business

Trinidad is reeling from a mass layoff. KRCC's Dana Cronin reports.
 

Around 100 people are losing their jobs at the Pioneer Natural Resources branch in Trinidad. The Texas-based oil and gas company was the largest employer in the city, says Gabriel Engeland, Trinidad's City Manager, who adds that the layoffs are devastating both economically and socially.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Governor John Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force will deliver its final recommendations Friday. The group is proposing nine changes to try and mitigate the impacts of energy development near communities. The task force also wants local governments to be more involved in developing large drill sites, but stopped short of allowing cities and counties to adopt stricter rules than the state standards. Bente Birkeland sat down with the Governor to discuss his thoughts on the group’s work and some of the backlash from members of his own party.

After five months of meetings, the work of Governor John Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force is getting mixed reviews from lawmakers at the state capitol. 

Governor John Hickenlooper created the task force last August to avoid a fracking fight at the ballot box, and to keep two anti- oil and gas measures from reaching voters. Now, that group of individuals from the industry to environmentalists has backed nine recommendations, such as adding more well inspectors and trying to reduce truck traffic.

Brett Levin Flickr / Creative Commons

The state of Colorado is facing new lawsuits over recreational marijuana legalization. The Washington DC based Safe Streets Alliance is suing the state in federal court to try and close down the industry.

“It is illegal under federal law to sell marijuana and in this country federal law is the supreme law of the land,” said David Thompson, the lead attorney for the Safe Streets Alliance.

A new smart phone app for the Pikes Peak region is looking to connect local food producers with consumers. KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.

The app is called LocalFood and will allow users to find, purchase, or sell products that are grown or produced within a 67-mile radius of Colorado Springs.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long-distance passenger train that travels daily from Chicago to Los Angeles along the Mountain Route of the historic Santa Fe Trail.  Along the way, it knits together rural communities, like La Junta, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico and connects them to larger cities, like Albuquerque and Kansas City.  The route is at risk though.

Bente Bikeland / RMCR

Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said he would call on the withdrawal of two anti-fracking ballot initiatives he’s backing so the state can try to craft a legislative solution. He said he made the decision in the last few days, “I’ve said that from the very start my personal preference is to address these issues legislatively.”

More and more companies are starting to use the new Colorado logo and slogan - “it’s our nature” - to promote their products, helping the state's efforts to strengthen its brand and global competitiveness. The branding effort though has been somewhat controversial and it will take some time to determine its success.

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With over 200 breweries and brewpubs, Colorado is one of top beer producers in the country.  All that beer requires a lot of water.  Brewers large and small are working to conserve the precious liquid that is crucial to creating the other precious liquid.

Governor John Hickenlooper signed two measures into law Wednesday, both aimed at tightening rules around marijuana edibles and concentrates. One goal is to make sure young children don’t accidentally ingest the drug.

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A bill to require stricter labels for edible marijuana products faced a setback on Thursday. Members of the Senate Health and Human Services committee voted to study the issue rather than move forward with new labels. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

CSU Extension

Colorado's climate puts it among the top 10 states for sunflower production, but many of the state's farmers have cut back on planting sunflowers. Last year Colorado’s sunflower production dropped to a fraction of its high in 1999. Now, growers are considering how much they're willing to pay to help reverse the trend. Shanna Lewis reports farmers are voting on whether to double the fee on sunflowers.

 

Sunflower growers currently pay three-cents per hundred weight to support marketing and research on their crop. 

A bill to increase the smoking age in Colorado to 21 failed in the house finance committee Wednesday. One Democrat joined with Republicans to defeat the measure.

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Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas says it’s expecting to add at least 850 factory workers statewide this year.  400 have already been hired.  The announcement comes after one of the best years for orders placed with the company, and after leaner previous years led to a series of layoffs at its Colorado plants.  In a statement, Vestas says 80 of those workers will be at its Pueblo facility, where they’re expected to reach full capacity this year.  The company also says it expects by the end of the year to employ more than 2000 total workers in its four factories in the state.

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The top pot regulators in Colorado are meeting today to discuss the status of the recently legal recreational marijuana business. KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar reports.

A month after the sale of marijuana in Colorado officially became legal, state lawyers and law professors are gathering with top rule makers to talk about how the industry and regulation is going.

D. Utterback

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.
 

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250 companies have registered for Colorado’s new branding program since its launch last year, even as the logo faces a legislative challenge. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
 

“Making Colorado” looks to have a unified logo for products made in the state. The logo is currently under legislative review after mixed reaction. 

Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Kennedy says the new registrations are a great start and it’s too early to tell what may come of action at the statehouse.

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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.

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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.  

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.

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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...

Officials from Connect For Health Colorado say they’re on track to be self-sustaining when federal subsidies run out next year. KRCC’s Nat Stein on the latest from the state’s health insurance exchange.

Almost 69,000 Coloradoans have gotten health insurance through the state’s new insurance marketplace. That includes a significant uptick since the end of last year.

CEO Patty Fontneau told lawmakers on Thursday the exchange won’t need to charge high fees on premiums, due to the enrollment numbers. She also says the exchange plans on trimming staff to help cut costs.

Colorado Imposes Food Safety Rules On Marijuana Industry

Jan 29, 2014
Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

 
Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business.

Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

Marijuana, though, is still considered illegal by the federal government. The existing food safety system, which relies heavily on support from federal agencies, can’t ensure that marijuana-infused foods are safe.

Colorado’s Energy industry is continuing to make the case that hydraulic fracturing is safe and a critical part of the state’s economy. They’re stepping up efforts following the recent passage of fracking bans and moratoriums in three Front Range communities. The outcome of a ban in Broomfield has yet to be determined.

“Merely the fact that they qualified shows that there’s not enough education out there on these issues,” said Jon Haubert, spokesman for Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development – or CRED.

A contentious real estate transaction in Old Colorado City is now a thing of the past as Iowa-based Kum & Go announced this morning that it's canceling plans to purchase property from Goodwill between 23rd and 24th Streets.

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Two Colorado cities have made the top ten of this year’s “Best Places for Business and Careers” list from Forbes.  The annual list examines the 200 largest cities across the country, measured by their metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs.  Denver landed at number 6, while Fort Collins came in at number seven.  The rankings take into account data including past and projected job growth, income growth, and business and living costs.  Colorado Springs landed in the top 100 at number 44, while Greeley also made th