KAJX

Scott Franz

Aspen Public Radio Capitol Coverage Reporter
Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado.
 
His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings.
 
Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. 
 
Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.
 

Colorado residents have rejected a request from their state legislature to remove an annual government spending limit that some elected officials argued is holding back the state’s roads and schools.

Instead, voters opted to continue getting tax refunds when the state reaches a revenue cap set by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Gov. Jared Polis has unveiled a budget proposal for 2020-21 that would expand the capacity at some state parks and boost spending on school safety in the wake of the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Polis’ spending plan would also provide about eight weeks of paid family leave for all state employees.

State lawmakers are advancing a bipartisan response to the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that occurred in May.

On Thursday, lawmakers on a new school safety committee approved five bills they think will make schools safer in the wake of that shooting.

A tougher set of winter traction rules passed by state lawmakers this year didn’t stop some drivers from getting stuck and snarling traffic on Interstate 70 for several hours Wednesday and Thursday.

Colorado conservatives have spent the last six months knocking on doors and manning recall booths around the state as they tried to convince residents to help them remove six Democrats, including Governor Jared Polis, from office.

Colorado’s oil and gas regulators say they will start putting some drilling applications through a more rigorous review process after a study found people face short term health risks, such as headaches and dizziness, if they are within 2,000 feet of the wells.

The study released Thursday specifically found the health risks occur when a well is being constructed, with the highest risk coming at a time when a process called “flowback” occurs.

Colorado is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case that could have big implications for future presidential elections.

Tracey Olson/Flickr

Former governor John Hickenlooper is way ahead of his Democratic rivals in the fundraising race for a US Senate seat.

Hickenlooper’s $2.1 million haul in the last three months is more than four times bigger than the amount raised by his closest rival.

When Gov. Jared Polis used an executive order to create his new Office of Saving People Money on Health Care eight months ago, he said it was the first office of its kind.

Proposition CC is pitting lawmakers who are seeking more money to pay for roads and education against residents who think government spending should have a limit.

Elise Thatcher


Coloradans who purchase their health insurance on the individual marketplace can expect to save even more money next year than lawmakers originally thought.

 

Governor Jared Polis says premiums on the marketplace will go down by an average of twenty point two percent next year thanks to a new reinsurance program. The savings will be two percent higher than what the state projected in July.

After hearing hours of emotional testimony from parents and students who don't think Colorado's schools are safe enough in the wake of deadly shootings, state lawmakers are now considering eight measures to address the issue.

And they will spend the weekend working on them to meet a Monday bill drafting deadline.

Coloradans on both sides of the political aisle are celebrating the approval of a new reinsurance program that is expected to dramatically reduce health insurance premiums for some residents.

"By bringing down rates, we'll make a dent in the number of uninsured, and today we're really seeing the hard work we did this legislative session is coming to fruition," Gov. Jared Polis said last month.

Reinsurance is often described as insurance for insurance companies.

To the untrained eye, the pink marble walls outside Gov. Jared Polis' office look like, well, marble walls. But tour guide Ellen Stanton sees something else.

As a curious group of visitors gets closer to the wall, Stanton points out how the wavy lines in the stone create a face that looks like George Washington's.

"And over here we've got a turkey!" Stanton says, as the adults on the tour join the children in 'ooh'ing and 'ahh'ing at the hidden discovery.

In a Denver ballroom filled with red "Make America Great Again" hats and hundreds of conservatives, Ann Howe doesn't appear daunted by the task of gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to attempt to recall her governor.

Most of the offices inside the state Capitol are locked and dark this time of year as lawmakers enjoy some time off. But there was recently a flurry of activity in Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet's office as she prepared to lead a new committee of lawmakers who will try to make classrooms safer in the wake of the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Some presidential candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are seeing their profiles and poll numbers rise after last week’s debates in Miami. But others, including former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, are making headlines for the attention they’re still not getting.

Boulder County Democrats laughed, gasped, cheered and even briefly booed one of their home state candidates as they watched the second night of the Democratic primary debates Thursday at a watch party in Boulder.

“It was livelier than the first debate,” said Sandy Felte, who traveled to the Boulder Democratic Party's Headquarters from Lafayette to watch the action on a big screen. “I thought they jumped right to it, and that was a good thing.”

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is condemning socialism and making headlines for picking a fight on the issue with Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Michael Bennet is touting his plan to "clean up corruption and restore our democracy."

But both of Colorado's presidential candidates are still polling below 1% in some national polls ahead of Thursday's big Democratic primary debate in Miami.

The state of Colorado is neglecting an online transparency tool that it launched 10 years ago to let taxpayers monitor government spending in real time.

When state lawmakers in 2009 passed the bill to create the Transparency Online Project, or TOP, they proclaimed in all capital letters it would be updated every five days.

But a review by Rocky Mountain Community Radio found that despite that state law, the site is only being updated a handful of times each year, if at all.

Pages