Kids, Children

A report that grades Colorado on the health of its citizens gave the state high marks for adult health, but mediocre scores for child health.

The 2015 Colorado Health Report Card uses indicators like obesity, poverty and access to medical care as ways to measure the overall health of people in the state. The Colorado Health Foundation puts out the report. 

When voters in four U.S. states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — approved recreational marijuana sales, part of the appeal was the promise of a new revenue source to buoy cash-strapped cities and states.

But tensions are growing in those four states over how the tax rewards from pot sales should be divided. Local governments want to get what they say is their share of pot tax revenue.

*We used data from the Census Bureau, which has two catch-all categories: "managers not elsewhere classified" and "salespersons not elsewhere classified." Because those categories are broad and vague to the point of meaninglessness, we excluded them from our map.

What's with all the truck drivers? Truck drivers dominate the map for a few reasons.

  • Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in China can't drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can't drive cars (yet).

There's a PSA that greets you on the radio when you're driving the flat stretch of Colorado State Highway 113 near the Nebraska state line: "With marijuana legal under Colorado law, we've all got a few things to know. ... Once you get here, can't leave our state. Stick around, this place is pretty great."

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And for some reaction to the president's speech, we're joined now by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado. Good morning.


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Quick survey: you're going to the Word Wide Rollers Tour, presented by a group of weed connoisseurs called the Smoker's Club. Among the featured performers is a rapper named Berner and a DJ named TreeJay. The tour poster shows a Smokey the Bear type blunting in the woods. What do you pack?

Diabetes is an expensive disease to treat, costing the United States $244 billion in 2012, according to an analysis of the disease's economic burden.

When the loss of productivity due to illness and disability is added in, the bill comes to $322 billion, or $1,000 a year for each American, including those without diabetes. That's 48 percent higher than the same benchmark in 2007; not a healthy trend.

The increase is being driven by a growing and aging population, the report finds, as well as more common risk factors like obesity, and higher medical costs.

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Let's talk next with one of last night's election winners. Republican Cory Gardner won a Senate seat in Colorado, defeating Democratic Senator Mark Udall. Senator-elect Gardner, welcome to the program.

ballot, vote, election, mail ballot
Laura Palmisano

This election is Colorado’s first all mail ballot election. 

For all the money spent, doors knocked, ads aired and miles traveled by candidates this year, the 2014 elections will likely come down to the votes cast by a relatively small universe of places.

Whether it's because of their size, demographic make-up, or the unique spot they occupy, these places will have an outsized role in state — and possibly national — politics this year.

Here are seven of them:

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All right, one of the states Cokie mentioned there, Colorado. Our colleague Steve Inskeep has been meeting with voters there. It is the scene of an intense Senate race and the state also mirrors the way the nation is evolving.


Marijuana Plant
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

It’s been ten months since Colorado began allowing the recreational use of marijuana. But many towns across the state still don’t allow its sale. That may change this November. More than 20 communities in the state have marijuana issues on the ballot. 

"And here we have two cannabis plants that are mature and ready to be harvested," Scott Wilson says. "If you look at them you can see the purple on them and you can see the medicine on them."

Wilson owned the first medical marijuana store in Colorado’s Delta County.

On Monday, the Supreme Court surprised many when it refused to enter the contentious debate over gay marriage.

The court left intact decisions by three federal appeals courts that had struck down bans on gay marriage in parts of the South, West and Midwest. Attorneys general in five states asked the court to review those decisions and overrule them. But the court instead stepped back, leaving the lower court rulings intact.

The Supreme Court's new term will not include any cases that might decide the issue of same-sex marriage in the U.S., a development that comes after many lower and appeals courts have ruled against states' bans on gay marriage. Advocates on both sides of the issue have been calling for the high court to review the issue and make an official ruling.

The court's refusal of all the petitions related to bans on gay marriage means that the appeals courts' decisions allowing gay marriage can now take effect. They had been on hold pending a potential review by the Supreme Court.

Voters in Colorado will decide whether or not they want the state to require labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The 2014 ballot measure highlights a much larger national conversation about the safety and prevalence of genetically modified foods.

If passed, food companies and farmers would need to affix on a food label the text: "Produced with genetic engineering" if the product contains certain genetically modified crops and their derived oils and sugars that end up in processed foods. Those in favor of the proposal, Proposition 105, claim consumers have a right to the information. Those opposed say it amounts to a fear campaign.

Steel mills, unions and the Democratic Party have defined politics in Pueblo, Colo., for decades. But that doesn't discourage George Rivera.

"When we look at values, when we look at who we are, especially as Hispanics, our values tend to be conservative," Rivera says.

Rivera, a retired deputy police chief, is going door to door for votes in a neighborhood east of downtown, near where he grew up. Last summer, he unseated local Democrat Angela Giron in the state Legislature, in a high-profile recall election that focused on guns.

Dawn Gioia lives just two blocks away from City Hall in Brighton, Colo., just north of Denver. She never expected to receive a thick envelope from Mid-Continent Energy in the mail, proposing she sell mineral rights for oil and gas drilling.

At first, she thought it was a scam.

"One of these forms asks you for all your tax information and Social Security numbers, so that was something that sort of caught me off guard," she says.

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.

Colorado is trying to show teens about marijuana's risks, maybe. 

Craft beer sales have been growing by double digits, even as overall beer sales have flattened. And several independent craft beer makers — all based in the Western U.S. — are expanding production to the East. But to keep the flavor true, they have to tinker with beer's main ingredient: water.

Every day, a half-dozen employees of Oskar Blues Brewery file into a small room in Brevard, N.C. It's cluttered with boxes, petri dishes and test tubes.

A car accident crushed Brandon Coats' upper spine when he was 16, leaving him unable to walk. His muscles still spasm, disrupting sleep and causing pain.

"If I'm out in public it's embarrassing," Coats says. "It's always uncomfortable. If I smoke marijuana, it almost completely alleviates it" — more, he says, than other prescriptions.

Coats smokes at night, and says he was never high when answering customer calls at Dish Network. "I was really good at my job," he says.

Earlier this week, NPR ran a short series I did on America's land-based nuclear missiles. One diagram in particular raised a few eyebrows: It showed the location of a Missile Alert Facility, along with the silos for 10 nuclear weapons.

Megan McMillan
Laura Palmisano

Millennials are on the move. People in their 20’s and early 30’s are the most migratory age group in the United States, according to demographers and economists.

Megan MacMillan moved to Colorado from Canada four years ago. She’s 34 years old and just found out she’s a millennial.

The plague is making headlines again.

A teenage girl in Oregon reportedly came down with bubonic plague while on a hunting trip. The culprit, as always, is a flea, which can spread the infectious bacterial disease from squirrels and other rodents.

This isn't the first time the disease that terrorized the medieval era has made a modern appearance.

In the summer of 2014, five cases were reported: four in Colorado and one in China.

The Colorado residents were diagnosed after coming into contact with an infected dog.

Kids, Children

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its annual report that assesses child well-being in the United States.

The publication ranked states on overall child welfare in four main categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. 

This year Massachusetts, Vermont, and Iowa ranked top on the list for child well-being while Nevada, New Mexico, and Mississippi ranked lowest.

Agritourism A Growing Opportunity On The Farm

Jul 20, 2014

Farms aren't just for food any more. With the local food movement growing, more savvy farmers are putting a price tag on more than those organic tomatoes. They are instead marketing and selling the “farm experience” in the form of agritourism attractions.

Mutton Busting A Rodeo Tradition For Rough And Tumble Kids

Jul 17, 2014

A furry beast, a brave rider and a roaring crowd make up the list of ingredients for the Western rodeo tradition known as “mutton busting.” Think of it as bull-riding, but for 6-year-olds, and the furry beast is actually a wooly sheep.

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.