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Colo. Passes Drugged Driving Bill

On its 6th try, a bill to outlaw driving while stoned has passed the House and Senate in Colorado. The limit for marijuana: 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

But, the bill is the weakest version yet. Instead of 5 nanograms being per se against the law, or even a rebuttable presumption, it's now just a "permissible inference." Blood tests can be refused, although a refusal will result in revocation of driving privileges.

Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill is H.R. 1325. Here is the text of the final version.

Two remaining bills are up for final passage tomorrow, the last day of the legislative session. HB 1317 will regulate retail sales of marijuana for recreational use. HB 1318 imposes taxes on marijuana.[More...]

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James Holmes Wants to Change Plea to Not Guilty (Insanity)

Lawyers for Aurora theater shooting defendant James Holmes notified the Court today Holmes wants to change his plea from Not Guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.

On March 12, the date set for arraignment, Holmes' lawyers refused to enter a plea for him, so the Judge entered a plea of Not Guilty over their objections.

In an order today, the Judge indicates it's not for certain he'll allow the change of plea. The statute says an insanity plea must be raised at the arraignment. However, it also says that for good cause shown, an insanity plea can be entered at any time prior to trial. [More...]

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Saturday Morning Open Thread

I've got lots of errands today.

Has anyone seen The Reluctant Fundamentalist or Silver Linings? This is one of those months I'm wondering why I need Xfinity at all, since there's nothing great on pay per view and their movie offerings seem to be slipping away from the kind of movies I like to watch. I'm hardly tempted to shell out more dollars on top of the $200 a month I already pay them just to see something I'm not sure I'd like.It's like we've gone back to the days of "57 channels and nothing on."

Here's an open thread for you, all topics welcome.

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R.I.P. Barry Fey

Long-time Colorado concert promoter Barry Fey has died. He was a local legend. From Ebbets Field to Mile High Stadium to Red Rocks, Barry Fey defined Colorado concerts. No one came close to matching his three decades of bringing the biggest groups to Denver. He was also quite a colorful character.

The past few years weren't great for him, health-wise or financially. He was recovering from a difficult hip replacement surgery last month. Sources say he took his own life.

Hunter Thompson also couldn't get past difficult hip replacement surgery. In his last note, written to his wife Anita four days before he took his own life, he wrote:

"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt."

R.I.P. Barry Fey. Your legacy in Denver lives on.

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Shots Fired at Denver's 4/20 Marijuana Rally

The 4/20 marijuana celebration at Denver's Civic Center Park ended abruptly at around 4:40 pm when shots rang out and one or two people were injured. One appears to have been stabbed (photo here, name being withheld), so it's not clear if two people were shot, one was shot and one was stabbed, or some other scenario occurred. The shooting suspects are described as:

Police described the first suspect as a light complexioned black male, about 6-feet tall and weighing about 180 pounds. He was wearing a gray hoodie, black pants and a Carolina blue baseball cap. The second suspect was a black male in a checkered black and white shirt.

The Denver Post was there with its shiny new gigapan camera around 2:30 pm and took this photograph. It took me all of two minutes to find a black male in a checkered black and white shirt. A la Boston, police are asking people to submit their photos. [More...]

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Homeland Security Budget 2014

In the "More dollars Down the Drain" department: Here's a summary of the 2014 Homeland Security Budget.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – $10.4 billion

This funding will provide for 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 21,775 CBP officers – maintaining the largest personnel totals in history.

The bill also provides $324 million for border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology.


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Friday Open Thread

Busy day for me. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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CO Sheriffs Hold Gun Rights Rally Before Obama's Visit

Hours before President Obama arrives to give a speech advocating gun control, more than a dozen Colorado sheriffs held a rally supporting gun rights.

"While these dedicated county sheriffs stand here publicly for the rights of their citizens, the president later today will be hiding behind the walls at the Denver Police Academy, surrounding with a handpicked audience of gun-control supporters and police employees coerced (into attending) his political rally as he declares victory for the Denver Gov. John Hickenlooper," Smith added.

Smith accused Obama and fellow Democrats of exploiting the tragedies of deadly shooting rampages at an Aurora movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He said a package of Colorado gun control legislation recently passed by Democratic lawmakers and signed by Hickenlooper would not have prevented those mass shootings.

Colorado just passed new gun control laws last week. Obama is trying to drum up support for changes to federal laws. I doubt he'll get it from Republicans here.

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Who Can Put A SCOTUS Justice In A Box?

At TPM, Salil Kapur writes regarding the U.S. v. Windsor DOMA case:

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DA Seeks Death Penalty for James Holmes

Arapahoe County District Attorney, recently elected George Brauchler, has advised the Court his office will seek the death penalty against James Holmes, charged with the Aurora theater killings.

Chief Judge William Sylvester's response: He assigned the case to another judge due to the amount of resources that will be necessary now that the death penalty is being sought. [More...]

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Fox Reporter Fights Subpoena in James Holmes Case

Fox News reporter Jana Winter, who has been battling a subpoena to appear and testify about her source of information for an early article on the James Holmes case which contained court-restricted information, is scheduled to appear in court Monday pursuant to a defense subpoena. On Wednesday, the Court denied her latest request for an extension. The Court wrote: [More....]

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Evan Ebel's Cadillac Contents

The return of the Texas search warrant for Evan Ebel's black Cadillac has been released. It took a while, but I finally found the document, thanks to Denver's Fox 31 News.

Other items found are more interesting to me than some random materials that might be used to make a bomb. For example, he had a wireless video surveillance system (Uniden Model UDW-155), surveillance cameras and a voice recorder. And at least one female had been in the car at some point in time -- there was one earring, a pink hair tie and a hair clip. [more...]

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Colorado's New Gun Control Laws Effective July 1

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's spokesman said today he will sign the new gun control laws passed by the legislature into law. Colorado will now have among the most restrictive laws in the country.

The Colorado laws include a ban on ammunition magazines that can carry more than 15 rounds, and eight shotgun shells. The bill on background checks expands the requirement to sales and transfers between private parties and online purchases.

Two laws that didn't make it: "a new liability standard for gun owners and sellers, and a ban on concealed weapons on public college campuses."

A few more are still under consideration: [More...]

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Amendment 64 Task Force Issues Final Report

The task force designated by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to make recommendations for the implementation of Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana in Colorado, has concluded its work and issued this 165 page report.

Included in the report are 58 recommendations,

....on everything from how recreational marijuana stores should be regulated to whether people should be able to smoke pot in bars.

The report will be considered by a joint legislative committee (not a pun, that's the terminology used to reflect it will include both House and Senate members.) The committee will meet twice in March.


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James Holmes: No Insanity Plea Yet

Defense lawyers for James Holmes in the Aurora theater case refused to enter a plea today, saying they needed more time. The judge denied the request for a continuance and entered a not guilty plea for Holmes. He can still change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity at a later date.

KUSA was allowed to take video of the proceedings but no audio capture was permitted. The Denver Post was granted permission to have a still camera in the courtroom and photos are here.

Holmes parents were in the courtroom. The judge set trial for August, 2013.

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