Planning for this year’s June Block Party has already started, and we need volunteers to assist on the day of the event and in the weeks leading up. Please contact Tracey to sign up as a volunteer. Advance tickets are one sale now: Get your Block Party Ticket Here!
Due to a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, the legislative term that ended on May 8 will go down as one of the most productive and progressive in the history of Colorado. It provides a sharp contrast to the do-nothing session headed by Republicans in 2012. The Republicans, you will recall, threw out a huge chunk of the legislation produced by their session in a maneuver to prevent the Civil Union bill from coming to a vote.
The 2013 session, on the other hand, produced legislation on a wide range of issues. Here are some of the highlights:
- Colorado Economy—This session produced several bills designed to boost the state’s economy. The Keep Jobs in Colorado Act puts Colorado companies first in line for state contracts. The Advanced Industries Accelerator Act makes Colorado more attractive to high-tech businesses. The Economic Gardening Pilot Project bill supports start-up businesses. And finally, the Renewable Energy bill creates jobs in the renewable energy field by broadening the definition of renewable energy to include sources such as methane capture and woody biomass, helping farmers find a way into the renewable energy business.
- Civil Unions—Colorado took a step forward on the civil rights path with legislation that authorizes any two unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union by obtaining a license from a county clerk and recorder.
- Gun Safety—Several bills were passed in this area. Foremost among them was a bill mandating universal background checks for all gun purchases. Other legislation limited the size of magazines, protected victims of domestic violence, required gun purchasers to pay for their own background checks, and prohibited concealed-carry training performed entirely on-line.
- Election Reform—The Voter Access and Modernized Elections bill puts an end to the worst voter suppression abuses of partisan Clerk and Recorders and makes it easier for Coloradans to cast their vote by providing a mail-in ballot to everyone, by giving them a choice of how to vote, by employing modern Information Technology to verify votes, by ending the “inactive voter” category, by allowing for secure same-day registration, and by mandating more convenient early voting.
- Education—the ASSET bill provides in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. Another bill takes on the issue of funding for public education, with an eye to achieving a better balance between urban and rural school districts. The Breakfast After the Bell bill, sponsored by District 17’s Rep. Tony Exum, makes sure that low-income students will start the school day ready to learn.
All in all, a very productive session, and one in which three politicians from El Paso county—Rep. Pete Lee, Rep. Tony Exum and Senator John Morse played leading roles. As President of the Senate, John Morse took the lead in guiding the bills mentioned above through the state senate.
But this legislative success has not come without a political price. A group based in Durango has tried to recall four Democratic legislators: Michael McLachlan, Evie Hudak, Angela Giron, and El Paso County’s Sen. John Morse. On May 21, the recall effort against Rep. McLachlan officially ended when the Basic Freedom Defense Fund failed to turn in the needed signatures. You can find the details of the recall effort against Sen. John Morse here. In El Paso County, BFDF volunteers and paid signature collectors have until June 3 to get the signatures needed for a special election to recall Sen. Morse. The special election, if it is scheduled, will cost El Paso county between $150,000 and $250,000.
Sen. Morse has earned our support by standing up against the NRA and the gun lobby, and against the fossil fuel special interests, and by standing up for voter rights and marriage equality. A local group named “A Whole Lot of People for John Morse” has formed to support him against the recall effort. Here’s what you can do to support him in his fight against being recalled:
- If you are approached to sign the recall petition, decline to sign.
- If you have already signed the petition, but feel it’s purpose was not honestly represented to you, or that you were threatened by the signature collector, please give us a call at 719-425-2211.
- Stay in touch with us on-line. Check out A Whole Lot of People for John Morse’s web page , Facebook page and blog to stay up to date with what’s going on. Like and Share the Facebook page with your Facebook friends.
- Most importantly, volunteer to phonebank, canvass, or write letters to the editor on Sen. Morse’s behalf. Please use the Volunteer links on the web page or blog, or call use at 719-425-2211.
I’m a Republican, a lover of the Constitution and a gun-owner. I used to be considered somewhat conservative, but fringe members of my party are starting to make me look like Michael Dukakis. I’m tired of being lumped in the same category as people who refuse to acknowledge that gun violence in this country has gotten out of hand. We need our representatives to know the importance of protecting the Second Amendment, but we also need to meet half way on this issue and agree that an additional hurdle or two won’t really hurt us and may help prevent a criminal from getting a gun.
There was a time in this country when we the people elected someone to represent us and we either agreed with the job they did or we disagreed with it. Sometimes we disagreed so much that we voted for a different person when the next election came around. Frankly, I’m not sure taxpayers will stomach dishing out $250,000 every time a few of us disagree.
This is how our electoral system was set up and I think it’s worked pretty well for us so far. But I guess I was taking it all for granted, because now when some fringe groups don’t like how our elected officials vote on just one issue, no matter how popular the issue is with the rest of the public, they try to exact revenge through costly recall elections.
The bill to require background checks on private sales and the ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines was enough to make them want to recall legislators who voted for them including State Senator John Morse, who represents most of Colorado Springs. It should be noted that both of those bills were quite popular with Coloradans (83 percent and 62 percent in favor, respectively, according to a Denver Post poll from this year). In a few national polls, support for background checks was closer to 90 percent and for NRA members it was about 80 percent.
A lot of Republicans seem to have forgotten that none other than Ronald Reagan supported some gun control measures. He supported the original assault weapons ban. He also supported the Brady Bill, which required background checks for people buying from gun shops and a waiting period before a buyer could get their gun. He wanted to make guns less accessible to criminals. So do most Coloradans.
It’s time for us all to be a little more reasonable. Wacky, fringe politics are wrecking the Republican Party and hurting our state. Signing a recall petition is like signing a $250,000 check we can’t afford. And I don’t know about you, but I could use a break from all the elections.
Once again, El Paso County’s elected officials have cast their constituents in the least favorable light possible, this time by voting to approve a resolution proclaiming April 4th, 2013 to be “Friends of NRA Day” in the county. April 4th, is, of course, the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It would be nice to give the commissioners the benefit of the doubt about the significance of the date, but the connection to MLK’s assassination was pointed out to them by some of those who attended to speak against the resolution.
Friends of NRA is a local group that raises money for the NRA, helps them market themselves as an organization concerned with safety rather than gun sales, and donates some of the money raised to local government. For a donation of a few thousand dollars, the Commission provided the Friends of NRA with the opportunity to pitch their group to the local media present, to promote their fundraising efforts, and to enjoy a photo op with Sheriff Terry Maketa.
You can see how one media outlet interpreted this event here.
Although many of the citizens who spoke in favor of the resolution described the NRA as an organization dedicated to gun safety, the NRA’s current policies show that can’t really be their focus. If the NRA truly valued safety over enlarging the market for guns, they would not be fighting against universal background checks. Background checks on all gun sales help keep guns out of the hands of felons, drug addicts, and the mentally ill. A system that allows 40 per cent of sales to go forward without a background check does nothing to address gun safety, but that is what the NRA is lobbying to keep in place.
Particularly extreme and simplistic were Commissioner Lathen’s concluding remarks about the resolution: “What do you picture when you see a gun? I picture freedom . . . period. Freedom for free people in a free county.” Commissioner Lathen, did guns mean freedom to Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements, recently murdered in his home in Monument? Did guns mean freedom to the families of the 12 people killed and to the 58 others wounded in the Aurora theatre? Commissioner Lathen, don’t you think your constituents deserve more from you than foolish slogans that parrot the NRA’s marketing talking points?
Click “Read More,” below, for a version of this article with photos from the County Commissioner’s meeting.
With the Democrats in control, the current legislative session in Denver is reaching a fever pitch. With a successive slate of progressive bills, the Legislative Watch Committee (LWC) is monitoring these important bills in these areas: repeal of the death penalty, recreational pot, immigration, gun regulations, oil and gas regulation reforms, education funding, Medicaid, economic development, and there’s still two months to go. Considering these bills unacceptable, the other side is threatening a recall of several Democrats.
Undaunted, the Democratic leadership is introducing a host of new bills that will keep things interesting for the remainder of the session. Here’s a brief summary of some of the new proposed bills:
Senate Bill SB 213–Funding for Education: If this comprehensive bill is passed by the State Assembly and the voters, it will create a new public school finance act that would provide increased funding for early childhood education, special education, extended school days for at-risk schools, gifted and talented programs, teacher performance and evaluation. This new act would go into effect only if voters approve a separate ballot issue that would raise an estimated $1 billion per year in additional taxes. Public testimony was taken in the Senate Education Committee March 20.
House Bill HB 1267–Increase Maximum Penalty on Oil & Gas Violations: This bill will increase fines on oil and gas companies for violations and repeals the maximum fine cap of $10,000.
House Bill HB 1268: Mineral Estate Disclosure in Real Property Sale: Requires a standard document in real estate transactions where the seller must disclose to buyers that the mineral rights below the surface may be subject to oil, gas or mineral extraction.
House Bill HB 1269: Reduce Conflict of Interest on Oil & Gas Commission (COGCC): Changes the mission of the COGCC to focus on public health and the environment. Also, it changes the makeup of the Commission to exclude any person who is employed by the oil and gas industry from serving on the commission.
Senate Bill SB 202: Additional Inspections at Oil & Gas Facilities:requires that every oil and gas facility be inspected at least one time each year. If passed, this bill will require adding as many as 70 new inspectors. Currently the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission employs 16 inspectors to cover the entire state and wells are inspected approximately once every 3 years.
The Legislative Watch Committee will post updates to this website as these bills move through the process, and when new bills are introduced.
Once again, an El Paso County Republican is making the news and not in a positive way. This time it is El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. He is posting his personal opinions on official sites, lodging ridiculous charges against Senator John Morse, and promises to ignore future laws and challenge government agents. What is this, the wild west of 2013?
Maketa started complaining while in Denver to testify against proposed gun control measures. He was outraged about allotted speaking times, changes in the schedule and expert testimony. Has he never been to a Colorado Springs City Council or El Paso County Board of Commissioner meeting where they experience changing schedules and limited speaking times? Maketa went on to accuse state Dems of threatening the pay raises of sheriffs if they continued to speak against gun control measures, conveniently ignoring that because of economic pressures on taxpayers, neither Party introduced a pay raise bill for county officials in this session.
Now, Maketa wants Senator Morse recalled.
Why? Because Democratic legislators have passed common sense gun safety measures. Instead of having honest discussions around this very important issue, Maketa would rather start claiming that the 2nd Amendment is being violated and that the Democrats are coming to take your guns. Sheriff Maketa states that an assault weapons ban “will not make our schools and communities any safer.” Will we be safer if our law-enforcement officers only enforce the laws that Sheriff Maketa deems Constitutional? Let’s try background checks for every gun purchaser and limit high-capacity clips and see if there is a reduction in mass shootings and senseless deaths.
Now, more than ever, we need a strong democratic party in El Paso County. Please help us to stand against extremists like Sheriff Maketa by supporting your local party and donating today. Help us to continue to help elect admirable Democratic politicians like John Morse, Pete Lee and Tony Exum. They are working tirelessly to pass measures designed to reduce mass shootings, domestic violence and suicides. No, legislation won’t stop every gun-related crime — but stronger laws will hopefully prevent the extreme carnage of Aurora and Sandy Hook from happening again.
Now that Maketa and Peggy Littleton have fired up the gun extremists, it is more important than ever for the El Paso County Democratic Party to continue to be the voice of reason in El Paso County. Together we can fight for the rights of our children and grandchildren to grow up in a safer environment; together we can support and elect candidates that will stand up to the extreme conservatives; together we can continue to support Democratic ideals in our community.
We have succeeded before by working together. Let us not relax now! Donate today!
Thank you for your support!
Kathleen S. Ricker
If you follow the developments of the 2013 Colorado State Assembly, which includes the Senate and House of Representatives, we can all take pride in the fact Democrats are in the majority in both houses. Accordingly, we’re seeing a number of progressive bills working their way through the legislative process. While the media focus is mostly on gun bills, here’s some proposed legislation sponsored by our local legislators, a summary of other bills to watch, and a word about the Legislative Watch Committee (LWC).
Our local legislators are receiving an astonishing amount of calls and emails from Second Amendment advocates, NRA members, and gun owners. So your email to Pete Lee, Tony Exum, and John Morse may be buried in the mix. If you support the gun safety bills currently going through the legislative process, now would be a great time to email or call the El Paso County elected Democrats with a word of support to counteract the bombardment they are getting from the NRA.
Click “Read More,” below, for the rest of this article.
If you have seen the news you know that the Peak Dems office has been a target for vandalism. Our locks have now been glued three times, two times requiring new locks which has turned out to be incredibly expensive–it turns out that commercial locks are very hard to remove especially when filled with gorilla glue. To date this has cost us $1200.00. Good news though–the perpetrator has been caught and is currently in jail. We have gotten a restraining order against him and hope that he finds something new to occupy his time.
We are currently getting information about installing cameras in the office. While it appears that this gentleman was not necessarily politically motivated, this has caused us to rethink our security here at the office.
If you would like to help us with the cost of this insanity, please Donate. The unplanned expense of replacing the locks is having an impact on our budget. And if you haven’t been by the office lately, stop by and visit. After the last several weeks we could all use seeing some friendly faces.
The second annual Will Rogers Gala was a spirited celebration attended by some 350 guests at the Antlers Hilton hotel on Friday, February 22. The success of the event was accomplished by numerous volunteers working in a collaborative and cooperative effort to provide guests with an evening to remember.
Three co-chairs, Kathleen Ricker, Christy LeLait, and Harriet Tuckman guided the work of some 56 gala volunteers, listed below. Their combined efforts organized two auctions, donors, program, speakers, invitations, announcements, dinner reservations, hotel arrangements, food selection, decorations, and more.
Click “Read More,” below, for the complete article
On Saturday, February 9, some 120 persons gathered in the Carnegie Room in Penrose Library for a Town Hall meeting, a favorite arena of authors, educators, and political leaders.
While most were constituents from HD-17 & 18, the audience included city and county leaders, educators, business people, attorneys, and “townie” activists of all stripes. On this occasion, people were anxious to meet Pete Lee and Tony Exum and hear them explain their respective legislative agendas and respond to questions.
Click “Read More,” below, to read the rest of the article