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Ritter touts energy expertise, talks Clean Air Act rules

Since 2011, former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has traveled the country advising about clean energy policy as director of Colorado State University’sCenter for the New Energy Economy.

 Ritter regularly meets with policy makers, governors, planners and other decision makers. In the coming months he’s expecting to do a lot of work around new Clean Air Act proposed rules that will be released in June by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Section 111(d) will be hotly debated and deals with existing carbon emissions released by power plants.

“It would give each state a number that says ‘This is the amount of emissions you can emit by such-and-such a date.’” Ritter said. “States that have a lot of coal could well have to transition out of coal to things like more solar, more wind, more natural gas. I suspect that the rule is going to be viewed with some controversy when it’s announced.”

Briefly entering the spotlight in Dec. 2012, Ritter was on President Obama’s shortlist for U.S. Energy Secretary. While he didn’t make the final cut, Ritter did help the White House sketch out energy priorities that could be accomplished with executive powers.

The end product was the 207-page Powering Forward report compiling recommendations on five priorities like doubling energy productivity and alternative fuels. Included is a suggestion giving states latitude for rulemaking on natural gas.

Ritter presented 200 ideas for moving the nation toward a clean energy economy to President Barack Obama.
Credit Colorado State University

“State legislators and governors are doing a variety of important things to establish the best practices in regulation,” he said. “I personally believe that strong regulations, a willingness to comply on industry — and where there’s not willingness then strong enforcement — is absolutely essential to getting this social license to operate for industry.”

Gaining the public trust in Colorado seems to be a rocky road.

In February, industry officials had hoped that new methane emission ruleswould provide more of a ‘license to operate.’ Instead the industry faces a potential statewide ballot limiting hydraulic fracturing, indicating a weary public. Five communities along the Front Range have already placed restrictions on fracking.

Ritter thinks one mistake for oil and gas operators was not disclosing the chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids earlier. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conversation Commission approved comprehensive rules in 2011.

“I think the industry now wishes they hadn’t done that,” Ritter said. “Because that lack of transparency about what they were putting in the ground created a sense on the part of the public that there was something wrong here. That there was a reason not to trust.”

John Suthers & Bill Ritter Jr. : Solving the problems of payday loans

A new study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a related field hearing in Nashville have put payday lending in the national spotlight, demonstrating most loans are made to borrowers who pay more in fees than they originally received in credit. As the federal regulator develops guidelines for this market, our experience in Colorado shows how the CFPB can address the problems with payday loans nationwide.

In 1992, Colorado became an early adopter of the payday loan, a new type of small loan sold as a quick fix for emergencies or unexpected expenses. While payday loans are marketed as two-week products due in full on the borrower’s next payday, the reality is most borrowers end up struggling for months to repay them. Research shows a majority of borrowers are already behind on bills, and most use the loans to cover regular expenses such as rent, credit card payments, and utilities. The lump-sum payment on the loan means that people cannot afford to repay and still meet basic expenses like rent, so three-quarters of loans are taken out soon after a previous one is paid off.

Policymakers in Colorado eventually acknowledged that the lump-sum payday loan was a failure, but they also wanted to maintain access to safer credit. So in 2010, they replaced the two-week payday loan with a six-month instalment loan. In addition to requiring more time to repay in affordable installments, the law ensures that costs are spread evenly over the life of the loan, protects borrowers’ checking accounts, and guards against excessive costs. Colorado’s new law is better for borrowers and viable for lenders, as described in a report from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Almost four years after the law took effect, access to payday credit remains widely available. Lenders still do not compete on price, but we lowered the maximum interest rate to half what it was before. Whereas the loans previously took up 38 per cent of an average borrower’s paycheque, now they take up 4 per cent. Borrowers are spending $42 million less each year, and bounced-cheque fees from lenders are down by more than half.

Scams and theft of personal information online are a danger for our residents and have led to numerous complaints here and in states with and without payday loan stores. Online lenders spend millions to lure new business, and some now offer instalment loans that are anything but consumer friendly. Lacking Colorado-type protections, they have payments that exceed borrowers’ ability to repay, carry new origination fees when loans are flipped, and lack safeguards to protect checking accounts from fraud and abuse.

States need more help combating abusive and illegal online lending, and everyone will benefit when the CFPB sets comprehensive, firm rules for payday and small installment loans alike. With clear guidelines in place, lenders and banks will compete to develop better ways to serve people in need, profitably. And any lender that violates the rules will face swift enforcement actions.

To make it happen, the CFPB should look to Colorado’s example and implement the changes needed to restore sanity to the small-loan market. Millions of people in our communities need relief from loans. In Colorado, we set strong, clear rules that have made payday loans far safer. The CFPB can and should do the same.

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Ritter admin alum gets RTD post

The group of citizens that advises the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors about the FasTracks transit expansion program is welcoming three new members this week, including a construction industry manager, a retired health care worker and a financial adviser for a local startup.

The new members of the FasTracks Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) are Darcy Wilson, president of Stan-Mar Inc., a construction company, who will represent RTD District B; Vivian Stovall, a retired Denver Health Medical Center employee, who will represent RTD District C; and Tyler Kealy, a client service and fund accountant for Public Trust Advisors, who will represent District A. The RTD board approved their appointments Dec. 17.

“We are excited to welcome our new members, who bring a depth of experience that will enrich the work we do,” said CAC Co-Chair David Lewis. “As we prepare for the exciting milestones that lie ahead in 2014, we’re confident they will provide us with unique perspectives that will help guide the success of all of the FasTracks projects.”

Karen Stuart, former mayor of the City and County of Broomfield, and Bob Rizzuto, co-owner and a broker associate with KW Commercial Real Estate, have been reappointed to the committee. Departing the CAC because of term limitations are Tom Burns, Tom Ashburn and Don Moore, who all served from 2006 through the end of this year.

All of the committee’s new members have had considerable community service experience in the Denver metro region and around Colorado.

Among other nonprofit organizations, Wilson has volunteered with the Denver Scholarship Foundation and served on Stapleton’s workforce redevelopment committee. She holds a master’s degree in computer information science from the University of Denver.

For her part, Stovall was a member of Gov. Bill Ritter’s Transportation Finance and Implementation Blue Ribbon Panel, which issued recommendations on how to address Colorado’s transportation needs. She is a member of the Denver Election Division Advisory Committee, the Denver Regional Council of Government (DRCOG) Aging Advisory Committee, the Denver Commission on Aging and the Colorado Alliance for Retired Americans. She is also a recent graduate of the Denver Transit Alliance Academy, a coalition of businesses, government agencies and membership groups that promotes transit.

Kealy graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver in 2011, earning two bachelor’s degrees in finance from the Daniels College of Business. He was a budget analyst intern at RTD, where he helped overhaul the District’s annual budget report. Kealy is a self-described “transit-dependent young adult” who commutes regularly by bus and light rail.

Politics- Ritter foe again in race for Governor

‘progressive’ group hits old Ritter foe

“Both Ways Bob” Beauprez announced his campaign for governor of Colorado. For weeks, Beauprez has been lurking on the sidelines, trying to decide whether to enter the gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race.

Beauprez is right about one thing: the field of Republicans in the Colorado gubernatorial race are hopelessly unqualified. What Beauprez doesn’t understand, of course, is that he is no better. Bob Beauprez was a joke in 2006, and as he proved by launching his campaign for governor of Colorado from Washington, D.C., he’s a joke today.

Bob Beauprez’s last political campaign resulted in a devastating 17-point loss to Democrat Bill Ritter in the 2006 gubernatorial election, in which Beauprez was plagued by scandals over abortion, immigration, and his past record in Congress. Beauprez falsely claimed on the campaign trail that 70% of African-American pregnancies “end in abortion,” for which he was later forced to apologize. Misleading attack ads about illegal immigration led to a criminal investigation of Beauprez’s campaign for accessing restricted law enforcement databases. We at ProgressNow Colorado were heavily involved in the campaign to hold Beauprez accountable.

Since his last defeat, Beauprez has continued to embarrass himself. Just yesterday, a video of Beauprez surfaced actually claiming that President Obama is “pushing” the nation toward civil war. Is that insanity the kind of leadership Colorado needs?


Beauprez is a shining example of everything Republicans in Colorado have gotten wrong in recent years, and to see him run again is more evidence that conservatives have learned nothing from their defeats. Thanks for standing up to hold Beauprez accountable–as many times as it takes.


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Ritter on panel on trade, tourism

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet will host a forum on immigration, trade, and security in partnership with the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL).


Featured panelists include former U.S. Representative David Dreier (R-CA), Consul General of Canada Marcy Grossman, and Chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity Linda Chavez. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter will moderate.


More than 700 are expected to attend the discussion, which will cover, among other things, U.S. immigration policy and the prospects for passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2014. As part of the Senate’s “Gang of 8,” Bennet helped write a bipartisan bill to fix the broken immigration system that passed the Senate last June.




WHO:          U.S. Senator Michael Bennet

                    Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter

                    U.S. Representative David Dreier (R-CA)

                    Consul General of Canada Marcy Grossman

                    Chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity Linda Chavez


WHAT:        The Cross Border Debate: Immigration, Trade, and Security


WHERE:       The Denver Art Museum (North Building)

100 W. 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80204


WHEN:        Tuesday, February 18 at 7:00PM MT



RSVP:          Media credentials are REQUIRED for admittance. RSVP to lalshihabi@thecell.org or 608-446-3881 by end of day on February 17, 2014. Media registration table will be set-up beginning at 5:30PM MT.


SPONSORS:      The Denver Post, the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL), and the Government of Canada



About the CELL: The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL) is dedicated to preventing terrorism through education, empowerment, and engagement. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution, its one-of-a-kind exhibit, renowned speaker series, and training initiatives provide a comprehensive look at the threat of terrorism and how individuals can play a role in preventing it, ultimately enhancing public safety.





For the second year in a row, Forbes has once again ranked Colorado as the fourth best state for businesses and for fostering economic growth. CNBC has rated Colorado the third best state two years in a row.


“Even in this tough economy, Colorado has remained aggressive, disciplined and focused when it comes to supporting businesses and encouraging economic growth,” Gov. Ritter said. “Today’s ranking by Forbes shows that our strategies and investments in emerging and innovative industries like clean energy, healthcare, aerospace, biosciences and technology are working. We still have many challenges ahead, but we are indeed moving forward.”


The Forbes ranking puts Colorado first for labor supply, sixth for overall economic climate and growth prospects, and ninth for quality of life.



Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter issued the following statement today regarding the David Hartley case:


“My heart goes out to the family and friends of David Hartley as they struggle through this painful and difficult time. Earlier today I spoke with the Mexican Consulate’s Office about this tragic case and they assured me they are doing everything possible to recover David’s body and bring to justice those who committed this heinous crime. I asked that they commit all law enforcement resources available, and they assured me they would.”


Gov. Bill Ritter announced today he has appointed four new judges to the bench in Colorado:


·         Mark Duncan Thompson of Breckenridge will replace retiring District Court Judge W. Terry Ruckriegle in the 5th Judicial District effective immediately. The 5th Judicial District serves Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. Thompson is a shareholder of the Breckenridge law firm West, Brown, Huntley and Thompson. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bates College in Maine in 1989 and his law degree from the University of Denver in 1992.


·         Norma A. Sierra of Boulder will replace retiring Boulder County Court Judge Carolyn Hoye Enichen effective Jan. 11. Sierra is currently a District Court magistrate for the 20th Judicial District, which serves Boulder County. Before that, Sierra served as the district’s family court facilitator. She was a solo practitioner from 1996 to 2000 and a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1990 to 1993. She earned her B.B.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1984 and her law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1987.


·         Mark Marrow Randall of Arvada will replace retiring Jefferson County Court Judge Charles T. Hoppin effective Jan. 11. Randall is currently a chief deputy district attorney for the 1st Judicial District, which serves Gilpin and Jefferson counties. He also is the legislative director for the Colorado District Attorney’s Council. Randall earned his bachelor’s degree from Creighton University in Nebraska in 1985 and his law degree from the University of Denver in 1988.


·         Thomas Lee Lynch of Fort Collins will replace retiring Larimer County Court Judge Cynthia M. Hartman effective Nov. 30. Lynch is currently a deputy district in the 8th Judicial District, which serves Larimer and Jackson counties. Prior to that, he was an executive with Snowfly Inc., district director for former Congressman Bob Schaffer, president of JurisDATA Inc. and corporate services executive for Aspen Tree Software. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1988 and his law degree in 1991 from the University of Wyoming.


For a county court judge, the initial term of office is a provisional term of two years. Thereafter, if retained by the voters, county court judges serve four-year terms at an annual salary of $123,067.


For a district court judge, the initial term of office is a provisional term of two years. Thereafter, if retained by the voters, district court judges serve six-year terms at an annual salary of $128,598.



Gov. Bill Ritter announced today he has appointed three new judges – two district court judges in the 4th Judicial District and one county court judge in Douglas County:


·         Lawrence R. Bowling of Castle Rock will replace retiring Douglas County Judge Michelle Marker effective Jan. 1.


·         Timothy J. Schutz of Monument will replace retiring District Court Judge J. Patrick Kelly in the 4thJudicial District effective Oct. 31.


·         Barbara L. Hughes of Colorado Springs will replace retiring District Court Judge Timothy Simmons in the 4th Judicial District effective Dec. 31. The 4th Judicial District serves El Paso and Teller counties.


Bowling is currently a magistrate in Douglas County and has served as a magistrate in the 18th Judicial District – which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties – since 2006. Prior to that, he was an assistant county attorney in Jefferson County, an associate with Quade, Fontana and Bonin, and a deputy district attorney in the 18th Judicial District. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado Technical College in 1981 and his law degree from the University of Denver in 1993.


Schutz is a founding member of the firm Hanes & Schutz, which was formed in 1992. Before that, he was an associate with Holland & Hart. He received his bachelor’s degree from Moorhead State University in 1984 and his law degree from the University of North Dakota in 1987.


Hughes has served as a district court magistrate in the 4th Judicial District’s Probate Division since 2000. Prior to that, she was an attorney with Colorado Legal Services in Colorado Springs, an attorney with Pikes Peak Legal Services in Colorado Springs, a law clerk in the 4th Judicial District and an attorney with Zuckerman and Kleinman. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1980 and her law degree from the University of Colorado in 1988.


For a county court judge, the initial term of office is a provisional term of two years. Thereafter, if retained by the voters, county court judges serve four-year terms at an annual salary of $123,067.


For a district court judge, the initial term of office is a provisional term of two years. Thereafter, if retained by the voters, district court judges serve six-year terms at an annual salary of $128,598.






Gov. Bill Ritter announced today an agreement has been reached between commercial rafting outfitters and private property owners along the Taylor River. The compromise clears the way for sponsors of 24 competing ballot measures to withdraw their respective proposals from the November ballot, averting an expensive and divisive election fight.


The Governor had asked two outfitters, Three Rivers and Scenic River Tours, and the owners of the Jackson-Shaw property, in May to find a mutually agreeable solution to their dispute.


Gov. Ritter thanked the parties for their hard work and willingness to find common ground. “To reach this accord, both sides had to make difficult concessions, and I appreciate their willingness to do so,” the Governor said. “Today’s agreement marks an important step toward opening a dialogue between landowners and rafters. My hope is that this dialogue will then lead to a fair and efficient dispute-resolution process for the future.


“Colorado’s rivers are essential to all Coloradans, not only for the vital drinking and agricultural water they carry, but also to our overall economy and quality of life,” said Gov. Ritter, who is an avid fly-fisherman. “Anglers, rafters and private landowners may all have separate and unique interests, but they all share a common Colorado interest that is bound together by doing what’s best for our children and the future of our state.


“I also applaud the decision of the sponsors to withdraw their ballot initiatives,” Gov. Ritter added. “The decision of these parties to withdraw these ballot measures was courageous and puts the interests of all Coloradans above their individual interests.”


Said Lewis Shaw, chairman and CEO of Jackson-Shaw Co., which owns the Wilder on the Taylor fishing reserve: “We are pleased to announce a resolution to the dispute on the Taylor River involving commercial rafting and private fishing property.  Gov. Ritter has offered much-appreciated guidance to both parties to reach this settlement privately, avoiding possible contentious legislative initiatives or impositions.  The agreement permits rafting companies Three Rivers and Scenic River Tours structured access through the private Wilder Ranch property while respecting each parties’ positions for their mutual enjoyment of this beautiful natural resource.”


“Over the years, Colorado’s property owners and rafters around the state, working on a case-by-case basis, have found ways to accommodate each other,” said John Leede, president of the Creekside Coalition, which represents about 600 riparian landowners across Colorado. “We believe this long-standing approach has served Colorado well by balancing the needs of various interests.   Our ballot issues were introduced to protect against legislative and ballot proposals from the commercial rafting community that we believed were one sided and would have disrupted the delicate balance between rafters, fisherman and property owners across the state.  We are appreciative of the Governor’s leadership in resolving this issue and we will continue to participate constructively in future discussions around these issues.”


The withdrawal of the ballot measures also clears the way for the creation of a task force that will propose a dispute-resolution process to address future conflicts on Colorado rivers.


Gov. Ritter will convene a task force of stakeholders to develop a proposal for resolving conflicts among landowners, anglers and the boating public. The task force will be charged with developing a framework for resolving disputes on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise. This approach recognizes that disputes vary from place to place and that a one-size-fits-all strategy is unlikely to succeed.


The task force will be led by the Department of Natural Resources and the Governor’s Office.  The task force will include representatives from landowners, commercial and recreational river users, local government officials and law enforcement, which has historically been tasked with intervening in such disputes.


The task force will be asked to deliver a report outlining its proposal to the Governor by Dec. 31.