State

Colorado state news and state government coverage from our correspondents on the Front Range. 

Colorado’s 2014 legislative session is already halfway over. So far lawmakers have tackled a whole host of issues – everything from gun law repeals to wildfire and flood related measures.

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.

A bipartisan committee at the statehouse has moved forward a bill to make it easier to remove people’s mug shots from commercial websites if they were never convicted of the crime for which they were arrested.

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.

The State of Colorado

Governor Hickenlooper delivered his annual State of the State address at the Capitol in Denver Thursday. He said 2013’s wildfires and floods were devastating, but the state is recovering.

"This past year, Colorado has been scorched, Colorado has been flooded, Colorado, once again, endured senseless and inexplicable violence. Yet, despite all of it, we did not let that define us. That is not our story."

Marci Krivonen

Across the state, more than three dozen retail marijuana stores opened for business  on January 1st, marking a historic milestone for pot advocates. News reports showed lines outside of some Denver-area stores. And, people from around the country traveled to the state to purchase pot. In the Roaring Fork Valley, retail marijuana shops are expected to open later this year.

Despite White House and state efforts to promote the Affordable Care Act, some people still don't have health insurance, or any idea how to sign up for it.

Take Corryn Young, a 32-year-old dental hygienist in Fort Collins, Colo. She knows she needs to get health insurance but is a little vague on the details.

"What my income would qualify me for, when I need to be signed up, what type of deductibles they have to offer — that kind of stuff overwhelms me," Young says.

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.

Update Friday, December 20: According to the Watch newspaper, MSHA says the 97 citations handed out to Star Mine Operations in the first week of December were issued during so-called "spot" inspections, and weren't issued as violations that contributed to the deaths of two men at the Revenue-Virginius mine in late November. 

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.

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.

It’s been a rough season for the coal mines of the North Fork Valley. Last week, Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset laid off another 115 workers, bringing the total number of jobs cut at that mine this fall to over 250.

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.

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.  

Indian Law and Order Commission

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often associated with veterans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan combat vets have been diagnosed. But another group of people in the US with an even higher rate of PTSD… and they have never been to a foreign war zone. That’s according to out November 2013 by a presidential commission.

Colorado’s Energy industry is continuing to make the case that hydraulic fracturing is safe and a critical part of the state’s economy.

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.

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.

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.

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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