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As President Joe Biden spoke about mass shootings and gun control during an address to Congress on Wednesday night, C-SPAN cameras cut to Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert shaking her head, looking down at her phone and tweeting, “Shall not be infringed.”
Biden’s speech — which briefly mentioned the Boulder shooting — gave Colorado Democrats much to clap for, as expected. Rep. Jason Crow liked the talk about gun control and immigration, and Rep. Diana DeGette was glad he mentioned medical research and climate change. Sen. Michael Bennet appreciated a shoutout for the child tax credit, a major legislative priority of his.
But the event was also an opportunity for the attention-grabbing Boebert to, well, grab attention. As Biden’s remarks turned to immigration, Boebert noisily unfurled a space blanket and draped it over her lap, doing so to bring attention to the flood of migrants who have overwhelmed detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border. The shiny silver blankets are commonplace there.
The stunt earned the freshman conservative from Silt some coverage in right-wing news outlets and garnered confused tweets from mainstream news reporters. This was Fox News’ headline: “Boebert trolls Biden, Harris on border crisis by unfurling Mylar blanket.”
Boebert tweeted nearly 30 times during Biden’s hour-long speech and two dozen times in the 12 hours after it ended, posting as late as 12:37 a.m. and as early as 5:04 a.m. ET. She wrote about everything from Hunter Biden’s substance abuse to jokes about the president’s mental acuity to questioning, “Why is Joe Rogan not allowed to give medical opinions but Bill Gates is?”
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As The Spot mentioned last week, Democrats have been working on a package of gun bills since 10 people were fatally shot at a Boulder grocery store. On Thursday, we found out what those were.
Capitol Diary • By Saja Hindi and Alex Burness
Legacy college admissions and driving while poor
Rep. Kyle Mullica, who was the first in his family to go to college, said it was nerve-wracking to answer the legacy question — something like “has any member of your family attended this institution?” — during the application process.
“No one in my family knew how to do (the applications) because no one had done it before and I remember coming up on the question … and the anxiety just kind of increased, wondering if that was going to hurt me,” the Northglenn Democrat said.
Mullica attended the University of Denver on a scholarship for underserved students, and wants the process to get into college to be an “equal playing field” — including getting rid of fee waivers for students who’ve had family members attend a given institution.
Enter HB 21-1173, which would make Colorado the first state to prevent legacy admissions at its public universities. While the issue may not be as prominent in Colorado as it is in states with Ivy League schools, Mullica’s goal is make sure students with more money or connections aren’t getting a leg up on first-generation students and immigrants with fewer resources.
The bill passed the House earlier this month 43-20 with a handful of Republicans also voting in favor of it. It still needs to move through the Senate’s process.
Driving while poor
More than 100,000 Coloradans lose their driver’s licenses every year because of unpaid court debt or for failing to appear in court (something The Post wrote about in 2019).
Fourteen states, including six in the west, have abolished the practice, and it’s a safe bet Colorado will join them soon, with lawmakers working to put together a bill to introduce as early as next week.
People who lose their licenses because of outstanding debt are typically poor; they don’t delay payment out of negligence, research shows.
When you lose your license, you may also lose your ability to work, and fall further behind on all sorts of bills. And maybe you drive regardless, flouting the law, because you have to make a living. Colorado State Patrol doesn’t like that latter scenario — lots of unlicensed drivers on the road — which is why it is championing the forthcoming bill and recruiting sponsors.
Earlier this week: Andrew Boesenecker was sworn in to the Colorado House to replace the vacancy left by former Rep. Jeni Arndt, who is now the Fort Collins mayor. Read more on Boesenecker in this Coloradoan story.
More Colorado political news
- Democrats announced they’re getting rid of the public insurance option proposal. Here’s what they replaced it with.
- Colorado moms are worried about high-potency marijuana and its effects on kids.
- There’s a push to give ag workers better protections and more pay. The industry says it could increase food costs and put people out of business.
- Composting human bodies into a truck bed’s worth of soil is on its way to becoming legal in Colorado.
- Gov. Jared Polis signed a law that changes how people charged with felony murder are sentenced.
- After a decade of population growth, Colorado is gaining an additional seat in Congress.
- The federal government is reimbursing Coloradans for COVID-19 funeral expenses.
- Biden’s pick to run the Bureau of Land Management, Tracy-Stone Manning, drew a range of reactions in Colorado, Colorado Public Radio reports.
Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson
Doing the math on long-term rental license proposals
The initial vote is in on a proposal to require Denver’s landlords to get long-term rental licenses for each of their properties. The concerns among the public are still out there.
Renters are worried the measure would ultimately mean they’ll be paying more. And landlords griped that they’ll have to do costly repairs on their properties after inspections.
City Councilwoman Robin Kniech addressed both Monday night. To ease complaints about costs possibly getting passed on, Kniech did some basic math.
The application fee for a small “mom and pop” landlord would cost $50, Kniech said. And a typical inspection, required every four years, should cost about $150. That $200 total spread over four years comes to about $4 a month.
“To me, that is not an exorbitant cost,” Kniech said. “If landlords are not already charging the maximum rent they can from tenants that would surprise me.”
Next, she confirmed that the inspections are meant to ensure minimum housing standards like proper ventilation, heating and fire safety.
“This not ‘Is every piece of your building code up to date.’ This is ‘Is there heat? Is there electricity and lighting? Is there water?’” Kniech said. “If those things are not in place you have no business operating a rental unit in our city today.”
Kniech said she wanted to clear the air on those two topics before the council’s second and final vote Monday night, which will include a (likely contentious) public hearing. If the measure passes, landlords would not be required to obtain licenses until Jan. 1, 2023.
More Denver and suburban political news
- Denver Mayor Michael Hancock floated the idea of a $400 million bond measure on the November ballot Wednesday morning, though he’s light on details about where it would go.
- Two giant pieces of Denver’s land are in the hands of a single company, which is walking a fine line between building housing and commercial space and keeping the city’s history alive.
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