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
10:24 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Beauprez Gets GOP Nod, Will Face Hickenlooper In Governors Race

Bob Beauprez has won the GOP Primary for the Governors Race and will face off against the incumbent, John Hickenlooper in November.
Beauprez-U.S. House / Hickenlooper-State of Colorado

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 9:45 pm

The race to be Colorado’s next Governor is officially underway. Former Congressman Bob Beauprez will challenge Governor John Hickenlooper in November after winning a four way GOP primary race. Beauprez captured a four-point lead over his closest challenger, Tom Tancredo.

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POLITICS
2:30 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

A Primary Eve Look At Two Of Colorado's GOP Races

Two GOP primaries are June 24 to decide the Republican candidate that will challenge Governor Hickenlooper (left) in November and for who will face the Democratic candidate for Cory Gardner's (right) vacated seat in the 4th Congressional District.
Hickenlooper-State of Colorado / Gardner-U.S. House of Representatives

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 12:42 pm

Colorado’s primary election is Tuesday June 24, and in many ways it marks the beginning of the political season that will culminate in November. Two GOP primary races are being closely watched.

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POLITICS
2:53 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Will The 'War On Rural Colorado' Play At The Ballot Box?

A farm on the rolling plains of Yuma County, June, 2014.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 8:56 am

There’s often a divide between Colorado’s rural lawmakers and those representing larger communities along the urban Front Range. That dynamic was apparent during the 2014 legislative session with Republicans routinely blaming Democrats for waging what they said is a "war on rural Colorado."

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NEWS
5:56 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Hickenlooper Trying To Rally Support For Oil And Gas Compromise, Special Session

Governor Hickenlooper speaking in December, 2013.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 9:11 am

Governor John Hickenlooper’s office said he’s still in discussions about whether to call lawmakers back to the state capitol for a special session on oil and gas issues. The goal would be to pass a compromise bill and avoid a fight at the ballot box.

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NPR Story
4:24 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

GOP 4th Congressional Candidates Spar In Advance Of June Primary

The 2014 candidates for the 4th Congressional District seat. From left to right; Ken Buck, Barbara Kirkmeyer, Steve Laffey and Scott Renfroe
Photos courtesy of the campaigns

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 6:41 am

Four candidates are vying for the Republican Party’s nomination in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District after U.S. Representative Cory Gardner’s surprise decision to run for the U.S. Senate against Democratic Senator Mark Udall.

CBS 4 and Colorado Public Television recently hosted a debate with the four GOP candidates competing in the conservative and vast district that stretches from Wyoming all the way to New Mexico and the Kansas border.

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NPR Story
10:12 am
Tue June 10, 2014

With More Tech On The Farm, Rural Colorado Left Waiting, Wanting For Broadband

Yuma County is one of the largest agricultural producing counties in the state. Farmers here are starting to embrace precision agriculture, to use the latest technology to monitor information on the farm such as planting, yield, water and nutrients.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 6:54 am

People living in many parts of rural Colorado still don’t have access to high speed Internet. It’s a problem for schools and businesses, and in eastern Colorado it is making it harder for farmers to take full advantage of the latest technology even as state lawmakers passed legislation to try and even the playing field.

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NPR Story
10:02 am
Mon June 9, 2014

At Recent GOP Governor Candidate Debate, Only Kopp And Beauprez Show

Only two out of four candidates showed up for a recent GOP Governer candidate debate. Pictured Mike Kopp and Bob Beauprez.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 6:41 am

Four Republicans are vying to be the lone candidate to run against Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper in the fall. But with the primary election coming up June 24, only two of the candidates participated in a taped debate hosted by CBS 4 and Colorado Public Television.

Debate organizers knew ahead of time that former congressman Tom Tancredo never planned to be a part of the hourlong program. But Secretary of State Scott Gessler didn’t show up – even though his campaign confirmed that he would.

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NEWS
9:13 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Brand Colorado Slowly Gaining Steam

John Scaggs with Haystack Mountain Goat Dairystands beside aging cheese. Scaggs' company has started using the state's new Colorado branding.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 5:16 pm

More and more companies are starting to use the new Colorado logo and slogan - “it’s our nature” - to promote their products, helping the state's efforts to strengthen its brand and global competitiveness. The branding effort though has been somewhat controversial and it will take some time to determine its success.

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NEWS
9:42 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Governor Hickenlooper Signs Stricter Pot Regulations

Governor John Hickenlooper signs House Bill 1361 to create an equivalency between marijuana that is smoked, and marijuana in a concentrate form that is vaporized.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 6:57 am

Governor John Hickenlooper signed two measures into law Wednesday, both aimed at tightening rules around marijuana edibles and concentrates. One goal is to make sure young children don’t accidentally ingest the drug.

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NEWS
2:58 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Colorado Democrats Strike Down Background Check Repeal

Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 10:56 am

The gun debate that riveted the state capitol in 2013, once again took center stage Monday. Fewer people came to the capitol to testify on a key gun bill than the last round, but emotions were still strong.

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NEWS
9:54 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Later Bar Hours On Tap At The Colorado Capitol

Barkeep and patrons enjoy an evening at a Denver establishment. A new bill at the statehouse is proposing extending closing times past 2 a.m.
Thomas Hawk Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 5:13 pm

Could closing time change for your local watering hole? That's a statehouse proposal under consideration, allowing Colorado communities to decide whether to extend bar hours. Some feel a change to the law could do more harm than good.

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NEWS
1:53 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Aggressive Proposals Aside, Colorado Legislature Still Looks To Address Wildfires

The Black Forest Fire as seen on June 12, 2013 from nearby homes. The wildfire became the most destructive in the state's history, surpassing 2012's Waldo Canyon Fire.
State Farm Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 1:35 pm

Helping prevent and fight wildfires is one of the top priorities for Colorado lawmakers in both parties this session, but so far they’re only proposing minor policy changes.

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NEWS
4:08 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Colorado Legislature Opens 2014 With A Call For Collaboration Rather Than Confrontation

Lawmakers get reacquainted before the new legislative session opened at the Colorado capitol Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

As the 2014 legislative session opened Wednesday, newly elected state Senate President Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) – the second woman to hold the position – urged lawmakers to problem solve and skip the shouting matches in her opening day speech.

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NEWS
2:04 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

A Look Ahead At The Upcoming Legislative Session

Stephen Butler via Flickr (CC-BY)

Going into the 2014 legislative session, Colorado Democrats are still in the majority at the capitol. With an election year looming, party leaders – including Senate President-elect Morgan Carroll – say they want to focus on creating more jobs.

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NEWS
5:20 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Colorado's Growth, Employment Positive Heading Into 2014

For Nov. 2013, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 4,200 over the month from October to November to 2,378,900 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 2,900 and government increased 1,300.
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:11 pm

There’s good news for Colorado’s economy going into 2014, the latest economic forecast is projecting solid growth. The state’s employment rate also continues to grow faster than the nation’s.

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NEWS
6:09 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Hickenlooper Speaks To 2014 Legislative Agenda

The Governor addresses the media Thursday looking ahead to the 2014 legislative session.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Governor John Hickenlooper says he wants to focus on jobs, the economy and non-partisan issues during the next legislative session. As he outlined his agenda Thursday, his biggest hope is that politics will take a back seat.

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NEWS
9:14 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Following Arapahoe, Lawmakers Reflect On Gun Laws

A sign of the intense debate, gun advocates wait outside the capitol's largest hearing room because the room is full, March 4, 2013.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Once again, Colorado lawmakers are heading into a legislative session following a school shooting.

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NEWS
8:47 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Colorado Approves Stronger Oil And Gas Spill Reporting

A drilling rig seen in Western Colo. on the Piceance Basin, Aug. 2010.
John Giez Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:48 am

Colorado is beefing up requirements for reporting oil and gas spills. The new rule would require energy companies to report spills that are over 1 barrel or 42 gallons.

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NEWS
9:55 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Following A Turbulent Year, Colorado Lawmakers Unsure What 2014 Holds

The Colorado Senate chamber, seen in a budget debate in 2011. Members are hoping to put the past in the past and work together, but post-recall shake-ups and an election year could make that difficult.
Colorado State GOP Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:40 am

When Colorado lawmakers return in January, the makeup of the state Senate will be different. Coming off a tumultuous off session with two first-ever recalls and a resignation can do that. The state’s Democrats now have a new Senate President and only a one-seat hold on the majority.

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NEWS
8:53 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Private Gun Sales See Effect From New Background Check Law

Bill Bradford Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:33 am

Democratic state lawmakers say a new law requiring universal background checks for gun purchases is working well. Data from the Department of Public Safety shows 2 percent of private gun sales were blocked because of the law.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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