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. 

Pages

NEWS
11:15 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Colorado Oil And Gas Lawsuits Draw Critical Response

A drilling site near homes outside of Mead, Colo. in Aug. 2012.
Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:31 pm

Colorado’s energy industry trade group is now involved on three fronts with lawsuits over voter approved fracking bans or moratoriums. The latest move involved the announcement of suits against Lafayette and Fort Collins.  

Read more
NEWS
12:51 pm
Sun November 24, 2013

Post-Election, Oil And Gas Industry Steps Up Outreach

Governor Hickenlooper explains a new rule he's proposing to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. Two of the companies behind the effort, Anadarko and Noble Energy have recently created a public education outreach organization on fracking.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Colorado’s Energy industry is continuing to make the case that hydraulic fracturing is safe and a critical part of the state’s economy.

Read more
NEWS
12:56 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Ethics Complaint Against Hickenlooper Moves Forward

State of Colorado

Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission is moving forward to review an ethics complaint against Governor John Hickenlooper. The Governor’s office blasted the claim saying it has no merit.

Read more
NEWS
9:46 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Hickenlooper Proposes New Oil And Gas Air Quality Regulations

A drilling rig nestled in the greenspace between developments in Frederick, Colo., Aug. 2013.
Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:15 pm

Calling them ‘groundbreaking,’ Governor John Hickenlooper proposed new statewide air quality rules for oil and gas drilling Monday. The rules aim to reduce air pollution from methane emissions.

Read more
NEWS
9:36 am
Tue November 19, 2013

As Hollywood Goes Digital, Colo. Hopes To Save Rural Theaters

The Sands Theater in Brush got a $20,000 grant from the state, and will need to come up with an additional $30,000 to convert digitally.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 12:18 pm

Theater projectors are going where most of the dazzling special effects in summer blockbusters have gone: All digital. In 2014, Hollywood will no longer release movies on traditional film stock. Theaters must convert or be forced to close – including those in rural Colorado.

Read more
NPR Story
3:15 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Hickenlooper Proposes New Oil And Gas Air Quality Regulations

A drilling rig nestled in the greenspace between developments in Frederick, Colo., Aug. 2013.
Jim Hill KUNC

Calling them ‘groundbreaking,’ Governor John Hickenlooper proposed new statewide air quality rules for oil and gas drilling Monday. The rules aim to reduce air pollution from methane emissions.

Read more
NEWS
9:11 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Colorado Says Yes To Pot Taxes, No To Education Tax

Colorado Voters statewide spoke overwhelmingly on two tax initiatives. Recreational marijuana taxes passed, while the education tax was struck down.
Larimer County Sample Ballot

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 6:35 am

Colorado voters gave a mixed reaction Tuesday on a pair of statewide tax increases. Voters didn’t want to tax themselves to pay for education, but were overwhelmingly willing to tax recreational marijuana to help rebuild schools.

Read more
NEWS
11:01 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Committee Wraps Work On Colorado Wildfire Recommendations

Soldiers from the Colorado National Guard's 1157th Engineer Firefighter Company smother hot spots around Black Forest residential areas in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 14, 2013.
U.S. National Guard photo Sgt. Richard McMullen/RELEASED

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 10:18 am

A state committee tasked with studying wildfire issues recently finished its work with several recommendations. Among them, a tax credit to encourage people to mitigate fire risks and a proposal to give individual counties more authority to cut down hazardous trees.

Read more
NEWS
6:17 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Republicans Have The Edge In Colorado Early Voting

A mail ballot for the City and County of Denver
Nathan Heffel KUNC

About ten percent of Colorado’s registered voters have already cast ballots for the Nov. 5 election. So far Republicans have turned out in higher numbers.

Read more
NEWS
9:02 am
Mon October 28, 2013

'Ganja-preneurs' Set Their Sights On Colorado Pot Tourism

Participants with My 420 Tours.
Chandler Kim used with permission

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 7:47 am

Recreational marijuana shops won’t open their doors in Colorado until January and already several pot tourism companies are making plans to cash in on the new businesses.

Read more
NEWS
10:23 am
Sat October 26, 2013

William Hood Will Be Colorado’s Next Supreme Court Justice

William Hood and his wife look on as Gov. Hickenlooper announces his appointment, Oct. 25.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Governor John Hickenlooper announced the appointment of William Hood to the bench Friday afternoon. Hood is filling the place of retiring chief justice John Bender.

Read more
NEWS
2:51 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Voters To Weigh In On Colorado Marijuana Taxes

Marijuana indvidually bagged and ready for use in this photo dated April 20, 2013.
charenton Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 2:43 pm

Colorado is preparing for the state’s first recreational marijuana stores to open this January. In the meantime, voters still have the final say on how the new product will be taxed through Proposition AA.

Read more
NEWS
4:23 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

As Election Nears, Critics And Supporters Spar Over Education Tax

Governor John Hickenlooper meets with members of the business group Colorado Succeeds, which has endorsed the measure.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 10:31 am

With just over three weeks until the election, the campaign asking Colorado voters to approve a $1 billion tax increase to pay for improvements to public schools are planning what they call a robust door-to-door operation.

Read more
NEWS
1:18 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Another Colorado Lawmaker Targeted For Recall

Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 2:30 pm

Colorado senate Democrats blasted gun rights groups Wednesday for trying to recall another state lawmaker. Two Democrats were ousted in September over support for stricter gun laws. The latest campaign targets Westminster Democrat Evie Hudak.

Read more
NEWS
2:30 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Colorado's Mountain Resorts Gear Up For Recreational Marijuana

Telluride's Main Street during the summer and the annual Bluegrass Festival, June 2012.
Credit Doug Anderson via Flickr (CC BY)

Communities across Colorado are taking different tactics to the sale of recreational marijuana, which will officially begin in January. In Colorado’s high country, most resort towns support pot legalization and they don’t see it hurting the state's multi-billion dollar tourism business.

Last November, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 by a healthy margin. In resort towns such as Telluride, nearly 80 percent of voters said yes to legalization.

Read more
NEWS
11:38 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Industry, Critics Gear Up for Post-Flood Fracking Fight

Dottie Rawsky and other members of Our Broomfield man an informational booth.
Credit Bente Birkeland/RMCR

In November, voters in several Front Range communities will consider whether to ban or delay fracking. Many of these same areas are also recovering from September's devastating flooding.

There's renewed attention on the fight over fracking thanks to Colorado's flooding. Recent figures show that 12 spills have polluted the South Platte with 37,000 gallons of oil.

Both sides of the debate were out in full force during a recent community festival for the city of Broomfield. Voters there will decide whether to pass a five-year fracking moratorium.

Read more
NEWS
8:47 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Feds Say They Won't Prosecute Banks for working with Retail Pot Industry

Colorado capitol building
Credit Jason Bechtel via Flickr (CC BY-NC)

A U.S. Department of Justice official told members of Congress yesterday that it wouldn't prosecute banks for doing business with the recreational marijuana industry. As Bente Birkeland reports, Colorado took center stage during the Senate discussion on state and federal marijuana law.

Tuesday’s U.S. Senate committee meeting, Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws, was aptly named. At issue was the conflict that now exists on the federal level with Colorado and Washington’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

Read more
Politics
1:39 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Colorado Voters To Decide 2 Lawmakers' Fates In Recall Elections

State Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse, both Democrats, face recall elections Tuesday. The battle in Colorado has attracted major players from across the nation, reflecting the sustained intensity over the issue of gun rights.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 12:01 pm

Two prominent Democratic state senators could lose their jobs after lawmakers passed sweeping gun control laws following the theater shooting in Auro, Colo., and the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut. Gun rights activists collected enough signatures to force the historic recall elections.

The recalls follow a combative and bitter legislative session. Among the most controversial measures passed were universal background checks and limiting high-capacity magazines to 15 rounds.

Read more
NEWS
8:15 am
Fri August 30, 2013

DOJ Decision Means Banking Is The Next Challenge For Colorado Marijuana

Credit The Equinest via Flickr (CC)

The U.S. Department of Justice says it won’t stop marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. Thursday’s announcement means Colorado’s pot shops could open as early as January.

“I’m really pretty ecstatic with this announcement. It signals a very positive shift on marijuana laws,” said Brian Vicente with Amendment 64 supporter Sensible Colorado. “This really answers the unanswered question for years, what happens if Colorado legalizes Marijuana?”

Read more
NEWS
9:52 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Ahead Of Vote, Colorado Marijuana Taxes A Source Of Debate

Cannabis plants
Credit UKhomeoffice via Flickr (CC)

This fall voters across Colorado will decide how recreational marijuana should be taxed.

Read more

Pages