Tag Archive for Colorado ASSET bill

2013 Colorado Legislature: on the right track with successes

Colorado Capitol dome. Photo by Charles Hanson.

Colorado Capitol dome. Photo by Charles Hanson.

While our national political leaders continue to be embroiled in gridlock at virtually every turn, our state legislators accomplished a great deal this past session. Although the bulk of the political media coverage has been on fringe issues (guns and rural Colorado), lawmakers were focused on jobs, schools, child welfare, voter and civil rights, immigration and the environment. Colorado is a better place to live, learn, love, work and raise children because of the 2013 legislative session.

Here are just 10 of dozens of good bills Democratic majorities in both houses achieved in 120 days:

  1. The ASSET Bill. Colorado’s undocumented students who graduate from high schools will now pay the same in-state college tuition rate as their peers. People with college degrees break the poverty cycle, help strengthen our economy, vote, contribute more to the tax base and are less likely to be in the corrections system.
  2. Making voting easier by sending all voters mail-in ballots. This bill will save counties $4.9 million over the next two years by making elections more efficient.
  3. Legalized civil unions, allowing thousands of committed same-sex couples to have critical legal protections and responsibilities. By recognizing civil unions, Colorado will see its revenue grow by nearly $5 million over the next three years.
  4. Increased tax credits to struggling families to help with medical and child care expenses. The benefits of this bill are self-explanatory.
  5. Limiting high-capacity magazines from 30 to 15 rounds and requiring universal background checks for gun sales. Legally purchased high-capacity magazines were used in both the Aurora Theater and Newtown school shootings. Universal background checks will make every Colorado resident safer.
  6. Reforming the way Colorado contracts business. In 2010-2011 alone, Colorado signed contracts with out-of-state vendors in the amount of $794 million. This bill brings our tax dollars back to our state while focusing on wages and benefits for workers as important considerations.
  7. The Colorado Clean Renewable Energy Bill will create good-paying jobs in rural areas while providing new sources of clean wind and solar energy.
  8. Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s training and licenses. This law makes Colorado fairer and safer. It reduces our insurance rates because of fewer uninsured motorists and also saves public resources in court time for driving without a license or insurance.
  9. Creating sex ed programs in the schools that are medically accurate and provide age-appropriate information on birth control, abstinence, healthy relationships and disease prevention. This bill will reduce teen child bearing in Colorado, which costs taxpayers and society dearly.
  10. Colorado’s 16- and 17-year-olds can now preregister to vote when getting their driver’s licenses. This good-for-democracy bill will increase civic responsibilities/participation, reduce voter registration errors and save on form processing.

Good things are happening in Colorado thanks to our state legislators. In and around Longmont, this includes Reps. Jonathan Singer and Mike Foote and Sens. Matt Jones and Rollie Heath. We elect people to lead and get stuff done. Our current slate of Colorado legislators is doing just that.

Santos storms out of council meeting

Gabe Santos, Longmont City Council 2012

Bullying his fellow council members isn't working.

Council Member Gabe Santos stormed out of the February 21 council meeting when things didn’t go his way.  I could say “like a bully in a china shop,” but council is far from that delicate status, though certainly the moniker of bully is apropos Santos.  After all, someone had to fill ex-Mayor Bryan Baum’s shoes.  Longmont can’t have a city council absent at least one right-wing bully.

So what got his knickers is such a tight twist.  Senate Bill 12-015, the ASSET bill, which provides for standard-rate tuition for undocumented foreign students who have spent at least three years in a Colorado high school and have applied for admission within one year of graduation or completing the GED.  In addition to the in-state tuition, the student would be required to pay the opportunity fund stipend that is offered to in-state students. How dare the city help it’s young people pull themselves up by their bootstraps!

In order for the Longmont City Council to vote on endorsing SB-015 during a study session, it was necessary to suspend Council’s Rule of Procedure 17.5. Mayor Dennis Coombs made the motion, seconded by Sarah Levison, and that prompted Santos to go ballistic.

He put his ever-so-oppressive foot down and said, “I’m not going to vote for this. If we’re going to bring up potentially contentious items before council at the state or federal level, then I got a whole slew that we can bring up.”  He ranted and raved about precedent, about future votes on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or saving the trees in Afghanistan.

In response, Mayor Coombs explained that the bill is largely bi-partisan and that Longmont has a number of Hispanic students.  That triggered even more raving by Santos who accused the mayor of making it a race issue.  Mr. Santos, do you have a problem with being Latino/Hispanic?  Or do you have to prove to the right-wing racists in the community that you’re one of the acceptable ones?  If you’re paying attention you will know that there are many racists in Longmont who consistently spew their racist venom in comments to Times-Call articles whenever the opportunity presents itself, or even in Letters to the Editor.

Santos didn’t get any help from Council Member Brian Bagley either.  Bagley pointed out that council gives direction to staff about which state bills to support or oppose and once or twice a month offers proclamations on issues that are often beyond the scope of the city’s direct business.

The hilarious portion of Santos tirade was his statement about the Council being a non-partisan board.  Technically, he’s correct.  But most Longmont voters know what party their council members belong to.  And if they don’t know it by a candidate’s admission, history or information supplied by their friends and family, they know it by the platforms the candidate adopts and by who are the visible endorsers.  So once more, of the countless upon countless times, Council Member Santos is – how shall I say this politely – DISINGENUOUS.

Disingenuous?  Aw, let’s forget that one.  Council member Santos repeatedly (let me say that again – repeatedly) couches his arguments fer or agin a matter with supposedly acceptable or righteous reasons.  He does this to avoid a record that could cause damage downstream in his political pursuits. Hell, even Tom DeLay wasn’t slick enough for that.  But then he was a Republican partisan with a major position in the Republican-led House of Representatives at the time.  While in the employ of Representatives Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt, I’m sure Santos had ample opportunity to learn how to be slicker than the supposed “Slick Willie,” whom they tried so desperately to throw out of office. They’re using other tactics this time around with Obama, but that’s subject for a different article.

A vote was taken on the motion to suspend Procedure 17.5 and the result was 6-1;  Santos was the LONE dissenter.  Following that Mayor Coombs moved and it was seconded that the Council instruct Sandi Seader, the city’s lobbyist, to convey the City of Longmont’s endorsement of SB-015 to the Colorado Senate and House.  Again, the vote was 6-1 with Santos as the LONE dissenter.  While Santos may have strengthened his right-wing, anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic credentials with Longmont voters when he tries to climb the ladder out of Longmont into state office, he’s left one helluva stench elsewhere.

Immediately following both votes and before the routine comments from council members, the city manager and city attorney, Santos stormed from the council chambers.  He didn’t get his way.  He didn’t have the support of other council members whom he “whips” (bullies) into shape lest they stray from the fold.  He was left hanging out to dry all by his LONEsome.

What is council member Santos going to do next week for a second act?  We’ll just have to stay tuned, won’t we?