State and Local

Polis Becomes Face, Name of Anti-Fracking Movement

July 21, 2014

DENVER — Democratic Rep. Jared Polis wasn’t in attendance at last weekend’s Western Conservative Summit, but his name seemed to be everywhere.

At least a dozen college students wearing red “No on Polis” T-shirts were circulating petitions on behalf of two pro-fracking ballot initiatives, a typically tedious job made much easier by the congressman’s notoriety.

“As soon as people see ‘Polis,’ they want to sign,” said Andrew Knarr, a 22-year-old student at Colorado Mesa University. “I haven’t had a single person say no.”

Knarr was of course picking low-hanging fruit at the annual gathering of 3,300 conservatives, but it’s also true that Democratic Rep. Jared Polis’s name has become shorthand for the anti-fracking movement in Colorado.

The multimillionaire Polis is bankrolling two anti-fracking ballot measures, Initiative 88 and 89, while business interests are pushing two counter-measures, Initiatives 121 and 137. All four initiatives must gather at least 86,105 valid signatures by Aug. 4 to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot. Read more »

Denver Volunteers to House Border Kids for Three Years

July 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — Denver Human Services asked the federal government to pay for illegal immigrant children to be housed at a facility in downtown Denver, according to multiple media reports.

The child migrants would stay at the Family Crisis Center near 10th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, according to KUSA, which broke the story after KLZ radio host Ken Clark aired a leaked memo Wednesday.

“It would be perfect,” Ana Mostaccero, a spokeswoman for the Denver Human Services Department, told KUSA reportedly. Separately, the Associated Press reported that the grant would be for three years.

Mostaccero did not return two messages for comment. Read more »

Colorado Obamacare Website Repeats ‘Lie of the Year’ Promising Patients Can Keep Healthcare

July 18, 2014

DENVER – Much as Democrats would like to distance themselves from Obamacare, somehow the unpopular legislation keeps coming back to haunt them.

On the official Colorado state website under healthcare, the discredited Obamacare talking point “If you like your plan, you can keep it” appears not once, but twice.

The Colorado Republican Party released a statement Thursday calling for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to remove the claim from the website.

“Mark Udall led the charge when it came to telling Coloradans the ‘lie of the year’ about Obamacare and now John Hickenlooper is carrying the torch by allowing this lie to remain on an official state website,” spokesman Matt Connelly said in the statement.

“It should be removed immediately and Governor Hickenlooper should apologize to Coloradans for his misinformation campaign,” Connelly said.

As of January, nearly 340,000 Coloradans and more than five million people nationwide had lost their health insurance because of President Barack Obama’s signature law. Read more »

Connect for Health Colorado’s Old Spending Habits Die Hard

July 18, 2014

connectDENVER – Even a member of Connect for Health Colorado’s board is getting frustrated with the exchange’s habit of spending first, asking questions later.

Dr. Mike Fallon objected to a proposal that suggested awarding grant extensions to the state’s assistance network sites prior to the release of a study rating the effectiveness of those sites.

The 150 assistance networks that are awarded Obamacare funding by the Colorado exchange include local government agencies as well as non-profit groups that reach out to underserved communities, but some also have political agendas such as the NAACP, La Raza and gay and lesbian organizations.

“As a board member on the finance committee, I would not feel comfortable offering six-month grant extensions to groups that have not been fully evaluated within the previous open-enrollment period, which is now three-and-a-half months passed,” Fallon said. “We’ve been asking for these evaluations and this quantitative look at these assistant sites – at least I have – ongoing, and each month it’s, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming,’ But now I’m being told we’re going to be offering more money prior to me seeing that report, and, so, I have angst with that.” Read more »

Poll: Gardner Overtakes Udall Despite ‘War on Women’ Attacks

July 18, 2014

Rep. Cory Gardner

Rep. Cory Gardner

DENVER — Democrats have waged for three months a ferocious and relentless “war on women” campaign against GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, yet Thursday’s Quinnipiac Poll shows him edging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall for the first time.

That could mean one of two things: Either the “war on women” is starting to lose its zing, or Gardner is one of those candidates who is impervious to the onslaught.

Neither explanation is particularly good news for Colorado Democrats, who have relied for four years on the “war on women” as their can’t-miss strategy for defeating Republicans.

“If this polling is correct, it shows that Cory is probably going to win this election, because for three months, Udall and his allies have been pummeling Cory Gardner as somebody who hates women, who wants to invade their bedroom and take away their contraception—it’s been relentless,” said Republican strategist Dick Wadhams. Read more »

Polis Could Pay High Political Price for Anti-Fracking Initiatives

July 17, 2014

Fracking coloDENVER — Democratic Rep. Jared Polis may have no problem stiff-arming Gov. John Hickenlooper, but the next three weeks will show whether he has the nerve to do the same to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Polis is under intense pressure from state and national Democrats to pull his anti-fracking measures, Initiatives 88 and 89, rather than submit petitions by the Aug. 4 deadline. The initiatives need 86,105 valid signatures each to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot.

The Boulder congressman had agreed to support a Hickenlooper-driven compromise bill on fracking, but the Democratic governor abandoned Wednesday his quest for a special legislative session after being unable to cobble together the votes.

That means there’s no easy out for Polis, not that he’s looking for one. In a statement Wednesday, he said he was committed to finding “a solution that will allow my constituents to live safely in their homes” and blamed the failure of the compromise bill on “special interests and out-of-state organizations.” Read more »

Polis Under Pressure to Drop Anti-Fracking Push After Special Session Fizzles

July 16, 2014

Rep. Jared Polis

Rep. Jared Polis

DENVER — Calls for Democratic Rep. Jared Polis to pull his anti-fracking initiatives intensified Wednesday after Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that he has abandoned his push for a special legislative session.

Hickenlooper had hoped to strike a deal with Polis by passing a compromise bill on hydraulic fracturing in a special session, but the governor was never able to come up with the votes, even though his party controls both houses of the state legislature.

State Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) issued a statement calling for Polis to withdraw his initiatives “to avoid hurting families and devastating our communities.”

“There is one and only one person responsible for putting Colorado families and communities at risk, and that person is the millionaire congressman from Boulder,” said McNulty. “It’s his turn to clean it up, this mess is a wholly-owned subsidiary of millionaire Jared Polis.” Read more »

Douglas County Votes Down Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Program

July 16, 2014

The Douglas County Board of Education Tuesday voted unanimously against continued involvement in the National School Lunch Program for high schools — a program that was endorsed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Recent changes in the lunch program that include tight federal restrictions on specific nutrition choices, are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a measure cheered by Obama in her push for legislated child health initiatives.

“This smacks of nanny state interference,” said board president Kevin Larsen in rejecting the federal directives. “Is the next step to start inspecting their bag lunches and start parenting instead of our parents parenting? Are they going to come and monitor your kitchen?”

Aside from the federal invasiveness the first lady’s initiative is built upon in principle, the program’s restrictions also present practical problems for kids’ bellies and schools’ budgets.

“Kids are throwing away twice as much food as last year,” ABC News reported in a video clip shown as part of an in-depth presentation by Douglas County’s Director of Nutrition Services Brent Craig. Read more »

Poll Shows Beauprez Leading Hick for First Time in Governor’s Race

July 16, 2014

DENVER — A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper trailing for the first time in his bid for reelection as his job approval and favorability ratings decline.

Republican Bob Beauprez leads Hickenlooper by 44 to 43 percent, a virtual tie that’s within the survey’s margin of error, but an indicator that the governor may be in for the political fight of his life.

“Coloradans seem generally optimistic about the future and confidant in the state’s economy. But that is certainly not enough to open the way for a smooth ride to reelection for Gov. John Hickenlooper,” said Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director, in a statement.

Hickenlooper also saw his job approval rating drop from 52 to 48 percent since Quinnipiac’s April 23 survey. The Wednesday poll found that 48 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove of his job performance. Read more »

Rothenberg Calls Senate Race ‘Toss-Up’ as Poll Shows Udall Leading Gardner

July 15, 2014

Sen. Mark Udall

Sen. Mark Udall

DENVER — Political prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg downgraded Tuesday the Colorado Senate race from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up/tilt Democrat,” another indicator that the race has become one of the tightest and most-watched in the nation.

At the same time, an NBC News/Marist College poll released Tuesday found Democratic Sen. Mark Udall leading Republican Rep. Cory Gardner by 48 to 41 percentage points, although Republicans were quick to note that the poll surveyed registered voters, not likely voters.

Previous polls have found Udall and Gardner running neck and neck, with Udall typically a point or two ahead but within the margin of error.

The poll also found Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper leading Republican Bob Beauprez in the gubernatorial contest by a margin of 49 to 43 percentage points. A Rasmussen Reports poll released shortly after the June 24 primary found the candidates tied at 44 percent. Read more »

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