POLITICS

Local politics, elections and issues.

Ali Lightfoot

The "Adorable Deplorables" were out in full force  when Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally at Grand Junction Regional Airport. Supporters lined up around the West Star Aviation hangar several hours before Trump arrived.  An estimated 3,000 very vocal supporters welcomed the candidate to Grand Junction.  KVNF's Eric Goold and Ali Lightfoot attended and spoke with Trump supporters and protestors.

KVNF's Cynthia Hines speaks with the American humanities scholar, author and host of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Clay Jenkinson.     Jenkinson will be portraying Theodore Roosevelt at the Montrose Pavilion on Saturday October 15th.   The event and fundraiser celebrates 100 years of the National Park Service.

The League of Women Voters hosted the Delta County Candidate Forum on Tuesday October 11th  at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss.    The forum was conducted  in a Town Hall format taking questions from the audience.   Delta County Commissioner candidates,   and District 61 candidates participated.   District 61 candidates are Bob Schutt, Republican; and Millie Hamner, Democrat. County commissioner candidates are Don Suppes (R), Travis Mills (D) and Mark Eckhart (Independent) in District 2, and Jere Lowe (D) and Mark Roeber (R) in District 3.

High Country News

Donald Trump’s unlikely run for the presidency has upset America's political apple cart. Trump’s ridicule of Republican Party leaders, his calls for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and for a ban on Muslim immigration, and the vitriol and violence evident at his rallies raise major questions about our nation and our democracy. But how are they playing out in the West? In this episode of West Obsessed, the writers and editors of High Country News discuss Trump's run for president and the impact its having in the region.

As part of KVNF’s 2016 election coverage,  we bring to you 5 minute speeches from all the Delta County Commissioner candidates  and District 61 State Representative candidates. In Delta County’s district 2, Republican Don Suppes, Independent Mark Eckhart and Democrat Travis Mills.  In Delta County’s district 3 race,   Republican Incumbent Mark Roeber and Democrat Jere Lowe. We also hear speeches from District 61 House of Representative candidates,  Incumbent Democrat Millie Hamner and Republican Bob Schutt.

Brennan Linsley/AP

West Obsessed is the show where High Country News editors and eriters discuss the region’s most important stories. On this episodehost Brian Calvert explores current movements of so-called 'constitutional sheriffs'.  These are law enforcement officials who believe that the federal government has no jurisdiction over their counties. Brian is joined by writers Jonathan Thompson and Tay Wiles to discuss the movements around the country led by sheriffs who are part of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer's Association.

In the February 2016 edition of The Delta County Commissioners Report,  Felix Belmont speaks with district 1 commissioner Doug Atchley.

Brooke Warren

West Obsessed is a new audio series, where the journalists of High Country News discuss the stories and issues that make the American West such an interesting, unique place.  In the latest episode, editors Brian Calvert and Tay Wiles discuss the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation in Oregon with photographer Brooke Warren, who spent a few days with the occupiers as they set up in the refuge.

Colorado has largely been spared from the political wrangling ahead of the 2016 presidential race. But as Republicans nationally are working to narrow the presidential field, the Republican Party in Colorado wants to widen its field of candidates to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet.

"The numbers tell us Senator Bennet is vulnerable," said Republican state party Chairman Steve House. "It would be great to hold onto the U.S. Senate. Republicans have to defend a number of seats more than the Democrats."

When President Obama spoke to the Democratic National Convention in Colorado seven years ago, he tried to call a truce in one of the nation's long-running social debates.

"We may not agree on abortion. But surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country," he said to applause.

Not long after that, Colorado launched an experiment aimed at doing just that. The results have been dramatic — but efforts to expand the program using taxpayer money have hit a political roadblock.

The Justice Department is trying to make it easier for Native American tribes to gain access to national crime databases. Federal authorities say the program could prevent criminals from buying guns and help keep battered women and foster children safe.

The issue of who can see information in federal criminal databases might sound boring, until one considers a deadly shooting at a high school in Washington state last year.

State by state, the legal marijuana business is slowly gaining ground. The industry is using both an increasingly favorable public opinion toward marijuana and a newly legal cash flow to try to transform itself into a force in national politics.

By last count, the Justice Department estimates about 80,000 U.S. inmates live in some kind of restricted housing.

That means being confined to a cell for about 22 hours a day.

"You are going to eat, sleep and defecate in a small room that's actually smaller than the size of your average parking space," said Amy Fettig, a lawyer who runs the Stop Solitary campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union. "And you're going to do that for months, years and sometimes even decades on end."

Fettig said solitary confinement is brutal and expensive.

As 2016 campaigns heat up, Republicans are working to boost their momentum among Latino voters, and the numbers make it easy to see why.

On the Republican side of the 2016 race, this was the week the courting of the Latino vote seemed to begin.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas spoke Wednesday at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., after the group criticized him for skipping their summit last month. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush went on a Spanish-language tour — first to Puerto Rico and then speaking to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston.

The state budget has cleared both legislative chambers but still needs to head to a conference committee to iron out differences. The end of the budget process means lawmakers will shift their attention to other bills before the end of the session. With that May 6 deadline rapidly approaching, what's in store for some of the outstanding legislation?

Go to renew your driver's license in Oregon, and you will now be signed up to vote automatically.

It's the first state in the country with that sort of law, which is designed to make voting easier, and stands in contrast to the trend seen in the past several years in more conservative states.

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on pot politics is narrowing, President Barack Obama said in an interview Monday.

Trying to get more information on the health impact of oil and gas drilling is a topic that lawmakers will soon be taking up at the statehouse. It comes after the Governor's Oil and Gas Task Force finished their work and issued several health related recommendations.

"I get a little bit concerned and annoyed when people try to use health as the basis of what they don't like about oil and gas," said Dr. Larry Wolk the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

He said he understands the concern, but worries the state doesn't have enough hard data.

Two Republican religious freedom bills drew strong opposition from gay rights groups, civil liberties organizations and members of the business community Monday. The first bill, known as House Bill 1171 [.pdf], would have forbade government officials from constraining the exercise of religion had it not been struck down in committee.

The second bill, House Bill 1161 [.pdf], would have protected people from facing penalties for refusing to violate their beliefs and was also defeated.

State lawmakers are officially at the halfway point of the 2015 legislative session. What needs to be done before the end of the session? Lawmakers will need to pass a balanced budget, and along the way grapple with some hot-button issues such as school testing requirements and police reforms.

"Most of the big work is ahead of us, what happens for the first half is kind of getting ready for it," said Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs).

State lawmakers are midway through the annual legislative session – but there's still a lot to be done.

House Democrats would like law enforcement to increase the use of body cameras, set up a special prosecutor to review decisions when a law enforcement official isn't charged when there are allegations of deadly force, ban choke holds, and collect demographic data on arrests. What are the chances for passage?

The sponsor of a proposal to put guardrails around the use of drones for non- government purposes asked lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee to delay a vote on the bill Tuesday.

"I would work with members of the committee to make sure it truly protects the privacy of people in the state," said Representative Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park).

The delay came after nearly two hours of testimony that focused on emerging technologies and a person's reasonable expectation of privacy.

Governor John Hickenlooper's oil and gas task force recently proposed nine recommendations to try and easy concerns for people living near energy development, but it did not vote to give local communities more control over oil and gas drilling.

The big question on everyone's mind now: What's next for the state Legislature and for a possible anti-fracking initiative going before voters in 2016?

Reaction at the state capitol to work of the Oil and Gas Task Force was decidedly mixed. Members of the governor's own party called the effort a failure, one lawmaker even graded it an "F+."

The proposed recommendations are intended to mitigate the impacts of energy development near communities. While the task force wants local governments to be more involved in developing large drill sites, it stopped short of allowing cities and counties to adopt rules stricter than the state standards.

With the final nine recommendations to hit Governor John Hickenlooper's desk Feb. 27, what are his thoughts on the group's work and the backlash?

After five months of meetings, and coming up with nine recommendations, the work of Governor John Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force is getting mixed reviews from lawmakers at the state capitol.

Among the critical voices is Democratic Senator Matt Jones of Longmont.

"What they were charged to come up with is strong community protections, they got an F+, they're talking about how it's really a B, it's not," Jones said.

The political battle over immigration, now provoking a confrontation between Congress and the White House, touches all of us in one very direct way: our food. That salad mix, and those apples, may well have been harvested by workers who arrived here in the U.S. illegally.

Put it in the category of things we know for sure that just ain't so.

No sooner did the Democratic National Committee announce it had chosen Philadelphia, Pa., as its 2016 convention site than a lot of us political analyst types popped out the conventional wisdom about "appealing to a swing state in the general election."

It sounds good and it makes sense, as far as it goes. It just doesn't go very far.

State parties, once the cornerstone of American politics, don't get much attention anymore. And when they do, it's often negative.

One long-standing example: the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with Jimmy Stewart as a young and naive senator battling the evil political boss in his (unnamed) home state. As the climax approaches, Stewart launches a filibuster to expose the boss, "a man who controls a political machine, and controls everything else worth controlling in my state."

Democratic lawmakers in Colorado recently introduced a measure to allow terminally ill patients to take medication to end their lives. The patients must be given a prognosis from two different physicians giving them less than six months to live.

It's a charged issue that has many questions to it. Why do supporters say it’s the compassionate choice? Who strongly opposes it?

Pages