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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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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HEALTH
5:35 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Colorado Board Votes Down Medical Marijuana Caregiver Patient Cap Change

Jenea Cox - who testified at the hearing - and her 5-year-old daughter Haleigh. They moved to Colorado from Georgia so Haleigh could take a special medical marijuana strain to help with her seizures.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 10:33 am

The Colorado Board of Health has voted against setting maximum patient caps for medical marijuana caregivers. The proposed rule would have limited caregivers to just 10 patients. After a tense and at times tearful hearing Tuesday, the board said the change was unnecessary.

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NEWS
11:52 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Colorado Volunteer Fire Departments Struggling For Recruits

Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Chief Brita Horn is also the Routt County treasurer and a part-time EMT.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 3:28 pm

In many parts of Colorado when you dial 9-1-1 to report a fire, the firefighters who arrive to extinguish it are volunteers. These firefighters have other jobs, and serve half of the state’s population. But Colorado has an ever-shrinking pool of volunteers, leaving many communities at risk.

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LOCAL MOTION
10:52 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Local Motion: KVNF's Regional News Roundup August 2014

From left to right, KVNF's news producer Jake Ryan, news director Laura Palmisano, and morning host Patricia Naft in the studio.
Credit Skip Naft

On this week's Local Motion we are showcasing our news team.

Patricia Naft, the voice of KVNF's morning regional newscast, hosts the program that features six original stories by our news director Laura Palmisano and news producer Jake Ryan.

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POLITICS
1:40 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Last-Minute Bargain Struck On Colorado Oil And Gas Control

Congressman Jared Polis and Governor John Hickenlooper announce a deal on oil and gas to avoid a costly fight at the ballot box.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 6:59 am

In a news conference Monday Governor John Hickenlooper, alongside Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and other supporters, announced a deal on local control for oil and gas, heading off a showdown on the November ballot.

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ENVIRONMENT
10:45 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Denver EPA Hearing Draws A Crowd

Coal supporters opposed to the EPA rules rally in front of the state capitol, July 29, 2014. The EPA hearing was being held nearby in downtown Denver the same day.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:28 am

Hundreds of people are expected to testify in Denver on proposed rules to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Denver hearing is one of several the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting across the country on the plans.

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POLITICS
4:47 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Personhood's Third Attempt Seeps Into Colorado's Close Senate Race

Opponents of Amendment 67 hold a rally at the state capitol in Denver. The amendment would give unborn babies the same constitutional and legal rights as a person.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 12:26 pm

Colorado voters will once again decide on an amendment that would give unborn babies the same constitutional and legal rights as a person. The measure is bringing out some familiar faces – it’s also impacting one of the closest U.S. Senate races in the country.

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POLITICS
3:56 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Stumping For Beauprez, Christie Stands Firm On Colorado Pot

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez talks to reporters with Chris Christie. Christie, the head of the Republican Governor's Association is in Colorado campaigning for Beauprez.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 4:29 pm

While campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to back down from his comments made earlier in 2014, criticizing Colorado’s quality of life after legalizing recreational marijuana.

“We’ve got to stop in public life worrying about making everybody happy and faking it, like we’re going to agree all the time,” said Christie.

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POLITICS
12:25 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Hickenlooper Nixes Special Session, Oil And Gas Battle Moves To The Ballot

Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 6:42 am

Governor John Hickenlooper has formally pulled the plug on the possibility of a special legislation session to consider stricter rules for the oil and gas industry. Hickenlooper said there weren't enough stakeholders on board for a bipartisan solution.

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POLITICS
6:13 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

One Point Of Contention In The Colorado Gov's Race? The Economy

Pictured on the left, GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, on the right, incumbent John Hickenlooper.
Beauprez-U.S. House / Hickenlooper-State of Colorado

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 10:37 am

Colorado’s economy and job growth are already shaping up to play a central role in the November gubernatorial race. Both candidates are using their own figures to assess how the state is faring as it recovers from the recession.

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POLITICS
4:19 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Primary Aside, Beauprez Focuses On Key Issues, Hickenlooper

U.S. House

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:36 pm

Fresh off a primary victory where he bested former Congressman Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and former state senate minority leader Mike Kopp, Bob Beauprez discussed some of the key issues in the upcoming governors campaign: from energy and the environment to guns and capital punishment.

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