Legislature

Capitol Conversation
3:55 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Pending Measures

Bente Birkeland

Lawmakers at the state capitol have some big-ticket items to iron out before the session wraps up in May.

As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about some of those measures.

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Capitol Coverage
7:20 am
Thu April 10, 2014

'Student Success Act' Passes House on Initial Vote

Lawmakers have scaled back several provisions in a major education bill after hearing the concerns from school districts across the state. The Student Success Act initially passed the House on Wednesday with the new changes. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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Capitol Conversation
3:25 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Capitol Conversation: State Budget Enters Final Stages

The state’s 23 billion dollar budget has cleared both legislative chambers. Now it’s up to lawmakers on the joint budget committee to iron out any differences. In this week’s capitol conversation Bente Birkeland sits down with statehouse reporters to discuss the major highlights in this year’s budget.
 

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Capitol Coverage
4:46 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

State Senate Passes Bi-Partisan Budget

The state senate has passed the annual budget – and it cleared the chamber with more Republican support than in previous years. As Bente Birkeland reports, a conference committee will now meet to iron out differences between the versions the two chambers passed.
 

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Capitol Coverage
10:45 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

State Senate Adds Money for Aerial Firefighting Fleet

Colorado’s $23 million budget is nearing the end of its legislative journey after floor debate in the senate Thursday. As Bente Birkeland reports, the senate made one noteworthy change to the house’s version.
 

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Capitol Coverage
2:50 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Budget May Douse State Aerial Firefighting Fleet

A Type 1 helicopter, known as a snorkel, drops water on the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colo., June, 2012.
National Guard Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 10:56 am

Lawmakers on Colorado’s powerful joint budget committee are skeptical about finding money for an aerial firefighting fleet for the upcoming wildfire season. A report from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control recommends spending $33 million on spotter planes, small air tankers, helicopters, and leasing large air tankers for wildfire season.

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Capitol Coverage
5:00 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Telecom Proposals Move Forward

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Even in 2014, many parts of the Colorado are still not connected to the Internet – and if they are it’s not at high speeds. A package of bills to reform and update the state’s telecommunications industry cleared its first committee at the state capitol on Tuesday.
 

Similar proposals have failed in the past, but this year there’s more momentum and strong backing from the Governor’s office. Supporters say the flagship measure would redirect some of the money currently used to pay for high cost land lines into building broadband in underserved areas.

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Southwest Chief
8:12 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Railroad West: Colorado Lawmakers Weigh In on the Southwest Chief

Amtrak's Southwest Chief pulls into the Lamar station.
Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s Amtrak rail line in southeastern Colorado is in need of major repairs. Upgrades to the track are expected to be in the millions, and a measure is moving through the statehouse to try and find ways to finance the project and save the rail line.  It’s part of a multi-state effort.
 

The Southwest Chief line runs through the towns of Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad. It’s part of a longer passenger route stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles.

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Capitol Coverage
10:10 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Cigarette Restriction Bill Goes Up In Smoke

Smokers in Old Town Fort Collins, in this file photo from May 2007.
Paul L. Dineen Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 8:44 am

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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Capitol Coverage
5:28 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

State Budget Forecast is Stronger than Anticipated

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Colorado lawmakers learned today that the state’s economy is stronger than expected and they’ll have more money to spend in next year’s budget.
 

For the past few weeks, the grumblings around the state capitol were that the revenue forecast would be lower than anticipated. Instead, it’s $61 million higher.

“Right now you have a lot of flexibility in the budget because revenues are growing,” said Natalie Mullis, the state’s non-partisan chief economist.

She says the recovery has been slow, but it’s picking up.

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Capitol Conversation
5:05 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Health Bills & the Budget

Bente Birkeland

A number of controversial healthcare bills are up for debate at the statehouse this legislative session.  For this week’s Capitol Conversation, statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about some of them, and also talks about one of the biggest budget fights going forward.
 

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Capitol Coverage
10:12 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Cell Phone Driving Ban Defeated

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A bill to ban talking on cell phones while driving failed in the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday. Two Democrats joined Republicans in defeating the measure.
 

The hearing was emotional at times and lawmakers were brought to tears after Shelly Forney from Fort Collins testified about her 9 year old daughter Erica’s death. Erica was biking near her home when a woman talking on her cell phone hit her with her car.

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Capitol Coverage
7:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Disaster Relief On The Docket At The State Capitol

Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:50 pm

The annual legislative session is typically marked with plenty of partisanship – but this year lawmakers in both parties are working together on flood relief bills. As dozens of natural disaster bills are making their way in the statehouse, some of the more significant policies are stalled.

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Capitol Coverage
8:12 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Taking A Tally At The Colorado Legislative Midpoint

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Colorado’s 2014 legislative session is already halfway over. So far lawmakers have tackled a whole host of issues – everything from gun law repeals to wildfire and flood related measures.

By all accounts this year’s session has been much less contentious compared to the previous year. In 2013, Democrats used their majority to pass stricter gun laws, a new voting bill, and tougher renewable energy standards for electric coops.

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Education
6:49 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Funding K-12: Bi-Partisan Bill Gets First Hearing

Credit Clipart

Dozens of school superintendents told lawmakers on the house education committee Monday that Colorado needs to do more to restore K through 12 budget cuts. After a 2013 ballot initiative failed to pass and solve the state’s funding challenges, the problem now falls into the laps of lawmakers. A bi-partisan bill to begin pumping more money into schools got its first hearing at the capitol.
 

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Capitol Coverage
9:39 am
Wed February 26, 2014

'The $100 Million Question': What To Do With All That Marijuana Tax Money?

Marijuana at a newly legal grow operation in Colorado. Lawmakers are expecting a windfall of tax revenue from legalized recreational marijuana.
Brett Levin Flickr - Creative Commons

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.

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Capitol Coverage
4:07 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Superintendents Seek Greater Role in Education Policy

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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.

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Capitol Coverage
10:14 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Debating US Hwy 36 and a Public-Private Partnership

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.
 

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Local News
6:32 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

"Making Colorado" Brand Sees 250 Registrants

Credit brandColorado

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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Capitol Coverage
3:56 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Democrats Strike Down Background Check Repeal

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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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Capitol Coverage
7:55 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Guns Stay Hot Topic at Statehouse

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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.  

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Capitol Conversation
7:01 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Measures Start Moving through Statehouse

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland

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.
 

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Capitol Coverage
7:44 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Wildfire Legislative Proposals

Helping prevent and fight wildfires is one of the top priorities for Colorado lawmakers in both parties this session. But so far, substantial policy changes recommended by the Governor’s wildfire task force are being rejected. As Bente Birkeland reports, the current package of legislative proposals is not nearly as aggressive as some would like.
 

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Capitol Conversation
7:26 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Capitol Conversation: The Session Begins

It didn’t take long before tempers flared during the first full week of Colorado’s legislative session. In the state senate, party leaders had an intense back and forth about a Republican bill to repeal universal background checks for gun purchases. Bente Birkeland analyzes the dynamic as part of our capitol conversation series.
 

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Capitol Coverage
8:41 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Lawmakers Briefed on School Safety

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School safety experts briefed lawmakers on the joint education committee yesterday. They asked the state to focus on preventing school violence rather than simply trying to stop it. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

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Capitol Coverage
8:42 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Renewable Energy Standard Target of State GOP Repeal Efforts

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State lawmakers are expected to debate the repeal of a controversial renewable energy bill today. As Bente Birkeland reports, Senate Bill 252 was one of the most hotly debated bills last legislative session.

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Capitol Coverage
7:39 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Lawmakers to Consider Shield Law for Journalists

A newly elected Republican state senator wants to strengthen the shield law for journalists. The measure would mean reporters would not have to reveal confidential sources. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

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Capitol Coverage
7:25 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Legislative Priorities in the 2014 Session

Education and recovery from natural disasters are some of the top priorities for lawmakers this upcoming session. As Bente Birkeland reports, legislators in both parties have already introduced dozens of bills.
 

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Capitol Conversation
7:24 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Capitol Conversation: State of the State, Session Begins

State lawmakers are back to work under the gold dome for the annual legislative session. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to political reporters about the first few days, and the Governor’s state of the state address.
 

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Capitol Coverage
8:11 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Governor Delivers State of the State Address

Governor John Hickenlooper says Colorado has weathered a tough year but showed the world what it means to come together and be strong. The Governor gave what could be his final state of the state address on Thursday – before facing reelection in the fall. 

The Governor’s speech began on a somber note as he remembered the tests Colorado faced in 2013. The head of the State’s Department of Corrections was gunned down. Natural disasters plagued the summer and fall – and then there was December’s shooting at Arapahoe High School…

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