Bente Birkeland

Capitol Coverage Reporter

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for Rocky Mountain Community Radio stations, including KVNF, since 2006. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May, covering important bills, discussions, and the positions of our state legislators. 

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LOCAL MOTION
1:47 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Local Motion: Regional News Roundup Dec. 2014

Listen to the regional newscast weekdays at 8 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.

On this week's Local Motion we are showcasing the regional reporting by the KVNF news team. We'll hear stories from Laura Palmisano, Jake Ryan and Bente Birkeland. They report on the struggles volunteer fire departments face, groundwater monitoring in the North Fork Valley, Colorado's spruce beetle epidemic, the proposed physician-assisted suicide bill, domestic violence, and solar energy.

Listen to the regional newscast weekdays at 8 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. to hear reports from the KVNF news team. 

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ENVIRONMENT
9:36 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Hickenlooper Shows Off Colorado Water Plan Draft

Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:53 pm

Governor John Hickenlooper unveiled a draft of the state's first ever water plan Wednesday. The goal of the plan - a decade in the making - is to create a comprehensive water strategy to protect rural farm economies and bring more water to millions of people along the Front Range.

"Water is too important for bickering and potential failure. It demands collaborations," said James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which drafted the proposal. "This plan sets the stage for us to take the necessary next steps."

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POLITICS
10:59 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Chamber Renovations Uncover Surprises At The Colorado Capitol

The restoration work in the House chamber undercovered stenciling and a green color.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 7:51 am

Colorado's state capitol is getting a major upgrade. A two-year renovation of the building's signature gold dome is complete and on the inside, work is underway on both the House and Senate chambers. Just like any remodeling project, some interesting surprises have been uncovered along the way.

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NEWS
10:02 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Gov. Hickenlooper Apologizes On Colorado's Behalf For Sand Creek Massacre

State of Colorado

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 11:42 am

Governor John Hickenlooper has apologized on behalf of the state of Colorado for the Sand Creek Massacre. The Massacre happened the morning of Nov. 29, 1864 as cavalrymen known as the Colorado Volunteers converged on a sleeping group of mostly women, children and elderly Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. The 150-year-old event is one of the most notable incidents of violence against Native Americans in the history of the west.

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HEALTH
3:55 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Death With Dignity Movement Sweeping Nation, Colorado Part Of The Wave

A map showing states considering legislation on physician-assisted suicide.
Compassion and Choices

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 3:53 pm

This fall, the highly publicized death of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with terminal brain cancer who decided to end her life, brought the "right to die" movement a lot of attention.

Anne Singer, campaigns communications manager at the group Compassion and Choices, which advocates for death with dignity, as it is sometimes called, said the public response has been astonishing.

"Nothing like this has ever happened to our organization before. Our website crashed…the momentum is definitely picking up."

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ENVIRONMENT
3:13 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Agreement Reached For Colorado's Roan Plateau

Colorado's Roan Plateau
Courtesy of EcoFlight

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 3:25 pm

The Bureau of Land Management, environmentalists, and the energy industry have reached an agreement on a proposal to drill for oil and gas on the Roan Plateau. The new plan cancels 17 out of 19 oil and gas leases that were issued in 2008. Two previous leases at the top of the plateau, and a dozen at the base will remain in place.

"These measures allow us to protect the plateau but harness some of the energy resources," said Governor John Hickenlooper.

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POLITICS
11:35 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Hickenlooper On Re-Election: 'We Want To Thank Colorado'

Hickenlooper declares victory, narrowly, at the state capitol on the day after Election Day.
Bente Birekland RMCR

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 4:13 pm

Colorado incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper has been re-elected to a second term.

By 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, some 12 and half hours after the polls closed, multiple media organizations including The Denver Post were projecting the win over Republican challenger Bob Beauprez with votes left to count in Boulder and Denver counties. The win is the largest for Democrats in the state following strong Republican victories, notably in the U.S. Senate with Cory Gardner defeating incumbent Senator Mark Udall.

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POLITICS
10:19 am
Tue October 28, 2014

In Final Debate, Colorado Gov Candidates Make Their Last Pitch

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 12:51 pm

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With early voting well underway, Colorado's gubernatorial candidates staked out their positions one last time during at their eighth and final debate Friday. Hosted by CBS Denver 4 and Colorado Public Television, the topics were rather routine - except for the issue of public safety. That's where things got heated.

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POLITICS
12:11 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Will Colorado's Growing Latino Vote Turn Out For The Midterms?

Two volunteers at a Senator Mark Udall field office in heavily Latino Adams County. They were there to help rally the Latino vote and knock on doors.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 10:55 am

Latinos make up about twenty percent of Colorado's population and continue to be a highly courted voting bloc. It's a group that more frequently votes for Democrats, but Latinos also turn out less often in midterm elections like 2014.

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.

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POLITICS
9:59 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Amendment 67 Seeks To Add The Unborn To The Definition of Person And Child

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 5:00 am

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. 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."

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POLITICS
9:43 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Amendment 68: Should Gambling Be Expanded And Taxed For Education Funding?

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 7:02 am

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.

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POLITICS
8:39 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Hickenlooper Points To Successes On Economy, Bipartisanship

State of Colorado

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 8:38 am

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.

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POLITICS
8:35 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Beauprez: 'What I'm Doing Is Standing Up For Colorado'

Bob Beauprez, pictured here in his official congressional photo from his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, 2006.
U.S. House

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 8:37 am

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.

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LOCAL MOTION
12:40 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Local Motion: Regional News Roundup Oct. 2014

On this week's Local Motion, we've decided to highlight political stories aired on our regional newscast. 

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POLITICS
4:02 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Hickenlooper, Beauprez Spar on Marijuana, Student Loan Debt at CSU Debate

CSU Student Body President Samantha Guinn (right) asks both gubernatorial candidates about rising tuition costs for students.
Grace Hood KUNC

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 9:14 am

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beaupre squared off in an hour-long debate Thursday, hosted by the Coloradoan and 9News. In front of a packed audience in Colorado State University's Lory Student Center, the candidates discussed a wide range of topics from marijuana to curbing higher education costs, birth control and same-sex marriage.

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POLITICS
9:46 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Udall, Gardner Tangle Over Reproductive Rights, D.C. Ties In Denver Post Debate

Udall - U.S. Senate | Gardner - U.S. House

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 7:21 am

Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner had a spirited debate Tuesday night hosted by The Denver Post. Both candidates are locked in a tight race and both stayed on message in the hour-long debate.

Udall attacked Gardner as extreme and out of touch, Gardner criticized Udall for being in lockstep with President Barack Obama.

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POLITICS
9:09 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Both Sides Vie For The Youth Vote In Tightly Contested Colorado Senate Race

Daniel Almodovar and Stephen Shaw both attend CU-Boulder. They are undecided voters and neither is happy with the gridlock in Congress. They blame both political parties and the President.
Bo Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 4:48 pm

With Colorado's U.S. Senate race too close to call, both parties are on an all-out blitz to court as many voters as they can prior to the November election. The youth vote has traditionally helped Democrats, but Republicans see an opening with national support for President Obama falling among the millennial generation.

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POLITICS
10:38 am
Thu September 25, 2014

In Colorado's Tight Senate Contest, A Race To Court Women Voters

Kathy Holderith making calls at a GOP field office in Lakewood, Colo. Jefferson County is considered a key swing area in the close U.S. Senate race.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 10:09 am

Colorado's U.S. Senate race is a considered by many to be a tossup. Incumbent Senator Mark Udall and Republican Congressman Cory Gardner are trying to win over as many key voting blocs as they can before Election Day – and that includes women.

In the previous close Senate contest between appointed Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck, women played a critical role. During the waning days of that 2010 race, Bennet focused his attention on the female vote – and narrowly won. With women making up 51.4 percent of all registered voters in Colorado this election, it's a scenario Democrats are hoping to repeat.

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NEWS
1:29 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Shrinking Pool Of Volunteer Firefighters Leaves Communities At Risk

Chief Brita Horn of the Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Department in Colorado says the department is "always short-handed."
Bente Birkeland KRCC

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 8:03 am

Judy and Harry Gaylor live in the mountains of Evergreen, west of Denver. The 70-acre stretch of land is covered with aspen and lodgepole pines and has been in Harry's family for close to a century. But, last year, a wildfire came dangerously close to burning his family house to the ground.

Harry credits volunteer firefighters from Evergreen Fire Rescue for containing the wildfire as it raged toward their neighbor's house.

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POLITICS
7:42 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Polls Painting A Confusing Picture Of Colorado Races

On the left, Democrat Mark Udall, pictured on the right, Republican Cory Gardner.
Udall - US Senate | Gardner - US House

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 4:44 pm

Multiple polls on Colorado's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races were recently released and there are some different perspectives on where things stand with just seven weeks until the November election.

Most polls show the U.S Senate race as being too close to call. The Denver Post recently gave incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall a narrow edge over his Republican challenger Congressman Cory Gardner, but within the margin of error. A separate USA Today Poll gives Gardner a one point edge. The most recent Quinnipiac Poll was more of an outlier. It gave Gardner the lead, 48 – 40 over Udall.

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