Politics

This week on Whatever: sports like caving. Plus, Lil' Willy calls in to announce that he's running for president.

Patty Fox

Pankaj Mehta is an Associate Professor at Boston University. His research focuses on theoretical and computational problems at the interface of theoretical physics, biology, and machine learning. Pankaj Mehta is also a long-time activist and writes regularly on science and politics.

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Minette Lontsie

 

In September, Facebook exempted politician's content from community standards. KDNK's Lucas Turner spoke with LaShawn Warren from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to find out more..

When Gov. Jared Polis walked into the Stedman Elementary School auditorium behind a marching band on Tuesday afternoon, with dozens of supporters waving signs and cheering, the signing ceremony for the full-day kindergarten bill felt more like a pep rally.

“Today, we celebrate the fact that this fall, kids from across our state will be able to go to free fullday kindergarten,” Polis said to loud cheers before he signed the bill.

Transportation funding advocates are giving Colorado’s latest legislative session mixed reviews despite a bipartisan budget deal that boosted transportation funding by $70 million.

Margaret Bowes, who leads an organization that focuses on improving the Interstate 70 corridor in the mountains, said the money lawmakers added for roads and bridges was “just a drop in the bucket.”

Speaking to reporters in the final hours of the legislative session, Gov. Jared Polis touted the passage of several health care bills and the funding for full-day kindergarten.

But he quickly faced questions about some recent setbacks at the Capitol, including the death of a bill he backed that would have asked voters to add taxes on cigarettes and vaping products.

The Colorado General Assembly didn’t end its 72nd session quietly. In the final days, they’ve taken big votes on some of the most consequential legislation of the year. Here’s what they’ve been up to in the final hours.

From a robot voice that became the sound of fierce partisanship to a crucial debate over the future of oil and gas held in the middle of a blizzard, there was plenty of drama at the state Capitol this year.

Here’s a recap of some of the biggest moments of the session from its start to its final week.

Scott Franz

Colorado will now join a dozen other states holding their primaries on March 3. For the last 20 years Colorado held caucuses to determine a party’s candidate. But in 2016 voters overwhelmingly approved a proposition restoring primaries in a presidential election year.

For Mitchell Byars and other breaking news reporters around the country, the police scanner might be just as important as a laptop computer.

Byars, who covers everything from wildfires to mountain lion sightings for the Boulder Daily Camera, said the radio traffic helps him answer important questions from residents.

Colorado Democrats are backing a heavily-amended version of a bill to create a paid family leave program.

The bill stalled in the Senate Finance Committee last month over concerns from business leaders and some Democratic. But a series of 24 amendments have gotten some of the Democratic holdouts on board, and the committee voted along party lines to advance the proposal.

A bill that Democratic lawmakers say is needed to fight climate change has cleared its first hurdle at the state Capitol.

House Bill 1261 would set a goal for Colorado to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent before 2030.

It would also give a state board the authority to approve new regulations that would help the state reach that goal.

Mark Duggan

Colorado lawmakers are working on a bipartisan set of proposals that would seek to lower insurance premiums and the costs of prescription drugs. According to Gov. Jared Polis, it will bring particular relief to rural and mountain areas, where health care costs are some of the highest in the nation.

Cities and counties that have spent years fighting for more regulatory power over the state’s oil and gas industry are now just one signature away from getting it.

Democrats in the Colorado Senate gave their final approval on Wednesday to Senate Bill 181, which will let local governments increase setbacks and impose fines for spills and air quality violations.

It now heads to Gov. Jared Polis, who is expected to sign it.

Colorado Democrats have tabled their effort to repeal the death penalty after some members of their own party expressed concerns about the bill.

The proposal was stuck in limbo for more than two weeks as State Sen. Angela Williams tried to secure the votes the bill needed to clear the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 19-16 majority.

The Colorado Legislature has given final approval to a bill that will allow police officers to temporarily take guns away from people who are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.

Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign the extreme risk protection order bill into law.

Oil and Gas Bill Advances

Mar 29, 2019

The Colorado House is giving its stamp of approval to a bill that allows local governments more control over oil and gas drilling operations. KDNK’s Capitol Coverage reporter Scott Franz has more:

The Colorado Senate narrowly passed a contentious gun control bill on Thursday that would allow police to temporarily take away someone's firearms.

The extreme risk protection order proposal would give law enforcement the ability to take the weapons away if a judge determines their owner poses a risk to themselves or others.

As Sen. Faith Winter pushes forward a bill to create a paid family leave program, she's thinking of employees who are stuck at work during some of the most challenging moments of their lives.

"We have cancer patients who are skipping their second round of chemotherapy because they can't afford to lose their paycheck," Winter said Monday. "And there's a heartbreaking story of a woman who took her dad off life support in a break room instead of being by her father's side."

Red Flag Bill Close to a Vote

Mar 27, 2019
LEIGH PATERSON/KUNC

A controversial measure that would temporarily seize weapons from people deemed a risk could get its final vote in the state Senate any day, putting it on the path to for Governor Jared Polis to sign it. Mark Duggan reports.

Raleigh Burleigh

The former Steamboat Springs-based newspaper reporter is settling into his first year covering the Colorado Legislature. His reports are heard on KDNK and other member stations of the Rocky Mountain Community Radio coalition. KDNK's Mark Duggan talked to Franz about how he keeps up with the many bills that have been introduced this year. They also discussed the continued importance of local journalism and holding elected officials accountable.

Matthew Putney/CPR

After years of speculation, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is making it official. He’s trying for the White House in 2020. CPR's Bente Berkland spoke with Hickenlooper about his plans.

Democratic lawmakers will introduce a bill soon that would give local governments in Colorado more control over oil and gas drilling operations.

The legislation from House Speaker KC Becker and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg would not increase the setbacks between oil wells and homes. But the lawmakers say it will give cities and counties the ability to increase those setbacks themselves.

When Jennifer Knowles helped her three sons set up a lemonade stand in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood last summer, she thought she was teaching them about the joys of running a small business.

But then someone called the police and the stand was shut down because the family didn’t have the right permit.

Amy Hadden Marsh/KDNK

Perry Will is leaving Colorado Parks and Wildlife after 43 years to assume Bob Rankin's seat as representative for Colorado's 57th District, which includes Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Carbondale. KDNK's Amy Hadden Marsh spoke with Will recently. Listen to the interview in three parts.

Longmont resident Ingrid Moore went to the state Capitol on Tuesday carrying a stack of maps she said illustrates why Colorado should change the way it chooses U.S. presidents.

"Over 57 percent of all the 2016 campaign events were held in just four states," she said as lawmakers on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee reviewed the map. "Virtually all campaign events ... were held in just 12 states. And those 12 states just have 30 percent of the population."

Lawmakers in Colorado say they're seeing a growing number of cases where patients visit a hospital in their insurance network but unknowingly get treated by an out-of-network specialist or surgeon.

Then the patients get sent a surprise bill, and the worrying starts.

Sen. Chris Holbert is adapting to life in Colorado's legislative minority.

"We will have our say but not our way," he said in a speech on Jan. 4, the opening day of the session. "We have the voice, but not the votes."

So how does a lawmaker without the votes approach his job? Here are three takeaways from KUNC's interview with the Republican minority leader the day before the session gaveled in.

Seven Colorado Democrats advanced a comprehensive sexual education bill at the State Capitol on Wednesday, after a contentious hearing that ended just before midnight. The hearing included testimony from dozens of opponents and a flurry of attempted Republican amendments to the bill.

The legislation aims to expand sexual education curriculum at public schools to include such topics as consent, birth control and STD prevention.

Health care is emerging as a top priority for both Democratic and Republicans at the State Capitol this session, and some of the proposed legislation is already packing hearing rooms.

One of the bills would add autism to a list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. Similar legislation was vetoed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper last year.

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