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Parents Know Best… When It Comes To School Choice

LauraCarno.com

By Laura Carno

August 13, 2016

Who knows how to educate your children better, you or some faceless bureaucrat at the Federal Department of Education?

While a few parents might want others to make key decisions regarding their child’s education, most believe they know their own kids better than any government official.

So how do parents choose the best schools for their kids?

We hear a lot about STEM schools that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Does that mean charter and private schools are only for those who excel in certain subjects or have specific aptitudes? Absolutely not.

Take the example of Crossroads School in Longmont, Colo. Ross Izard of Colorado’s Independence Institute offers a brief description, where he describes Crossroads School as, “a school for kids who haven’t been able to find an educational home anywhere else.” Ross also wrote a longer profile of his visit to Crossroads.

It is … inspiring.

I dare a bureaucrat to watch Ross’s video or read his profile on Crossroads School and say that they know better than Dakota’s grandparents how to educate Dakota. And Crossroads isn’t the only school that takes on the kids who need a more unique approach to their individualized education.

I talk about many of these schools in my book, Government Ruins Nearly Everything. Spectrum School serves students on the autism spectrum. MAX Charter School teaches only dyslexic students.

Related: Moving Toward A Free Market In Education

The Department of Education didn’t come up with the idea for Crossroads or Spectrum or MAX. Nor do officials from the Department of Education have the emotional connections to think about students who learn differently.

Parents, relatives and community members of those who need their education packaged in a different way invented these schools.

Parents are best suited to make all kinds of decisions —the big decisions and the small decisions— for their own kids. Is there any decision a parent makes that impacts their child’s entire life more than how they are educated?

Education has been called the civil rights issue of our day. Students in failing schools are left behind, have a higher chance at remaining in poverty and a higher chance of landing in prison.

No parent wants that for their child.

The 2010 documentary “Waiting For ‘Superman’” details the heartbreak of students stuck in failing schools.

What can parents do?

They can get their kids out of failing schools and in to schools that work. Does that mean the move to charter and private schools will leave neighborhood schools behind? Not in the least.

Competition always improves all the competitors, not just the winner. If school choice is not possible in your state, parents have to demand their state lawmakers change the laws. The stories in “Waiting For ‘Superman’” are heartbreaking.
We can do better.

It’s your job —your obligation— to find the school, whether traditional neighborhood school, private school, charter school or homeschool, that will best educate your kids.

If your state doesn’t allow you to make that choice, remind your politicians that they are public servants who work for you, and that you demand they remove your barriers to choice.

This time, it’s really for the children.

Check out LauraCarno.com

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August 10, 2016

NRAnews.com

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Keeping Kids Safe In A Broken World

LauraCarno.com

By Laura Carno

August 3, 2016

Children are being murdered in their schools while politicians trade talking points and campaign promises about school safety. Our children are neither partisans nor political chess pieces. What can we do to keep our children safe while politicians jockey for position in back rooms? I met some heroes who found a solution that saves lives. Here is what they found.

Sandy Hook

On December 14, 2012, a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary School. In only 10 minutes, the murderer killed 20 young children and 6 adults. The 911 calls were heartbreaking.

Two school administrators ran toward the sound of gunfire empty handed. Both of them were murdered. Victoria Soto, a 27-year old first grade teacher, died while physically shielding her students from the murderer. All she had to protect and defend her students from a madman, was her body.

The Newtown, CT police arrived in five minutes but waited to enter the school. The murderer killed himself before police reached him. It was another 30 minutes before medical personnel entered the school and treated those still alive.

In the wild, a “Mama Bear” will fight to protect her own cubs. She doesn’t fight to protect the cubs of other bears. Our teachers and faculty members are different. These teachers risked their lives for our kids. These are remarkable people who don’t deserve to die. What can we do to help these heroes as they protect and defend our children?

Buckeye Firearms Association

The day of the Sandy Hook Murders, some of the board members from Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA) had a conference call to discuss the tragedy. One said, “All those teachers had to defend their children were their bodies, and they sacrificed their lives to save those kids. We have to do better.” The board members talked about training teachers to save lives in the first critical seconds of a violent attack on their school. That night, the idea of FASTER was born.

FASTER

FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. On its website, the program calls itself, “…a carefully-structured curriculum offering over 26 hours of hands-on training over a 3-day class that exceeds the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. The purpose is not to replace police and EMT, but to allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately.

When BFA conceived of the idea of FASTER, they knew they would need to remove any barriers that might get in the way of teachers attending. They raised their own funds to pay for the training. They founded Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF), and ordinary citizens across the country gave their hard earned money to help teachers defend kids. When FASTER offered their first class for 24 students in 2013, 2500 teachers and administrators signed up. One BFF board member described the reverence he has for the teachers who volunteer. He said, “These are teachers will stand between a murderer and your kids.” That was three years ago.

Today the media is paying attention. Through this month, FASTER has trained approximately 650 teachers and administrators in 152 Ohio school districts, in 63 out of Ohio’s 88 counties. Word of the program has spread. Teachers and administrators from 6 other states have also taken the training course.

Teachers want this. Administrators want this. Most importantly, parents want this.

Although the FASTER and BFF teams are all volunteers, the money they raise goes to the remarkable trainers at the Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) and the Cerino Training Group. Both are world-class tactical training organizations who adapted their training to fit a teacher’s specific needs.

Most of the trainers have backgrounds as police, SWAT and federal law enforcement officers. They take this training seriously, as do the teachers. With each exercise, they know that this one skill taught to this one teacher may make the difference between people living or dying. It’s evident in everything they do.

FASTER Level 1

My friend Rob Morse attended Faster Level 1 in June of this year as an observer. He documented his experiences in his blog Armed Heroes In Teachers Clothing.

To take the FASTER training, the volunteers must already have their state concealed carry license. Teachers and administrators whose school districts had already authorized armed defenders were given first priority for class space. Members of BFF also met with the participating school boards to make sure they had a commitment to the program. School boards in Ohio retain full authority to allow or reject having armed teachers in their schools. Some states prohibit school districts from making that decision.

All the armed defenders are volunteers. In Rob’s article above, you can see his deep respect for these teachers. They know that they may be called upon to defend their students. It’s a heavy burden that they take very seriously.

FASTER Level 2

I was invited to attend FASTER Level 2 as an observer. The Level 2 training is for teachers and administrators who have already been through FASTER Level 1, and have typically been a first responder in their school for a year. Some are the only defender at their school, while other schools have several. One first grade teacher I spoke with is part of a team of 10.

Paul

We started Day 1 in the classroom. There was one administrator in the room that we’ll call Paul. He was asked to share an incident that occurred after he attended the first training class. Although Paul is an administrator at an elementary school, the incident involved an older, disturbed and armed student. Paul faced a lethal threat and had to draw his firearm. Because of what he learned, he was able to peacefully resolve the situation without firing a shot. He credits FASTER for saving his life, and the life of the disturbed young man. He is grateful that the armed student can now get the help he needs.

I asked Paul how he became an armed defender at his school. He said, “There had been an incident at a neighboring school, and then after Sandy Hook, our school board members said, “We wish we had some personnel armed here.” The school board sent him to take the training and report back to the board. Paul said, “Even if the first responder is next door to the school, they can’t get here faster than a bad guy can squeeze the trigger. We need help to be on campus before trouble starts.”

Of slightly less importance is the fiscal impact of having teachers and administrators as armed defenders. It is less expensive to have armed defenders who are already on staff than it is to hire a School Resource Officer.

Range Time

The training includes live fire exercises. That meant time at the pistol range on a sweltering 95-degree day with a heat index of 120. The range exercises were brutal in that heat. With an instructor to student ratio on the range of 2:1, there was a lot of coaching going on: tweaking a grip here, adjusting a stance there. Time and again, the trainers told students that, “You don’t rise to the occasion, but you fall to the level of your continued training.” Most of the armed defenders I spoke to practice once a month.

Everything on the range is about safety.

  • There are accuracy drills. Accuracy means safety, because you only hit the threat, not what’s around him.
  • There are speed drills. Speed means safety, because reducing the time that the threat is active reduces injury and death.
  • There are essentials drills. Solid essentials mean safety, because practicing causes the basics to come back to you the moment that you need them, as they are retrieved from the unconscious memory.
  • There are move and shoot drills. Move and shoot means safety, because it practices getting between the attacker and innocent victims.
  • There are cover and concealment drills. Cover and concealment means safety, because the defender has to stay alive in order to defend the children.

In between sessions at the range, they take breaks in the shade. They reload their magazines, which sounds like a herd of metallic crickets. They have a snack or lunch. They talk as easily about holsters as they do about smoked pork recipes. These are very ordinary people with an extraordinary responsibility. On these breaks, the trainers talk to the assembled group about what trends they saw in the previous practice sessions. The class learns a lesson from the experience of every student.

Kentucky

The FASTER program is a model for everyone. I spoke with Kevin Kuhens from Freedom Training Group (FTG) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin is a retired Federal law enforcement agent with a background in training agents and officers. He is the Executive Director for Training at FTG, which is in the process of providing FASTER training to educators and administrators in Kentucky. Currently, FTG conducts similar training for religious and other private organizations, businesses and corporations. FTG is the driving force behind bringing FASTER to Kentucky and coordinating with community and business leaders to establish a foundation based on the BFF model, which will enable people to donate money to fund FASTER training for teachers and administrators.

Kevin described his interest in teaching educators to be armed, “FTG’s mission is training law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families. Many educators have come to FTG and expressed frustration and disappointment at their school board’s failure to grant permission for them to be armed in the schools.” Kevin underscored the reasons why training educators is so vitally important. “If an incident occurs, they are on the inside of the event as it unfolds and can eliminate the active shooter/killer in seconds, not in the minutes it takes for law enforcement to arrive.” Kevin was unyielding on this point. “The Sandy Hook teachers gave their lives willingly for their students. Regrettably, their only option was to stand defenseless between their students and the killer, minimally delaying their certain deaths. Those in a position to give teachers permission to be armed, and those of us who can teach them these skills, cannot stand idly by while innocents are slaughtered in these type of tragedies.”

When asked why he looked to TDI to partner in this training, Kevin said, “FTG shares Mr. Benner’s (President of TDI) mindset —there is no more important mission than training others to defend the defenseless. TDI blazed the trail for us with the FASTER training program —it is the gold standard.” Kevin emphasized those responsible for the safety and security of our children have but one option. “Give educators and administrators the authority to be armed. Let them stop the active shooter/killer before he can inflict his carnage in the minutes before authorities arrive.” Kevin directed his next comments to the professional trainers who have the skills to train armed educators and administrators. “It must be our mission to give them the training to eliminate these threats. Anything less is wholly unacceptable on every level.”

Insurance

How are the insurance premiums of schools and districts impacted once they have armed defenders in their schools? Representatives of FASTER said their feedback indicates there are insurance companies that are friendlier than others to the idea of armed defenders in schools. Additional premium charges range from no increase, a small per person increase to charges bordering on price gouging for having armed defenders on campus. Some have gone as far as threatening schools with non-renewal if they decide to arm their staff. Schools need to be willing to shop around for insurance and remember that saving lives is the goal, even if there is a small price to pay in increased insurance premiums.

Days 2 and 3

Days 2 and 3 had some work on the shooting range, but also included advanced skills. Students learned hand-to-hand non-lethal techniques, and some added complexities that taxed their decision-making skills. Tiny nuances made the difference between stopping a threat and not stopping a threat. One trainer put it this way, “Yes, it’s hard. AND your students’ lives depend on it. Why die to protect your kids when you can protect them and live?” Said another trainer, “This attacker wants to kill you to get to the kids. You can’t let that happen. You have to protect the kids and you can’t do that if you’re dead. We have to win.”

There has been research and reporting on the optimum number of armed defenders in a school. The bottom line, one per building per floor is seen as a standard.

Quickly stopping the threat opens the way for “second responders” who have medical trauma training but who are not armed. Many in the media miss this fact. FASTER isn’t about guns in schools, but about stopping a threat so first responders can save lives. These teachers added even more emergency trauma training in addition to what they had in their first FASTER class.

I had a conversation with two teachers who were of much smaller stature than the average attendee after some of the non-lethal skills training. It looked to me like they were able to have an impact, even given the size disparity. Both of these teachers confirmed that and were happy for their new skills.

One teacher we’ll call Ellen, said, “There is no size or gender here. We are all equal here and we are here to make schools safe for the kids. School is supposed to be a safe place, but the reality is, it’s not safe anymore. It’s our job to make it safe. We don’t do this training out of fear —we do this to prepare.”

Another teacher we’ll call Kellie said, “It’s a mindset issue. FASTER Level 1 taught me awareness of everything. When I got back last year, I looked at my classroom differently. I went through scenarios in my mind in my own classroom. What if someone came from this direction and took this action? I actually rearranged my classroom to make it safer.”

Later in the day, I was able to try the hand-to-hand skills myself with a 240-pound trainer. Although I don’t have as small a frame as Ellen and Kellie, I agree with them on how effective the skills are. They aren’t going to stop an armed attacker, but not every incident is a lethal incident.

Bringing FASTER To Your State

I was beyond impressed by this training and the teacher volunteers. I was in awe of their commitment. What has to happen before this training could come to your state? First, check your local laws to see if armed defenders in schools are already legal, or if there are roadblocks in the way. Contact your state legislators and demand that they pass legislation to allow teachers and administrators to defend your kids in school.

Second, once the laws in your state support it, or if it is already legal, reach out to the folks at BFF and FASTER. Every situation is different, and they want to help. They will also know if someone from your state has already contacted them, as Kevin Kuhens from Kentucky has already done.

Some politicians argue against armed staff in schools. FASTER has thousands of person-years worth of experience. There is no politician who has studied emergency response in schools like FASTER has. Lean on FASTER’s expertise to train both teachers and politicians.

This Shouldn’t Be Political

Our children are not partisans; they are not political chess pieces. Politicians promote the fantasy that guns should never be allowed in schools. But those same politicians need to face the reality that disturbed or evil people do bring guns in to schools. The news shows us what happens when we leave schools unarmed. Experts have shown us what will actually work to save lives. Let politicians issue their press releases over gun control, mental health, and gun-free zones. In the meantime, kids are dying. Let us do something that actually make kids safer today.

One teacher said, “We live in a broken world. Hoping that killers won’t go on rampages doesn’t stop them. Only a competent, trained, armed defender can deal with the reality that bad people are out there in our broken world. It’s our job to stop them.”

It is our job too.

See the original post here.

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Real Ideas That Make America Safer

Pulse LGBT Nightclub

Slow Facts

July 4, 2016

Guest post by Rob Morse, Author of the Slow Facts Blog

The mass murder at a LGBT nightclub was a tragedy.  President Obama said the death toll would have been worse if the people in the nightclub were armed for their own defense.  When asked about the Orlando mass murder, Hillary Clinton rejected armed self-defense and continued her call to disarm civilians.  Why would ordinary citizens believe the outrageous claim that victims are safer when they are disarmed?  Some people think honest American civilians should be disarmed because they can’t imagine anything else.   Let me show you another way.  Let’s see how we can defeat these vicious armed murderers here in the US.

stock-broker-panic-phone-600x398You and I cannot respond to a violent attack in ways we have not imagined.  An armed attack is not like a child’s game of tag on the playground.. only louder and bloodier.  We won’t invent a defense in the moment we’re faced with a life or death violent encounter.  We can’t.  It is too late by the time we are hiding in the bathroom and clutching our cell phone as we hear people dying next to us.  Then it is too late, but we can change that today.

A world-class firearms trainer reminded me of this again today.  He said, “You have no time to think.  Your body can’t go where you mind has not gone before.”  That means we won’t defend ourselves if we’ve never imagined doing so.

confused womanMy friend’s statement about imagination is a political truth as well as a physical one.  Most US civilians can’t imagine defending themselves.  They don’t carry a gun every day.  These un-armed Americans can’t imagine someone who carries.  These un-armed Americans don’t see themselves stopping a violent attack.  Un-armed Americans naturally assume everyone is as helpless as they are.  I can’t blame them; they don’t know what they don’t know.  It is time un-armed Americans heard the truth.

We walk past armed Americans every day.  Over 13 million US civilians are licensed to discretely carry a firearm in public.  Un-armed Americans ignore the thousands of examples of armed self-defense that happen every day.  Un-armed Americans can’t imagine fighting back.. and winning.  No one trained their hands.. or their minds.. for self-defense.  For all the talk about the virtues of diversity, the Socialist politicians shout down anyone who mentions fighting back.  Armed Americans know something they don’t.

cropped-cropped-sdgsp-4

Armed Americans are different in profound ways.  They know violence exists.  They studied how we are attacked and how we might respond.  Armed Americans considered how they would respond to violence if they were with family, with friends, or alone.   Armed Americans imagined an attack happening in places they frequently go.  They visualized how they would escape or stop the threat until law enforcement arrived.  Armed Americans reached answers that are shockingly different from the average un-armed citizen.  Armed Americans know murderers can be stopped.

Barack and Hillary are talking to their un-armed base of support when they advocate being disarmed and helpless.  It is an easy sell.  The Socialist political base prefers to be dependent on government.  Self-defense is simply another example of socialist citizens letting the government take care of their personal problems.  At best, the government responds in hours when the citizen needs help in seconds.

handsmear-l-800x1000Orlando is a perfect example of how the government protects un-armed minorities.  Socialist politicians said we would be safer if the victims were disarmed.  Socialist politicians said the same thing after muslim terrorists murdered christians in a gun-free school in San Bernardino.  Socialist politicians again supported disarmament after a muslim terrorist murdered people in a gay nightclub in Orlando.  Socialists politicians always say that more state control is the answer.. even though that answer never makes civilians safer.  State control works for politicians, but not for citizens.

Armed Americans know what works.  Armed Americans stop violent criminal attacks over three thousand times every day.  Terrorists suffer bullet wounds like any other violent criminal.  Armed Americans know that.  Socialists politicians demand we surrender our safety to an all-powerful government.  In contrast, armed Americans have seen where that political ignorance leads, where that political surrender leads.  Armed America doesn’t like it.

We are watching a political struggle over the issue of disarming honest civilians.  There are few commonly held beliefs between the two sides and the level of ignorance is staggering.  We can summarize the debate in these few words.

The body cannot go where the mind hasn’t been before.  Terrorists are as easy to kill as anyone else.  Socialists pretend it isn’t so.  Armed America knows it’s true.

Now you know too.  Learn what you can do.  America doesn’t need to be afraid any longer.

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Iowa Legislators Blocking Girls’ Shooting Endeavors

America’s 1st Freedom

By Laura Carno

One of the highlights of my recent trip to the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Louisville, Ky., was an interview with 12-year-old Meredith Gibson and her 10-year-old sister, Natalie.

The Gibsons live in Johnston, Iowa, and are both involved in shooting sports.

The state of Iowa, however, has a problem with these young ladies. While they participate in the shooting sports, they are not yet 14 years of age. Meredith shoots 3-gun and USPSA, and Natalie shoots USPSA. But both of these sports involve competing with pistols, which is prohibited for Iowans under the age of 14. (Incidentally, there is no other state in the union that has a problem with kids their age shooting a pistol under adult supervision. They are legally able to shoot a shotgun or a rifle in Iowa, but not a pistol.)

This forces the Gibson sisters to go to Illinois—yes, that Illinois—to practice their pistol skills.

This law is a relic from the Civil War era. In truth, it is a law that should have been repealed long ago, but no one has done so yet.

When the Gibson sisters asked their dad, Nathan, what they could do about it, he took them to the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines to talk to legislators. Each Wednesday, their school has “early out,” and they go to the state capitol in Des Moines to visit with legislators to seek their support for legislation to repeal the ban. Yes, they go every Wednesday. “We just want to get back to our sport.” — 12-year-old Meredith and 10-year-old sister Natalie Gibson

(You can watch a great interview that Meredith, Natalie and Nathan did with Cam Edwards on NRA News’ “Cam & Company” describing their interaction with legislators here.)

Unfortunately, this repeal bill keeps getting killed in the Senate. Democrat state Sen. Steven Sodders has told the girls that he supports the bill and even said he’d bring it up for a vote, but he never has. Instead, Sodders assigned it to the three-member Judiciary Committee that has two anti-gun senators on it. They never get around to scheduling a hearing, which results in the bill dying without even a vote. It should be noted that the girls have talked to all 50 state senators, and 35 have pledged to vote “yes” on the measure.

When the Gibson girls couldn’t get anywhere with Sodders, they tried to track down Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. They told me that when Gronstal saw them, he tried to get away via one of two sets of stairs that lead to the building’s main exit. Not to be outmaneuvered, the girls were waiting at the bottom of each set of stairs, essentially blocking him from not talking to them. Who doesn’t love this image of a legislator running away from a couple of kids!

The situation is truly ridiculous and unfair. The girls aren’t looking to carry a concealed firearm. They aren’t even trying to make a political point.

As they told me, “We just want to get back to our sport.” And what I want is for Sen. Sodders to do his job and get the government out of the way of 10- and 12-year-old sisters simply wanting to participate in their chosen sports.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole story is what the girls are doing this summer now that school is out. They plan to knock on every door in the district “to make sure Steven Sodders is not re-elected.”

How great it is when children take action to fight for their rights!

How can we help? First, check out IFC-PAC, a PAC that is working on the Gibsons’ issue, as well as promoting other pro-gun measures in the state legislature. Second, if you are in Iowa or can travel to Iowa, consider helping Meredith and Natalie knock on doors. Third, share this story with anyone you know in Iowa, and ask them to share it within their local networks. Finally, feel free to reach out to Senators Sodders and Gronstal. You can telephone Sen. Sodders at (641) 751-4140 and Sen. Gronstal at (712) 328-2808.

See the original post here.

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Government Ruins Kids’ Careers

lauracarno.com

By Laura Carno

The Gibsons live in Johnston, Iowa and they are both involved in sports.

The State of Iowa has a problem with these young ladies. They participate in the shooting sports, but they are not yet 14 years of age. Meredith shoots 3-gun and USPSA and Natalie shoots USPSA. Both of these sports involve competing with pistols, which is prohibited for Iowans under the age of 14. There is no other state in the union that has a problem with kids their age shooting a pistol under adult supervision. They are legally able to shoot a shotgun or a rifle in Iowa, but not a pistol.

This forces the Gibson sisters to go to Illinois —yes, that Illinois— to practice their pistol skills.

This law is a relic from the Civil War era. It is a law that should have been repealed long ago. But no one has done so yet.

The Gibson sisters asked their dad Nathan what they could do about it, so he took them to the Iowa State Capitol to talk to legislators. Every Wednesday, their school has “early out” and they go to the State Capitol in Des Moines to talk to legislators, to seek their support of legislation to repeal the ban. They go every Wednesday.

Watch this great interview that Meredith, Natalie and Nathan did with Cam Edwards from Cam and Company on NRA News, describing their interaction with legislators.

This repeal bill keeps getting killed in the Senate. Senator Steven Sodders tells the girls that he supports the bill and even says he’ll bring it up for a vote, but he never does. Instead, Sodders assigns it to the 3-member Judiciary Committee that has two anti-gun Senators. And they never get around to scheduling a hearing. This results in the killing of the bill without a vote. It should be noted that the girls have talked to all 50 Senators and 35 have pledged to vote yes.

When they weren’t getting anywhere with Sodders, the girls tried to track down Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. They told me that when Gronstal saw them, he tried to get away via one of two sets of stairs that lead to the building’s main exit. The girls were waiting at the bottom of each set of stairs, essentially blocking him from not talking to them. Who doesn’t love this image of a legislator running away from a couple of kids?

The girls aren’t looking to carry concealed. They aren’t looking to go hunting. They aren’t even trying to make a political point. They told me, “We just want to get back to our sport.” I want Senator Sodders to do his job and get the government out of the way of 10 and 12-year old sisters engaging in their chosen sport.

My favorite part of this story is what the girls are going to do with their summer, as soon as school is out. They told me they are going to knock on every door in the district, “to make sure Steven Sodders is not re-elected.”

How great is it when 10 and 12-year olds are taking action for their rights?

How can we help? First, there is a PAC helping out that could use your donations and volunteer time. Second, if you are in Iowa or can travel to Iowa, please consider helping Meredith and Natalie walk precincts. Third, share this blog with anyone you know in Iowa and ask them to share it within their local networks. And finally, feel free to reach out to Senators Sodders and Gronstal. I’m sure they’d love to hear your thoughts. Senator Sodders can be reached at 641-751-4140 and Senator Gonstal can be reached at 712-328-2808.

Visit Laura Carno’s website here

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The President You Wish You Had is Never Coming

lauracarno.com

By Laura Carno

Where do you stand on the current state of the Presidential election?

Never Trump.

Maybe Trump.

Feel The Bern.

Feel The Johnson.

I’m With Her.

None of the Above.

I have heard all of these Presidential campaign slogans in the past 24 hours —all from people I know personally. Yet the two front runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have record negative poll numbers among primary voters and among general election voters. The President we wish we had is never coming. So what is a responsible registered voter to do? This is a Presidential primary year, and we know we must do something.

We. Must. Do. Something.

I propose a different way to look at this Presidential election. Whomever we have in the Oval Office, the Executive Branch is but one of three co-equal branches of government. And the federal legislative branch offers a substantial constitutional check and balance on the power of the executive office.

  • A nominee to the Supreme Court cannot be confirmed without a compliant US Senate.
  • The President can sign a bill only after it has first passed through both houses of Congress.
  • Two-thirds of the members in both houses of Congress can override a Presidential veto.

Additionally, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution offers protections to the states against federal overreach.

If your candidate for President didn’t make the finals, don’t walk out on the entire election season.

Do whatever you need to do at the top of the ticket. Then look at what you can do to provide a check and balance to the next occupant the Oval Office, regardless of who that is. The President is one person —a powerful person— but just one person. There is much more you can do.

  • Work to elect consistently principled local candidates, especially your state legislative candidates. They provide a check on federal overreach. Consider the leadership qualities it takes to stand up for what is right and what is constitutional.
  • Work to elect consistently principled Congressional and US Senate candidates. Consider the leadership qualities it takes to stand up for what is right and what is constitutional.

Focusing your energy on down-ticket races will help to provide the backstop necessary to place a check on the powers of the President. I’m not excited about any of the choices for President. If you are as concerned as I am about who our next President might be, then our obligation is to minimize the negative impact they will have on our country.

We have a system of checks and balances for a reason. Let’s use it.

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Wondering what the Colorado Legislature is up to in the waning days of the session?

Laura Carno
May 1, 2016
By Laura Carno
As happens every year, the last few weeks of the Colorado Legislative session is jam-packed with shenanigans. There is something about the impending close of the session that makes legislators and lobbyists fight to take their final pound of flesh from Coloradans.Every year, each legislator is able to run 5 bills. With a total of 100 legislators between the two chambers, there should be 500 bills. I previously blogged about my own State Representative Paul Lundeen’s resolution to reduce the duration of the legislative session and the number of bills each legislator carries. Sadly, that resolution failed both last year and this year.

As of this writing, there have been 666 bills proposed, plus memorials and resolutions. That means that there were 166 “late bills” (a full 33% more than the 500 “normal” bills introduced) that the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate approved to be introduced late in addition to the original 500.

What are we, the taxpayers, getting in these extra late bills, and why is it a problem?

First, if the bill was important enough, why wasn’t it in a legislator’s initial 5 bills?

Second, due to the compressed time frame, the rules are often suspended to allow the late bill to make its way through the legislative process more quickly. The steps involved in typical bill passage —which can take weeks or months— include:

  • Introduction in the first chamber
  • Assignment to a committee
  • The committee hearing
  • Second reading on the floor
  • Third reading, final passage on the floor
  • Introduction in the second chamber
  • Assignment to a committee
  • The committee hearing
  • Second reading on the floor
  • Third reading, final passage on the floor

There may be additional steps depending on whether either chamber had amendments, and conference committees if both chambers didn’t agree on the final version as amended. For late bills, all of these steps can be completed in a matter of days, not weeks or months.

Out of the 166 late bills so far, there are three bills worthy of your attention.

First is Senate Bill 16-193, Concerning the Duties of the Safe2Tell Program. Sounds great on the surface. We want children to feel safe to tell a responsible person about a threat to the school. The bill aims to provide “at no charge to the school” a Safe2Tell program centrally run by the state. That state program will cost the taxpayers more than $200,000 annually, per the fiscal note for this bill.

This bill codifies a 2015 working group report that establishes the structure of Safe2Tell, including:

  • Replacing local control with a new state-level bureaucrat
  • A loss of due process as investigations would be based on whether a student poses a threat as opposed to whether a student has made a threat.
  • New student data collection to align with multi-state guidelines

With all of the data-privacy concerns on previous education bills, why rush this one through? What’s the hurry? The working group concluded its work in 2015. If this was so urgent, why didn’t any legislator carry it as one of their 5 bills, as opposed to rushing it through as a late bill, with very little opportunity for public input?

Interestingly, the Republican leadership in the Senate, and the Democrat leadership in the House are sponsoring this bill. That would indicate that they expect to get their caucuses in line and pass this bill.

Next is House Bill 16-1454, the Primary Participation Act. In the aftermath of the inaccurate national reporting on Colorado’s delegate selection process, we heard from lawmakers that something needed to be done. Although there was also significant accurate reporting from the ground in Colorado, from Mike Rosen, Ari Armstrong, and my piece in National Review, the national narrative has stuck.

Yet in Colorado, we heard that if the legislature doesn’t pass a law giving Colorado a Presidential Primary now, there would be a ballot initiative that will give us something even worse. And that ballot initiative is being led by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and is supported by the Colorado GOP Chair and the Colorado Secretary of State, among other public servants. You would be wise to ask why the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce cares how Republicans and Democrats go about electing their party’s nominee. According to the Denver Business Journal:

“….. to get more moderate individuals involved in a process of selecting candidates that ….. has become too partisan and led to stalemates rather than compromise in Congress and the Legislature, especially on business-related bills.”

Ah, I see now, the Denver Metro Chamber wants a Colorado State Legislature that is more moderate. They don’t care about the Presidential Primary. Yet the primary is the alleged emergency causing this last minute legislation.

Remember the last time a legislator told us we’d have to put up with bad legislation in order to keep something worse from befalling us? That’s when Colorado passed “AmyCare”. Our obligation is to fight the bad legislation, or ballot initiative. Not to accept something that is slightly less bad.

Whether the ballot initiative or this year’s bill are successful, either one would take effect for the 2020 Presidential Primary.

So what’s the hurry?

House Bill 16-1454 was introduced on Friday afternoon, April 22nd, and the committee hearing was Monday, April 25th. This is what it looks like to suspend the rules at the end of the legislative session. If you are a concerned citizen who doesn’t live in the Denver area, how likely was it for you to rearrange your schedule to attend the committee hearing, to make your voice heard, between Friday and Monday? The supporters of this bill say that moving to a primary gives everyone, including those registered as Unaffiliated, a chance to have a voice. I’m asking that the legislature not pass this bill and give the people of Colorado a chance to have a voice in the process.

Again, what’s the hurry?

Finally, Senate Bill 16-206, Concerning a Ban on Powdered Alcohol was introduced two days ago. Recall that in 2015, there was a similar bill to ban powdered alcohol, to which I was in strong opposition. It finally passed, but was amended down to say that powdered alcohol would be regulated like regular alcohol, which was how the inventor proposed it be handled in each state. It was not banned, nor should it have been banned.

SB 16-206 doesn’t seem to be in response to anything. Unlike the primary bill, there is no hot news story creating a sense of urgency. So, what’s the hurry?

As a reminder, this is the state where weed is legal for recreational use. And alcohol is also legal, provided there is water in it. Go figure.

Like the Safe2Tell bill, a bi-partisan leadership team also sponsors this bill. Why are the Republican Senate President and the Democrat Speaker of the House both so interested in passing a ban on powdered alcohol and rushing it through at the end of session? I’m open to theories.

My message to legislators on both sides of the aisle: Passing bills in a rushed manner, without ample notice and the without the ability for public input is not what we expect from you. Kill these bills as a matter of principle. The sponsors can bring them back during the next legislative session if they are that important.

This is why so many are saying that Government Ruins Nearly Everything.

Check out LauraCarno.com

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Colorado’s Results Were a Victory for the Conservative Grassroots

Was the Colorado election stolen from grassroots activists by the party elites?

Put simply, no. Plenty has already been written about the organizational advantage that Ted Cruz has demonstrated in the race for national delegates — smartly, the Cruz campaign had been on the ground in Colorado for eight months, whereas the Trump campaign hired its first ground operative last week — but few have noted that the rules in Colorado yielded a broader win for the grassroots over the elites.

On Friday, April 8, I attended the Fifth Congressional District Assembly, to which I was elected as a delegate after I attended my neighborhood caucus in March. Typically, these assemblies are boring and predictable. But not this year. In a surprise nomination from the floor, 32-year old Calandra Vargas was nominated to challenge sitting congressman Doug Lamborn (who had been unanimously nominated for re-election). Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Vargas gave the speech of her life.

When delegate balloting was completed, it was revealed that Vargas had won 58 percent of the vote. Representative Doug Lamborn, by contrast, was left with only 35 percent. (The balance of the votes went to another floor nomination.) Had Lamborn received less than 30 percent, he would have been kept off the ballot completely, left with no other way to run for re-election.

Bottom line: The establishment almost lost its congressman because of Colorado’s grassroots-caucus process. Moreover, because of the delegate vote results, Vargas will be listed first on the ballot — a huge advantage for any candidate. If the party elite were in fact pulling the strings, an upset like this wouldn’t have been possible.

The following day at the state assembly — to which I had also been elected a delegate — we heard speeches from ten U.S. Senate candidates who chose to go through the caucus and assembly process. An additional four candidates for Senate chose to bypass the assembly, and petition directly on to the ballot. Of those who attended the state assembly, state senator Tim Neville was the clear favorite. Without question, Neville had the best delegate outreach, fundraising, and assembly presence. Walking in, the delegates were sure of one thing: Neville would make the ballot.

At least they were sure of that until El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn made his unexpectedly fiery nominating speech. Glenn hadn’t been successful in the traditional measures of candidate strength, such as fundraising. But, within Colorado’s assembly process, that didn’t matter. During his speech, Glenn received seven standing ovations — more than even Ted Cruz received later that day. Even better, Glenn received a remarkable 70 percent of the delegate votes, while Neville received just 18 percent. Because they were kept below the 30 percent threshold, Neville and the others were kept off the ballot. Glenn will now appear first on the US Senate ballot, above the four candidates who bypassed the assembly process.

Twice in two days in Colorado, grassroots Republican activists upended party expectations. None of us who were there were surprised by that. In Colorado, that’s just the way it works. Stealing? Not at all. That’s democracy.

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