Capitol Coverage

Colorado State Capitol Building
Flickr.com/chocolatedisco

With the dust from the election finally settling, all eyes are on the next legislative session.  To figure out what exactly is on the horizon, KVNF's Jake Ryan talked with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland.

Bente believes the biggest issue facing the legislature will be the topic of oil and gas.  The Governor's task force will be giving suggestions, but the impact they will have is unknown.  With a divided legislature, gun control will come up but she doubts any changes to the existing laws will happen. 
 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Headlines:

  • State Democratic Leaders Won't Push Major Policy Changes
  • Grand Junction Airport Investigation Continues as Lawsuit is Filed
  • Colorado Issues First Ever Retail Pot Licenses
  • Colorado State University Researchers Take Part in Oil & Gas Studies

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.

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

Headlines

  • BLM Finds Temp Location for Gunnison Office after Fire
  • Experts Examine Cost of Natural Disasters
  • Forget the Golf Course, Developers Use Farming to Sell Suburban Homes
  • Grand Junction Airport Authority Members Looking into Fraud Allegations

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.

Headlines

  • State Lawmakers to Review Bills on Water, Wildfire, & Poverty
  • Ruptured Pipe Leaks Contaminated Water at Cañon City Uranium Mill
  • Pitkin County Tracking Changes to Forests
  • Republican Lawmakers Criticize Patagonia's Involvement in Fracking Debate

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.

J. Stephen Conn (CC-NC)

A measure asking Colorado voters if they want to raise income taxes by nearly $1 billion a year to pay for public school upgrades is a step closer to the November ballot. KUNC's Bente Birkeland reports.

Update Monday 12:30 p.m. - Supporters of the measure turned in roughly 160,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office - more than twice the amount required by law.

Democratic senator Mike Johnston of Denver sponsored the underlying legislation. He says gone are the days when the state simply asks voters for a blank check.

Bills on oil and gas and fracking are expected to dominate the latter part of the state's legislative session. A measure to change the makeup of the agency that regulates the energy industry drew a large crowd at the capitol on Thursday. As Bente Birkeland reports, it cleared its first committee.


The only requirement for Colorado lawmakers during the annual legislative session is passing a budget. And unlike previous years there won’t be cuts for programs like K through 12 schools, state contractors and public employees. But as Bente Birkeland reports, debate in the senate yesterday was still extensive.


A bill to repeal Colorado’s death penalty died in a committee hearing over concerns that Governor John Hickenlooper would veto the bill. Last week the Governor told Democratic lawmakers he had serious reservations about the measure. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


Headlines:

  • Drought conditions force water restrictions in Denver
  • March Equinox approaches; Western Skies Report
  • Colorado National Monument no longer selling plastic water bottles
  • Paonia River Park celebrates improvements
  • Death Penalty repeal in Colorado goes to Legislature
  • Crane Days in Eckert begin today

A bill to repeal the death penalty in Colorado is expected to be introduced Friday. It's one of a host of issues likely to dominate the second part of the legislative session. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


One of the most controversial Democratic gun bills at the statehouse is now headed to the Governor for his signature. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


The gun debate was front and center at the state capitol yesterday as proposals already approved in the house made their way to senate committees. It was a marathon day of testimony that also included debate on three new Democratic-backed bills. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


The spruce beetle is now outpacing the mountain pine beetle as the biggest insect threat to Colorado forests. The information was released to lawmakers in the annual Forest Health Report on Wednesday. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


Headlines:

  • Sex Ed bill passes state house after vigorous debate
  • Task force recommends marijuana tourism, local ownership of pot shops
  • Delta County Commissioners discuss alternatives to dumping old tires in landfills
  • Mesa County school safety task force meets weekly, will inform school board

A bill to revamp sex education classes for Colorado students has initially passed the house on Tuesday after a rigorous debate. The measure aims to make instruction more culturally sensitive and add information on homosexuality. But opponents say it would take away the rights of parents. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


A controversial package of Democratic gun control bills cleared the house yesterday. The measures now head to the state senate. And as Bente Birkeland reports the bills still face strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.


Headlines:

  • Lawsuit makes BLM disclose identities of lease buyers
  • Lawmakers debate fracking regs, Gov. Hickenlooper under fire for political stunt
  • Well near Windsor spills 84,000 gallons of fracking fluid
  • Western Slope Skies
  • First Grand Junction film festival starts tonight
  • Paonia V-Day celebration includes protest against violence towards women

Guns were once again the focus at the Colorado Statehouse on Wednesday. A Democratic proposal to ban concealed carry weapons on college campuses got its first hearing in the house education committee. It highlights the longer battle that will take place this session on gun laws. Bente Birkeland has more.

A huge crowd turned out at the state capitol on Tuesday for a hearing on two key Democratic gun proposals. One measure would require universal background checks for gun purchases; the other would ban high capacity magazines. Both bills passed their first test, the house judiciary committee. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


Colorado’s oil and gas conservation commission has voted in favor of increasing the drilling setback distance between oil and gas wells and homes statewide. But the move doesn’t go far enough for the environmental community and goes too far for industry. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


Headlines:

  • Delta County Commissioners Ban Commercial Marijuana Growing
  • Capitol Coverage: State Senate Slaps State Energy Office Over Fiscal Mismanagement
  • Western Slope Skies

Governor John Hickenlooper announced new initiatives on Wednesday to try and make Colorado better prepared for wildfires. State officials say they’re also planning for a drought this summer and a potentially bad fire season. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.


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