• Town Hall Meeting WITHout Cory Gardner Recap

    Last Tuesday, on February 21st, the IndivisibleNOCO group hosted a town hall meeting centered on the notably absent Senator Cory Gardner.  Despite the gathering of thousands of people protesting his absence within the last two months, the Senator has continuously refused to schedule a face-to-face meeting with his constituents.

    In response to the Senators absence and refusals, the Town Hall Meeting WITHout Cory Gardner was organized with the goal of sparking thoughtful dialogue and encourage Colorado citizens to more forward with the civil and respectful exchange of ideas by presenting constituent submitted questions with a postulated response based on Gardner’s general platform or by statements released by Gardner’s office as well as a counter-response offered by “progressive” Fort Collins constituents.


    Will you support the BRIDGE Act as part of a comprehensive immigration reform solution? If not, what do you see as a viable and humane solution?

    The BRIDGE Act is an acronym for “Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream of Growing Our Economy” and is a bipartisan proposal that would allow eligible individuals to receive work authorization and temporary relief from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  With the suspension of deportation, these people may continue to live within the United States.

    Answer: Senator Gardner has stated that he did not want to give amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or give those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration.  His platform will only support legislation that ensures that employers hire only people who are here legally.

    Progressive Talking Points: Many labor economists agree that the economy relies on low-skill migrant workers and that there are national net gains from a larger labor supply. It is a myth that undocumented immigrants “drain the system”, rather it is estimated that they contributed $11.64 billion in state and local taxes last year (http://www.itep.org/immigration/).

    The EPA and the Environment

    How do you propose to maintain clean water, clean air, wildlife, and natural areas that are important to Coloradoans with the current Republican agenda to dismantle or lessen the regulations that have been key in improving Colorado’s air quality, water quality, and native landscapes?

    Answer: Cory Gardner believes that the Environmental Protection Agency has placed an unnecessary regulatory burden on the government.  He believes that supporting fossil fuel production on federal land is essential for holding public office.  As a secondary point, Gardner has said that the EPA walked away from the promises made regarding the Gold Kind Mine spill and that the current Republican senate EPA nomination Scott Pruitt “understands the importance of protecting the environment while also standing up to the overbearing federal regulations”, including the Waters of the United States Rule.

    The Gold King Mine spill occurred in 2015 in Silverton, Colorado when the actions of EPA personnel resulted in the release of toxic wastewater into the Animas River watershed.  

    Progressive Talking Points: There is no evidence to support claim that environmental regulations impede economic growth.  Scott Pruitt is unqualified to head EPA and has strong ties to the oil and gas industry.   Scott Pruitt has filed suites against the EPA 13 times and sent letters drafted by oil and gas lobbyists on state stationary.

    While oil and gas lobbyist have greater ties to the government, renewable energy encourages innovation and the creation of new jobs and job markets for generations to come.  There are more jobs in solar energy that in the extraction of oil, coal and gas combined.  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-solar-power-employs-more-people-more-oil-coal-gas-combined-donald-trump-green-energy-fossil-fuels-a7541971.html

    Within Colorado, sixty-two thousand workers are employed in the renewable energy sector.  In the past year, the 16 renewable energy facilities in Colorado paid more $7 million in property taxes.


    In Ms. DeVos’ confirmation hearing, you stated you will be watching her performance. In letters, you said she pledged to you that she would be an advocate for public schools and teachers. You said Congress will hold her accountable and make sure she lives up to the commitment she made to you.

    How will you ensure her advocacy for CO students? Should Congress find that DV is filing in her promise, what measures can and will be taken when you’ve given her your vote, despite huge opposition.

     This question was submitted by one of Cory Gardner’s prior teachers.

    Answer: Cory Gardner believes Ms. DeVos will “fight for public education” and that she will reduce the federal role in education and return authority to states and local community’s.  Both Gardner and DeVos support withholding money from states that do not comply with an education voucher program.

    Click here for further information on voucher programs.

    Progressive Talking Points: (Given by a Fort Collins school teacher) DeVos was never a supporter of public education and rather supports charter school and voucher system programs like those she instigated in Michigan.  Though many agree that these systems have failed, DeVos has said that she “learned nothing” from their implementation and subsequent problems.

    DeVos has publically stated that she intends to reform schools to advance “God’s Kingdom”.   She herself did not attend or send her children to public school; she does not understand basic tenants of public education, including the People with Disabilities act.  DeVos intends to dismantle our public education system and replace it with programs like those highly criticized in Michigan.

    The appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

    Given Sessions’ track record, on what did you base your statement that Mr. Sessions has a commitment to upholding the rule of law despite his dismissal of sexual assault as a problem and despite his own lies regarding his record of prosecution of civil liberties cases? Please provide specific examples of where he has defended civil liberties. Additionally, please provide specific examples of his strong record of bipartisanship given that he voted to silence a fellow Senator.

    Answer: In response to silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren, Cory Gardner responded that she was trying to slow down and hinder the cabinet confirmation process and that this “slowdown” in cabinet confirmation was unprecedented.  He follows that “Mr. Sessions has impressive legal career and a profound commitment to upholding the rule of law.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with him in the Senate and witness firsthand his strong record of bipartisanship.  I’m confident in his ability to serve as the chief law enforcement officer in the country.”

    You can read Gardner’s full statement here.

    Progressive Talking Points: The Democrats were not trying to slow down cabinet proceedings, they were trying to stop the nomination of a man who is unfit for role of United States Attorney General.  Elizabeth Warren was not imputing anything false to Sessions.  McConnel’s silencing of Warren for citing a civil rights hero (**Referring to the letter written by Coretta Scott King) was a blatant display of sexism and hypocrisy given that her male colleagues were allowed to speak the very same words without objection.  Such a silencing has not been invoked since 1902.

    In the words of Representative Lois Gutierrez, “If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man.”

    On President Trump’s ties to Russia

    Will you support appointment of Select Committee, an independent bipartisan commission (**investigation separate from FBI investigation), or a special prosecutor with no White House ties to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and ALL connections between Russia and Trump Administration?

    Will you speak out against Trump’s repeated misdirection of blame for mistakes made by his administration? Blaming the intelligence community and media for wrong doings of on of his staff members is a dangerous precedent, as well as behavior unbecoming of a leader.

    Answer: Senator Gardner would like to wait for the results of the FBI investigation to determine route of possible further investigation into Flynn.

    Michael Flynn resigned as national security advisor on Monday, February 13th, after reported leaks to a Russian ambassador.

    Senator Gardner has shared Senator John McCain’s sentiments said that focusing on Michael Flynn’s resignation takes focus away from other top issues, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare

    Progressive Talking Points: (Presented by a former military member active during Cold War) Congress has an implied constitutional duty to investigate the Trump campaign and administrative ties to Russia, by holding hearings and appointing an independent commission.  The House, as well as Trump, is more interested in investigating the leaks than in investigating possibility of illegal contacts or Russian influence within the administration.  The Senate is best hope for complete, non-partisan investigation and should be conducted by a select committee, independent bipartisan commission, or special prosecutor.

    Conflicts of Interest

    In early 2016 Trump told the Huffington Post not worried about a future dictator when “we already have a lawless leader” referring to Obama’s lawful executive orders issued toward end of presidency. We agree a President should abide with the law.  Given President Trump’s long list of conflicts of interest, why are you silent on releasing Trumps tax returns?

    Answer: Cory Gardner has remained silent on the issue.  But if he were to respond, a presumed answer might include that President Trump has separated himself from businesses, put children in charge and says he won’t speak to then about business issues and that only the media, and not the public is interested.  The house should only use its power to ensure that tax laws admin properly, not to investigate the president

    Progressive Talking Points: The American people have a right to know if the President is acting lawfully and has the best interest of the country rather than personal financial gain in mind.  It is a lie that only media cares.  In a survey, 74% of Americans, including 53% of Republicans believe he should release his tax returns.

    What comes next?

    Today at 10 am 9:30am (the time has been changed as of the morning of the event) Gardner will hold a Telephone Town Hall.  If you are interested in participating and asking your own questions, go to https://www.gardner.senate.gov to sign up.  If signup has already closed, you can still listen to a live broadcast of the meeting as it occurs.  Make your voice heard Colorado.  It is the job of our Senators to hear and to represent us!  Tell Cory Gardner NO MORE HIDING…

  • Town Hall Mtg WITHout Senator Cory Gardner

    IndivisibleNOCO and Northern Colorado Action Network are holding a Town Hall Meeting With(out) Senator Gardner next Tuesday evening. Space is limited, so we are asking people to sign up via Google document. Once we reach capacity, we will notify all participants of the schedule of events and plan. Details below:

    Space is limited (160 people) so you MUST R.S.V.P. if you want to attend.

    Please use this form:

  • February Community Forum Recap – 2/18/17

    This past Saturday, Feb. 18, State Senator John Kefalas and CSU Democrats hosted the monthly Community Forum at Lory Student Center on CSU campus. The monthly forum has previously been hosted at coffee shops like DazBog on Mason, but due to the overwhelming response, Kefalas moved to a larger venue with more space for attendees.

    This month’s attendees found out about the forum through email, Facebook, and even the Sunday newspaper. Some of the younger attendees learned about the event through CSU Democrats, a student-led group comprised mostly of young Democrats.

    After a quick introduction for new attendees, Kefalas took questions from the audience.

    Questions From the Community

    How is legislation prioritized? Who decides how bills come to committee? How do you change that?

    • Speaker of the House or senate majority assigns the bill to committee depending on content. If it is a bill that it contentious, it may be sent to a committee that makes no other sense except to stall the bill. In the house, the Democrats are in the majority. In the Senate, the republicans are in majority. Both parties have attempted to stall bills in the past.
    • In Colorado, each representative has a limit of 5 bills they can introduce, although it can be more with exception or delayed bill status (for proper reason – would need to be bi partisan).
    • Colorado has a 120 day legislative session.
    • Nonpartisan individuals develop fiscal note to find out if bills have financial impact on residents before they go into appropriations.
    • We have limits, fiscal notes, single subject rule (prevents christmas tree bills), and gavel amendment (every bill introduced has to have a hearing – committee chairs cannot block bills from being heard) to keep bills on course and in line (safeguards).

    If the new congress cuts back on funding programs such as public broadcasting and national arts that people around the country are currently benefiting from, what can Colorado do at a state level to supplement?

    • A lot of pressure on congress and the president to reduce budget, creating a lot of concern about defunding national arts and public broadcasting.
    • One response is to donate to PBS and CPR.
    • Continue to contact federal legislators to express concerns, even when it seems futile. Show up at their town hall meetings.
    • Perhaps creating a “ColoradoCorp”, although it wouldn’t be able to happen this session. Any time something would have a fiscal impact, it takes longer to pass through.

    What changes could be made to Colorado HOA Information Office to make their efforts more effective when they are called on to resolve a dispute?

    • There have been quite a few bills over the last couple of years between the rights of HOA owners (2M+ homes part of HOA) and their HOA. Criticism is generally that HOA doesn’t have much enforcement to settle disputes.
    • Does it need statutory changes or money? Typically legislators are reluctant to add public FTE’s (federally trained employees).
    • Senate bill 0098 – Under current law there are provisions for mobile home owners to form HOA or coop. This bill said if folks did that, they could organize themselves and work with other community based organizations, trying to get mediation resolutions.
    • Direct people to ODR (Office of Dispute Resolution)—there are free services in each judicial district.

    What can be done to prevent the recently proposed bill allowing open carry without training from passing?

    • Bill was in committee last week, may be scheduled to be on senate floor next week
    • Go to committee hearings to testify, but remember that every bill deserves a full committee hearing.
    • Hold your representatives accountable.
    • Bills that are decisive will typically die in one chamber or another

    American Association of critical care nurses lobbied for ACA in 2010 (Senator Durban). Concerned about potential of repealing access to healthcare for people that can’t afford it. What can we do at the state level to try and protect people here?

    • Contact Senator Bennett in addition to Senator Gardner.
    • Heard on NPR: It appears that republicans are close to coming up with proposal for ACA replacements.
    • Health insurance premiums are a big deal on the private insurance side. Medicaid has had much slower growth because it’s for long terms care and disabilities. Has also been proven to be as cost-effective as any other model we’ve had.
    • Some might want to go back to high risk pools. Ex: Minnesota and other alternatives to high risk pools. In colorado, we had Cover Colorado prior to ACA. Notion of preexisting was selling point of ACA, cover colorado had a lot of subsidies, but preexisting was covered. Separating folks that have health care needs from the rest of the pool creates adverse risk issues and becomes problematic.
    • Ultimately, we need to see what is being proposed at the federal level.
    • Display that medicaid is effective and that we are focusing on reducing costs in colorado.
    • SB17-003 (repeal health exchange in co) status is “under consideration”. Bill will cost money, if it gets out of appropriations, it will be on the senate floor later.
      • If it passes out of senate, likely that it would not be successful in the house..
      • Senator Kevin Lumberg is the senate appropriations committee. Contact him to ask where would we come up with the $2M that it’s estimated it would cost to repeal the exchange, and remind him that there states where the cost has been upward of $23M.

    What can be done at the state level to safeguard against and counter efforts at the federal level to ensure that all students have access to public education?

    • State dollars wouldn’t be impacted by federal decisions.
    • At the federal level, we have to be talking to our federal legislators.
    • May have to reduce residential assessment rate (45/55 residential/commerical balance).
    • Public education is critical and we need to invest those dollars wisely.
    • Counter cyclical – years that folks are struggling more because of recessions or jobs lost, there’s typically greater need to fund public services, but money coming in is less because of less income tax dollars. That’s why it’s important to have rainy day fund. Because of TABOR, if we get over a certain limit or threshold, the government has to give the money back.
    • can’t say what to do about the federal stuff other than what he’s hearing. ultimately there’s going to be a big push to reduce the budget, and if the folks in power care about cutting spending in one area, it’s likely to get cut

    2020: Setting boundaries, any chance for that to be seen to a non-partisan committee instead of by politicians

    • Nonpartisan staff takes all criteria set in law and comes up with recommendations based on population maps, then goes to senate for bipartisan committee. if they can’t come to agreement, will go to courts, which is what happened last year.

    What are the chances of Colorado or Fort Collins moving to Instant-Runoff or Ranking Voting?

    • Senator John Kefalas stated that he is a strong advocate of IRV.
    • A recent campaign (led by Eric Fried) in Fort Follins as charter city to allow for city council elections to move to IRV was not successful.
    • Ideally, IRV would ensure a more level playing field for all candidates.
    • Approval voting means if there are more than 2, you can vote for as many as you like and then number of votes per candidate are tallied.
    • Prop 107 and 108 were passed, will move toward open primary, statutory changes. citizens groups go for constitutional changes because it cannot be changed a few months later in legislation. There is a prop now that would prevent changes to statutory changes for at least 3 years so that legislatures cannot flip-flop policy every time there is a new election.

    What can we do as a good compromise to take care of concerns of conservatives and their concerns as well as liberals to turn Colorado into a sanctuary state?

    • Salazaar is going to introduce a bill to make Colorado a sanctuary state.
      • John has a feeling that it has not been vetted properly among conservatives
    • We have to be able to talk to folks.
      • we’re seeing increases in hate crimes and anti-semitism
      • we have to find what brings us together
    • Remember that we are an immigrant based country.
    • What are the values that coloradans care about in terms of immigration? Have discussions based on this.

    Will the federal government be using national guard forces to engage in ICE activities?

    • Unknown status right now, currently this is just a story in the news that may or may not be accurate.
  • Senator John Kefalas on Campus

    Senator John Kefalas will host a community discussion Saturday, February 18th, room 304 in the Lory Student Center from 10 am to 12:30 p.m This is a chance to ask questions and share your ideas directly. The discussion will focus primarily on issues and questions of broad, general interest.
  • Weekend Warrior – Feb. 17, 2017

    Not that we want to keep kicking these posts off the same again and again, but it has been another crazy week in Washington!  For those of you that didn’t have a chance to be bombarded with everything political this week but now you’re ready to get involved, here’s what you need to know to get to work this weekend:

    Rep. Joann Ginal’s Monthly Happy Hour

    State Rep. Joann Ginal will be holding another Happy Hour Town Hall at The R Bar and Lounge this month on Friday February 17th at 6:30pm. This Town Hall will focus on the topics of cultural diversity and immigration. There will be presentations from the Office of International Programs at CSU, the CSU department of Education and Ethnic Studies, and El Centro.

    Senator John Kefalas Community Forum

    State Senator John Kefalas will be hosting a Community Forum at Colorado State University with the CSU Democrats on February 18th at 10:00am at the Lory Student Center. Kefalas is having this even on campus in hopes of raising the number of college-aged participants, so the issues and concerns will be more broadly based that they are at his typical community forums. This will be a great opportunity for anyone who is new to local politics or anyone that is interested in seeing how the youth of Fort Collins is participating in democracy!

    Next Week: Fort Collins City Council Meeting

    Fort Collins City Council will be holding their bi-monthly meeting next Tuesday and just posted the agenda for review. Their meetings start at 6pm and run until they’re finished.

    Anything going on this weekend we missed? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll add it!

  • Town Hall Recap – February 11, 2017

    This past Saturday’s Fort Collins Town Hall brought an amazing turnout of over 125 citizens to Council Tree Library on Harmony for a legislative update and Q&A session with State Senator John Kefalas, State Representative Joann Ginal, and State Representative Jeni Arndt. Topics ranged from climate change to affordable housing. However, the most common questions seemed to reflect a number of concerns about immigration and the effect of the current administration’s policies on the status of Fort Collins green card holders, as well as the recent proposed state legislation regarding women’s reproductive health in the Colorado State House and the likelihood of future proposed bills.



    State Representative Jeni Arndt

    Rep. Arndt is a longtime resident of Fort Collins with a background in education as well as experience as a Congressional intern. She chairs the Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources Committee in addition to sitting on the Business Affairs and Labor and the Statutory Revision Committees. She is currently working on a bill that would promote artificially recharging aquifers in Fort Collins to provide additional water storage without waiting for Mother Nature to naturally replenish them.

    State Representative Joann Ginal

    Another longtime Fort Collins resident, Rep. Ginal is in her third term of representing Fort Collins in Colorado House District 52 and is the Chairwoman of the Health, Insurance & Human Services Committee. She is also a member of the Public Health Care & Human Services Committee as well as the Transportation and Energy Committee. Just last week, she was a part of a committee that helped strike down three bills targeting women’s reproductive rights in an all-night hearing.  Ginal said she will also be working to bring back the Prescription Drug Transparency Act and introducing a bill to instate a “hot car” law in Colorado, giving immunity to individuals that break a vehicles window in the event that an unattended animal, child or elderly person has been left in a closed hot car.

    John Kefalas RunningState Senator John Kefalas

    Senator Kefalas is currently in his first term serving Senate District 14 and is the ranking member of the Local Government Committee, in addition to serving on the Capital Development Committee and the Health Insurance Exchange Oversight Committee. He is currently working on Senate Bill 17-040, a bill that would require open and transparent government in regards to requests for public information. Despite bipartisan report, the bill is stuck in committee and does not have a hearing date scheduled at this time.

    The Issues

    What happens to the Colorado State Exchange when ACA is repealed?

    Ginal stated that a bill came up to get rid of the state exchange in the senate will probably not make it through the house because it would disrupt too many lives. In Colorado, there was an approximate 48% increase in residents aged 18-30 that purchased healthcare in the last year, and the Colorado State Exchange has been ranked #2 in the county. Ginal said that she specifically will be fighting for transparency with hospitals and health insurance companies and will push to regulate pharmaceutical costs.

    Status of the National Popular Vote vs. Electoral College

    Senator Kefalas is sponsoring Senate Bill 17-099, the National Popular Vote Agreement, which concerns adopting an agreement among states to elect the president of the United States through popular vote. John recommended visiting nationalpopularvote.org for more information on the national movement and stated there is a hearing schedule for SB17-099  on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs committee.

    How is Fort Collins and Colorado handling climate change?

    Rep. Arndt stated that while Denver has a climate action plan, the house was asked last year—in the form of a bill—to insert goals into that plan and that same bill will be submitted again this year. Arndt indicated that Governor Hickenlooper may not be willing to support the bill and admitted that it would be considered a “messaging bill,” intended to show the people of Colorado that there is legislative awareness that the climate is changing and concrete goals are needed in Denver. She also stated that the senate is moving to set up a select committee on energy, which she considered an aggressive move.

    Women’s Reproductive Rights

    Rep. Ginal spoke to the three bills that were in committee hearings and all were indefinitely postponed on Feb. 9th, 2017. Two of the bills have come up four times in the past five years, however HB17-1086 was a new bill considering the notice of reversal of medication for abortion. Ginal stated that she and other committee members found no scientific basis to back the success of a “reversal” medication and that the procedure is not FDA approved. In her mind, if more studies and trials were completed, it may be something that she would consider looking at in the future.

    Penalties For Protestors in Colorado

    The question was raised regarding Colorado’s alleged plans to instate stricter penalties for lawful protestors—or even the possibility of making protesting illegal—a question that likely stemmed from misleading headlines like “Lawmakers In Ten States Have Proposed Legislation Criminalizing Peaceful Protest.” While the three representatives were not aware of any legislation specific to that point, there is currently a bill in the Senate (SB17-035) sponsored by Senator Jerry Sonnenberg that would increase the penalty for tampering with oil and gas equipment from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony. This bill could potentially effect the consequences for environmental protestors.

    Betsy DeVos and Potential Voucher Programs

    A question was asked in regards to the effect that Betsy DeVos’s appointment might have on potential education voucher bills in Colorado. The representatives stated that every year a voucher bill is proposed, and every year it doesn’t pass. Rep. Ardnt assured the group that Colorado is behind teachers and public education, and although she doesn’t sit on the education committee, she does advise and “put her two cents in.” The silver lining of any changes Betsy DeVos might make would be that more power would go to the state, and Colorado likes running its school districts the way it’s being run now.

    Immigration Policies and Sanctuary Cities

    There are currently steps being taken in the house with joint resolution in the senate for an immediate resolution of Trump’s executive order (HJR17-1013). Rep. Ginal is having a Town Hall Social at The R Bar to promote nurturing cultural diversity in Fort Collins on Friday, February 17th, from 6:30 pm-8:30 pm. The goal of this Town Hall Social will be to share info from undocumented and exchange students enrolled at Colorado State University on the effect of Trump’s executive order. Additionally, Rep. Arndt brought up that somewhere in the house or the senate, there’s talk of introducing a bill that would make Colorado a sanctuary state.

    Upcoming Events

    Rep. Joan Ginal will be hosting a Town Hall Social on Friday, Feb. 17th at 6:30 pm at The R Bar, focusing on cultural diversity and sharing information from undocumented and exchange students attending Colorado State University.
    Senator John Kefalas will be hosting an event Saturday, Feb. 18th at 10:30 am at Colorado State University in Room 304.06. This meeting will be a community conversation about current events and upcoming policies, specifically geared towards college students and recent graduates.
  • Great Turnout At Rally For Our Rights

    The day after the Women’s Rights March on Denver saw quite a few people looking for ways to take action next, and the Fort Collins For Progress “Rally For Our Rights” event at Northside Aztlan Community Club did not disappoint. Hundreds of people (The Coloradoan reports around 600) showed up to learn about various non-profit and volunteering opportunities, as well as hear from a panel of local elected officials during a Q&A session.

    Continue Reading

  • Town Hall With Joann Ginal

    Last Friday was the first Town Hall Meeting of 2017 with Representative Joann Ginal, an event that will hopefully remain a monthly occurrence at R Bar and Lounge in Fort Collins, Colorado. Rep. Ginal brought Alex Caldwell and Rebecca Silvernale from Colorado Health Institute (CHI) to answer questions about the pending status of the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect citizens in Fort Collins and Colorado. If you’re not familiar with CHI, it is a health policy research agency here in Colorado that was founded in 2002 to provide data and research to help form policy and provide better support across the state. It has since grown to become a trusted source for advisors and skilled evaluators and is actively working “to make Colorado #1 in health.” Continue Reading