Read Me, I’m Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Eve.

A plan to freeze property tax rates in order to fund public schools remains “unresolved,” as Mark Couch of The Denver Post reports:

The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday sidestepped a panel vote on her controversial plan to freeze property-tax rates statewide.

Sen. Sue Windels, D-Arvada, said the proposal to lock property-tax rates at current levels still needed work, so it was “put in the pile of unresolved issues.” The plan – unveiled Tuesday by Windels and Gov. Bill Ritter at a Northglenn elementary school – was billed as a way to shore up the State Education Fund, a key source of money for public schools.

But during testimony Wednesday, Windels said none of the extra $64 million that school districts would collect under a tax-rate freeze next year would go into the State Education Fund. Instead, she said the money would be steered toward funding for all-day kindergarten classes and other school programs.

On Thursday, Windels said she didn’t have enough time to “work for consensus” on the Colorado Children’s Amendment of 2007, as it was billed by Ritter. So Windels skipped the vote on the amendment in her own committee, which is controlled by Democrats. She plans to offer the proposal to the full Senate this month.

The committee voted 6-1 in favor of Senate Bill 199, the annual School Finance Act, without the amendment. The bill now heads to another Senate committee that reviews the costs of pending legislation.

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California has approved moving its Presidential primary up to February 5, as The Washington Post reports:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed legislation yesterday moving the state’s presidential primary to Feb. 5, 2008, a change that could lead to the earliest and biggest single-day test of candidate strength ever.

Half a dozen other large states, including New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, are also considering moving their primaries to the first Tuesday in February, with the possibility that nearly two dozen contests will be held that day.

Together, those states could account for more than half of the total number of delegates at stake.
While the rush to move to dates earlier in the nominating process has been motivated by states’ desire to have more say in selecting the Republican and Democratic nominees, analysts said it may enhance the importance of the few small states whose contests will be held in January.

The kingmaker status of Iowa and New Hampshire, which have the first caucuses and first primary, respectively, in the nation, has been under siege in recent presidential cycles as other states have sought to shift their primaries ever earlier.

As Leslie Robinson of Colorado Confidential notes, Colorado legislators are considering moving this state’s primary up as well.


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Governor Bill Ritter yesterday signed a bill to make emergency contraception available in Colorado. As April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

A bill requiring hospitals to give rape victims information about emergency contraception – a measure that’s been killed four times since 2003 – became law Thursday.

“A lot of people put a lot of effort and energy into this bill,” Gov. Bill Ritter said as he signed it. “It says that if you’re a health care provider in the state and you’re confronted with a sexual assault victim, you must provide her with information about emergency contraception. We believe this is an important step.”

The measure was among four bills signed into law by Ritter. The other three addressed the needs of higher education.

But the star of Ritter’s noon news conference at the Capitol was Senate Bill 60. The measure, by Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Anne McGihon, D-Denver, requires hospitals, pharmacies and rape assistance centers to notify rape victims about the morning-after pill, also known as Plan B.

The law does not require them to dispense the drug, which is now sold without a prescription.
It marks the fifth year in a row that the legislature has debated the controversial bill. Previous legislation either was killed by GOP-controlled committees or vetoed by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens.

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The saga of the so-called “Denver Three” continues, as another White House staffer is added to the target list. Howard Pankratz of The Denver Post reports:

Three White House officials were sued Thursday over their alleged role in ejecting three people from a town-hall meeting with President Bush in Denver two years ago.
The so-called “Denver Three” claim they were excluded from the taxpayer- financed event for political reasons.

Named in the U.S. District Court suit are Greg Jenkins, Steven A. Atkiss and James A. O’Keefe. The suit says that at the time of Bush’s 2005 visit to Denver, the three men were officials of the White House advance office, which coordinates presidential visits.

Activists Leslie Weise, Alex Young and Karen Bauer were escorted out of the Bush event at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.
The suit, filed on behalf of Weise and Young by the American Civil Liberties Union, claims that the White House had a policy of prohibiting anyone from attending such an event if they held a viewpoint other than Bush’s.

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Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette has asked congress for $50 million for security for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, to be held in Denver. As M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Rep. Diana DeGette has asked the House Appropriations Committee to set aside up to $50 million for security costs for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
The request still must go through a lengthy approval process, and is being made in conjunction with an identical request for Minneapolis, host of the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The $50 million per city figure is twice as much as congressional leaders originally requested for the convention host cities of Boston and New York City in 2004.

Boston eventually spent $35 million on security for that year’s Democratic National Convention and New York city spent $50 million for the Republican National Convention, DeGette spokesman Brandon MacGillis said.

DeGette said she requested the higher amount because, “What I don’t want to be doing is coming back in a controversial supplemental (spending) bill and trying to get this money after the fact.”
The money would not be given to the cities’ host committees directly, but instead would create a pool to reimburse local agencies for security costs.

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Don’t feel bad if you weren’t happy with the way the November election was conducted in your area. At least your county wasn’t as bad as Montrose (unless you live in Montrose, that is). As Beverly Corbell of The Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Of the four counties put on the state’s new Elections Watch List for problems with their November 2006 election, Montrose was by far the worst, according to Colorado’s secretary of state.

Montrose’s problems were worse than the national election in Iraq in 2005, said Secretary of State Mike Coffman, who helped the Iraqis run that election as a Marine Corps civil affairs officer.
“In Iraq they had more concern about the integrity of voter registration and required a photo ID,” Coffman said during an editorial board meeting Thursday morning with The Daily Sentinel.

Thursday afternoon, Coffman went to Montrose to confer with county commissioners and Clerk and Recorder Fran Long about what the watch list means and to hear their ideas for correcting problems.

Coffman praised the county for immediately putting together an election inquiry team of volunteer citizens soon after the election and said the commissioners’ plan to make the team into a permanent elections committee is a great idea.

But Coffman, who’s been in office since January, said he is “most concerned” with Montrose County because there were so many problems. Montrose’s problems were “stunning,” Coffman said, so after the election he called the attorney general’s office for advice.

You know why Montrose had so many problems with its election? Gay marriage.

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Jason Bane

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