Archive for April, 2012

An Increase from 30% to… 30%???

Posted by on Apr 30 2012 | energy, Environment,, PPC

The Energy Policy Center is really on top of things. For example, last Friday when Amy got wind that 109 days into the 120 day legislative session, a bill was introduced that would fundamentally change the energy policy in Colorado, she sounded the alarm and both wrote a blog post and recorded a podcast on the bill – SB 178.

The bottom line is this: SB 178 changes Colorado’s renewable energy mandate from a purely nominal 30% to a real 30%. Right now, our 30% renewable mandate is really only 24% when you factor in the multiplier, which credits 1.25 for every 1 megawatt of renewable energy provided. What SB 178 will do is get rid of the multiplier, thus creating a 1 for 1 credit scheme and turning our 30% renewable mandate into an actual 30% mandate.

As is typical for big change creating bills that consumers won’t like (see HB 1365), this bill was snuck in through the back door very late into the session. It creates some winners – like Xcel who has more renewable energy credits than it knows what to do with and the eco-crazy Left who wants to save the environment at all costs – and some big time losers – like the smaller investor owned utility companies like Black Hills and let’s not forget, CONSUMERS! Black Hills will have to buy even more renewable energy credits from Xcel to fulfill the larger mandate now and consumers are going to have pay big time for this new increased mandate.

The pro-178 side likes to pretend that increasing the mandate 20% is FREE environmentalism, but obviously, increasing the costs of providing energy to consumers INCREASES THE COST OF ENERGY FOR CONSUMERS! Duh.

For the nitty gritty details, be sure to follow Amy’s coverage over on the Energy blog and check out this podcast.

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Ryan Call on the GOP, Tim Farmer on Options for Teachers

Posted by on Apr 27 2012 | education, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

Hey, log out of the Dungeon Master live chat tonight and instead watch my TV show, Devil’s Advocate, at 8:30 PM on Colorado Public Television 12. First, Colorado State Republican Party Chair Ryan Call sits down with me to talk about the recent state party assembly and other things Republican. Then Tim Farmer from the Colorado Association of Professional Educators (PACE) explains Colorado House Bill 1333, “Options for Teachers” which would…well, you’ll just have to tune in to find out.

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VIDEO: Old Media, Sentencing Reform

Posted by on Apr 23 2012 | Drug Policy, Idiot Box (TV Show), Media, PPC

Dusty Saunders on what it was like in the old newspaper and TV media:

Senator Shawn Mitchell on Colorado drug policy and sentencing reform:

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What Old Media Looked Like, Sen. Mitchell on Sentencing Reform

Posted by on Apr 20 2012 | Drug Policy, Idiot Box (TV Show), Media, PPC

Tune in on this lovely Friday evening to your favorite public affairs TV show – Devils Advocate – on Colorado Public Television channel 12 at 8:30pm. Tonight my guests are Dusty Saunders and Sen. Shawn Mitchell. First up, Dusty takes me back in time when the news media consisted of news print and 3 TV channels. We cover Dusty’s career in newspapers and TV, and chat about his new book, “Heeeeeere’s Dusty.” Then Sen. Shawn Mitchell sits down with me in what may become his swan song Caldara interview. Sen. Mitchell is term-limited after this session so we had to bring him on one last time as “senator.” Shawn makes the case for his drug sentencing reform bill, while addressing conservative concerns over law and order, fiscal responsibility, and drug culture. That’s tonight at 8:30, replayed Monday at 1:30pm.

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VIDEO: Teachers Matter Education Reform

Posted by on Apr 18 2012 | education, PPC, Video

Last week, our Education Policy Center hosted its first ever brown bag lunch with presentation on the research that informs educator effectiveness policies. The presenter was Manhattan Institute senior fellow and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Dr. Marcus Winters. He shared with our audience the findings from his new book, Teachers Matter. After his 30 minute presentation, Dr. Winters fielded questions from the audience for about 20 minutes. Below you’ll find both the presentation video and the Q and A video. Additionally, Marcus dropped by our podcast studio to do a podcast with our Ben DeGrow. You can listen to the podcast here.

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Post-argument debate on the constitutionality of Obamacare

Posted by on Apr 17 2012 | Commerce Clause, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, federalism, Health Care, Individual Mandate, Necessary and Proper, Taxing and Spending Clause

Held at Denver University, Sturm College of Law, on April 11. Debaters were University of Colorado Prof. Scott Moss and me. Moderator is DU Prof. Ann Scales. WMV, via ftp.

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Are Opponents Of Drug Law Reform Dishonest, Ignorant, Or Both?

Posted by on Apr 17 2012 | criminal justice, Criminal Law, Drug Policy, PPC

Senate Bill 163 is a modest but important next step in scaling back the worst excesses of the expensive, intrusive and counter-productive War on Drugs in Colorado. The bill would lower the penalty for simple drug possession from a Class 6 Felony to a Class 1 Misdemeanor. In other words, possessing small amounts of currently illegal drugs would still be illegal, but without the lifetime punishment a felony drug conviction carries in lost opportunity. This is a long overdue reform that has some opponents making such hysterical and blatantly false claims about SB 163 that they must be dishonest, ignorant, or maybe a little of both.

An online petition against SB 163, addressed to Governor Hickenlooper and members of both the Colorado house and senate, has been started at the website with the hysterically inaccurate title: “Stop Senate Bill 12-163 which Decriminalizes hard drugs.” The petition continues its fabrications: “Senate Bill 163 will make possession of up to two ounces of hard drugs such as Cocaine, Ecstasy and Methamphetamine a misdemeanor to possess in this state.” What a pack of nonsense.

To begin, moving simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor is not even close to the same as decriminalization. A Class 1 Misdemeanor is a serious criminal offense in Colorado. One for which the penalty could actually result as much time in a jail as you might spend in a prison for a Class 6 Felony.

Moreover, two ounces of Cocaine, Ecstasy or Methamphetamine is a significant amount of drugs that might cost thousands of dollars. SB 163 addresses possession of small amounts of drugs, two to four grams (depending on type of drug), which is less than the weight of an American nickel. Possession of two ounces of illegal drugs would obviously remain a serious felony crime.

So it’s not entirely clear if those responsible for the petition are simply lying about what SB 163 does, or if they are just not bright enough to know the difference between a misdemeanor crime and decriminalization, or the difference between ounces and grams. And as of this writing they have managed to fool nearly thirty people, apparently none willing to do a little basic research on their own, into signing the petition.

Whatever the case, hopefully the lawmakers who receive the petition won’t be fooled by either ignorance or lies about SB 163.

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“Proud” to Pay? The GSA’s Proud to Accept

Posted by on Apr 17 2012 | Economy, Government Largess, PPC, Taxes

Perusing the Denver Post opinion section this morning, a bizarre headline caught my attention, “Proud to Pay Taxes in Colorado.” What a strange statement, especially in light of the recent scandals involving taxpayer subsidized Solyndra (and soon Vestas) and the General Services Administration (GSA). Why would anyone be proud to pay for those debacles? Anyway, as I read the piece written by Ali Mickelson of the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, I realized a few things: First, for someone so proud to pay taxes, it’s strange that Ali works for the nonprofit Fiscal Policy Institute. I can only wonder if Ali is adding an extra zero or two onto her income taxes to make up for the taxes that her employer doesn’t pay. Secondly, her whole argument assumes that without tax funded and state provided goods and services, we would all be living hand to mouth on subsistence farms. I disagree. The goods and services that consumers want would exist whether government forced them on us or not. It’s the frivolous, inefficient, wasteful spending on things people don’t want that would disappear along with our heavy tax burdens. Finally, despite my disagreement with Ali’s claims, they are her opinion and she’s entitled to it. However, there is one claim in the article that I must take issue with. She says,

This year, when you are writing your check, remember that Colorado is a low-tax state. Colorado’s combined state and local taxes rank 44th lowest out of the 50 states per $1,000 of income.

Now that is not an opinion, that is a statement of fact. And it’s a fact that is completely wrong.

I hate to break the news to Ali and her tax and spend compatriots over at the Fiscal Policy Institute, but being what they are, they really should know the truth about Colorado’s fiscal and tax policy. We are not 44th in the nation in our tax burden, we are smack dab in the middle at 26th. What the left fails to mention every time they claim Colorado is a low tax state is that state taxes are only HALF the equation. It would be like saying, “My company is rich! We took in $1,000,000 in revenue this month!” But then fail to mention that they spent $2,000,000 to make it. When you only look at state taxes, it is true that Colorado falls towards the end of the spectrum. But when you take into account the rest of the equation – the LOCAL tax burden – Colorado moves back up towards the middle. Why? Because in Colorado, we do most of our taxation at the local level. Per capita, our local taxes are some of the highest in the country. A good way to look at it is, instead of levying a few very large taxes on everyone, Colorado levies many small taxes on everyone. Almost anything and everything that can be taxed is, just at a relatively small amount.

The bottom line is this: to get the real story on Colorado’s tax burden, check out our Issue Paper, “How Colorado’s Tax Burden Ranks Nationally.” And the next time someone says we rank near the bottom in taxation, remind them that there is another half of the equation that they conveniently left out. Then they’ll thank you when they learn we are a healthy 26th in taxation. Just high enough to avoid dirt roads, starvation, and the apocalypse.

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Denver Post, Durango Herald Reporters On Devil’s Advocate Tonight

Posted by on Apr 13 2012 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

The Colorado House of Representatives yesterday passed a budget. For all the gruesome details tune in to the Independence Institute’s public affairs tv show Devil’s Advocate tonight as statehouse reporters Tim Hoover from the Denver Post and Joe Hanel from the Durango Herald join host Jon Caldara to survey the damage. That’s Friday nights at 8:30 p.m. on Colorado Public Television 12. Re-broadcast Mondays at 1:30 p.m..

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Campaign Finance Laws, Local Denver Music Scene

Posted by on Apr 09 2012 | Idiot Box (TV Show), music, PPC

Attorney Mario Nicolais joined me to talk about defeating Colorado’s campaign finance laws.

David Barber joined me to talk about his new book, “Gigging.” In it, he tells stories about the local Denver music scene as it unfolded over the last couple of decades.

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