Local News

Capitol Coverage
1:18 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Current, Former Colorado Govs. Make A Pitch For School Testing

Gov. John Hickenlooper joined by former Democratic Governor Roy Romer and Republican Governor Bill Owens. They spoke about the importance of standardized tests in schools as the legislature debates the issue.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 3:51 pm

Two former governors, Roy Romer and Bill Owens, joined current Gov. John Hickenlooper at the state capitol to urge lawmakers not to go too far in reducing the numbers of standardized assessments school children take. This comes as legislators are debating several bills to lower the number of exams.

Republican Bill Owens said it's important to have standards and test against those standards to see if students are learning what they should, and to evaluate schools and teachers.

"Our friends from the left and the right for differing reasons, don't want to test, don't want to measure, don't want to have accountability," said Owens. "This is stunning to me."

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Southwest Chief
4:33 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Southwest Chief Commission Continues Work Despite Legislative Setbacks

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s Southwest Chief commission met Friday, just days after $1.5 million in funding amendments were stripped from the House’s state budget proposal and another funding bill was put on indefinite hold. 

The commission is tasked with finding money for the route, including needed repairs to the tracks and for possibly adding a stop in Pueblo. 
 

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Capitol Coverage
12:04 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Fetal Homicide Bill Introduced at Statehouse

Credit file

Colorado’s Senate president introduced a fetal homicide bill this week. As written, it would define a person as an unborn human being from conception until birth for the purposes of homicide and assault cases. It’s expected to draw vigorous debate at the statehouse.

Senate Bill 268 [.pdf] would allow prosecutors to file a murder charge if an unborn baby is killed or dies during an assault or murder of the mother.

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Pueblo Mural
5:19 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Rules for Repainting Pueblo Levee Mural Under Discussion

The mural along the Arkansas River in Pueblo. (file photo)
Credit Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Repair work on the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is destroying the world’s largest mural. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports on the discussion about repainting it.

The Pueblo Conservancy District board oversees the levee. It’s preparing guidelines to cover design, approval, and maintenance for new artwork. They got mixed comments from the couple of dozen people at a public meeting last night.

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Capitol Coverage
3:38 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Mascot Bill Delayed at Last Minute

Credit file

UPDATE 04/15/15 - The House passed the bill; it's expected to fail in the Senate.

ORIGINAL POST 04/14/15: Democrats in the House unexpectedly delayed a vote on an American Indian mascot bill after they realized Republicans had enough votes to kill it.  

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Capitol Coverage
10:58 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Southwest Chief Funding Amendment Initially Passes House

Amtrak's Southwest Chief
Credit Steve Wilson / Flickr – Creative Commons

    

UPDATE 04/14/15: The Joint Budget Committee, charged with negotiating the differences between the House and Senate budget proposals, stripped this funding amendment from the budget. The eventual budget plan will still need approval from both chambers.

ORIGINAL POST 04/09/15: Lawmakers in the House initially passed the state's annual budget yesterday. After hours of debate, the chamber decided to set aside money to help preserve a passenger train that runs through southeastern Colorado. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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2015 Municipal Election
9:04 am
Wed April 8, 2015

Colorado Springs Mayoral Race Heads to Runoff; Other Election Results

Former Attorney General John Suthers and former Colorado Springs mayor Mary Lou Makepeace are headed to a runoff election next month to be the city’s next mayor.  Colorado Springs voters yesterday gave Suthers 46% of the vote, while Makepeace came in with 24%.  Among the other leading candidates, Joel Miller received 16% of the vote, while Amy Lathen received 12%.  The runoff election is scheduled for May 19.

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Connecting the Drops
7:40 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Public Engagement and the Colorado Water Plan

Members of the public gather at a Colorado Basin Roundtable Meeting in 2014.
Credit Kate McIntire / Colorado Water Conservation Board

It's been just over three months since Coloradans got a first look at the state's water plan. The draft that was submitted to Governor John Hickenlooper came after more than 800 public meetings held all across the state. But despite an extensive education and outreach campaign, just how involved is the general public in planning Colorado's water future?

In his 2015 state of the state address, Governor John Hickenlooper lauded the process that brought people from around Colorado together to create the state's water plan:

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CapCov
11:30 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Senate Debates Budget

Bente Birkeland
Credit D. Utterback

  The state’s budget for next year initially passed the Senate on Wednesday after a nearly nine hour debate. It’s the final part of the months long budgeting process. As Bente Birkeland reports, lawmakers didn’t make many changes.

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Capitol Conversation
9:22 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Capitol Conversation: Budget

Capitol Reporter Bente Birkeland
Credit D. Utterback

  The annual Colorado budget is making its way through the statehouse. It cleared the Senate on a vote of 21 to 14 passing largely along party lines, with three Democrats joining Republicans to support it. We asked John Frank with the Denver Post and Ivan Moreno with the Associated Press to talk about the dynamics at play.

  

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Local News
7:45 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Water Transfer Prompts Early Conversations

Cattle graze on the CB Ranch at Coaldale, which has been purchased by the Security Water and Sanitation District for the water rights. Courtesy Pueblo Chieftain
Credit Chris Woodka / Pueblo Chieftain

The projected growth of Colorado’s Front Range has water planners looking ahead to meet the demands of the population influx.  One way to meet the growing need is for utility companies to buy water rights from farmers and ranchers and then divert that water to cover the city’s needs, commonly called “Buy & Dry.”

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Water
7:42 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Checking in on Colorado Springs' Water Supply at Homestake Reservoir

A sign points the snowy way to the Homestake Reservoir.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

High up in the Colorado Rockies, across the Continental Divide and northwest of Leadville, is the Homestake Reservoir, and lately, things have been looking good up there.  Colorado Springs Utilities put together a press tour of the region in mid-March to show where that water comes from and how they measure it to predict the year in water.
 

As winter’s grip begins to fade along the Front Range, water managers with Colorado Springs Utilities are closely monitoring what’s happening hundreds of miles away. 

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Colorado Springs Municipal Election
9:59 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Top Four Mayoral Candidates Debate

Campaign signs for the four candidates participating in a debate at UCCS.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

    

The themes of leadership, cooperation, and transparency resounded through an auditorium at UCCS at a recent mayoral forum, sponsored by local media organizations.  Billed as a debate featuring the four leading candidates in this year’s Colorado Springs mayoral race, the 90-minute event covered topics such as transportation and regional collaboration.

Listen to the full debate here, with candidates Amy Lathen, Joel Miller, John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace (see below for audio of specific questions and answers):
 

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Pueblo Levee
7:55 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Cost of Pueblo Levee Repairs Expected to Rise

Initial work to rebuild the aging Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is winding down. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports that structural issues discovered during this phase will likely mean the project will cost more than originally projected.

Work began late last year to lower the height and replace the concrete facing on the levee in order to meet FEMA flood control requirements. The bottom of the 90-year-old structure is about nine feet deeper than expected, according to Rick Kidd, the administrator for the Pueblo Conservancy District, which oversees the levee.

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Education
10:07 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Testing Reform Remains in Limbo

Credit clipart

A bi-partisan measure aimed at reducing the number of tests Colorado public school students take is in limbo at the state legislature. The sponsors delayed the first hearing and don’t know when it will be rescheduled – if at all.

On average, students in Colorado classrooms take more than two-dozen assessments before they graduate, and in some cases up to four times a year according to the Colorado Education Association.  Critics say it actually means less time for overall learning.

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Child Poverty
3:46 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Child Poverty Rate is Down in Colorado

Children visit the state capitol for the release of the annual Kids Count Report from the Colorado Children's Campaign.
Credit Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Colorado’s childhood poverty rate has decreased for the first time in five years. The latest data comes as part of the annual Kids Count Report, which offers information on the health and well being of children across the state.

“That is great news for Colorado,” said Lt. Governor Joe Garcia. He went on to add that there’s always a but. “We know that there are still far too many children growing up in households where they don’t have access to the opportunities and resources they need to be healthy and succeed."

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Capitol Conversation
7:43 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Capitol Conversation: Revenue Forecast and the State Budget

Capitol reporter Bente Birkeland
Credit D. Utterback

Colorado’s latest revenue forecast was a mixed bag for lawmakers, showing a healthy economy and more money for the state budget. But there’s also a lot of uncertainty moving forward. Bente Birkeland sat down with Ivan Moreno of the Associated Press and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal to discuss the implications of more state revenue.
 

Here are excerpts from the interview:

What it means for the state budget:

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Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site
11:58 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Army Releases Final EIS for Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site

The Army has released its final Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed increase in training and operations at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in rural southeast Colorado.  The Army is looking to increase training at the site to include explosives, drones and full-brigade sized exercises, though in the final 642-page document [.pdf], the Army says it’s no l

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Capitol Coverage
4:25 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Mixed News in Colorado's Latest Revenue Forecast

Credit file

As they prepare to write the annual budget, there's mixed news for Colorado lawmakers. The latest revenue forecast shows the economy will remain strong, but there is a lot of uncertainty going forward, especially when it comes to low oil prices and how it ripples through the state's economy.

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Colorado Springs Municipal Election
2:04 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Council Candidates Address Questions & Issues at Citizens Project Forum

Ballots are hitting mailboxes in Colorado Springs for April’s municipal election. Voters are being asked to choose a new mayor, as well as a council representative from the city’s northern District 2 and three at-large city council members.

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Energy
9:11 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Colorado Legislature Poised For A Look At Oil & Gas Health Impacts

Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:46 am

Trying to get more information on the health impact of oil and gas drilling is a topic that lawmakers will soon be taking up at the statehouse. It comes after the Governor's Oil and Gas Task Force finished their work and issued several health related recommendations.

"I get a little bit concerned and annoyed when people try to use health as the basis of what they don't like about oil and gas," said Dr. Larry Wolk the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

He said he understands the concern, but worries the state doesn't have enough hard data.

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Capitol Conversation
3:06 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Capitol Conversation: Session's Second Half Begins

Capitol Reporter Bente Birkeland
Credit D. Utterback

Governor John Hickenlooper recently sat down with reporters to discuss how the legislative session is going so far. Lawmakers are just past the midpoint of the four-month long session.

Which bills are being delayed?

How is the Governor handling split legislative control?

Here are a couple highlights from the conversation:

Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

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Energy
4:39 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Q & A: Tisha Schuller, Head of Colorado Oil & Gas Association, Steps Down

Tisha Schuller, head of COGA, is stepping down
Credit COGA

Tisha Schuller announced earlier this week that she’s leaving her position as head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state’s largest trade organization for the energy industry. She sat down with Bente Birkeland to discuss industry challenges and why she's moving on.
 

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Capitol Coverage
4:19 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Expansion Stumbles In Committee

Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) and Margery Grandbouche with Hilltop Community Resources, which operates the Get Real Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program testify in support of a bill to expand the program statewide.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 7:40 am

A bill to expand a teen pregnancy prevention program for low-income youth failed in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday on a party line 3-2 vote. Republicans defeated the measure, one that was sponsored by one of their own.

"I guess this is my big thing is let's take an inventory of what we're doing before we throw another layer on there," said Senate Finance Committee chair Tim Neville (R-Littleton).

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Capitol Coverage
4:24 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Two Republican Religious Freedom Bills Fall In Committee

Opponents of two religious liberty proposals rally at the state capitol prior to the hearing on Monday. They said the bills would hurt business and give people a license to discriminate in Colorado. Jessie Ulibarri (D-Westiminster) attended the rally.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 8:52 am

Two Republican religious freedom bills drew strong opposition from gay rights groups, civil liberties organizations and members of the business community Monday. The first bill, known as House Bill 1171 [.pdf], would have forbade government officials from constraining the exercise of religion had it not been struck down in committee.

The second bill, House Bill 1161 [.pdf], would have protected people from facing penalties for refusing to violate their beliefs and was also defeated.

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Capitol Coverage
8:36 am
Tue March 10, 2015

2015 Legislative Session Reaches its Mid-Point

Credit file

State lawmakers are officially at the halfway point of the 2015 legislative session. What needs to be done before the end of the session? Lawmakers will need to pass a balanced budget, and along the way grapple with some hot-button issues such as school testing requirements and police reforms.

"Most of the big work is ahead of us, what happens for the first half is kind of getting ready for it," said Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs).

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KRCC Wins!
4:43 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

KRCC Takes a Haul at the Colorado Broadcasters Association's Excellence Awards

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

  Last Saturday night, March 7th, 2015, KRCC's News Director Andrea Chalfin and the Big Something/Wish We Were Here's Noel Black and Jake Brownell both took home first place awards from the Colorado Broadcasters Association's annual awards gala the "Excellence Awards."  

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Capitol Conversation
3:40 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Capitol Conversation: Midway through the Session

State lawmakers are midway through the annual legislative session. Bente Birkeland talked with Ivan Moreno with the Associated Press and Charles Ashby with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel to discuss police reform bills and workforce development measures that will get a lot of attention in the coming weeks.

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Dark Skies
4:30 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Westcliffe, Sliver Cliff Designated as Dark Sky Community

The International Dark Sky Association certified the neighboring towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff in southern Colorado’s Wet Mountain Valley as the world’s ninth Dark Sky Community. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports.

Stars stretch from horizon to horizon on a clear night in the Wet Mountain Valley. The designation recognizes the community’s efforts to protect this view by reducing light pollution. 

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Drought
6:33 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Above Average Snows Continue to Ease Drought Conditions

U.S. Drought Monitor
Credit David Simeral / Western Regional Climate Center

The recent pile up of snow in southern Colorado is helping to ease the state’s drought conditions.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.
 

The U.S. Drought Monitor says about 63% of the sate is dealing with abnormally dry or drought conditions compared with 72% at this time last year.

The precipitation in southern Colorado is above average, says Larry Walrod, a lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Pueblo.  Walrod also says NOAA recently released an El Niño advisory.

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