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President Trump recently declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency. Colorado lawmakers are poised to take more action on the topic than ever before.

Hickenlooper back from India trip

Oct 24, 2017

Gov. John Hickenlooper is back from a two-week trade trip to India. The focus was tech start-ups and entrepreneurship.

A group of Colorado lawmakers are working to lower health insurance premiums for residents on the individual market created in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. Rates are predicted to rise 34 percent on average next year. There are concerns that healthy people will opt out of coverage and that could cause rates to rise even higher as the insurance risk pool thins out.

Bob Collins, a small business owner and the father of three in Thornton, said the rise will cost him $18,000 to cover his family next year. That’s a significant increase to what he pays now.

STEPHEN BUTLER / FLICKR - CREATIVE COMMONS

Lawmakers examining state water issues are wrapping up their work ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Four years ago state lawmakers – and the governor – created a law to help undocumented children follow their American dreams. They allowed them to pay the significantly cheaper in-state tuition to go to state colleges instead of higher out-of-state prices. The requirements: They must graduate from a Colorado high school that they’ve attended for three years and promise to pursue citizenship.

“This is an issue that has been a challenge in our state and our country for many years,” said Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, one of the main sponsors of Senate Bill 33.

Lawmakers look at overcrowding problems in county prisons

Sep 20, 2017

Colorado’s annual legislative session may be in recess, but interim committees are still meeting and wrapping up their work. One group studied county prison overcrowding and the cost of housing inmates.

Bente Birkeland/ Capitol Coverage

Coal mining has been a mainstay in many parts of western Colorado. But the jobs are going away. The recent closure of a mine – and a soon to be closed power plant in Montrose County – could cut tax revenue as much as 70 percent. Both local and state groups are laboring to find a replacement economy in a region that’s not used to rapid change.

Colorado is a resilient state. The unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and the population along the Front Range is booming. It’s easy to see the impact of a strong economy in Denver. Construction cranes are up all over the city and it’s harder than ever to find affordable housing.

But it’s a different story in many parts of western Colorado.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has unveiled new recommendations related to oil and gas drilling in the wake of a fatal home explosion that killed two men. However, the measures aren’t enough for some.

STEPHEN BUTLER / FLICKR - CREATIVE COMMONS

It is no longer illegal to break into a hot vehicle to rescue a child or dog. A new law went into effect earlier this month that waives liability for a good Samaritan.

Democrats call for universal health care

Aug 8, 2017
Bente Birkeland

The head of the Democratic National Committee joined Colorado leaders – including Gov.John Hickenlooper – in calling for universal health care and putting forward a united front on health care reform. It’s part of a national bus tour called Drive for Our Lives. The bus is stopping in states where members of Congress, for instance, Sen. Cory Gardner, voted to repeal Obamacare. 

Colorado lawmakers aim to improve digital learning

Jul 31, 2017

Colorado lawmakers want to improve how public schools integrate digital learning in and outside of the classroom. A report released Monday highlights priorities and says combining technology with traditional teaching improves test scores and engages students.

The state of Colorado collected $180 million in taxes from legal marijuana sales in the 2016 fiscal year.

But could the well run dry?

As of July 1, 2017, Nevada is the eighth state to sell recreational marijuana -- and it won’t be the last. California, the sixth largest economy in the world, will start selling pot Jan. 1, 2018.

With summer here, people are flocking to the outdoors, including the trails, campsites and reservoirs of the Colorado State Parks system. Last year, the parks hit a record number of visitors – 13.5 million.  But Colorado is struggling to keep up with the demand.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is rolling and green, nestled deep in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Just 45 minutes from Denver, this is the state’s fourth most popular state park. It stays that way for most of the year.

Energy office funding still in limbo

Jun 19, 2017

A last-ditch effort to save Colorado’s Energy Office takes place Tuesday. During the legislative session, state lawmakers cut state funding for the office that oversees weatherization and other energy saving programs for residents. 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending the newly-created Bears Ears National Monument be downsized by an unspecified amount, possibly through unilateral action by the President.


Jared Polis enters race for Colorado governor

Jun 13, 2017

The list of Democrats wanting to be Colorado’s next governor is growing. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder said he’ll run against his colleague Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, along with other high profile opponents.

An audit released this week shows the Colorado Office of Film Television Media failed to properly award incentives for a number of projects.

Outdoor Industry Finds Voice Amid Public Lands Fight

Jun 4, 2017

One of the biggest trade shows in the outdoor industry is still looking for a new home after the Outdoor Industry Association decided to leave Utah after two decades. Colorado has thrown its hat in the ring as a new potential site for the event, which brings together many of the world’s largest outdoor companies.

“One of the things we’re going to have to focus on is how a blended economy really works,” said Luis Benitez, head of Colorado’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry.   

One of the most significant pieces of legislation to come out of this year’s legislative session was signed into law Tuesday. Senate Bill 267 avoided deep cuts to hospitals and put about 2 billion dollars into road funding. 

 

Hickenlooper signs $26 billion state budget

May 26, 2017

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the state’s roughly $26 billion budget into law on Friday. 

CDOT will need ten times the $1.88 billion dollars awarded this legislative session for infrastructure projects around the state, says executive director Shailen Bhatt. That money was approved by lawmakers in a last minute deal after a sweeping transportation bill failed at the statehouse last month

Flow line mapping clears first committee

May 7, 2017

A last-minute bill to require oil and gas companies to map information on all of their flow lines and gathering lines is making its way through the statehouse. It’s in response to a house explosion that killed two people in Firestone.

Colorado’s annual legislative session ends Wednesday, May 10. Several hundred bills have already passed this year. But some major items still remain. Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Nic Garcia at Chalkbeat Colorado about what’s left to do.

Colorado energy regulators are trying to quell the public’s fears after a house built near an oil and gas well exploded, killing two men. The explosion happened in the small community of Firestone, thirty miles north of Denver, where oil and gas wells are common.  State officials are still investigating the explosion and don’t know what caused it.

Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com about the tragedy and what it could mean for future oil and gas legislation.

The highest legislative priority for the governor and leaders in both parties -- transportation funding -- failed in the Republican- controlled Senate Finance Committee on April 25.

Despite the backing of the Senate President, Democratic House Speaker, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and a broad coalition of leading business groups, mayors, county commissioners and other organizations testifying in support, committee members voted along party lines in a 3 to 2 split.

State budget talks delayed

Apr 26, 2017
Tracy Olson/Flickr

Wednesday is the deadline to pass the state’s budget for the next fiscal year. Lawmakers have not yet met to finalize the plan. This delay could put the legislature in a tight spot in the final days of session.

Earlier this month, Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Nick Coltrain won the First Amendment Award at the Society for Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies for a battle with Colorado State University. He wanted to know if there were inequities in pay between men and women -- and discovered there were, but only after a lot of work. The school provided him with a printout of all the information -- 150 pages of an Excel spreadsheet --  rather than the files themselves.

Proposal for health care relief fails

Apr 26, 2017

A bipartisan measure to give people in rural Colorado financial help to cover high health insurance costs failed in a state Senate committee this week.

Colorado’s $28.6 billion budget is nearing the end of its legislative journey.

Each year, the six-member, bipartisan Joint Budget Committee crafts a balanced budget before sending it to the House and Senate for amendments. The JBC then has to reconcile those changes.

But in most cases, they go back to the original budget they spend months writing.

This year, the the House and Senate have added about 30 amendments to the so-called “long bill”.

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