BY FREDA MIKLIN – GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
On April 14, in his first town hall since being elected to the United States Senate, held virtually on Facebook live, John Hickenlooper talked about his goal to help this country and this state recover from the pandemic. He shared that he has been appointed to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Commerce Committee, Health, Education, and Labor Committee, and the Small Business Committee. He also chairs the Science and Space Subcommittee.
When a caller asked him if he supported statehood for Washington, D.C., Hickenlooper said that he did support it, explaining, “There are over 700,000 people who have no representation to speak of and…there are a couple of states in the United States right now that are smaller…..It’s going to be a long, hard road to get this bill passed because it’s become a partisan issue, but we’ll try to depolarize it if we can.”
Hickenlooper talked about the specific allocations in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for restaurants ($28.6 billion—See page one of the April 22, 2021 Villager for more details) and for shuttered entertainment venues ($15 billion), “largely because they had been so damaged during the first nine months of the pandemic and had received almost no support up until that point.”
On the question of whether the U.S. Space Command will stay in Colorado or move to Alabama, the senator said, “By every account that I’ve heard, Donald Trump had his finger on the scale. He took their study of where the best place would be for Space Command—they had looked at six locations and…the study clearly said that Colorado Springs was the right place. After the election, since Colorado didn’t vote for President Trump and didn’t vote for (former U.S. Senator) Cory Gardner, which was President Trump’s desire, by all accounts he nudged the process and they made the decision.” Hickenlooper added that, “We haven’t seen the score books yet. It’s worth remembering that a huge part of what they call the space force is going to remain in Colorado (with) far more employees, but…Space Command is the symbolism of what it means to the rest of the country that we are the center of aerospace and how our national security interfaces with our space program…(it was) created in Colorado Springs and should stay in Colorado Springs…We will have a chance to go over the process and…ensure that an objective, fair system was carried out.” Hickenlooper pointed to the high level of re-enlistment of armed forces personnel stationed in Colorado as a positive indicator that Space Command would be best supported here.
In response to a question about how he will use his role as senator “to curb and then draw down greenhouse gasses and prepare our state to be resilient in the face of increased climate change,” Hickenlooper said, “Climate change is the existential threat of our time and most experts think we have…maybe 12 years…to start making a dramatic difference in how we start dealing with carbon emissions. Colorado is…one of the first states where voters voted for a renewable energy standard…We’ve achieved that and gone way beyond that…We were the first state to have methane regulations…When we got the Volkswagen fraud settlement, we used a big chunk of that money to begin the framework for a network of rapid recharging stations and we reached out to the other western states (Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona) and integrated our maps so that our networks of rapid recharging stations on interstates would be interconnected and that work is, I believe, still going on today.” He continued, “The first thing, we need to go electric as much as we can.” He talked about capturing and storing carbon. He linked climate change to the larger and hotter wildfires in the past two years and added that, “Climate change is having a significant effect on our rainfall, our precipitation, and the health of our forests…The ARP and the infrastructure plan…recognize that climate change is real and we need to address it.” He also said that it won’t be only government, but “everybody pitching in” to address it, adding that Republicans are interested in this topic, as well as Democrats.
On the issue of eliminating the filibuster in the Senate, Hickenlooper said that he is optimistic that it is possible to get 60 votes on important issues, so it wouldn’t be necessary. He also talked about adjusting the filibuster so that those employing it would have to keep talking to maintain it, as was the tradition in the past.
Asked why he supported the For the People Act of 2021, the senator explained that the bill contained “as many ways to facilitate people registering and voting as possible.” He said the system contemplated by this bill “is a continuation of what we started in Colorado….(where) we have created the gold standard in how to get more people to vote. This last election…85% of eligible voters actually voted, putting us in the top four of the United States, and (we performed) statistically accurate audits that allow us to say with a great deal of certainty that there has been no voter fraud; no one is trying to steal votes.” The senator continued, “I don’t see it as a Republican or Democratic issue…..In Colorado we had as many Republican clerks as Democratic clerks create a system (of) safe and secure voting…” Hickenlooper said the For the People Act of 2021 also addressed “dark money in politics,” which is a problem because “the role of large cor