For people, policy and Colorado politics

What’s The Spot? You’re reading an installment of our weekly politics newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered straight in your inbox.


The school discipline overhaul bill (SB21-182) was pulled this week for a few reasons, not the least of it being pushback from cops, school leaders and parents.

The bill’s sponsors even got death threats from anonymous people. Democratic Rep. Leslie Herod said the discourse had gotten so “toxic” that she and Sen. Janet Buckner decided to try again another time.

You might be surprised to learn how common threats of violence, including murder and rape, are for state lawmakers, and those threats can and sometimes do influence policy — or sway lawmakers to not try anything at all.  

Last year, a couple state representatives tried to pass a bill to make lawmakers a special protected class, as judges are. It would have made any “credible threat or … act of harassment, or an act of harm or injury” against a state or local elected official or their property a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison. 

That bill died after concerns over the optics of lawmakers giving themselves extra protection. But it’s back again this year in SB21-064 — same intent, but the ceiling of punishment isn’t as high. 

Rep. Kyle Mullica, a Northglenn Democrat, said he believes the bill is more viable now. 

“People have to understand that we have a really important job and we’re creating policy that affects 6 million people,” he said. “We should be able to do that job without having influence of bodily harm or threats dictating what policy we’re running.”

He was the target of one of those threats last year, pre-pandemic, over a bill about vaccine requirements.

“No where in the job description does it saw that you should stand idly by when somebody threatens to burn down your house with your kids inside of it,” he said. 

More Colorado political news

;

To support the important journalism we do, you can become a Denver Post subscriber here.

Questions?

Have a question about Colorado politics? Submit it here and it’ll go straight to The Denver Post politics team.

Top Line

A courtroom in Denver District Court in 2019. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

White people receive more lenient treatment in Denver’s courts, according to a new report from the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Read more from Post reporter Elise Schmelzer. 

Federal Politics • By Justin Wingerter

Panic! at the primaries

A Colorado deputy secretary of state says next year’s June primaries may have to be moved back a month, painting a bleak picture of the state’s 2022 election calendar in the wake of U.S. Census Bureau data delays.

“We have gamed out various ways to shift days,” Chris Beall told Colorado’s congressional redistricting commission on Wednesday. “We at the Secretary of State’s Office think it is feasible but it’s going to require a heroic effort to shift the primary from the last Tuesday in June into July, potentially the last Tuesday in July — a one-month shift.”

“We don’t think we can shift it to August,” he said. “There will be a lot of pain if we shift it to July.”

Due to the pandemic, the Census Bureau will not send Colorado’s two redistricting commissions the block-level data that commissioners need to draw maps until August, a five-month delay. That calls into question the commissions’ ability to create maps and have them approved by the state Supreme Court by the end of December. 

Beall’s warnings are the bleakest public comments to date by a Colorado official on this topic. He and others are worried about Jan. 31, 2022 — because by that day, all 64 counties must create precinct maps, but precinct maps can’t be created until congressional and legislative maps are created. 

It took Weld County three months to create a precinct map during the 2011 redistricting. It will have one month this time, and that’s assuming the redistricting commissions finish on time.

“It would be an absolute miracle if all 64 counties were able to complete everything in that 30-day time frame and be able to keep that (2022) election schedule we currently have,” Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes told the congressional commission.

Beall urged commissioners to use preliminary census data. Both redistricting commissions also plan to hire outside lawyers and could ask the Colorado Supreme Court to review. One unsavory option, Beall said, would be for the commissions to sue his office, thereby forcing judges to weigh in.

Federal politics news

Mile High Politics • By Conrad Swanson

Movin’ out east

A view of a homeless encampment ...

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

A view of a homeless encampment in an empty lot at First Baptist Church on the corner of 14th and Grant St. in downtown Denver on Dec. 3, 2020. (Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post)

One of Denver’s two hard-fought safe outdoor spaces for people experiencing homelessness is on the move. It has to be, the lease is almost up at Denver Community Church’s uptown location on Pearl Street. 

The site opened late last year after months of delays and consternation. And by the end of May, it’ll relocate to Park Hill United Methodist Church’s property, according to Cole Chandler, executive director of the Colorado Village Collaborative that operates the site. 

The church’s pastor told Denverite that hosting the site is an act of faith. Chandler is also acting on faith because city officials haven’t approved the temporary use permit for the new location, which is on the well-heeled Montview Boulevard. 

Already, some South Park Hill residents are expressing concern, and Chandler said he does anticipate some “complicated” conversations with people in the area. But he’s also hopeful the site’s reputation precedes the move. 

Chandler said there will be room for up to 50 people. 

This is still just the second legal encampment of the possible three that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock originally proposed nearly a year ago.  Chandler said another is an unlikely addition this year.

“I still have high hopes that this is going to be a model that continues to spread around the city,” Chandler said. “We’ve proven we can be good neighbors and that is exactly what we want to be.” 

More Denver and suburban political news

  • Don’t take your mask off yet. The mandate, in Denver at least, is likely to remain for some time. 
  • Georgia’s loss is Denver and Colorado’s gain as Major League Baseball relocated its All-Star Game here. Hancock called the shift a “cautionary tale” for those restricting voter access. 
  • Denver businesses can soon apply to create spaces to allow drinkers to wander outside, open containers and all, so long as they stay within a specific set of boundaries.

Forward this newsletter to your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.