Colorado Recall Elections Set for Sept. 10

[July 18, 2013] - Gov. John Hickenlooper has set Tuesday, Sept. 10, as the date for recall elections for two Democratic state senators.

“We appreciate that the court acknowledged we did the right thing in waiting until after its ruling to set the date,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “This means that the El Paso and Pueblo county clerks can begin their preparations for the elections knowing that their efforts will not be for naught.” 

Colorado Springs Senate President John Morse and Pueblo Senator Angela Hiron have been targeted because of their votes for gun control laws during the past legislative session.

Judge: Colorado Recall Elections Can Proceed

Update: Senators Morse and Giron have announced they do not plan to appeal the judge’s ruling.

[July 18, 2013] - A Denver judge this afternoon ruled that recall elections against two Democratic state senators can proceed. They would be the first recall attempts of state lawmakers ever in Colorado. 

An attorney for Colorado Springs Senator John Morse and Pueblo Senator Angela Hiron argued the recall petitions did not meet the requirements of the state constitution. But Judge Robert Hyatt ruled they complied with the law. Giron and Morse could still appeal his decision to the state supreme court.

The judge also turned down a request by  Secretary of State Scott Gessler to force the governor to set a date for the recall elections. But Hyatt added the governor is now on the clock to set the election date for some time within the next 60 days.

Ag Groups: Keep Food Programs in Farm Bill

[July 11, 2013] - The U.S. House today passed a revised Farm Bill that leaves out food programs. Two major agriculture groups in Colorado say that would be a mistake.

The Colorado Farm Bureau and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union made that point in a a joint letter sent to Colorado’s Congressional delegation today.

Bill Midcap, with the farmers union, says food stamps, school lunches and senior meals must be included if the bill is to attract support from more than rural America.

"Without that urban lever to trigger food nutrition for the food insecure we don’t think a Farm Bill will be able to move forward,” he said.

Republicans rejected an earlier Farm Bill in part because some thought it included too much money for food stamps.

Secretary of State’s Office To Decide Giron Recall Challenge

[July 3, 2013] - The deputy secretary of state has decided she will go ahead and determine the fate of a challenge to the recall effort against Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo.

At a hearing today, an attorney for Giron said the office was biased because Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler attended a local Republican Party event in Pueblo and made some comments about the recall process.

But a few hours later, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert ruled the office can still decide the case because she will make the call, not Gessler. She says she hasn’t talked to Gessler about the case and did not attend the Republican meeting.

"As such, I find that there is no appearance of impropriety with regard to me or my ability to adjudicate this matter without bias," Staiert stated in her decision.

Read the decision here.

Morse Recall Election to Proceed

[July 3, 2013] - The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has decided the recall election of Senate President John Morse will proceed.

"I find the petition format meets the legal requirements," Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert wrote in her decision. 

Morse supporters challenged the petitions saying they were improperly worded. Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, was targeted for voting for gun control laws during the legislative session.

The secretary of state’s office says, if there are no more challenges, it will submit the final certificate of sufficiency to the Governor. The governor will then set the recall election date.

"Colorado courts have long held that recall is a fundamental right that the people of Colorado reserved for themselves when they adopted the constitution," Staiert stated. "Additionally, it is well-established that statutes governing the recall power must be liberally construed in favor of the ability to exercise the power, and any limitations on that power must be strictly construed."

Morse supporters are expected to appeal her decision in court.

Read the decision here.

Waller Announces Bid for Attorney General

[July 1, 2013] - Statehouse Minority Leader Mark Waller this morning announced his candidacy for Attorney General. The current AG, John Suthers, is term limited and can’t seek re-election in 2014. 

"I am incredibly excited about this new opportunity to serve Colorado," Waller (R-Colorado Springs) said in a statement.

Waller has served in the legislature for five years. His assignments include the House Judiciary Committee. He cited his experience as a legislator and former deputy district attorney in announcing his campaign.

The deputy in the Attorney General’s office, Cynthia Coffman, also is running for the seat. The Denver Post reports Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck is expected to run as a Republican as well.

On the Democratic side, former Adams County District Attorney Don Quick has announced a bid.

U.S. Senate Passes Immigration Bill

[June 27, 2013] - The U.S. Senate voted 68-32 to approve the immigration bill this afternoon.

Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thanked the Gang of Eight for crafting it. That group includes Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. Reid thanked the senators in the gang, listing the Democrats by name.

Shumer, Durbin, Menendez and of course the quiet one who did so much, Senator Bennet,” Reid said, and then thanked the Republicans in the group for their courage.

Bennet and his Democratic colleague from Colorado, Mark Udall, voted for the bill. Bennet said the final version of the bill remains consistent with the Colorado Compact, a document of immigration principles crafted at town meetings across the state. He said it boosts border security, reduces the deficit and includes a fair path to citizenship.

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[June 27, 2013] U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) became a bit emotional telling the story of his immigrant mother and grandparents. They came to the U.S. from Poland in 1950 after World War II. Bennet recalled a card his grandparents sent him on his first birthday. In it, they extolled the democracy and freedom they found here and urged him to develop a greater understanding of those values around the world. Bennet said:

They had only been in this country for 15 years. They didn’t speak English when they got here. They had escaped the most horrific event of the 20th Century and this was the place that gave them hope, and more than that, it allowed them to rebuild their lives and the only country in the world where they thought they could.

Bennet is part of the Gang of Eight that negotiated the original draft of the immigration bill. 

Click on the arrow above to hear more of his floor speech.

Collected Unemployment Recently? You May Owe the State Big

[Source: Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.]

[June 26, 2013]  Colorado’s Labor Department is whittling away at a $128 million unemployment overpayment balance, netting $20 million in the just last 12 months. But for the residents getting collection notices, it can be bitter news.

[This story was produced by CPR’s Ben Markus. Listen to the audio version here.]

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CO’s Marriage Amendment Likely to Face Legal Challenge After SCOTUS Ruling

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[June 26, 2013]  Wednesday’s US Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage won’t have a direct impact on Colorado law, but that doesn’t mean the rulings, one of which overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the other which cleared the way for gay marriage to resume in California, won’t be felt here, too. 

[Listen to the audio of this story at www.cpr.org after 6am MT Thursday]

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