KRCC Local News

Colorado Springs local and Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico regional news from the award-winning KRCC Newsroom. Past series include Flash Point, and Healthy Conversation. Looking for recent KRCC daily newscasts?  Click here.

Colorado lawmakers are only required to do one thing during their annual legislative session: pass a balanced budget. After several days of discussion, members of the Democratic-controlled House did just that. It had bipartisan support with four Western Slope Republicans and one Colorado Springs Republican joining the Democratic majority.

"It looked like the task would be daunting, but I think we just ended up with a really harmonic convergence of budget forecasts and certain events that occurred that allowed us to not to face as many dramatic cuts as we thought we were going to have to face," said Representative Dave Young (D-Greeley), a member of the bi-partisan joint budget committee that wrote the budget bill.

Tucker Hampson / KRCC

Colorado Springs residents packed the gymnasium at Gold Camp Elementary School on Wednesday evening to discuss the controversial proposed land swap with the Broadmoor that would include Strawberry Hill. They came to hear about the property appraisals and to see the building plans for the Broadmoor stable and pavilion intended for the meadow at Strawberry Field.

A new initiative to streamline public transit information across the nation has launched, and the Colorado Department of Transportation is planning to participate.  The initiative is called the National Transit Map, and its goal is to compile public transportation data, including localized bus and train routes and schedules, into a single repository.

Jake Brownell / KRCC

In January, the Colorado Springs Parks Department unveiled a plan to trade city land to the Broadmoor in exchange for several pieces of property owned by the hotel. Heralded by proponents as an opportunity to expand upon and enhance the city's park system, the plan has garnered criticism from residents who want the most significant parcel, known as Strawberry Hill, to remain in the public's hands.

National Weather Service- Pueblo

The National Weather Service is hosting its annual weather spotter preparedness and training sessions.

KRCC

  

State lawmakers are set to debate the annual budget, which funds everything from roads and schools, to healthcare and parks. This year Colorado has a shortfall, so that means making budget cuts. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about some of the major budget issues.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

As repairs on the aging Arkansas River levee move ahead, heavy equipment will cut through the image of a corn maiden, along with scores of other paintings that cover the 2.8-mile long levee.
 

Construction workers are taking extra care as they remove the corn maiden, and dozens of people gathered Thursday afternoon to say goodbye to this piece of local history.  Poets, drummers and a woman dressed in a ceremonial mask were among those watching the work from across the river.
 

Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr/Creative Commons

A bill that would allow people to collect rain that falls from their rooftops remains hung up in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee after the chair said he wasn't comfortable with the measure. It's not clear when the committee will vote on it.

The same thing happened last year when the rain barrel bill vote was delayed. And while the bill eventually cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee over the objections of the Republican chair, it failed on the final day of the 2015 legislative session when time ran out.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Colorado's next Lieutenant Governor is poised to be Donna Lynne, a top executive at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. Governor John Hickenlooper made the nomination on Wednesday, and he said Lynne, an Executive Vice President at Kaiser, would be very capable filling his shoes if he doesn't end up finishing his second term as Governor. Hickenlooper has long been rumored as a possible cabinet pick for a Democratic President.

National Weather Service

Modified post:  

Northern El Paso County remains under a blizzard warning until 8 PM.  Southern El Paso County is under a Winter Weather Advisory until 6 PM.  Public safety groups are urging people to stay off the roads.

The fast-moving storm closed routes along the Front Range, including Interstate 25 from North Academy to County Line Road in Denver.  Check current route statuses here with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

One of the latest rankings for Colorado Springs highlights the city as among the thinnest nationwide of large metropolitan areas.

KRCC

Several police reform measures are making their way through the statehouse, and lawmakers are also looking at how best to address the problem of sexting among teenagers.

A planning grant totaling more than $80,000 was recently awarded to the Southern Colorado Economic Development District for creating jobs in Southern Colorado.

USGCRP

A recently released study suggests droughts in the southwest could last longer and have more severe impacts in the future.  The study, performed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), compared 35 years of observational data to existing climate models.

KRCC

Colorado's four-month long legislative session is half way over. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about some of the surprises so far, and what lies ahead.

Environment Colorado / Screen Grab

An environmental advocacy group has a new interactive extreme weather map that charts natural disasters across the nation and in Colorado. 

Colorado Springs City Council discussed a proposal at Monday's work session that seeks to formally oppose the relocation of refugees to the city unless the federal government can certify they pose no security threat.

Cases of ringworm in cats are on the rise in Pueblo County. The increase puts humans at risk of exposure, as the infection can be spread from a pet to its owner.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

An informational meeting on the possibility of bringing passenger rail back to Pueblo is taking place tomorrow.

Southwest Chief efforts have received two federal grants in as many years totaling more than $48 million, about half of the funds needed to repair the current route.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace also heads the state's Southwest Chief Commission, which is tasked with coordinating efforts to preserve the line and ultimately bring it back to the steel city.

"We feel right now that the existential threat has passed us mostly," says Pace, "and we can now start focusing on the final piece, which is connecting Pueblo to the Southwest Chief route."

Pace says the community meeting will help citizens get involved with bringing the Chief to Pueblo, and layout what they still need to do to repair the line. That includes seeking state and federal funding, and applying for a third federal grant in April.

The meeting is set to take place Thursday, March 3rd at the Pueblo City-County Health Department at 5:30 PM. 

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Voters in eleven states went to the polls or caucused on Super Tuesday. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won Colorado's Democratic caucuses. He also grabbed victories in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and in his home state.

On the GOP side, Colorado Republicans did not take a preference poll for the presidential race.

IAN MACKENZIE / FLICKR - CREATIVE COMMONS

Colorado is on the road to becoming the final state in the country to legalize rain barrels, after Democrats reached an agreement on Monday with several Republicans who opposed previous versions of the measure.

Another attempt in Colorado to allow terminally ill patients to take medication to end their own lives recently failed for the second straight year in the Democratic controlled House.

With strong words for opponents and members of their own party, the sponsors of the End-of-Life Options Bill, known as House Bill 16-1054 [.pdf], pulled it before debate could begin on the floor. The reason behind the withdrawal was a lack of votes and proposed amendments for the bill.

A bill that would have allowed terminally ill patients to take medication to end their own lives has failed in the Colorado Legislature. The main sponsors asked lawmakers to defeat the bill before it could be debated by the full House.

"The choice we made today, was to give you the relief from having to have this conversation because we know many of you have deeply held convictions that make you uncomfortable with this bill," said state Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver). "We are doing you this favor, to not have this debate, but make no mistake the voice of the people of this state will be heard."

Colorado residents have vastly different health outcomes, based in part on where they live in the state. Rocky Mountain PBS News analyzed health data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to rank each of the state's 64 counties based on a variety of health indicators from obesity, to amount of exercise, to smoking and premature deaths.

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.

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Colorado is the only state in the country where it is illegal to capture rainwater for use at a later time. State lawmakers are once again debating whether to allow residents to use rain barrels to collect precipitation that falls from their roofs.

"This is really straightforward," said Representative Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge), one of the main sponsor's of House Bill 16-1005 [.pdf]. "You could use that water when you see fit, for your tomato plants or flower gardens."

Colorado lawmakers are divided over whether a hospital provider fee should be reclassified in the state budget so it doesn't count toward the state's revenue limit under the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights.

Updated 2/21/16

The closed portion of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon reopened Sunday evening, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

However, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said intermittent road closures are planned over the next several days. 

"We think we are going to be in this combination of the pilot car configuration open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m then closing down from 9 a.m. til 4 p.m.," said Ford. 

Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce

Pueblo residents are being asked to participate in a first-of-its kind community survey. The Pueblo Collaborative Community Survey will help leaders assess which public services to invest in. It allows residents to rank the importance of ten different categories, including economic development, public safety, and health and human services.

After a large rock slide, state officials expect the closure of I-70 to continue until at least Saturday. The rock slide occurred in Glenwood Canyon early Monday morning, and then again Monday evening. Since then, the highway’s been closed.  Inclement weather is delaying efforts to remove dangerous conditions.

  

Colorado Springs officials are planning to apply for a grant to help property owners affected by landslides on the city's west side. 

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