Peter Groff is Angry

Carmelo Anthony is a new father. He named his son “Nougat.”

The debate over Amendment 41 is getting testy. Well, okay, it was already testy. How about “testier?”

As April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News reports after the jump:

Legislators on Wednesday blasted a new ethics law and said they aren’t a “janitorial service” that the law’s creators can order to clean up their mess.

The ethics measure – Amendment 41 – bans government workers and their families from receiving gifts valued at more than $50 in a calendar year. But it has had unintended consequences, including putting some college scholarships on hold.

Millionaire Jared Polis and government watchdog group Common Cause, sponsors of the initiative approved by voters in November, were blistered at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

“It’s offensive for them to come to me and treat me like I’m a legislative bellhop in which you ring a bell and I’m supposed to clean up the mess they made,” Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, said. “I suggest Common Cause and Jared Polis go back to the ballot and take to the people an ethics amendment they wanted to create in the first place.”

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The National Journal has released its rankings of members of congress based on their voting records being either liberal or conservative. As Mark Mehringer of Colorado Confidential reports, Rep. Diana DeGette is considered the most liberal member of congress in Colorado, while former Rep. Bob Beauprez was the most conservative…which helps explain why he isn’t Colorado’s governor.


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Meanwhile, Democrats in congress are preparing to offer up an exit plan for Iraq. As The Washington Post reports:

Even in her conservative Kansas district, calls and letters to freshman House Democrat Nancy Boyda show a constituency overwhelmingly ready for U.S. troops to come home from Iraq.

Yet as the House nears a legislative showdown on the war, Boyda finds herself wracked with doubts. She is convinced that Congress must intervene to stop the war, but is fearful of the chaos that a quick U.S. pullout could prompt. “Congress has an obligation to do something,” Boyda said. But she is unsure what to do, worried about anything that “affects commanders on the ground.”

This morning House Democrats, fractured as a group and, with many members such as Boyda torn over how to proceed on Iraq, will meet to learn the details of a new proposal cobbled together by party leaders last night, which calls for bringing troops home early next year while removing remaining troops from combat by October 2008.

But it is far from certain they will succeed in bridging the rifts that have opened inside a passionately antiwar and yet determinedly cautious new congressional majority. “It’s much easier to express an opinion to a pollster than it is to formulate effective policy on something as intractable as Iraq,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said.

The plan worked out by party leaders may be a significant gamble for the Democratic majority, which owes much of its success in November’s elections to voters’ unrest with the war. And it is already posing a major leadership test for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who for weeks has unsuccessfully tried to broker a compromise between her base of support, the party’s progressives, and members from Republican-leaning districts who do not want to place too many restrictions on President Bush’s authority as commander-in-chief.

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Governor Bill Ritter is looking to mend fences with labor unions after vetoing the so-called “Labor Peace Act” bill last month. As Tom McGhee of The Denver Post reports:

An unrepentant Gov. Bill Ritter told a union audience Wednesday that he will work to regain their trust after an angry member accused him of breaking faith with labor by vetoing a labor-friendly bill.

Ritter said signing the bill would have undercut his ability to initiate an agenda beneficial to organized labor that includes health care and education.
But not all of the 400 attendees at the Colorado Building and Construction and Trade Council luncheon were convinced that the Democrat they supported last year would support them in the future.

“We worked hard for you to get you elected … and you let us down. You have broken our trust,” said one woman, wearing a United Food and Commercial Workers shirt. “What are you going to do in the future to get our trust back?”

“I’m sympathetic to your issues,” Ritter said. “I feel bad that you feel let down. I am going to do everything I can to regain your trust. I am going to govern in a way so that when I am back here in three years from now we are having a different conversation about the things that we have done.”

State business interests strongly opposed the measure, House Bill 1072, which would have eliminated a required supermajority vote by employees before they could negotiate for an all-union shop.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Ritter plans to bake cookies for everyone for their next meeting, even though the governor’s mansion has a sweet kitchen.


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Colorado lawmakers are still considering trying to get the state a more favorable Presidential primary date. As Karen Crummy of The Denver Post reports:

Colorado lawmakers are considering creating a presidential primary – rather than moving up the caucuses – to give state voters more of a voice in the 2008 presidential race. A Colorado primary, if approved by the legislature, might coincide with those in 20 other states that have either moved up their caucuses and primaries to Feb. 5 or are considering doing so.

The primary would also come just five years after lawmakers dumped the primary process because of the nearly $2 million cost in 2000.

“How much is your vote worth? If it costs a few bucks, let’s do it,” said House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, who supports a Feb. 5 primary.

Bipartisan talks about the idea are still in preliminary stages, and there are a number of issues that must be resolved, including whether primaries are cost-effective compared with the current caucus system.

As it stands today, party activists gather in homes and other spots to select delegates pledged to presidential nominees. Caucuses cost the state nothing, but critics argue that primaries produce a faster result and open the process to more voters.
Still, the 2000 Colorado primary voter turnout was under 20 percent, and the cost was $1.8 million.

Critics also wonder if Denver will be able to figure out how to run an election by then.


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Republicans are upset at Democrats for “hijacking” a bill about vote centers and elections. As April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Legislative Democrats have hijacked what was intended as a simple bill to boost the state’s oversight of vote centers and elections, Attorney General John Suthers and Secretary of State Mike Coffman said Wednesday.

Both GOP leaders said they will oppose a change to Senate Bill 83 that would allow parolees the right to vote, saying that it would violate the state constitution.

“We’re obviously monitoring this bill closely and trying to work with senators to remove the controversial issues we feel are worthy of debate, but not on this bill,” said Jonathan Tee, spokesman for Coffman.

The Senate delayed a final vote on the measure Wednesday in the wake of a growing backlash.
The measure by Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, would require the Secretary of State to set guidelines for vote centers and to increase supervision of how counties conduct elections.

Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, amended the measure to allow parolees to vote upon release from prison.
He chided Suthers, in particular, for making political hay out of the bill.

“It’s grandstanding,” Groff said. “I find it ironic that someone who claims he’s trying to support the rights of individuals is now trying to take them away. If he (Suthers) wants to affect legislation, he should run to become a member of the legislature.”

Wow. Senator Groff sure had an angry day yesterday.


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The Denver city elections in May are becoming less and less interesting by the week. Mayor John Hickenlooper has only one weak challenger, and as Daniel Chacon of the Rocky Mountain News reports, most of the city council seats up for grabs won’t be a race, either:

The May municipal election will be a breeze for four incumbents on the Denver City Council.

No one turned in signatures to challenge Charlie Brown, Jeanne Faatz, Michael Hancock or Jeanne Robb by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

But eight incumbents seeking re-election, including Mayor John Hickenlooper and Auditor Dennis Gallagher, will have to fend off competition to keep their jobs.

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Jason Bane

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