July 2017

Colorado Government Affairs Update – July

Colorado Government Affairs Update – July

2018 Colorado Gubernatorial Race
Despite being over a year away, the 2018 Governor’s race will be a crowded one, and it is expected to break campaign spending records on the candidate side and from outside money.  State campaign finance laws limit contributions to gubernatorial candidates at $1,150 per person, but put no limit on self-funding.  Stakes are high for the race since the party that wins the election will have a larger influence over the 2020 round of redistricting for statehouse and congressional seats. Below is a breakdown of the declared and potential candidates from both major parties.

2018 will be the first time in decades that the Democrats will have a competitive primary.  Prior to the entry of Congressman Jared Polis into the race, Congressman Ed Perlmutter was seen as having the best chance to win the primary.  However, Congressman Polis’ ability to self-finance at an almost limitless level gives him the early advantage.

  • Congressman Jared Polis – Five-term Congressman from the 2nd Congressional District, former State Board of Education Member, Spearheaded Amendment 41 Ethics in Government ballot initiative, co-founder of several tech firms including ProFlowers which was sold for $477 million in 2005;
  • Congressman Ed Perlmutter – Six-term Congressman from the 7th Congressional District, served in the State Senate from 1995 to 2003;  
  • Michael Johnston – former State Senator from Denver, passion is education, helped craft education policy for Obama;  
  • Cary Kennedy – Former State Treasurer and City and County of Denver Deputy Mayor & CFO; and
  • Noel Ginsburg – Businessman and founder of a plastic injection molding company.

There is some speculation that Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, a former executive for Kaiser Permanente, might enter the race. There also has been some interest from current state legislators but most seem to have let that idea go after Congressman Perlmutter declared.

Republicans will need to avoid their past history of primary troubles to field a strong candidate this cycle.  During the last open race for Governor in 2010, Republicans imploded during the primary process and their candidate Dan Maes only secured 11.1% of the general election vote, with Tom Tancredo, a former Republican Congressman, running under the American Constitution Party and taking 36.4%.  This gave John Hickenlooper, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, a relatively easy victory. The following candidates have announced:

  • George Brauchler – 18th Judicial District DA who is best known for prosecuting the Aurora Theater shooting;
  • Victor Mitchell – Former State Representative and businessman, has already donated $3 million to his campaign, ran several telecommunication companies;
  • Doug Robinson – Investment banker who is best known as a nephew of Mitt Romney;
  • Greg Lopez –Former mayor of Parker; 
  • Lew Gaiter – Larimer County Commissioner; and,
  • Steve Barlock – Former co-chairman of Denver County’s Donald Trump campaign.

Undeclared, but expected to join the race, is the current State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.  There is also speculation that Cynthia Coffman, the current Attorney General and Jack Graham, former Colorado State University athletic director and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, might jump into the race as well.

2017 Legislative Interim Committees

Legislative interim committees will begin meeting in July and work through the fall.  This year’s committees touch on a wide range of issues from a Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force to a Young and Beginning Farmers Committee. Typically the committees will conclude with legislative recommendations for the upcoming session.

County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee

Description: The committee will study the following issues: the current cost of maintaining and staffing county courthouses, jail facilities, and justice centers in each county; the current availability of state resources to aid in the funding of county courthouse facilities; the current availability of state resources to aid in the funding of, and overcrowding issues in, county jail facilities; approaches to increase state funds for county courthouses and jails; reforms in sentencing, probation, or parole policies that encourage the use of county jail facilities; approaches to address the growing problems of heroin and prescription opiate addiction and mental health issues.
Next Meeting: July 17th

Legislative Interim Committee on School Finance

Description: The committee studies and discusses issues facing Colorado school finance.
Next Meeting: July 24th

Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee

Description: The study committee reviews data and statistics on the scope of the substance use disorder problem in Colorado; compiles an overview of the current resources available; reviews the availability of medication-assisted treatment options and whether pharmacists can prescribe those medications; examines what other states and countries are doing to address substance use disorders; identifies the gaps in prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery resources; and identifies possible legislative options to address these gaps.
Next Meeting: July 10th

Police Officers and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission

Description: The commission studies and proposes legislation relating to funding of police officers’ and firefighters’ pensions in this state and benefit designs of each pension plan.
Next Meeting: TBD

Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force

Description: Studies sales and use tax simplification between state and local governments and identifies opportunities and challenges within existing fiscal frameworks to adopt innovative revenue-neutral solutions that don’t require constitutional amendments or voter approval
Next Meeting: July 11th

School Safety and Youth in Crisis Committee

Description: The committee must: study issues relating to school safety and the prevention of threats to the safety of students, teachers, and others; study and evaluate programs and methods for identifying and monitoring students in crisis; develop standardized criteria for school personnel to use in assessing the potential threat posed by one or more students; and study the requirements of a recent law enacted regarding the duty of school districts and charter schools and their employees to exercise reasonable care to protect all students, faculty, and staff from harm resulting from acts committed by another person when the harm is reasonably foreseeable.
Next Meeting: TBD

Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System Interim Study Committee

Description: The committee will: consider and evaluate the use of mandatory minimum sentences in Colorado; consider and evaluation the continued viability of extraordinary risk crimes; examine the current habitual offender scheme; and consider the development of 'Second Look’ legislation that would address long sentences where prison placement is no longer in the interest of public safety and does not further the interest of justice.
Next Meeting: July 11th

Transportation Legislation Review Committee

Description: The committee reviews transportation, traffic, and motor vehicle legislation and may consult with experts in the fields of traffic regulation, the licensing of drivers, the registration and titling of motor vehicles, and highway construction and planning.
Next Meeting: July 24th & 26th – Southwest Area Tour

Water Resources Review Committee

Description: The committee studies conservation, use, development and financing of water resources and proposes legislation based on those studies. The committee also holds public hearings on the Colorado State Water Plan draft prior to submitting the feedback to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Next Meeting: August 2nd & 3rd

Wildfire Matters Review Committee

Description: The committee studies wildfire prevention and mitigation.
Next Meeting: TBD

Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee

Description: The committee seeks to determine how best to assist aspiring agriculturalists in the early stages of their careers. The committee focuses on: land access, credit and financial training, business skill training, and access to technical and financial resources to improve farm conservation measures.
Next Meeting: TBD

Questions? Please contact John Karakoulakis (303.295.8003 / jokarakoulakis@hollandhart.com).

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