again: “Working together, we can punch some pretty big holes in the darkness,” he finished with a grin.

Beset herself with a voice she had nearly lost due to a recent illness, state Sen. Vickie Marble, R-Fort Collins, smiled and whispered soon after the speech had concluded, “That was the cutest ending to the speech — where things weren’t going well and he was just, ‘Oh, Jesus!’ He is such a dear man in many ways, and I am very much looking forward to working with the people of the House and the Senate this year, and the governor’s office.”

Still, she added that she wanted to hear more and see what specific policy proposals emerge before rendering judgment.

“So many of the things were pretty open-ended, they were general statements where you don’t know what you mean by that,” Marble said. “As they say, the devil is in the details. They could be this way or that way.”

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Denver Post: December 21: More…Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper for the second year in a row mentioned civil unions in his State of the State address.

“As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few mountains we ought to climb together before this session ends in May,” Hickenlooper told colleagues on Thursday. “Some of us tried very hard, but it didn’t get done last year. This year, let’s do it. Let’s pass civil unions!”

Hickenlooper also endorsed civil unions during last year’s address.

“It’s time to pass civil unions,” he told lawmakers. “As we strive to make Colorado healthier, we believe in equal rights for all regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. We don’t believe we should legislate what happens inside a church or place of worship, but government should treat all people equally.”

State Senator Pat Steadman earlier this week introduced his civil unions bill for a third time. In previous sessions, Republicans who controlled the House blocked the proposals from reaching the House floor. Rather than allowing a vote on the bill last year, Republicans shut down voting altogether, killing nearly two dozen unrelated measures.

Democrats regained control of the House in November and elected Mark Ferrandino, an openly gay man who sponsored the bill in the House last year, as House speaker, nearly assuring passage in the chamber.

 

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Colorado’s John Hickenlooper Reiterates Support For Civil Unions For Gay Couples

Ontopmag: January 11: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper for the second year in a row mentioned civil unions in his State of the State address.

“As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few mountains we ought to climb together before this session ends in May,” Hickenlooper told colleagues on Thursday. “Some of us tried very hard, but it didn’t get done last year. This year, let’s do it. Let’s pass civil unions!”

Hickenlooper also endorsed civil unions during last year’s address.

“It’s time to pass civil unions,” he told lawmakers. “As we strive to make Colorado healthier, we believe in equal rights for all regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. We don’t believe we should legislate what happens inside a church or place of worship, but government should treat all people equally.”

State Senator Pat Steadman earlier this week introduced his civil unions bill for a third time. In previous sessions, Republicans who controlled the House blocked the proposals from reaching the House floor. Rather than allowing a vote on the bill last year, Republicans shut down voting altogether, killing nearly two dozen unrelated measures.

Democrats regained control of the House in November and elected Mark Ferrandino, an openly gay man who sponsored the bill in the House last year, as House speaker, nearly assuring passage in the chamber.

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Hickenlooper: State needs more leaders from private sector

Gazette: January 11: BOB STEPHENS

THE GAZETTE

Gov. John Hickenlooper mixed humor with serious topics in a half-hour address Friday sponsored by the Colorado Springs Business Alliance at the Antlers Hilton.

About 800 people were on hand to hear Hickenlooper, who focused on three topics: education, health care and getting government on the right track, largely by bringing in leaders from the private sector.

The governor’s witty personality was on display several times, an engaging style he uses to attract business leaders to government.

Hickenlooper said 85 percent of the country’s leaders are involved in business with “the other 15 percent divided between government and nonprofits.”

Hickenlooper continually said Colorado should be “pro-business.”

“Not just to be ski-friendly and lovely landscapes but … relentlessly pro-business,” he said. “I especially want strong small businesses. We’re really trying to attract entrepreneurs. I want us to be a leader in technology and innovation. We want to cut red tape and increase access to capital.”

To spur those ideas, Hickenlooper hired Aaron Kennedy — founder of the Noodles & Company restaurant chain — as the state’s first chief marketing officer Aug. 6.

When the governor turned to education, he said, “I don’t care that we’re the number one state in education reform. I want to be the number one state in education results.”

He talked about “professional ladders,” a mentoring program where “great teachers will be paid incentives to help other teachers become great. We need to make sure we embrace teachers.”

One area district, Harrison School District 2, has been a state leader in instituting a pay-for-performance system. It has adopted a system that compensates based on how well students perform.

A less ambitious plan for the evaluation of teachers and principals statewide goes into effect in 2014.

Harrison also has instituted an eighth-grade academy for students not academically ready for high school, and it is holding back third-graders who can’t read at grade level.

Under a new state law that takes effect in 2014, teachers will be evaluated every year and students’ academic progress would count for half the instructors’ overall rating. If deemed ineffective, the instructors could be placed on probation.

Health care can be another part of economic development, Hickenlooper said. He said U.S. citizens spend about $8,000 annually for health care while it costs about half of that for people in Canada and Europe.

He said the state’s health care exchange — due to come online in October — will help lower costs. It’s expected to serve nearly a million customers within three years of startup.

Proponents expect more than half of the customers to use the exchange to cut the cost of their insurance with federal tax credits. Others are expected to buy insurance on the exchange because it will simplify the current, often mind-numbing experience of having to sort through insurance plans with hundreds of variations.

Hickenlooper suggested businesses could provide incentives for employees improving their health.

“If we get education results and health care results,” Hickenlooper said, “more business will want to come here.”

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Hubbard: Hickenlooper’s bipartisanship laugher

Denver Post: Gov. John Hickenlooper’s shout-out to the Denver Broncos got one of the biggest cheers during his state of the state address on Thursday.

His blunt “Oh, Jesus”declarationafter stumbling at the end of the speech received the biggest laugh from assembled lawmakers and dignitaries.

Funnier still was the governor’s attempt to spin a tale of Colorado as the land of bipartisan milk and honey.

“While Washington struggles with fiscal cliffs and partisan fights, Colorado demonstrates there is still room for compromise and moderation,” he said to applause.

There are 32 fresh faces in the 100-member legislature who may not remember it, but last year’s session ended on an acrimonious note when the governorcalled a special sessionin hopes of forcing a vote on a civil unions bill essentially killed by Republicans in the waning hours of the 120-day General Assembly. In overtime,they killed it again.

Eight months later, Hickenlooper wants us to believe that politics in the statehouse is all unicorns and bunnies, where Democrats and Republicans walk hand-in-hand gazing at mountains and rainbows.

Ask former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty or any of the numerous Republican lawmakers who lost elections in November if that’s the case.

What Colorado has is constitutional requirements for balanced budgets and going to voters to increase taxes that limit spending fights. For the last two years, the state had a divided legislature, meaning lawmakers had to find common ground in order to get small things done.

And, to Hickenlooper’s credit, we have a pragmatic governor who has managed to keep people on both sides of the aisle happy.

But Colorado’s Capitol is not the model of moderation he would have you believe.

With Democrats back in control of both chambers this year, the civil unions bill is expected to be among the first signed into law. On Wednesday, every Democratic lawmaker had signed on as a sponsor. Contrast that to one Republican — Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen.

Another measure expected to sail to passage offers reduced tuition to illegal immigrants. This year’s version has yet to be filed, but if last year is a guide, it too will have a hard time finding support from Rs.

In the end, Democrats may be able to round up a few Republican votes on those bills and call them “bipartisan,” but don’t expect the minority party to play along.

“This session, for us, because they have the votes to do whatever they want to do … for us then it becomes about mitigation,” House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, told The Denver Post’s editorial board. “How can we work with them to make, in our mind, a bad bill better? And there are going to be times when we have to say, ‘You know what? I’m sorry. From an ideological perspective, I can’t support you on this issue.’ ”

The governor is trying to play it somewhere close to the middle.

He may have to fend off fellow Democrats as he seeks to boost the state’s reserves, confront legislation aimed at rewarding organized labor and support rules on oil and gas drilling that many in his party think are tilted in favor of the industry.

On the flip side, Republicans are likely to view with suspicion plans to expand Medicaid, stricter controls on guns and talk of tax increases for education.

“They’re setting us up where the only option is to put a tax increase to the vote of the people,” Waller said. “That’s what’s going to happen here.”

It’s not all Kumbaya in the Capitol.

There will be plenty of times where people — just as Hickenlooper did Thursday — let loose the occasional curse word when things don’t go the way they’d like.

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John Hickenlooper lauded for bringing mental health into gun control talk

Westword: Patricia Calhoun: January 17: Calhoun: Wake-Up Call : Governor John Hickenlooper is scheduled to speak at today’s reopening of the Aurora Century 16, where “an evening of remembrance” will honor the victims of the shootings on July 20 during a screen of The Dark Knight Rises.

Let’s hope the event works as well as Hickenlooper’s subsequent talk about guns and mental health played in the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s the online version of the WSJ editorial published on January 16:

Gun control has been the exclusive political fixation of President Obama’s Washington after Newtown, so perhaps readers will be surprised to learn that some states are being more constructive. One of them is Colorado, where Governor John Hickenlooper is promoting an innovative overhaul of his state’s mental health-care system.

In his State of the State address last week, the Democrat said that “our democracy demands” a debate over guns, violence and mental illness — not least in the aftermath of James Holmes’s attack on an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 and wounded 58 in July. “Let me prime the pump,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “Why not have universal background checks for all gun sales?”

There was a lot of media attention for that line, but much less for what followed. As Mr. Hickenlooper continued, “It’s not enough to prevent dangerous people from getting weapons. We have to do a better job identifying and helping people who are a threat to themselves and others.” His office spent the last five months developing a detailed $18.5 million plan to modernize civil commitment laws while expanding community-based mental health treatment.

The first leg would combine Colorado’s three involuntary treatment laws into one streamlined, clarified process and lower the legal threshold to “substantial probability” from “imminent danger.” This new burden of proof would protect civil liberties but also make it easier for health-care providers, law enforcement and the courts to ensure that the seriously disturbed get the help they need.

A month prior to Holmes’s rampage his University of Colorado psychiatrist broke doctor-patient confidentiality to tell campus police about his fantasies about killing “a lot of people,” as Denver’s 7News and the Denver Post reported in December. But the doctor rejected an offer to place him on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, for reasons that are unclear.

Mr. Hickenlooper also said that mental health commitment records would be cross-checked in real time with background checks for gun purchases. And all this would be coupled with better treatment options, including more public hospital beds, more specialists in the state’s mental health institutions, and five 24-hour psychiatric crisis centers. The Hickenlooper plan would create a better off-ramp for people emerging from care such as more case management, counselling and behavioral rehabilitation.

Good luck finding any mention of any of this from the national press corps. On Monday one newspaper ran a lengthy dispatch on Colorado as “a reluctant crucible for the battle over guns” but didn’t find it fit to print a single word about Mr. Hickenlooper’s mental health ideas. They received the gloss of a single paragraph in another Colorado gun-control story last week.

Mr. Obama unveils his new gun-control measures as early as Wednesday. But Mr. Hickenlooper’s reform effort is likely to make far more progress reducing gun violence and caring for civil society than another reactionary, unthinking guns-only debate.

This is the second WSJ editorial on Hickenlooper’s response to the Aurora shootings; the first lauded his “wise words” on national news shows right after the tragedy.

From our archives: “Aurora shooting: Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim, says boycott of Cinemark is ‘ridiculous.’

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Hickenlooper says he’s not feeling the love

Denver Business Journal: Denver Post: January 17: Gov. John Hickenlooper told a Colorado Association of Commerce and Ed Sealover

Industry (CACI) luncheon Thursday that he feels he is the target of anger from both the oil/gas industry and the environmental lobby these days — a statement that one of the interest groups denied afterward.

Talking to a 400-person crowd at the Brown Palace about the myriad issues the Colorado Legislature will face this year, Hickenlooper segued into the subject of “fracking” — an issue that is expected to be contentious this year. The Democratic governor noted that he applauded the decision of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to extend setbacks on oil and gas wells from 350 feet to 500 feet in urban areas — and said he believes both sides of the issue are mad at him about the move being too big a burden or not enough of a safety net for residents.

“Right now the oil and gas community hates my guts and they won’t return my calls. And the environmental lobby wants to hang me in effigy,” Hickenlooper said. “If you can do that, then it must be doing some good.”

Hickenlooper has been taking more criticism in public forums from environmentalists, who want more of a setback. Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said she plans to run a bill this year extending those setbacks to 2,000 feet.

Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, acknowledged that his members are not happy about the increased drilling setbacks. But at a meeting of the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee Thursday afternoon, he said that oil and gas industry leaders are not overly angry with the governor, who is a former geologist.

“Despite what Gov. Hickenlooper said today at the CACI lunch, we do not hate him,” Dempsey said.

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Hickenlooper says wife offered to stay if he ran for president

Denver Business Journal: January 17: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper tells The New York Times his estranged wife, Helen Thorpe, offered to stay with him should he run for president.

Hickenlooper and Thorpe, who married in 2002, separated last year. They have a 10-year son they are raising together.

The former mayor of Denver, Hickenlooper said it was “conceivable” the marriage would have survived if he hadn’t run for governor. He also said that when he and Thorpe were discussing separating, she told him: “If you want to run for president, I’m in. We’ll stay married. I’ll figure it out and I’ll be fine.”

Hickenlooper called her offer “amazingly generous” but said he couldn’t accept it.

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Colorado Governor: My Wife Offered to Stay With Me If I Ran for President

Weekly Standard: January 24: Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, told the New York Times that his wife offered to stay married to him, if he was planning to run for president. The first couple of Colorado is currently separated.

Frank Bruni of the Times reports:

Recently I visited Colorado, whose governor, John Hickenlooper, is another prominent Democrat sometimes mentioned in connection with 2016. I met up with him just a few hours after his State of the State address. Its distinctions included this: when he thanked his wife, Helen Thorpe, for coming to hear it, he was reminding Coloradans that the two had separated midway through 2012, less than two years into his first term.

“I greatly appreciate Helen being here today,” he told the gathered lawmakers. Then, mentioning their 10-year-old son, he added, “Even with the changes in our life, she remains a beacon of light to me and Teddy.”

Then, Bruni offers this anecdote:

During my recent conversations with Hickenlooper, he brought up Thorpe readily and repeatedly. She’s a journalist, and he proudly described her progress on a new book. He expressed sorrow that the public eye and the whirl of his political life had never really suited her. When they married in 2002, his political career had really yet to begin.

He said that over the last few years, as he rose in political prominence, they were careful to carve out private time, thinking that that would do the trick. He was sure to be home with his wife by 7 p.m. at least four of every seven nights, he said.

But, he said: “There was just always somebody interrupting. She’s someone who just thinks so deeply and feels so deeply — it was just so distracting for her. I didn’t appreciate that properly.”

If he hadn’t run for governor, I asked, would the marriage have survived? “It’s conceivable,” he said. Then he volunteered that when they discussed separating, she had told him: “If you want to run for president, I’m in. We’ll stay married. I’ll figure it out and I’ll be fine.”

Hickenlooper calls his soon-to-be ex-wife’s offer “amazingly generous.” And though Hickenlooper doesn’t say he won’t run for president, “He turned down that offer,” according to Bruni.

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Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)

Udall sounds close to ‘yes’ on Hagel

Coloradoan: January 14: Stopping shy of an endorsement, Sen. Mark Udall sounds like he’ll vote for Chuck Hagel to be the next defense secretary when Hagel appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee in the coming weeks.

Though Colorado’s senior senator told Gannett Washington Bureau today he has questions for Hagel, he added: “I see nothing that disqualifies him from serving as the next defense secretary, frankly.”

Udall, a Democrat, said he’s had a frank conversation with Hagel since the former Republican senator from Nebraska was nominated by President Barack Obama on Jan. 7.

“He’s a decorated and patriotic American,” Udall said. “I like his willingness to challenge conventional thinking. He clearly is qualified to do the job.

“He ought to have a chance to share his point of view and answer some tough questions and I’ll make my final decision.”

Udall sounded a lot less sold on Hagel last week, when his office said he’s “thoughtfully considering” the Nebraskan’s nomination.

Udall’s potential support doesn’t assure Hagel of an easy hearing at the Armed Services Committee.

Critics say Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War hero, isn’t sufficiently supportive of Israel, is soft on Iran and is cool toward gays.

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Udall visits Summit County to tout new mine cleanup rules

Summit County Voice: January 17, 2013:  Bob Berwyn:

 

Pollution from an abandoned mine turned the Blue River bright orange in April 2006. Bob Berwyn photo.

Public event planned Jan. 18 near Breckenridge

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Around the West, there are thousands of abandoned mines polluting streams and killing fish, and many volunteer cleanup efforts have been stymied by strict Clean Water Act liability provisions.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for years has been working with the EPA to try and make it easier for Good Samaritan groups to tackle remediation projects without taking on responsibility for future pollution. Those efforts showed results in December, when the EPA issued new guidance specifying that Good Samaritans are generally not responsible for obtaining a Clean Water Act permit during or after a successful cleanup conducted according to a Good Samaritan agreement with EPA. Read the memo here.

Udall will be in Summit County Friday (Jan. 18) along with EPA Regional Administrator Jim Martin to discuss the new policy and the public is invited to attend the event, set for 11 a.m. at the Iron Springs Mill off Boreas Pass Road.

The site was the source of a 2006 spill that turned the Blue River bright orange for several hours after a polluted water surged from the old mining site. Despite the risk of another such surge of pollution, remediation has been pursued at the site. Check out a video of the Blue River running bright orange, and read this Summit Daily story to learn more.

Breckenridge and Summit County will help the public access the event by running a shuttle from the Stephen C. West Ice Arena starting at 10:30 a.m.

There are more than 7,000 abandoned mine sites in Colorado, many of them leaching toxic heavy metals into streams to the detriment of aquatic life. Udall said the new EPA guidance could ease cleanup projects at the Pennsylvania Mine site along Peru Creek, in Summit County, as well as at the Tiger Mine, along the Arkansas near Leadville, in the Animas River Basin near Silverton and along Willow Creek, near Creede.

Udall said that, under the new guidance, volunteer groups can feel comfortable pursuing cleanups and partnerships with the EPA, knowing theyw on’t be responsible for pollution when they get done.

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Udall backs PPCC’s workforce plans

Colorado Springs Business Journal: : January 17: Sen. Mark Udall examined small bearings, looked into a welding simulator and watched a 3D printer make a small intricate part in the technical classrooms during a visit this week at Pikes Peak Community College.

Udall was there to speak to students, instructors and PPCC president Lance Bolton. In his week off from Senate activities in Washington, D.C., Udall toured dozens of Colorado businesses and colleges, including the U.S. Air Force Academy’s bio-fuels research program, to talk jobs and workforce development.

At PPCC, Udall learned that the college has spent the past couple of years reacting to the needs of local manufacturers who say it is difficult to find skilled welders, machinists and electricians. They worry that as the Baby Boomers — who grew up in the trades — retire, there will not be enough skilled employees to take their place.

PPCC has adjusted its curriculum to teach students to use metal processing equipment such as sheers, punches and angle rolls to meet local industry needs. Last summer, the college added a new computer numerical control mill and lathe to ramp up its machining program, which increased from two students three years ago to 94 this semester, said Taffy Mulliken, PPCC dean of communication, humanities and technical studies.

“What I heard today is how tied to the community Pikes Peak is and how the community is reaching out and supporting Pikes Peak to build a workforce,” Udall said.

Bolton used Udall’s visit to hammer home some funding issues. While PPCC is mostly state-funded, it does receive federal dollars for workforce development. The problem, Bolton said, is that that the funds are highly regulated even though there is a local Workforce Investment Board.

“We can’t say how that money is spent,” Bolton said.

PPCC’s priority

Bolton has been relentless on the issue, trying to convince Congress that the local workforce boards ought to have a say in how the dollars are spent.

Bolton said that when local businesses present a workforce issue specific to Colorado Springs, the Workforce Investment Board should be able to come up with a solution specific to the Springs.

“Why can’t we determine the kind of training we need,” Bolton said.

Udall said he would work on the issue.

“My takeaway today is I am going to go back and look at how we can create more flexibility for institutions like Pikes Peak Community College, and Dr. Bolton and the private sector, which needs trained workforce,” Udall said.

Udall talked with students about veterans benefits, the Waldo Canyon fire and defense, including Fort Carson’s new helicopter combat aviation brigade.

The senator told students he was committed to investing in education and research and development. He brought up that as part of the recent tax deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” Congress extended the wind tax credit, which he said affects PPCC students who could end up with jobs as welders, machinists and electricians in wind energy companies, such as Vestas Wind Systems in Pueblo.

“It was an important victory for Colorado,” Udall said.

Addressing student aid

Part of making the workforce stronger includes helping students pay for college, said Steve Collier, University of Colorado Colorado Springs student government president who attended the PPCC town hall.

Collier fears that federal Pell grants, awarded to low-income undergraduate students, are still at risk of being slashed as Congress tries to address the federal $16 trillion debt. About 60 percent of PPCC students have Pell grants.

Collier wanted assurances that Pell grants would not be touched.

“I don’t want students to wake up one day and get an email that says, your Pell grant was denied,” he said.

Udall said he draws a line on cuts to education, especially the Pell grant program. He predicts federal programs that provide student financial assistance will get through debt talks unscathed.

“I will fight to maintain the Pell grant program. I will fight to maintain the Stafford loan program,” he said.

Last summer, Congress turned down a proposal to double interest rates on student loans and instead extended low 3.4 percent interest rates on federally subsidized student loans for one year.

Udall said Congress needs to go further. Low-interest student loans should be paid back on an schedule that matches the student’s chosen profession, he said.

Now, college graduates are given a payback plan, regardless of whether they are teaching or working as an electrician, Udall said.

“You are required to pay that loan back based on a formula that applies to everybody,” he said. “What we want to do is apply that formula based on the amount of income.”

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Sen. Udall to Host Veteran Roundtable Discussion in Grand Junction

KREX TV: July 7: Senator Mark Udall will continue his Western Slope trip with a stop in Grand Junction Saturday.

Udall is hosting a series of roundtables to connect with veterans to get a better sense of how he can ensure they are receiving their benefits.

The first roundtable will be taking place in Grand Junction at the police station located on 555 Ute Avenue.

The discussion is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

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These mines are our mines

POLITICO: January 19: Wood pilings jutting out of mounds of snow are the only signs that something is unusual about the stretch of land just past the Breckenridge ice rink on Boreas Pass Road. Check a text and you’ll miss it….

 

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Colorado: Sans Opponent, Udall Looks to Rally Support

Roll Call: February 8: Democratic Sen. Mark Udall urged his supporters to rally for his re-election campaign in an email last week.

“It is from my bedrock love for Colorado and its people that I am running for reelection, so that I can continue to use my seat in the U.S. Senate to safeguard these things that I know we all care about,” Udall wrote in the email, according to ColoradoPols.com, a local politics website.

Udall starts off the 2014 cycle in a relatively safe position, especially compared to his many Democratic colleagues seeking re-election in conservative states. CQ Roll Call rates this race as Likely Democratic.

No well-known Republicans have announced they will challenge him. Local GOP operatives said several Republicans could look at the race, including Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman, former Rep. Bob Beauprez and state Attorney General John Suthers.

Udall reported $1.1 million in the bank at the end of September, which was his most recent filing period with the Federal Election Commission.

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Udall, Bennet working to designate buffalo as ‘national mammal’

The Hill: January 22: “There’s somethin’ happenin’ here/what it is ain’t exactly clear…” – Buffalo Springfield, 1967

I know, I know – you think we in the media just make things up. Or you think that we’re so obsessed with bad news we ignore the good news. And you probably think that our two distinguished U.S. senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, have nothing better to do than complain about Republican obstructionism.

Why, you may ask, don’t they get together with some of their western counterparts and do something heartwarming and bipartisan, something that will unite our great region?

I’m happy to report that, as co-sponsors of the National Bison Legacy Act, they tried to do just that.

The bill, had it been passed by Congress, would have designated the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States. Co-sponsored by 11 senators, the bill was introduced last year, given two readings, and referred to the “Committee on the Judiciary,” where it has languished ever since.

A companion bill was introduced in the House, sponsored by six Democrats (including Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder) and six Republicans (not including Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs). Alas, the House bill suffered the same fate as the Senate’s noble effort – it died in committee.

Yet, as the authors of the bill(s) hopefully pointed out, there are at least 18 reasons to pass it, so maybe following the President’s inspirational second inaugural address, the newly seated Congress will whoop it joyfully through and make it the law of the land.

In support of the act, its authors argue that bison are really, like, extremely cool animals. Buffalo Bills! Colorado Buffaloes! Buffalo nickels! Sacred Native American type-stuff,  like the Intertribal Buffalo Council, incorporated pursuant to section 17 of the Act of June 18, 1934 (commonly known as `Indian Reorganization Act’) (25 U.S.C. 477)! National Buffalo Day, to be celebrated the first Thursday in November!

I don’t know about you, but the idea of a new national holiday falling on a Thursday is immensely appealing. Four-day weekend, anyone??!!

We’re also reminded that bison are good to eat, and that 4,499 bison producers were creating good jobs for Americans by creating a sustainable and healthy food source; i.e., by cheerfully slaughtering the soon-to-be national mammal.

Here’s the bill – and believe me, you can’t make this stuff up…unless you’re a member of Congress.

 

 

Mr. ENZI (for himself, Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota, Mr. CONRAD, Mr. HOEVEN, Mr. THUNE, Mr. BENNET, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. MORAN, Mr. UDALL of New Mexico, Mr. JOHANNS, and Mr. WHITEHOUSE) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To designate the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `National Bison Legacy Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that–

(1) bison are considered to be a historical symbol of the United States;

(2) bison were integrally linked with the economic and spiritual lives of many Indian tribes through trade and sacred ceremonies;

(3) there are more than 60 Indian tribes participating in the Intertribal Buffalo Council;

(4) numerous members of Indian tribes–

(A) are involved in bison restoration on tribal land; and

(B) have a combined herd on more than 1,000,000 acres of tribal land;

(5) the Intertribal Buffalo Council is a tribal organization incorporated pursuant to section 17 of the Act of June 18, 1934 (commonly known as `Indian Reorganization Act’) (25 U.S.C. 477);

(6) bison play an ecologically important role in modifying and improving the types of grasses found in landscapes to the benefit of grassland ecosystems;

(7) a bison has been depicted on the official seal of the Department of the Interior almost continuously for 94 years;

(8) a bison is portrayed on 2 State flags;

(9) the bison has been adopted by 3 States as the official mammal of those States;

(10) the buffalo nickel played an important role in modernizing the currency of the United States;

(11) several sports teams have the bison as a mascot, which highlights the iconic significance of bison in the United States;

(12) on December 8, 1905, William Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt, and others formed the American Bison Society in response to the near extinction of bison in the United States;

(13) on October 11, 1907, the American Bison Society sent 15 bison to the first big game refuge in the United States, which was known as the `Wichita Reserve Bison Refuge’;

(14) in 2005, the American Bison Society was reestablished, bringing together bison ranchers, managers from Indian tribes, Federal and State agencies, conservation organizations, and natural and social scientists from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to create a vision for the North American bison in the 21st century;

(15) bison hold significant economic value for private producers and rural communities;

(16) as of 2007, the United States had 4,499 bison producers creating jobs and providing a sustainable and healthy meat source contributing to the food security of the United States;

(17) there are bison herds in National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks; and

(18) members of Indian tribes, bison producers, conservationists, sportsmen, educators, and other public and private partners have committed to spearheading a national celebration of the North American bison, to be held annually on the first Thursday of November.

SEC. 3. DESIGNATION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN BISON AS THE NATIONAL MAMMAL.

The mammal commonly known as the `North American bison’ is designated as the national mammal of the United States.

You know what to do, don’t you? Write/call/email/text your Congressperson and tell him/her to stop stalling and pass the National Bison Legacy Act!!!

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Coffman on running against Udall in 2014: Not Interested

The Hill  Rep. Mike Coffman said Wednesday he wasn’t planning to challenge Sen. Mark Udall for his seat in 2014.

National Republicans are searching for a viable candidate to run against Udall. Possible names include Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma and former congressman Bob Beauprez. Coffman was thought to be a distinct possibility because he has won statewide before as Colorado’s Secretary of State. He served that spot from 2007 to 2009.

Coffman, R-Aurora, said Wednesday he plans to run for his seat again in the newly competitive 6th Congressional District and stay away from the Udall race.

Coffman may face former Democratic state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in that race.

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