Monthly Archives: February 2008

Amendment 41 letter from Governor Ritter and AG Suthers

In February and again in June of 2007, we wrote to you regarding Amendment 41. In those letters we discussed pending litigation in which the plaintiffs were seeking to strike down portions of the Amendment. In May, a district court judge issued an injunction that temporarily suspended the enforcement of Amendment 41. That decision was appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed the district court and ordered the district court to lift the injunction on the enforcement of Amendment 41. 
We are writing you today to provide an update on Amendment 41 in light of this week’s Supreme Court decision, and to again ask for your patience as the contours of the Amendment are clarified by the Independent Ethics Commission in the coming weeks and months. 
The district court enjoined Amendment 41 based upon concerns that its application could, among other things, unfairly limit the ability of the children of government employees to compete for college scholarships, restrict the ability of state employees to attend conferences and seminars vital to their careers, or even prohibit government employees from accepting gifts from family members other than on undefined “special occasions.” In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court did not validate or dismiss these concerns. Instead, the Supreme Court held that Amendment 41 must first be interpreted and applied by the Independent Ethics Commission before the constitutionality of the measure can be reviewed by the courts. 
The Independent Ethics Commission consists of five members. Four members are appointed by leaders in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and the fifth member is selected by the four appointees. The first four members have been appointed and the Commission is working diligently to select its fifth member. We expect the Commission will accomplish this within the next two weeks and will then be able to begin its work and start clarifying Amendment 41. 
Specifically, Amendment 41 gives the Independent Ethics Commission the authority and responsibility to issue advisory opinions in response to specific questions. We, along with others, intend to request a number of advisory opinions that we believe will provide much needed clarity regarding what conduct is permitted and what conduct is prohibited. 
If you have specific questions regarding how Monday’s Supreme Court decision affects you, we encourage you to speak with a supervisor or manager in your department or agency. In the meantime, we will continue to provide guidance as Amendment 41 is interpreted and clarified by the Independent Ethics Commission. Thank you for the hard work you continue to do on behalf of the citizens of this State. 

GOV. RITTER NAMES NEW UNC BOARD MEMBERS

GOV. RITTER NAMES NEW UNC BOARD MEMBERS

 

Gov. Bill Ritter today named two new and three returning members to the University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees.

          

The two new nominees are Richard James “Jim” Chavez of Highlands Ranch and Richard S. Gast of Timnath, both for terms expiring Dec. 31, 2011.

 

Chavez, 43, has served as executive director of the Latin American Educational Foundation in Denver since June 2003. He also is a broker/owner of a Metro Brokers real estate brokerage. Chavez earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University in 1987.

 

Gast, 51, is a named partner with the Fort Collins law firm of Myatt Brandes and Gast, with an emphasis in real estate, business, banking and estate planning. He served on the Legacy Land Trust Board of Directors from 2001 to 2005.Gast earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1978 and his law degree from the University of Colorado College of Law in 1981.

 

The three members nominated to second terms are Jerry L. Morgensen of Greeley, Darlene J. LeDoux ofLakewood and Carlotta LaNier of Englewood, all for terms expiring Dec. 31, 2011.

 

All five of the nominations to the nine-member board require Senate confirmation.

 

Legislative Update February 28th, 2008

Gift Ban Reinstated– For Now

The Colorado Supreme Court overturned an injunction preventing the
implementation of Amendment 41 this week. The Amendment bans
lobbyists from buying legislators gifts or meals valued at more than
$50. The court was not ruling on the constitutionality of the ethics
law and gift ban, which will be a matter of certain controversy, but
rather that the amendment could not yet be challenged because it had
not yet been implemented. An ethics commission was supposed to have
implemented the provisions of the new law, but was never created. The
ethics commission will have to establish rules that foresee loopholes
and close them without creating unwanted consequences, like the loss
of college scholarships to the children of state employees. Sorting
out these issues will require time and deliberation. The National
Conference of State Legislatures has called Amendment 41 “the toughest
ethics rule in the nation.” It passed by a margin of 330,000 votes in
2006. Now that the injunction has been lifted and the law instated,
we will witness firsthand a cutting-edge battle for clean government.

Moving Forward on Sunday Sales

The decades-old ban on Sunday liquor sales is one step closer to
eradication. My bill, SB 82, passed the Senate in a 23-8 vote. It
now heads to the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. If
approved, it will head to the Finance Committee. Although I expect
the bill will be met with greater resistance in the House, I am
hopeful it will go through. “At the end of the day I think we’ll be
able to get it out of there,” said Rep. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge. If
her predictions are correct, we will see if Governor Ritter will add
Colorado to the 34 states that permit Sunday liquor sales. Evan
Dreyer, spokesman for Mr. Ritter, said: “We are watching the bill as
it proceeds through the legislative process. If it gets to the
governor’s desk we will meet with both sides before deciding whether
to sign it.”

Payday Lenders Might Get Capped

Representative Mark Ferrandino’s bill capping the annual interest
rates for payday loans at 45 percent narrowly passed the House earlier
this week. Proponents argue that current law allows payday lenders to
enjoy three-digit interest rates annually on short-term loans
available to those who need immediate cash to pay their bills. This
can potentially trap the poor in a cycle of debt as they try for years
to pay off a loan of a few hundred dollars. Opponents-satisfied
customers who say they need the service and of course the lenders
themselves-argue that while current interest rates seem high because
they are compared to traditional annual bank-loan rates, they are
reasonable considering the small amounts of money borrowed and the
short duration. Many payday lenders, whose entire business is based
on mathematical calculations, say it’s a no-brainer equation. They’ll
be out of business. HB 1310 passed 33-30 and now heads to the Senate.

Can’t Watch the Broncos Win? You May Not Have to Lose

A bill allowing ticket holders to resell their tickets with impunity
passed both the House and Senate. Currently, after a ticket is
purchased, your only legal option for a refund is to sell it back to
the institutional ticket seller. If SB 24 is signed into law,
consumers will have the ability to re-sell those tickets if they can’t
make the game. The Broncos have lobbied and testified against the
measure, declaring that state lawmakers are interfering with their
personal scalping policy. Proponents say the bill protects consumers’
rights and simply allows them to regain the losses from schedule
changes or traveling difficulties. Governor Ritter has 10 days from
Tuesday to make a decision.

DOCUMENTARY DEPICTS GENOCIDE IN DARFUR AT COLORADO STATE’S 12th ANNUAL HOLOCAUST AWARENESS WEEK

FORT COLLINS – Students for Holocaust Awareness present the
documentary, “The Devil Came on Horseback,” at 7 p.m. March 6 in Room
214-216 Lory Student Center as part of the 12th Annual Holocaust
Awareness Week at Colorado State University. The theme of this year’s
Holocaust Awareness Week is “Whoever Saves One Life, Saves The World
Entire.”

Based on a true story, the 2007 award-winning film depicts the
genocide of black Africans by the Janjaweed militias in Darfur, Sudan,
as seen through the eyes of former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle.

“This documentary plays an important role in raising awareness about
the genocide in Darfur,” said Lilli Welch, treasurer of Students for
Holocaust Awareness. “Our theme demonstrates the importance of
remembering the Holocaust by taking action to save a life and fight
against current genocide.”

“The Devil Came on Horseback” is a Break Thru Films production in
association with Global Grassroots and Three Generations. It was
written and directed by Rikki Stern and Anne Sundberg. The film is not
rated, but contains graphic images of violence.

Holocaust Awareness Week is sponsored by Students for Holocaust
Awareness and Hillel. For more information and a complete list of
events, contact Hillel at Colorado State University at (970) 491-2080
or refer to the calendar on the Hillel Web site at www.csu.hillelcolorado.org

.

All events are free and open to the public. The Associated Students of
Colorado State University, Hillel of Colorado and the Association for
Student Activity Programming are sponsoring the events.
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GOV. RITTER & FIRST LADY SCHEDULES FOR WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27


 

Gov. Ritter Schedule

 

1 p.m.                          Gov. Ritter will address the Governor’s Annual Emergency Management Conference, a three-day conference for first responders and emergency managers from across the state. Location: Inverness Hotel,
200 Inverness Drive West, Englewood

.

 

2 p.m.                          Gov. Ritter will address the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts during its annual conference, “A New Era of Conservation.” Location: ColoradoHistoryMuseum, 1300 Broadway, Denver.

 

3 p.m.                          Gov. Ritter will address the Colorado Municipal League’s Annual Legislative Workshop. Location: Adam’s MarkHotel, 1550 Court Place, Denver.

 

First Lady Schedule

 

10 a.m. to Noon         First Lady Jeannie Ritter will serve as the emcee for the morning portion of an education event featuring “Freedom Writers’ author Erin Gruwell. Location: Wells Fargo Theatre, Colorado Convention Center.

 

5:30 to 6:30 p.m.        The First Lady will speak at a reception for former Peace Corps volunteers hosted by the University of Denver‘s Graduate School of International Studies. The First Lady was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia in 1982, where she helped build and open educational and vocational centers for people with disabilities. Location: International House, DU,
2200 S. Josephine St.Denver

.

 

# # #

 

News Releases….Colorado State Patrol

Trooper Who Faced Armed Man at the Capitol Receives CSP’S Highest Honor

Denver, CO (February 26, 2008) – Today the Colorado State Patrol
presented
its highest award to the trooper who confronted an armed gunman at the
State Capitol on July 16, 2007. Trooper Jay Hemphill received the
Colorado
State Patrol Medal of Valor for his actions. Hemphill became the
41sttrooper in the 73-year history of the Colorado State Patrol to
receive
this honor.

“We will never know what would have happened had it not been for Trooper
Hemphill that day,” said Colonel Mark Trostel, Chief of the Colorado
State
Patrol. “What we do know is that his courageous and decisive actions
saved
countless lives,” Colonel Trostel said.

The Colorado State Patrol Medal of Valor is bestowed upon an employee
for a
conspicuous act of heroism calling for an outstanding degree of
dedication
and devotion above and beyond professional duty that involved a high
degree
of risk of life.

Trooper Hemphill is a 13-year veteran of the Colorado State Patrol. He
currently serves in the CSP Executive Security Unit.

Trooper Shot During Traffic Stop In Denver Receives Awards for His
Service

CSP Awards Arapahoe County Deputies for their Efforts in July Shooting

Denver, CO (February 26, 2008) – Today the Colorado State Patrol (CSP)
presented its Distinguished Service Award and Purple Heart to Trooper
Dennis Wilder for his efforts in the July 26, 2007 shooting that left he
and two other officers wounded. The award for distinguished service is
among the highest awards a CSP officer can receive and is bestowed
upon an
individual who acts with outstanding courage in the face of personal
danger.

The CSP also awarded two officers from the Araphoe County Sheriff’s
Office
and an Officer from the Denver Police Department with Certificates of
Honor
for their role in the incident. Lieutenant Steve Curti and Deputy Lewis
Guida were working along with officers from a number of other metro-area
law enforcement agencies on the evening of July 26, 2007 as part of the
Metro DUI Task Force.

Curti and Guida and DPD Officer Ryan Kobernick responded to assist
Wilder
when it was discovered that the driver of a vehicle he had stopped had
an
outstanding warrant for his arrest. Once the driver was taken into
custody, the passenger opened fire on officers wounding Curti and
Wilder. The suspect was shot by law enforcement and later died at the
hospital.

“Law enforcement officers across Colorado and around the nation face the
many dangers of this profession on a daily basis in the pursuit of
saving
lives,” said Colonel Mark Trostel, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol.

Who: Colonel Mark Trostel, Chief of the CSP, and Lt. Governor Barbara
O’Brien, will be honoring numerous individuals for their dedicated
service
to Colorado. See copy of the program below for listing of awards and
individuals being honored.

Where & When:
1:30 p.m.
CSP Honors Ceremony
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Holiday Inn Denver West Village
14707 West Colfax, Golden, CO 80401

What:
The Colorado State Patrol is hosting an honors award ceremony to honor
CSP
officers and citizens that have made important contribution to the
state of
Colorado.

Why:
The CSP Valor Award, the CSP Distinguished Service Award, the CSP
Purple
Heart Award, the first time for the CSP’s CORE Value Awards to selected
members of the CSP–only 8 out of the entire Patrol’s employees… four
officers and four civilians will be honored, the CSP’s Colonel’s
Award of
Excellence to Colorado business leaders and CSP outstanding employees,
and
a tribute award to the family of Trooper Tempelton, the Trooper killed
in
the line of duty last year, plus other awards.

GOV. RITTER SCHEDULE FOR TUESDAY, FEB. 26


Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008

 

Noon                           Gov. Ritter will take part in today’s Little Rock Nine “Celebration of Courage” event, marking the 50th anniversary of the integration of CentralHigh School in Little Rock, Ark. Location: Adam’s MarkHotel, 1550 Court Place, Denver.   

 

2 p.m.                          Gov. Ritter will address the Colorado Association of Health Underwriters. Location: Old Supreme Court Chambers, second floor, State Capitol.

 


LT. GOV. O’BRIEN TO KICK OFF 2008 SPACE EXPLORATION CONFERENCE


 

Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien will deliver the welcome address tomorrow morning to kick off the 3rd Annual Space Exploration Conference and Exhibit.  The three-day conference will bring together some of the nation’s top leaders in space aeronautics to discuss the future of the industry.

 

In her remarks, Lt. Gov. O’Brien will be challenging industry leaders to further commit to the next generation of aerospace employees by investing in early childhood education.  Lt. Gov. O’Brien serves as one of the Co-Chairs of the Colorado Space Coalition, is the Chair of the Education Committee for the Aerospace States Association, and is a board member for the National Institute of Science, Space and Security Centers.

 

The conference is being presented by The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  During the conference, there will also be a celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary.

 

                       

WHAT:          3rd Space Exploration Conference & Exhibit

 

WHEN:          8:45 a.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008

 

WHERE:        Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St., Denver

 

GOV. RITTER ADDRESSES EDUCATION AND OTHER ISSUES IN D.C. TODAY

 WASHINGTON — Gov. Bill Ritter today presented details of his sweeping education-reform plan to the National Governors Association during the organization’s annual winter meeting in WashingtonD.C.

 

“We all know the key to strengthening our economies, our communities and our quality of life lies with fundamentally reforming our education systems,” Gov. Ritter told the NGA’s Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee. “The investments we make in education will reap the biggest dividends and keep America from losing its competitive edge in the 21st Century global marketplace.”

 

“Though our Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids, we will be creating rigorous curricula across all grade levels from pre-school to post-secondary,” Gov. Ritter said. “We will improve student learning and begin to truly measure student proficiency instead of focusing on meaningless ‘seat time’ requirements.”

 

Gov. Ritter also outlined several of the 15 recommendations from his P-20 Education Council, including eliminating the current waiting list for at-risk children seeking access to the Colorado Preschool Program, expanding full-day kindergarten to 22,000 more children statewide, and creating a Colorado Counselor Corps to keep students from dropping out of high school.

 

Also today, Gov. Ritter:

 

  • Presented Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne with a letter concerning the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel (see attachment). Gov. Ritter also impressed upon Secretary Kempthorne the need to quickly craft a multi-jurisdictional pine-beetle response plan that involves federal, state and local agencies. As dead trees fall over the next three to five years, the fire danger will grow even greater, Gov. Ritter said.

 

 

  • Joined other governors demanding strong federal action to address the mortgage crisis sweeping the nation. Colorado has experienced two consecutive years of record foreclosures, including a 40 percent increase in 2007 from the year before and a 45 percent increase in actual foreclosure sales.

 

“In Colorado, we’re attacking this challenge as aggressively as possible to keep more people from losing their homes and to prevent the American Dream of homeownership from becoming the American Nightmare,” Gov. Ritter said. “We enacted a package of legislation last year that is now considered a national model, and our Colorado Foreclosure Hotline has led to positive outcomes for thousands of homeowners across the state.”

 

On Monday, Gov. Ritter and the nation’s governors will meet with President Bush. Among the issues expected to be discussed will be pending cuts in federal funding to Medicaid, which would have severe fiscal implications for Colorado‘s safety-net health care providers.

 

GOV. RITTER URGES FEDS TO STEP UP PURSUIT OF CLEAN-COAL TECHNOLOGIES


WASHINGTON — Gov. Bill Ritter today urged the federal government to step up its pursuit of clean-coal technologies to better diversify the nation’s energy portfolio.

 

“Blending cleaner forms of carbon-based resources with renewable resources like wind and solar will lead to a more secure energy future,” Gov. Ritter said at the start of this weekend’s National Governors Association annual winter meeting in Washington. “In Colorado, we call it the New Energy Economy.”

 

The theme of the annual meeting and the NGA’s main initiative for 2008 is “Securing a Clean Energy Future.” Washington must get more aggressive in providing incentives and other public-private opportunities to spur advances in clean-coal, coal-gasification, coal-to-liquid and other related technologies, Gov. Ritter said.

 

Gov. Ritter touted this week’s announcement that ConocoPhillips will build a new GlobalTechnologyCenter in Colorado that will serve as an alternative-fuel R&D hub. He also noted that in the past year, Colorado has opened three new wind farms on the Eastern Plains, which are generating enough electricity for 250,000 homes. Two large Southern Colorado solar plants also began producing electricity over the past few months. And Denmark-based Vestas Blades will open its first North American manufacturing plant in Northern Colorado next month, adding 600 good-paying jobs to the local economy.    

 

“The New Energy Economy is not just about energy security,” Gov. Ritter said. “It’s also about economic security and environmental security. It’s working in Colorado and it can work for the rest of America.”

 

Later today, Gov. Ritter and the Western Governors’ Association are expected to adopt a resolution calling for action within their states and as a region to speed the development and use of non-petroleum, alternative fuels and to improve vehicle efficiency.

 

Gov. Ritter also will present his Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids and other education reform efforts to the NGA’s Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee meeting at 10 a.m. (Eastern) Sunday. The Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids would redesign the state’s preschool, K-12 and postsecondary education standards around the belief that all students must receive a high-caliber education that leads to 21st century college or career readiness.

 

Gov. Ritter and the nation’s governors will meet with President Bush on Monday and other members of the Cabinet throughout the weekend.