Al Gore: 1, President Bush: 0

How come nobody wants to know what I was wearing last night?

Governor Bill Ritter will join other governors from around the country in a meeting with President George Bush today. As M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

If he gets to ask just one question of President Bush today, Gov. Bill Ritter said he will ask about proposed budget cuts for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden.
Ritter, who is in the nation’s capitol for the National Governors Association’s winter meetings, told an alliance of labor, business and environmental groups this morning that he hopes to make the case for promoting energy independence when he and other governor’s make their customary visit to the White House.

The nation’s governors are bringing long lists of concerns to their meeting with Bush. Some will press him about cuts to children’s health insurance programs administered by the states. Others will raise concerns about the war in Iraq and the toll that is taking on state National Guard units and their dwindling stocks of equipment.

Ritter said he planned to question Bush’s proposal to cut 3 percent from NREL at a time when the president and other policy makers are calling for accelerated development of alternative energy sources like wind and solar power, and bio-fuels.
“I just argue that’s the wrong direction to go,” Ritter said of the cuts during a speech to The Apollo Alliance, which includes dozens of labor unions, various environmentalist or social activist organizations, and some business groups.


Today is Colorado Health Care Day of Action at the State Capitol. The Bell Policy Center has a listing of the day’s activities, which take place from 8:30 a.m. until Noon.


Former Vice President Al Gore has now won something that President George Bush has not: An Academy Award. As ABC News reports:

Martin Scorsese may have won Best Director, but Al Gore wore the crown in Hollywood last night.

When “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Gore-inspired work about the dangers of global warming, won the Oscar for best documentary, he reveled in the attention like an old Hollywood hand.

“My fellow Americans,” he joked at the podium, making light of his narrow loss in the 2000 presidential election. “We need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue.”

Throughout the evening, presenters tipped their hat to Gore’s film. Soon after host Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the show, she opined, “And then Al Gore is here. America did vote for him.”

Later, when Melissa Etheridge won Best Music (Song) for “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth,” she reserved her highest praise for him. “Most of all, I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring all of us.”


The battle over what to do with Amendment 41 may be left to the courts. As Ivan Moreno of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff said Sunday he wants to ask the state Supreme Court for guidance to clarify a new law that bans gifts to government officials and employees.

The resolution Romanoff will introduce today asks the state Supreme Court what legislators can do to clear the confusion that Amendment 41 has caused. Since the constitutional amendment bans gifts of $50 or more to government employees, some have questioned whether their children can receive scholarships.

Others also have cried foul, suggesting that the law prevents injured firefighters from receiving donations and that Nobel Prize winners can’t accept cash prizes. Some lawmakers have steered clear of trying to fix the amendment because of the large support it received among voters – 62 percent voted to pass it in November – and because they say the law is written in a way that can’t be changed.

“Some folks are saying, ‘Our hands are tied. These consequences may have been unintended and they may be unfortunate, but there’s nothing the legislature can do,” said Romanoff, D-Denver.
Others, he said, argue that legislators have clarified constitutional amendments in the past and should do the same in this case.

“The truth is, I don’t believe anybody in this building can say with certainty what the legislature’s authority is when it comes to clarifying this particular constitutional amendment,” Romanoff said.

“The only people in a position of authority to define the limits of the legislature’s power are the people in that building,” Romanoff said as he stood on near the west steps of the Capitol and pointed behind him to the Supreme Court building.


Square State has a great rundown of a Republican town hall meeting held in south Jefferson County on Saturday:

Overall, the town meeting was largely a set of updates from these guys covering the state of their own bills in the legislature. A few interesting comments arose (more after the break), but generally the session was low key. The most interesting question I heard was if Kathy Hartman, our new Democratic County Commissioner, was invited to participate. All the remaining officials said Yes, even as the questioner said Kathy had never received an invitation. The original announcement in the printed Colombine Courier did not list Commissioner Hartman as one of the attendees. (Our own Orwellian commissioner Jim Congrove was supposed to be there, but unsurprisingly didn’t show up.)


Senator Peter Groff and Rep. Rosemary Marshall will hold a press conference today to discuss two bills concerning Colorado’s foreclosure issues. The Senate Bill would change the regulatory framework for mortgage brokers from registration to licensing, which would effectively create accountability of the brokers to work in the best interest of the buyers. The House Bill would strengthen the fraud in mortgage lending and deceptive practice statutes and would pull real estate professionals together under the new laws.

The press conference is at 12:15 p.m. today in the Third Floor press room at the State Capitol.


The editorial board at the Rocky Mountain News likes the idea of putting cameras into federal courts:

Two bills just introduced in the U.S. Senate are designed to bring television coverage to the federal courts, and we can cheerfully endorse either of them.

The question is, would the courts? Or would they reject a congressional mandate on grounds it violates the separation of powers doctrine? We hope not.

One bill, sponsored by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would let the presiding judge of any district or appellate federal court (including the Supreme Court) decide whether to permit the photographing, recording, broadcasting or televising of any court proceeding in his jurisdiction. Colorado’s Wayne Allard is a cosponsor of that one.

Another measure, sponsored by Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is stronger but more limited in scope. It would permit the television coverage of all open sessions of the Supreme Court unless the court decides, by a majority vote, that such coverage would violate the due-process rights of any of the parties.
We have long advocated televised arguments on grounds that courts are public forums that the nation has the right to see. The high court has resisted TV, claiming it might lead to grandstanding either by the lawyers or the judges themselves.


The editorial board of The Denver Post, meanwhile, takes a look at several bills introduced in the state legislature that we could probably do without:

Amid all the good bills coming out of the state legislature this year, there is the usual crop of bad bills, silly bills and hare-brained ones. Many, thankfully, are already consigned to the legislative scrap heap.

The most puzzling bill of the session was House Bill 1082 by Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, which made forced microchipping a crime.

Say what?

“A person may not require an individual to be implanted with a microchip,” the bill said. While this might become a problem in the future, Colorado does not now have a problem. Hodge killed her own bill after lawmakers couldn’t stop laughing.

Senate Bill 138 by Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, met a timely demise in committee. The bill proposed a religious bill of rights for public school students, parents, teachers and employees. Students would have been allowed to wear “religious garb” and teachers would have been allowed to “use a religious greeting as a recognition of a religious holiday.” We need to work on making our schools better, not rules for non-existent problems…

…There are plenty of other bills we would just as soon forget, among them SB 142, an effort by hardliners to impose their will on the judicial branch; SB 143, proposing to throw doctors in prison for performing abortions; and SB 69, prohibiting law enforcement from maintaining a statewide concealed handgun database. These three have been shelved.

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Jason Bane

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