News last week that Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is entering the U.S. Senate race to try and unseat Democrat Mark Udall sent shock waves through Colorado’s political landscape. The move has caused some Republicans to drop out of the race. As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about the change.
Wednesday’s surprising race swap between Representative Cory Gardner and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck may demonstrate a game changer for Colorado’s Republican Party. Colorado State University political science professor Kyle Saunders says the solidly Republican 4th Congressional District is a more natural fit for Ken Buck. He thinks Gardner has a better opportunity to win the Senate race against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:29 am
The market for legal recreational marijuana in Colorado is booming, and the state is expecting millions of dollars more in tax revenues that initially projected. That has lawmakers grappling with the best way to spend all of that additional cash.
Lawmakers are rolling out a new bi-partisan funding plan for K through 12 schools, but many in the education community are not board with it. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about the education agenda this session, and some unusual alliances it's creating.
School superintendents in Colorado are concerned about the state’s legislative agenda this session. Nearly every school district in the state wrote a letter asking lawmakers to focus exclusively on restoring budget cuts to schools and drop bills they’re calling unnecessary. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
The Black Forest Fire/Rescue District has released some of the findings from an independent investigation into Fire Chief Bob Harvey’s response during last year’s devastating blaze. KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
Four of the six Republican candidates seeking to replace Governor John Hickenlooper in the fall faced off in their first formal debate last night at the Denver Post. As Bente Birkeland reports, they touched on a host of topics – including the two missing candidates.
Construction on U.S. 24 through Ute Pass started today resulting in lane closures until April. KRCC's Rachel Gonchar reports:
Flood mitigation construction along the eastbound route has all traffic shifted to westbound lanes. The Colorado Department of Transportation says it will stay that way for around two weeks until it’s completed. The traffic will then shift to the eastbound lanes so the work can continue on the other side.
UPDATE: According to Chaffee County Sheriff spokeswoman Laura Smith, an x-ray of the explosive device determined it was a "practice round" and nothing suspicious. The Buena Vista Police Department re-took custody of the scene, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will take the device back to the crime lab for processing. Streets have reopened and the investigation is ongoing.
An explosive device in the back of a pickup truck closed streets and around the Buena Vista stoplight.
"The library and nearby buildings were evacuated, streets were closed and a code red alert was broadcast to the community. Schools were also locked down as a 'precautionary measure,' [BV Police Chief] Tidwell said."
The article goes on to say that El Paso County bomb squad is on its way to Buena Vista.
"We had a lady that came to the PD this morning after 7 and reported that there was an explosive device in the back of her pickup," Tidwell said. The woman apparently parked her vehicle to clean the library, and discovered the what she believed to be an explosive device when she returned to her car.
It takes water to produce electricity, but how much water varies a lot depending on the fuel source and the power generating technology. In Colorado, around half a percent of our total water usage is used to generate electricity.
It’s a small percentage, says Stacy Tellinghusen, water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates, a non-profit conservation group, but adds that it’s not inconsequential.
Colorado is embarking into uncharted territory as the Department of Transportation creates its first public private partnership along U.S. Highway 36. CDOT officials say they don’t have the money to repair and maintain all the state’s roads and bridges and this agreement is necessary. But as Bente Birkeland reports, several lawmakers have serious concerns and want to slow down the project.
Two are dead in separate avalanches in Colorado this week. KRCC’s Elaina Formby reports.
One avalanche caught two snowmobilers, killing one near Kebler Pass, west of Crested Butte. Another avalanche by the North Fork Swan River, south of Keystone Ski Resort, caught two skiers. One escaped, the other, a man in his 40s from the Front Range, was found dead at 11:30 this morning.
A new poll released by Quinnipiac University suggests Colorado voters believe marijuana legalization is hurting the state’s reputation. But as KRCC’s Nat Stein reports, voters still continue to support the laws.
51% of polled voters in the state say legal pot is bad for Colorado’s image. Only 38% say the new laws are helping.
Last summer Colorado officials rolled out a new state brand and logo. It’s popular among some groups but received mixed support at the state capitol. A Republican bill to send the branding question to a vote of the people failed at the statehouse. As part of capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about the back story and where the branding issue goes from here.
Revised, 04/24/14: New out-of-state visitor numbers supplied to study co-author Kevin Duncan after this report aired lowers the estimated annual impact to around $3.4 million annually. Duncan writes that it's "about $34 million over ten years. The additional cost of providing service to Pueblo is estimated to be between $26 and $30 million."
Researches are using lasers to determine snowpack. These images show measurements of snow water equivalent (top) and snow albedo, or reflectivity (image) for the Tuolumne River Basin in California's Sierra Nevada in April, 2013. Albedo shows the percentage of sunlight reflected back; the lower the albedo, the faster the snowmelt rate and runoff.
Scientists in Colorado are working to improve runoff forecasting in the West so water managers can meet growing needs in the future. A growing population coupled with climate change means every drop will count. Scientists are mapping terrain and snow with lasers to provide a more accurate picture of the snowpack. It's called the NASA JPL Airborne Snow Observatory. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Jeff Deems, a research scientist with the University of Colorado, Boulder. He’s involved with the project.
A bill to study how to upgrade the state’s emergency radio communication system is moving through the statehouse. Lawmakers say the bill is important in the wake of recent wildfires and floods. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
The State Historical Fund, or SHF, has awarded nearly $9 million total in grants for preservation projects all over the state. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, the Fine Arts Center, and the Canon City Carnegie Library are among the southern Colorado structures that recently received funds.
Steve Turner, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, says often the buildings chosen for the grants are among the most loved places in a community. "They also are frequently really the civic heart of a community," Turner said.
Trainings for volunteer call takers during large emergencies in the Pikes Peak region are taking place this week. It’s a collaboration between Pikes Peak United Way 211, the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. KRCC’s Martha Perez-Sanz was at the first gathering and has this report.
The gun debate that riveted the state capitol last session once again took center stage yesterday. As Bente Birkeland reports, emotions were strong, but compared to last year, fewer people came to the capitol to testify on a key gun bill.
Republicans have vowed to repeal a package of gun control proposals that the Democrats passed. The first bill in their sights? The bill that brought universal background checks and fees for gun purchases to Colorado.
After dominating last year’s legislative session, state lawmakers are once again beginning to debate the issue of guns. Republicans are taking the lead this time around, trying to repeal many Democratic bills including stepped up background checks.
The background check law was part of a larger package of gun control bills Democrats passed in the wake of the Aurora Theater shooting and shooting in Newtown Connecticut. Republicans say Democrats overreached.
Some of the meatier bills of the legislative session are beginning to move through the statehouse. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to political reporters about what's on the horizon.
Vegans and vegetarians in the Pikes Peak region now have a directory of like-minded businesses. KRCC's Martha Perez-Sanz reports.
The directory comes from the Colorado Springs Vegan and Vegetarian Group, which recently sprouted to over 600 members. Lead organizer JL Fields says members became curious about how they could take their vegan or vegetarian lifestyles beyond personal eating choices.
Communities across Colorado could soon decide whether to extend bar hours beyond the current 2 am closing time. But some feel a statehouse proposal to change the law could do more harm than good.
Under the bill cities and towns could allow bars to stay open as late as 4:30 in the morning. Supporters - say the 2 am closing time is dangerous because it dumps thousands of people into the streets and behind the wheel at the same time...