#Coleg notebook: Politics turns concealed carry debate upside down

Republicans won’t cotton to efforts to improve efficiency of background checks 

The Joint Budget Committee is the newsmaker committee so far this session. Republicans are flexing their Senate-majority muscle and blocking typically routine measures to make what seems like ideological points. There’s a kind of stand-up-for-our-constituents-one-way-or-another “defunding” minority-party strategery happening that seems like an echo from Capitol Hill. They have blocked Colorado departments from spending fees already collected as a way to derail objectionable programs. They made headlines when they froze fees for a popular but controversial program passed last year to issue residents without citizenship status drivers licenses.

coleg notebook insert Today, however, with the driver’s license funding measure delayed until tomorrow, the battle settled instead un-freezing fees to expedite background checks for concealed-carry gun licenses. The Department of Public Safety has told the JBC that the current wait time for these background checks is 54 days and so the department asked the committee to allow the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to spend more of the fees its collecting to bring that time down to 20 days. Republicans, JBC Chairman Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, in particular, argued that the problem isn’t with cash flow, it’s with the CBI and with the kind of background checks they’re running. Lambert and his caucus doesn’t like the background checks. They believe they’re unconstitutional infringements and so Lambert and the Republicans on the committee blocked the request.

Today, on the Senate floor, Democratic Sen. Michael Merrifield from Colorado Springs offered Republicans a second chance to rethink their opposition. It was as if he was saying, “You’re point has been made, but let’s now serve the gun owners of the state.” He offered an amendment to the budget bill SB 159 that would release the funds. Then came heavy fire.



Merrifield’s amendment failed on a party-line vote. In what seemed an ironic twist, Senate Republicans expressed deep frustration with the move by Democrats to advocate for faster, easier access to concealed-carry background checks.

“Senate Democrats once again showed their lack of understanding for gun ownership and the Second Amendment today,” said JBC member Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, in a release. “CBI is riddled with problems and Democrats have never found a bureaucrat they don’t want to hire.  Unfortunately for the Democrats, they are two years and two recall [elections] too late to this issue.”

Health report card: “A story of disparities” 

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Colorado Health Institute President Michele Lueck introduces the report.

The Colorado Health Foundation, the third largest of its kind in the nation, released its annual health “report card” today at the Capitol. Both CHF and its partner organization, The Colorado Health Institute, expressed most concern fr the health of Colorado’s infants and children.

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“This issue on immunizations, it’s hot, it’s political,” said Luek. “While we’re debating why the immunization rate in Colorado is so low, that’s one of the driver’s of the ‘Cs’ that we’re receiving across time in the report card.”

The report card indicated that, while in 2011, 75.8 percent of Colorado toddlers had been immunized, by 2013 that rate had dropped to 69.2 percent.

In tune with their conclusion that the health of Coloradans is intimately tied to socioeconomic status, the report card researchers also highlighted the fact that nearly half of Black children in Colorado live under the poverty line and that mental health status directly correlates with income.

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You can read the full report, which looks at health across the age span, from infancy to aging, here.

Image via Wikicommons.