The NCAA tournament begins today. Productivity at work ends.
The State Capitol was abuzz yesterday with discussion about the war in Iraq. As Lynn Bartels and April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News report on the proceedings after the jump.
Both served in the military. Both ran for Congress. And on Wednesday they found themselves on opposite sides of an intense debate at the state Capitol on a statement against sending more troops to Iraq.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn, of Colorado Springs, ripped the resolution. Bill Winter, of Castle Rock, a Navy and Marine veteran, supported it. Winter and Rayburn were among 70 witnesses who testified on what is formally known as Senate Joint Memorial 02 by Democratic Sens. Ron Tupa, of Boulder, and Ken Gordon, of Denver. Nearly 200 people packed the Old Supreme Court chambers to hear the testimony.
“It is my professional assessment that this resolution – and ones like it – risk disheartening our men and women when they need our encouragement the most,” said Rayburn, who last year lost a bid for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District.
Winter, the unsuccessful Democratic candidate in the 6th Congressional District, disagreed.
“If anyone dares to criticize this president and this war then they say it will undermine the troops,” Winter said. “It’s a ridiculous argument with no basis in fact. Extended deployments, multiple deployments, lack of equipment, substandard medical care – these are the things that really undermine the morale of the troops, not honest debate.”
With Democrats in control of the hearing, the resolution passed the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, as expected. It now will be heard by the full Senate.
The discussion at the Capitol wasn’t all about Iraq, however. On Wednesday the House gave approval to two measures intended to solve problems created by Amendment 41. As Alan Gathright of the Rocky Mountain News reports:
The Colorado House passed a bipartisan fix for the new, problem-plagued government ethics law Wednesday, but it won’t fly unless skeptical Senate lawmakers vote initial approval.
It didn’t help that Senate President pro tem Peter Groff said he learned about the House compromise plan for implementing Amendment 41 in the newspapers – not from fellow Democrats in the House.
“It still has to come through the Senate, so it certainly would have been nice to kind of hear what was going on,” said Groff, D-Denver.
House Speaker Andrew Romanoff said he briefed Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald on the measure Tuesday before the House compromise solution won initial passage. He stressed that House leaders had their hands full just hammering out how to put Amendment 41 in action.
Approved by voters in November, Amendment 41 banned gifts worth $50 or more to elected officials, government employees and their families.
If the Senate gives initial approval next week, a House resolution will ask the Colorado Supreme Court to rule whether key provisions in the House legislation to implement and clarify Amendment 41 are constitutional. Then voters will be given final say on whether to approve lawmakers’ implementation of the ethics law in a November 2008 ballot measure.
Governor Bill Ritter’s plan to fund public schools has won some support. As Ed Sealover of The Colorado Springs Gazette reports:
Several El Paso County school districts that would benefit from Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposal to freeze property-tax rates to increase funding for education supported the plan during a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.
Republicans on the Senate Education Committee, however, accused Ritter of raising taxes to pay for stopgap measures that may not stabilize the State Education Fund as he contends.
Much of the focus at Tuesday’s announcement of the plan was on the $65 million a year it would generate for fullday kindergarten and the $12.6 million it would inject annually into the Colorado Pre-School Program.
But $6.4 million also would be made available through Senate Bill 199 to the 11 districts with the lowest perpupil funding in the state, including the Cheyenne Mountain, Falcon and Widefield districts in El Paso County. The state funding formula gives cost-of-living boosts to districts in the Denver metro area and ski towns, leaving the rest of the state lagging.
Widefield Superintendent Mark Hatchell thanked sponsor Sen. Sue Windels for the provision but asked that funding be increased to help the lowest 10 percent of districts in per-pupil funding in the state. Those include Academy, Fountain-Fort Carson and Lewis-Palmer; Colorado Springs District 11 and Harrison get better per-pupil allocations because they have more at-risk students.
Republicans have decried Ritter’s proposal as a tax increase, holding firm to their belief that money can be found through magic.
Colorado Rep. Mark Udall has introduced a bill in congress to protect consumers from credit card issuer abuses. From press release:
U.S. Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Eldridge Cleaver (D-MO) have introduced legislation to protect consumers from banks and other credit card issuers who now can increase interest rates without notice, assess excessive or unjustified fees, and target minors.
H.R. 1461, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2007, would end credit card practices such as universal default, where card issuers impose a higher interest rate on a credit card account if there has been any change in the cardholder’s credit history – even if the change is unrelated to the credit card account, such as paying being late on a car or utility payment, carrying too much debt overall, or having too much available credit. The bill also requires greater disclosure to consumers about interest rate hikes and fees, and would enact new requirements for issuing credit cards to minors.
“For many Americans, consumer credit is more than a convenience. It is something that many people need to use to pay for their everyday needs. For them, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, the credit card industry’s fine print and confusing language has allowed them to increase interest rates at will for any reason and assess compounding late fees that have left consumers under a towering pile of debt. Congress should do more to promote responsibility by those who provide the credit. Credit shouldn’t be free, but consumers should be treated fairly,” said Udall.
Now, if only somebody could introduce a bill that would make my credit card debt invisible.
President Bush traveled through “shanty neighborhoods” and “met people struggling to make ends meet” yesterday. Was he in New Orleans? Mississippi? Nope