Colorado

Newscast for Friday, 7/24/15, 5:32 PM:
 

Brian Fuchs, National Drought Mitigation Center; David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center / U.S. Drought Monitor

Dry conditions across Colorado have largely disappeared, according to the latest U. S. Drought Monitor. 

Only a small portion of the state remains listed under the "Abnormally Dry"  classification, compared with more than a quarter last week.  Those remaining dry locations are in the northwest and southwest portions of the state.  

No portion of Colorado currently faces drought conditions.

The U. S. Drought Monitor shows about 98% of the state clear of all classifications of drought and dry conditions, compared with 59% one year ago.

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. 
 

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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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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).

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.

CC, UCCS Collaborate on Ft. Carson research

Feb 13, 2015

Professors at Colorado College and UCCS have been collaborating since 2007 on research at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The result: An article titled “Militarized spaces and open range: Piñon Canyon and (counter)cartographies of rural resistance,” which examines how rural communities in Colorado have confronted military expansion. The article was recently published in the journal Environment & Planning D: Society and Space. Here’s more on their research:

D. Utterback

Democratic lawmakers in Colorado recently introduced a measure to allow terminally ill patients to take medication to end their lives. The patients must be given a prognosis from two different physicians giving them less than six months to live.

Why do supporters say it’s the compassionate choice?

Who strongly opposes it?

Bente Birkeland discusses the proposal with statehouse reporters.

Some key points from the conversation:

Precautions in Place

Ivan Moreno with the Associated Press

ICYMI: State Water Plan the Topic of Special Connecting the Drops Program

Jan 28, 2015

The state water plan was the topic of conversation for a special Connecting the Drops program that originally aired on Sunday, January 25. 

Guests:  

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A bill to allow terminally ill patients to take their own lives was introduced at the state capitol Tuesday. Supporters say they want to give patients an option to die with dignity.
 

House Bill 1135 [.pdf] would let people who have less than six months to live take a prescription to die. 

D. Utterback

Colorado’s new Republican Senate majority flexed their muscles last week at the state capitol. They used their power on the joint budget committee to defund a 2013 law allowing people in the country illegally to obtain a state driver’s license. They also struck down a bill to harmonize Colorado’s civil unions law with a gay marriage ban that was deemed unconstitutional by the 10th circuit court of appeals. They also struck down a commission looking pay equity between men and women.

Tune in to KRCC Sunday, January 25 at 5 PM for a special one-hour call-in Connecting the Drops program focusing on the State Water Plan.

The plan looks to find a way to meet the state’s growing water needs. But what does it mean for different stakeholders?  Joining us for a state wide discussion on the Colorado Water Plan are James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River Water Conservation District  and Chris Woodka with the Pueblo Chieftain will be our guests, and your calls will be welcome at 800-737-3030.

D. Utterback

Governor John Hickenlooper gave his annual State of the State Address in front of a joint session of the General Assembly Thursday. 
 

Capitol Conversation Highlights

What stood out in Address

 Ed Sealover- Denver Business Journal

Colorado.gov

Governor John Hickenlooper said he was intentionally vague at times during his annual state of the state address, which he delivered to the legislature on Thursday. He recently sat down to discuss his speech and what it means for the year ahead with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland.

Interview highlights:
 

Governor Hickenlooper on the Constitutional Conflicts between TABOR, Amendment 23 and Gallagher

Governor John Hickenlooper received a warm reception from lawmakers in both parties during his annual State of the State Address. The Governor talked about policies he wants the legislature to adopt, announced a few new initiatives and urged lawmakers to face facts about the challenges facing Colorado.

During his roughly 45-minute speech Hickenlooper highlighted many of his budget proposals, such as giving more money to higher education and K-12 schools. He also pledged to look at ways to creatively fund roads and bridges, and threw his support behind a felony DUI law. Colorado is one of four states without one.

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Governor John Hickenlooper was sworn into office Tuesday for his second term. The ceremony took place on a chilly morning outside the west steps of the state capitol. Several hundred people gathered to watch Hickenlooper along with other statewide elected officials take the oath of office.
 

D. Utterback

Colorado’s legislative session opened last week. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland discusses the beginning of the session with other political reporters, and touches on some of the bills that were introduced during opening week.

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One hundred lawmakers from across Colorado converged on the state capitol Wednesday for opening day of the annual legislative session. Freshman lawmakers from both parties were officially sworn in and both chambers which have new leaders.

Much of the day’s attention was focused on the Senate, where Republicans gained the majority for the first time in a decade. For all their gains, newly elected senate president Bill Cadman [R- Colorado Springs] gave a rather subdued speech – talking less about policy and more on building trust and civility among lawmakers.

Colorado General Assembly

In a series of interviews with legislative leaders, statehouse correspondent Bente Birkeland discusses the upcoming legislative session and the change of control in the state Senate. Morgan Carroll [D-Aurora] is going from senate president to minority leader.  
 

Morgan Carroll on Republicans gaining control of the state Senate

Colorado General Assembly

Dickey Lee Hullinghorst [D-Boulder] will be the next speaker of the House. She discusses her priorities and her party’s agenda for the session, as a part of a series of interviews with legislative leaders.

Dickey Lee Hullinghorst discusses the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force

Colorado General Assembly

House minority leader Brian DelGrosso [R-Loveland] discusses his thoughts on the upcoming legislative session as part of a series of interviews with legislative leaders. DelGrosso was the minority leader for the last two years, and his party made gains in the house last November to narrow the Democratic majority.

DelGrosso on Spilt Legislative Control

Governor John Hickenlooper unveiled a draft of the state’s first ever water plan on Wednesday. The goal is to create a comprehensive water strategy to protect rural farm economies and bring more water to millions of people along the Front Range.The plan has been a decade in the making and supporters say it will help the state meet water demands as the population grows.
 

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Colorado's statehouse will have divided control in January. Republicans gained a one-seat majority in the state senate, while Democrats held onto their house majority. Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about what that means for some key issues lawmakers hope to tackle.
 

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Latinos make up about twenty percent of Colorado’s population and continue to be a highly courted voting bloc during this election. It’s a group that more frequently votes for Democrats, but Latinos also turn out less often in midterm elections, and both political parties face challenges in attracting them.
 

Republicans have long been trying to make inroads with Latino voters, especially in competitive states like Colorado, where a small number of votes could swing key races for the U.S. Senate and Governor.

One of this November’s statewide ballot questions may look familiar to Coloradans. For the third time since 2008, voters will decide the fate of an amendment dealing with the issue of personhood. But this time around supporters are taking a different approach.
 

Amendment 67 would change the state’s criminal code and wrongful death act to include the term “unborn human beings” when referring to a “person” or “child.” Backers say it stems from the 2012 case of Heather Surovik, who shares her testimonial on the Personhood USA website…

While much of the attention the 2014 election season has been focused on Colorado's Senate and gubernatorial races, voters will also be deciding the fates of four statewide ballot questions. One of those questions seeks to expand gambling at racetracks to help fund K-12 education.

If approved, Amendment 68 would allow horse race tracks in Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo counties to offer slot machines, roulette, craps, and card games such as blackjack and poker. Arapahoe Park in Aurora is at the center of the campaign.

Colorado’s new Suicide Prevention Commission is meeting this morning for the first time. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
 

The state legislature created the group to establish new efforts for prevention priorities, broaden public and private partnerships, and identify funding resources.

Jarrod Hindman is the Suicide Prevention Section Manager at the Department of Public Health. He says the commission is expected to build on past prevention efforts.

After four years in office Governor John Hickenlooper is facing the toughest campaign of his political career. A recent poll from The Denver Post shows his race against Republican former Congressman Bob Beauprez statistically tied. What's more, Beauprez is also making gains on Hickenlooper in the Denver metro area and in rural Colorado.

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez is facing a close race against Governor John Hickenlooper in his gubernatorial bid. Back in 2006, he made several missteps in his campaign for governor, but in this 2014 run he's run a much tighter ship.

Beauprez-U.S. House / Hickenlooper-State of Colorado

Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and his Republican challenger Bob Beauprez met for one of their final debates last night at UCCS, sponsored by the school and the Colorado Springs Gazette, Independent and Business Journal.
 

Topics included jobs and the economy, energy development, and education.  

One question from the audience focused on climate change and the role people play in it.

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