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Current and former Colorado state Democratic lawmakers are praising the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing same sex marriage nationwide. In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"Today is an amazing day for America and equality, said Democratic former Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino, who served as Colorado’s first gay speaker and helped pass a bill to make civil unions legal in the state.

"I knew we would get to this day in my life time, but never thought it would come so quickly. I am so proud of our nation's ability to move towards full equality for all people. The work is not done to end all discrimination but today was a gigantic step forward."

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

A lot of dirt needs to get moved to repair the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo, and plans for the repairs are changing so that dirt can be put to use on other projects. Those changes may affect efforts to preserve historic sections of the murals painted on the levee.
 

Originally plans called for reducing the height of the levee by 12 feet in phases, but now other projects can use the dirt quicker than first thought. Pueblo Conservancy District consulting engineer Kim Kock said that means they need to keep moving forward.

Despite state lawmakers failing to pass a bill to fund the effort, a program to provide long acting reversible birth control to young, low-income women in Colorado is being extended for another year.

The long acting contraceptives, according to state figures, have helped cut teen pregnancy rates in the state by 40 percent. Abortions have gone down too.

High Water Levels Prompt State Park Restrictions

Jun 18, 2015

Record-breaking rains leading to high water levels have prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restrict access in some recreational areas. 

Boat ramps, shoreline access points and parking areas are limited at Lake Pueblo State Park. The department isn’t sure when they’ll reopen.

Near Lake George, the South Platte River is running usually high, resulting in the closure of Spinney Mountain State Park’s river access lot. The department is discouraging fishing along many areas of the river.

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It's been more than a month since Colorado lawmakers wrapped up their annual legislative session at the state capitol, but the work is far from over. Many of the bills that failed this year will likely be back next year, and some long-standing issues may already be poised to go before voters in 2016.

"I've worked on issues that have taken a couple of years to get through," said Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose).

Shooks Run Planning Kicks Off With Meeting

Jun 17, 2015

The City of Colorado Springs is looking at the future of Shooks Run, a corridor located east of downtown between Fountain Creek and Patty Jewett Golf Course. 

The first of several public workshops takes place on Thursday, kicking off a 16-month collaborative planning process called Envision Shooks Run. 

The project will create a plan to address issues like drainage, multi-modal transportation, and urban planning to help improve infrastructure and enhance the corridor.

Survey: Nearly 14% of Colorado Adults Use Pot

Jun 16, 2015
CDPHE

In a newly released survey, the state Health Department says nearly 14% of Colorado adults currently use marijuana.

Of those who currently use pot, one third use it every day. About 19 percent drove after using. Slightly more than half of Colorado adults have never tried marijuana.

The survey also showed young adults aged 18 to 24 are ten times more likely to use pot than older adults over the age of 65.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo says Colorado Springs received a record breaking 3.16 inches of rain Monday.  The old record, set more than a century ago in 1914, was 2.27 inches.  The record-breaking day comes after a record-breaking month of May, which, for the most part, removed southern Colorado from lingering drought conditions. 

Brett Levin Flickr / Creative Commons

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that companies can legally fire employees for using medical marijuana, even off duty.

The decision is based on the case of Brandon Coats. He is a quadriplegic who takes medical marijuana to control muscle spasms in his legs. Dish Network fired him from his job as a customer service representative in 2010 after he failed a random drug test. Coats then sued for unlawful termination. Business groups praised the court's decision.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

After a mild and wet spring, temperatures along the Front Range are expected to soar this week and that has fire managers on edge. The Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture are using this lull in the fire season to call for changes in how the federal government funds wildfire suppression.

While Colorado has experienced much needed rain, fire officials are still expecting an average fire season.

Developing Colorado with Water Conservation in Mind

Jun 10, 2015
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Finding enough water to meet the demands of the booming Front Range has city planners closely looking at how new developments can be built with water conservation as a key component.  With the second draft of the State Water Plan scheduled for release in July, many water advocates are hoping to see the issue of land use addressed.
 

Colorado has experienced massive population growth in the last few years, and that trend is projected to continue.

The deadline for bills that passed during the state's legislative session to become law or get vetoed was Friday. Measures are either signed by the Governor or become law without his signature. Some proposals have large signing ceremonies, while others are done quietly. Bente Birkeland talks to state capitol reporters about some of the measures.
 

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Department of Defense has approved plans to modify and increase training at the Army's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in Southern Colorado.  The Record of Decision [.pdf], signed May 1 and made available last week, approves what's being called "Enhanced Readiness Training," to include brigade-size exercises an

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A measure to eliminate immunity for public schools for shootings, deaths, sexual assaults and other series injuries that happen to students on school grounds was signed into law on Wednesday. Previously schools had absolute immunity.

The law would cap damages at $900,000 for multiple injuries per incident. Governor Hickenlooper says the state has experienced its fair share of tragedies in schools and hopes the law will make students safer.

Jason Turner / Photo courtesy: Pueblo Nature and Raptor Center

A member of the endangered California condor species was found far from home in a backyard near Colorado Springs.  The large bird was taken to the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo after being picked up by the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and transported via Colorado Parks and Wildlife volunteers.

Diana Miller, director of the Pueblo Nature and Raptor Center, said the bird was in good condition, despite being a little thin.

It was sent Tuesday morning to the Peregrine Fund in Arizona to be reintroduced into the wild.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Colorado Springs' newest mayor was sworn into office Tuesday with a ceremony outside the Pioneers Museum. 
 

Former state Attorney General John Suthers took the oath of office as city council, employees, residents and military representatives watched.  

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Energy development is always a hot topic at the statehouse, but 2015 was oddly quiet. Even with recommendations from a task force studying the issue, state lawmakers did little this past session where oil and gas drilling is concerned. As a result, some of the more long-standing issues as local control and public health concerns are still simmering.

The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service has announced a new plan to protect the greater sage grouse from extinction, while hoping to prevent the bird from being added to the endangered species list.

The sage grouse population has dropped from 16 million birds to less than half a million, mainly due to lost sagebrush habitat. The bird's range spans 11 western states including Colorado.

"As land managers of two-thirds of greater sage grouse habitat, we have a responsibility to take action that ensures a bright future for wildlife and a thriving western economy," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at the announcement in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Governor John Hickenlooper joined the head of the Department of Human Services in their first public appearance together since lawmakers called for Hickenlooper to overhaul the department, and possibly fire the executive director. 
 

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

As a result of Colorado's booming oil production, energy companies are paying more in severance taxes – money they pay the state for taking minerals out of the ground. Half of it is supposed to go to back to local communities, both directly and through grants. But thanks to market forces and political conditions in Denver, it's not always a stable source of funding.

Steve Wilson / Flickr - Creative Commons

The Colorado Department of Transportation Commission voted unanimously to approve $1 million to help preserve the Southwest Chief rail line in southern Colorado. It's part of a route that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The aging track needs major upgrades or Amtrak will have to reroute the line out of Colorado and parts of New Mexico and Kansas. The train stops in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad, in southeastern Colorado.

It’s May in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on a mountainside 10,829 feet above sea level, snow is falling. It’s pelting Jim Cheatham, a biologist with the National Park Service. Shrugging off the cold, Cheatham seizes a teachable moment. This snow, he said, holds more than just water.

“Chances are it’s carrying the excess nitrogen we’re talking about,” mused Cheatham.

For the past eight years, the biologist has spent most of his time thinking about how nitrogen pollution is changing the park’s forests, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. He’s also been looking for a way to stop it.

A series of workshops this month looks to discuss the future of bicycling in Colorado Springs.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.

The forums will help update the Colorado Springs Bike Master Plan, which lays out a ten-year strategy for the improvement of bicycling conditions in the city.

Brian Shevock is the Bicycle Coordinator for the city. He says his biggest challenge is the spread out nature of Colorado Springs.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Former Colorado Attorney General John Suthers will be the next mayor of Colorado Springs.  

Suthers soundly defeated former Colorado Springs mayor Mary Lou Makepace in a runoff election by a two to one margin.  He said Tuesday night that he was humbled by the response, but there’s work to be done.

"The challenge is very, very significant," Suthers said. "And so I take delight in the political victory tonight, but tomorrow, we hit the ground running and working very very hard."

  Colorado Springs officials are seeking disaster assistance after rain in early May caused an estimated $8.2 million in damages to public infrastructure, including roads, stormwater, and parks and trails. The local disaster declaration covers rainstorms and flooding from May 3 to the 12th.  Initial reports indicate an estimated $281,000 for sinkholes, 5 million for stormwater damages, including landslides and erosion, and nearly 3 million for parks and trails. 

Colorado Springs voters will elect a new mayor on Tuesday in a runoff race featuring former Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and former Colorado Springs mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

As of late last week, 37% of residents who received ballots have cast their votes.  Around 7000 ballots mailed to voters were deemed undeliverable. 

CONGRATULATIONS SENIORS!

May 17, 2015

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Commencement for Colorado College's class of 2015 begins at 8:30 a.m. on Monday in its rain back-up location: the World Arena.  CLICK HERE FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT COMMENCEMENT MOVING.

Flickr / Creative Commons

The new aerial fire fighting research center in Rifle opened this week with a ribbon cutting.  Melissa Lineberger is the director of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting, and recently spoke with KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh about her experience with wildfires and her vision for the program.
 

BACK ON THE AIR

May 14, 2015

KRCC's signal in Colorado Springs has gone down as of about 9:10am 5/14/15.  We're uncertain of the cause.  Our engineer is rushing to correct the problem.  Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE 9:40am: It appears that our link to our main transmitter has gone down and we are unable to deliver audio.  Our engineer is headed to Cheyenne mountain to turn on older, microwave equipment.  We'll post more updates as we learn more.

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The USA Pro Challenge recently announced the route for this year’s bicycling race, and as expected, Colorado Springs was not among the stage cities.  KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

The race provides an economic boost to all of Colorado, bringing in over $100 million statewide.

Director of Communications with the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau Chelsy Offutt says the event continues to grow, with a 12% increase in revenue last year. Offut says Colorado Springs did put in a bid to host the Pro Challenge this year, but didn’t make the cut.

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