- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Denver Post, March 27, on it being time to wean Colorado’s electric vehicles from taxpayer assistance:

At one point, Colorado’s generous subsidy for electric vehicle sales probably made sense; back then, the technology was in its infancy and couldn’t compete on cost or performance. There was a compelling public interest - protecting our environment and climate for generations to come - for our governments to foster cleaner energy technologies with taxpayer dollars.

However, the time for this credit has come and gone, especially at the state level.

Colorado lawmakers should repeal a tax credit for those who buy electric vehicles and save an estimated $50.4 million over the next three years.

Sen. Vickie Marble and Rep. Lori Saine are right to target this tax credit for repeal in Senate Bill 47. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate and is now headed to the Democratic-controlled House, where the odds don’t look good for passage.

The good news is that this tax credit is set to begin ratcheting down in 2020 and will expire altogether at the end of 2021, even if SB 47 fails. But we agree with Marble and Saine that, given existing market conditions, it’s past time for full repeal.

Colorado offers tax credits for a variety of different cars, not just electric vehicles. SB 47 would also strip tax credits for technologies that include compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas or hydrogen. Lawmakers could consider an amendment to protect those technologies, but they hardly have much presence in the present market. At any rate, our focus here is on exempting the more popular EVs.

Until 2020, those who purchase a passenger vehicle using one of those technologies can receive a $5,000 tax credit, but what happens most often is the car dealer offers the discount up front, handles the paperwork and receives the tax credit on the buyer’s behalf.

Additionally, buyers qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit available for electric vehicles. There have been many voices at the federal level saying that subsidy has run its course as well.

Much of the change of heart is driven by the increasing performance of electric vehicles coupled with their declining costs. Today, the Chevrolet Volt starts at about $37,000 and can go 53 miles on a single charge. The Tesla Model 3 starts at about $35,000 and can go more than 200 miles before needing a charge.

The Denver Post’s Brian Eason reported last month that Volvo plans to drop out of the gasoline-powered market entirely as soon as next year, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance found “electric cars could be as cheap as their traditional counterparts by 2025.”

We are certain the tax revenue can find a good home in Colorado’s budget. Saine and Marble want to send all the money to the state’s fund for transportation needs, which is an appropriate redirection given that electric vehicle owners are contributing far less to our infrastructure funding by avoiding both the federal and state fuel taxes.

We could also see that money going to help fund Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Electric Vehicle Plan, which includes building hundreds of fast-charging stations to contribute to a nation-wide network.

Good public policy calls for us to support Senate Bill 47 and we hope Democrats in the House will do the same.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/2DZGwU5


The Cortez Journal, March 26, on it being time to end national paralysis around gun violence:

The first truth to understand about Saturday’s March for Our Lives is that students really do fear for their lives. Their parents are fearful as well. Let’s not insult them by claiming that these gatherings all across the country were much ado about nothing. They’re not. Children and teachers are being shot to death in schools.

In the First Amendment to the Constitution, the framers added protections for free speech, peaceable assemblies and the right to petition the government. That’s what happened: From our largest cities to Cortez and Durango, people assembled, talked about a serious problem and asked their government to address it.

At best, legislation has nibbled around the edges of the problem. The Colorado Senate recently killed a proposed ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire device used by the Las Vegas shooter, although President Donald Trump has ordered the Justice Department to draw up such a ban. After a visit from NRA representatives, the president backed away from early support for strengthening background checks and raising the age for buying weapons popularly known as assault rifles. Now, he supports arming teachers, an idea that, in the best possible light, contains significant costs and serious risks. As well, teachers take up their profession to nurture, and can’t be expected to suddenly and successfully try to harm or kill.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune (March 21), the omnibus spending bill includes a provision to bolster reporting to a national criminal record database to better flag convicted criminals in background checks and a rider by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to boost detection and reporting of potential school shooters and training for law enforcement, teachers and students on how to handle violent attacks.

All that fails to address the central issue. Students want more than active-shooter training: They want effective gun laws. That’s not too much to ask, and it’s not impossible to achieve without infringing on Second Amendment rights.

Most Americans agree. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found 88 percent of Americans now support universal background checks, 81 percent support a minimum purchase age of 21, 70 percent support a ban on high-capacity magazines and 68 percent support a ban on assault-style weapons. Waiting periods and bump-stock bans are widely supported.

One reason such measures have not been instituted is that the pro-gun lobby has successfully argued that there’s little data to suggest they might help.

Since 1996, the Dickey Amendment has deterred the Centers for Disease Control from using federal money to research gun violence in any way that might suggest a public-safety benefit to restrictions on gun ownership or access. It’s time to repeal the “advocacy” restriction and provide adequate funding for comprehensive data collection and rigorous analysis. Independent research is a scientific first step toward creating well-targeted solutions to the current problem of gun violence in schools.

The Parkland High School students are right: Our national paralysis around gun safety has to end. We need honest discussion and a commitment to solutions. Let’s back away from the extremist ideas that all guns and all gun owners are equally dangerous or that there’s any move toward disarming every gun owner, and start calmly discussing common-sense proposals that included changes in gun laws.

Our young people are asking for specific, concrete steps. Let’s honor their fears, their goals and their commitment by listening to what they have to say and working toward improved safety for everyone.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2E2OqMC


The Gazette, March 23, on holding jail inmates for immigration authorities:

Since before the Civil War, the concept of personal liberty has resonated with Americans. Personal liberty laws were enacted to counteract the fugitive slave laws that allowed authorities to arrest people of color believed to be escaped slaves and imprison them. Northern states established these laws to stop escaped slaves from being stripped of their rights, and the freedom of the individual continues to be an American standard.

Fast forward to present-day immigration detainees who have posted bail, sometimes for minor traffic offenses, only to be held in jail for transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The issue of detaining jail inmates for ICE is not a new one. Across the nation, communities have struggled with whether detention requests from ICE are commands that local jurisdictions must obey or requests that can be ignored.

In Colorado, sheriff’s policies on working with ICE are all over the map. Some counties refuse to notify ICE even if they know an arrestee is illegal. El Paso County has honored the detention requests and sometimes profited from the fees the federal government pays to house the inmates. And that is as it should be. If we are providing a bed and food, for a federal detainee, the county should be compensated.

A judge ordered El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder on Monday to stop holding prisoners for immigration officials, siding with the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a preliminary injunction.

State District Court Judge Eric Bentley ordered Elder to immediately stop relying on ICE immigration detainers or ICE administrative warrants as grounds for refusing to release inmates from custody when they post bond, complete their sentences or otherwise resolve their criminal cases.

ACLU of Colorado filed a class action lawsuit Feb. 27 alleging Elder had unlawfully imprisoned dozens of individuals for days, weeks and even months without legal authority, solely on the grounds that ICE suspected that they were subject to deportation for civil immigration violations.

The real crux of the issue is the fact that ICE sometimes takes weeks, or longer, to act on these cases. With an ICE hold, the police can keep inmates in jail for up to 48 hours after bond is paid. Any kind of ICE hold should never last longer than the 48 hours. The federal government needs to get its act together and pick up ICE detainees within the lawful time allowed.

We aren’t supportive of releasing known criminals, but deportation proceedings are civil, not criminal proceedings. The right to bond out of jail is a matter of personal liberty. The power to make warrantless arrests is forbidden by Colorado statue. The federal government should quickly get its own warrants and arrest inmates it wants to detain. Our country should not have to manage this dilemma.

Elder, through the El Paso County Attorney’s Office, will appeal Judge Bentley’s temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Until this is resolved, ICE shouldn’t put our county in this situation.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2Ge9NjP


Aurora Sentinel, March 21, on giving the boot to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:

With all the talk in Washington about President Donald Trump looking for people in his cabinet to boot because they don’t, in his opinion, make the cut, we offer one name that rises to the top among a cornucopia of cabinet secretaries worthy of the sack: Betsy DeVos, U.S. secretary of education.

There is a long and growing list of Trump cabinet secretaries who are either so incompetent or so venal and unethical, that it would be hard for us to pick which should be the first to go, as if Trump would seek advice from the media he so vehemently loathes.

DeVos is among contenders such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, who has proven how utterly unqualified he is in running a federal housing program that focuses on the needy. He capped that fact this week when he was busted for having spent an embarrassing $31,000 on a dining room set for his office.

The competition for firing is stiff, however. The need to get rid of EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt is great. Aside from his disturbing first-class travel addiction that costs taxpayers tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars - because he hates flying among the little people - he’s worked so hard to undermine the balance between a safe and useful environment that his employees run endless surreptitious news agencies to set his erroneous records straight.

The list of bogus appointments goes on about as long as Trump’s catalog of cabinet members.

But even among these stars in the soap opera that has become the Trump Administration, DeVos convincingly stars as the diva of dumb.

Before even day one on the job, she humiliated herself and the nation’s once-proud public school system during her Senate confirmation hearings.

DeVos has long had a huge role in pushing Michigan’s ailing public schools system to the brink of total failure. She did that by dumbing down the state’s large charter school industry, removing desperately needed oversight and creating a massive waste of taxpayer money that cheats millions of students out of a good education.

Actually, DeVos, a billionaire heiress, didn’t directly diminish the public and charter schools in the state. She never actually does anything. She’s not an educator nor government official. She’s never worked for a public school. Never attended one. Never sent her own kids to one. She’s not a researcher nor anything like that.

What she’s an expert at is making herself appear daft. During her hearings, she couldn’t explain nor provide intelligent conversation about critical and basic education issues. She doesn’t understand the difference between assessing schools on student test scores and assessing them on student test score growth, rather than overall achievement.

For the past year, she has repeatedly misspoke or made outright blunders in her role as the secretary of, all things, education. But her recent pathetic and sadly hilarious performance on an episode of 60 Minutes removed any doubt that DeVos is not only a national nitwit, but in her capacity, she’s a real and present danger to an education system already being pushed to the edge.

This is the woman the White House has chosen to lead a new national school safety commission to help protect children from school shootings and other threats.

DeVos isn’t qualified to lead kindergarteners in an alphabet drill. Dump her.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2E2vDkt

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