The Spot: Colorado Gov. Polis uses his veto power once — and may do it again

For people, policy and Colorado politics

What’s The Spot? You’re reading an installment of our weekly politics newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered straight in your inbox.

It’s that time of the year when the threat of vetoes become a reality. Gov. Jared Polis issued his first one of the 2021 legislative session late last week, has threatened to veto another bill and is being lobbied not to veto at least one other.

Although both chambers of the General Assembly are controlled by Democrats, that doesn’t mean the hands-on Democratic governor and lawmakers have always seen eye to eye.

On Friday, Polis’ office announced his veto of HB21-1092, a bipartisan bill that would have allowed a candidate for lieutenant governor to also run as a candidate for another office (except for U.S. Senate or U.S. House). If a person were to win both offices, the candidate would have to accept the seat for lieutenant governor and resign the other office.

The main sponsors of the bill were Republicans, though GOP Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs believes the bill could have benefited people in both parties because it would create more options for qualified candidates to run for office.

Although other states allow the double office-seeking, Polis disagreed with the concept, saying in his veto letter that it only serves to “further the ambitions of professional politicians at a great cost of increased voter confusion and disengagement.”

Williams, however, told The Denver Post he thinks Polis isn’t giving voters enough credit — they’re smart enough to figure out the situation, he said.

In April, Polis threatened to veto SB21-200, a climate bill meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond his own plan, but the bill is moving forward anyway.

And groups are lobbying the governor for his support on SB21-199, which would allow undocumented immigrants to become eligible for certain public benefits, professional licenses and public works contracts. Although Polis didn’t directly address whether he was considering a veto on this one, a spokesperson said in a statement Polis appreciates “the intent of the bill and hope we are able to work through the outstanding issues” (but didn’t elaborate on the issues).

To support the important journalism we do, you can become a Denver Post subscriber here.


Have a question about Colorado politics? Submit it here and it’ll go straight to The Denver Post politics team.

Top Line

Gyms? 100%. Restaurants? 100%. Offices? 100%. The state says the Denver metro is in the clear come Sunday. Well, OK, Level Clear. Find out what that means here.

Capitol Diary • By Alex Burness

Housing bills aren’t for certain

Democratic majorities do not guarantee the passage of progressive policy. The kinds of Democrats who make up the majorities sometimes matter more than the sheer numbers. This seems to be especially true on housing.

Consider SB21-173, a tenant rights bill that seeks to bolster protections for renters and diminish the power of landlords (here’s a story from March on that power balance). The bill is limping along, clipped by Democrat-initiated, pro-landlord amendments in the Senate and facing an uncertain future in the House despite Democrats’ 17-seat majority in that chamber.

The bill will get a hearing Thursday afternoon in the House Business Affairs and Labor committee, where Democrats hold eight of 13 seats. The bill needs just seven to pass, but there are two landlords (Democratic Reps. Shannon Bird and Mark Snyder) on the panel and the bill has less than full-throated support from Democratic Rep. Kyle Mullica.

Committees can take testimony and then delay the vote if they want to, which could happen in this case if the sponsors can’t count on seven.

Soon, Democratic loyalties on housing may be tested again: Several Dems who back SB21-173 are trying to install a state eviction moratorium through early 2022. Recent history, plus the present fight over tenant rights, casts doubt on the moratorium bill seeing the light of day in 2021.

More Colorado political news

  • Colorado Republicans tried to prevent employers from requiring COVID vaccines, but their bill failed.
  • Colorado retailers now have to accept cash under a new law.
  • Colorado has become the second state to allow for a corpse to be composted.
  • Colorado Democrats look to ax tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
  • Politicians want to take action after mass shootings, but figuring out which policies are effective is harder.

Federal Politics • By Justin Wingerter

“We will not kowtow”

For the first time since they convened in March, Colorado’s congressional mapmakers discussed district lines Wednesday, voicing some early support for keeping the entire Western Slope within one district and adding Pueblo to an Eastern Plains district.

Three groups representing rural Colorado — Club 20, Action 22 and Pro 15 — presented a map to the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission and asked it to create two rural districts in the west and east. The proposed map also calls for El Paso County to have its own district and for the other five districts to be drawn along the Front Range.

Their biggest recommended change is to move Pueblo County from the Western Slope district to an Eastern Plains district, which the groups said is appropriate because Pueblo hosts the state fair. Commissioner Bill Leone, a Republican from Westminster, agreed.

The proposed map also calls for moving the Western Slope district currently represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert further to the east. It would gain some Democratic counties — Summit, Lake, Eagle — but also Republican counties like Teller, Grand and Park.

“I actually think this is a more competitive (3rd) District than what has been present in the past,” said Christian Reece, executive director of Club 20 and a former staffer for Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, who was beaten by Boebert last year. “So much so that I’ve actually had people within the Republican Party reach out to me and say, ‘What are you doing to our district?’”

“We will not kowtow to a party because of their desire to gerrymander the district,” Reece added in a defiant tone a short time later. “Personally, having worked for a member of Congress in the 3rd Congressional District, I certainly am excited for the possibility of seeing a more competitive congressional district that is truly representative of the people.”

In an unusual accusatory moment on Wednesday, Sara Blackhurst, president of the southern Colorado group Action 22, accused an anonymous congressman from Colorado of not visiting rural areas.

“I don’t want to say anything negative about anyone but you’re going to know what I’m talking about when I say this,” she told commissioners. “There is and could be a representative that, because they have a very (large) urban center in their district, it best serves them to pay all of their attention to that area because that’s where the votes are. As a result, we’ve seen that there are counties and areas that that representative has not been to in, literally, years.”

More federal politics news

  • Colorado’s congressional mapmakers will move ahead without final Census data.
  • Colorado Republicans were split over whether to remove Liz Cheney from leadership.
  • Billions in federal dollars are pouring into Colorado. Here’s what the metro area will get.

Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson

More money, more payouts

Hundreds of millions in federal money are headed for Denver’s coffers, all while the city and county are still spending down its first federal aid package from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The second package, the American Rescue Plan, will bring in another $308 million; $141 million for the county, $167 million for the city. That’s more than twice the $127 million Denver got from the CARES Act, which had tighter spending deadlines and restrictions.

But wait, there’s more: Denver will also receive an extra $27.27 million from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is meant to help low-income families make rent.

It’s not clear how Denver will spend the second round of federal money, but it’ll do the following with $18 million from the CARES Act:

  • $5,055,000 for economic recovery for workers and businesses, including money for artists and venues, businesses owned by women and people of color and for the restaurant and event industries.
  • $3,023,600 for public health responses, including protective equipment for the city’s reopening recreation centers and air-sterilization equipment at buildings and venues.
  • $2,901,128 in food assistance, providing more than two million meals.
  • $2,800,000 in individual support like utility payments.
  • $2,500,000 in housing support, transitioning 150 people from emergency shelters into stable housing.
  • $1,773,988 in city operations like providing laptops for remote workers and upgrading the city’s cybersecurity.

More Denver and suburban political news

  • The Denver City Council rezoned the 72-acre Loretto Heights campus during a packed Monday night meeting, doomed the Denver 7 building, made Lyft and Lime the sole bike/scooter-share companies and fast-tracked booze zones outside of businesses.
  • You’re free to be maskless in Douglas County as of this week.
  • Here’s a bit of insight into what Denver can learn from other universal basic income programs in the U.S. and Canada.
  • And the magic number in Westminster is … 78.

Forward this newsletter to your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.

Source: Read Full Article