Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJuly 13, 20185min357

Although the General Assembly is not in session, there’s enough going on outside of the legislative races, and inside it, too, to take another walk among the Mmmmmms.

Good luck…to Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, who was recently appointed to the Adams 14 school board. Now Capitol M did a little checking on this, because the idea that a state senator can be on a school board at the same time seems like a lot of work.

As it turns out, you can hold more than one office at a time but you can’t run for more than one office, so if Moreno gets ideas about running for the school board he would have to drop his re-election bid for the state Senate for 2020, for which he has already filed. According to spox Lynn Bartels of the Secretary of State’s office, you can’t have two campaign committees at the same time.

But there’s another thought Capitol M had about this. After this November’s election, Moreno will be the senior remaining senator on the Joint Budget Committee, given that the committee’s two Republican senators — Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Kent Lambert — will be gone due to term limits. Two other Democratic members of the House on the JBC will be gone, too: Reps. Millie Hamner and Dave Young (term limits there, too) which means the JBC brain trust will be Moreno and Republican Rep. Bob Rankin. Don’t go anywhere, either one of ya.

The chairmanship of the JBC swings back to the Senate for 2019. Should the Democrats take control of the Senate in November (given the possibility of a blue wave year, it could happen) Moreno would logically become the next chair of JBC. That’s a heavy lift: to run JBC at the same time sitting on a school board for a troubled district with a lot on its plate.

RMGO influence warning: Colorado CeaseFire this week called out the primary losses for Republicans backed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Capitol M noticed it, too, in a post-primary review of what happened on June 26.

Capitol M took a second look. The top recipient of RMGO’s largesse in the 2018 primary was Republican Frank Francone of Littleton, who lost to Colin Larson by a razor-thin margin of 139 votes, about 1.2 percent. Francone was the recipient of RMGO’s largest donations for any primary candidate statewide, a total of $2,400. RMGO head Dudley Brown also gave Francone $250. But RMGO’s biggest spending, through its independent expenditure committee, went toward advertising in support of Francone, to the tune of more than $6,100. Ouch.

Ray Garcia, who now has among his credentials a third consecutive losing effort to win a seat in the state House, got his head handed to him when he took on Rep. Lois Landgraf of Colorado Springs. It was a contest Garcia lost by 31 points. Brown was also a contributor to Garcia’s coffers, for $150. It turned out to be sizable for a campaign that drew a grand total of $800 in contributions. Garcia spent about $4,000 on his losing effort.

Among non-legislative candidates, RMGO also backed Sheriff Chad Day of Yuma County, who caught national attention this spring when it was revealed he’d given a deputy sheriff’s badge to Trump moneyman Robert Mercer in 2016, a deal allegedly brokered by Brown. The sheriff’s badge allows Mercer to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the United States without a concealed-carry permit. Day lost to Todd Combs by 15 points.

RMGO’s only win in the primary was in backing Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction, who defeated Rep. Dan Thurlow.

The bottom line: next session could play out differently on the issue of guns.

Note on featured photo: my favorite from the 2018 session, Rep. Hugh McKean of Loveland and one of his best buds.


Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 24, 201812min605


Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 7, 20184min858

The continuing effort to close the Grand Junction campus* of the Grand Junction Regional Center, home to its last 22 residents, hit the House floor Wednesday morning.

Rep. Lois Landgraf, a Fountain Republican, offered an amendment to a supplemental budget bill that she said would escalate the closing of the campus and require those remaining residents to be placed in private group homes.

Landgraf’s amendment would take $2 million from the Department of Human Services budget and direct those funds toward transitioning the residents to “non-governmental community providers.”

That drew immediate protest, not only from the House members of the Joint Budget Committee, but from the Republican lawmakers who represent the Grand Junction community.

Landgraf pointed out that the Grand Junction center costs the state $11 million per year, roughly $1,100 per day per resident. The decision was made years ago that those with developmental disabilities shouldn’t be kept in institutions. “I understand these are high-needs people.” she said. “We’re not throwing them out on the streets.”

However, Rep. Dave Young, a Greeley Democrat who sits on the JBC, indicated that’s exactly what could happen. He told lawmakers that currently, there is no place for those residents to go; the group facilities that could care for these high-need individuals don’t exist.

Part of the reason for the center’s high cost is that its facilities are old. The Center started off as an Indian boarding school in 1885; its history as a development disability center dates back to 1921. The facility at one point held 800 residents.

Another factor: the last 22 residents require intensive care for medical and behavioral or psychiatric issues, in addition to their developmental disabilities, according to lawmakers.

The General Assembly has been working since 2014 to find a way to provide the best care possible for the remaining residents yet at the same time close the facility.

Young  told Colorado Politics that a 2016 bill dictates that the legislature come up with a plan for closing the Grand Junction campus that would move residents into community-based facilities. The law requires the Department of Human Services to put the campus up for sale on July 1. It also allows DHS to renovate a building and construct up to six new group homes, to address the lack of those facilities in the community. In addition to the campus, the regional center includes nine group homes in the Grand Junction area.

“This amendment would slow the progress” for that plan, said Republican Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction, who acknowledged that “everyone is frustrated with the pace of progress” on closing the center. “The plan is to provide the best care we can” for the remaining residents and they (along with their families) can choose where they should go.

Landgraf’s amendment failed on a voice vote.


Clarification: Updated to note that the amendment intended to deal only with the Grand Junction campus, not the entire Grand Junction Regional Center.