Are we there yet?
One Republican lawmaker says she was threatened over her support of a bill that would hurt contractors. House Minority Leader Mike May says she’s lying. This should end well.
As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News explains:
A controversial construction-defects bill that created political drama at the Capitol in recent weeks is scheduled for debate today on the House floor.
“This is going to be one heck of a fight,” predicted Rep. Alice Borodkin, D-Denver.
The intrigue involves automated phone calls to senior citizens that infuriated Democratic lawmakers, including Borodkin, and a Republican lawmaker at odds with her own caucus and the home-building industry.
Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, said she was told by a fellow House Republican that she would be targeted by a home-builders association in future elections if she supported the bill.
On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, said Stafford has an ax to grind because home builders worked to kill an unrelated bill of hers this session. He said her version of events “never happened.”
“I stick by my story,” Stafford shot back. “I think it’s time we stick by the people of Colorado, and they are being stuck with shoddily built homes and no recourse.”
At issue is a measure designed to protect homeowners from having to waive their legal rights, at the time of buying their homes, to compel their home builder to fix construction defects. Opponents argue that House Bill 1338 does much more than that, opening the door to lawyers collecting huge judgments for their clients.
“I don’t get that,” said Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, the Senate sponsor of the measure. “That’s not in there.”
Interestingly enough, Stafford and May both top the list of the “Least Successful Representatives” in getting legislation passed through the first half of the current session. Apparently they are both good at fighting…just not at arguing.
Governor Bill Ritter continued to fulfill his campaign pledge to focus on renewable energy with the signing of two energy-related bills yesterday. As Gargi Chakrabarty (I hope I spelled that right) of the Rocky Mountain News reports:
Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill into law Tuesday that requires Colorado utilities to get more electricity from the sun, wind, or plant and animal waste.
House Bill 1281 sailed smoothly through the state legislature, clearing the House and Senate, both with Democratic majorities, in about five weeks before landing on Ritter’s desk last month.
He promised during his election campaign to promote the generation of more electricity from renewable sources and reduce the use of fossil fuel such as coal or natural gas, an agenda supported by environmental activists, utilities and rural electric co-operatives except Intermountain Rural Electric Association.
The law requires utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as the sun, wind or biomass by 2020 – double the goal of 10 percent by 2015 set by Amendment 37, which voters passed in November 2004. Customers eventually would pay the cost incurred by utilities to comply with the renewable standards…
… He also signed Senate Bill 100, which allows utilities to propose transmission plans and recover those investments from electric ratepayers fairly expeditiously.
I had no idea you could generate energy from animal waste. My two dogs may finally be able to start paying for themselves. I can’t get them to get a job.
Legislation to expand stem cell research could be heading back to the White House soon. As Anne C. Mulkern of The Denver Post reports:
Legislation to lift limits on federal embryonic stem-cell research is headed back to the Senate floor, and possibly back to President Bush.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday said senators will debate stem-cell legislation in early April. They’ll consider a bill similar to the one sponsored by Denver Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, which passed the House in January.
Senate backers say they have enough votes for passage. That would send the bill to Bush for the second time. The president has promised to veto it again, as he did last summer after it passed Congress.
“The American people in the last election overwhelmingly supported expanding embryonic stem-cell research,” DeGette spokesman Brandon MacGillis said, referring to the success of candidates backing the science.
With the Democrats controlling Congress, he said, DeGette “will keep bringing this up until it becomes law.”
Republicans do not appear to be blocking a vote on the legislation. Republican Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is working with Reid on an agreement that would allow a vote on the bill, a McConnell aide said.
The bill from DeGette would toss out Bush’s restriction limiting federal research on embryonic stem-cell lines to those created before August 2001. DeGette’s bill would allow research using embryos created for in vitro fertilization, slated to be discarded and donated without compensation.
Backers of the bill say such research could provide treatments for life-threatening diseases. Opponents, including Bush, say it’s not right to spend taxpayer money on the controversial science.
But it is okay to spend money on a controversial war.
Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel may run for President, and if he does, he’ll be the GOP’s anit-Bush. As The Washington Post reports:
Senate Democrats scored a surprise victory yesterday in their bid to force President Bush to end the Iraq war, turning back a Republican amendment that would have struck a troop withdrawal plan from emergency military funding legislation.
The defection of a prominent Republican war critic, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, sealed the Democrats’ win. Hagel, who opposed identical withdrawal language two weeks ago, walked onto the Senate floor an hour before the late-afternoon vote and announced that he would “not support sustaining a flawed and failing policy,” adding: “It’s now time for the Congress to step forward and establish responsible boundaries and conditions for our continued military involvement in Iraq.”
Democratic leaders think the 50 to 48 victory greatly strengthens their negotiating position as they prepare to face down a White House that yesterday reiterated its threat of a presidential veto. The Senate vote was also the first time since Democrats took control of Congress in January that a majority of lawmakers have supported binding legislation to bring U.S. troops home.
The Senate withdrawal provision, which sets a March 31, 2008, target for ending U.S. combat operations, is tucked into a $122 billion package to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a must-pass bill that Democrats view as their best shot at forcing Bush to change direction. The withdrawal language was nearly identical to that of a Senate resolution rejected 50 to 48 two weeks ago.
You can probably guess how Colorado’s senators voted on the amendment to strike the pullout date. Republican Sen. Wayne Allard voted yes, while Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar voted no.
I mean, ‘Yea’ and ‘Nay.’
Mr. Hohrein goes to Washington.
Yes, it’s a cheap and overused clich