Colorado

Saying it’s been a rough year for regional artists might qualify for understatement of the century, but High Plains Morning was grateful to see that we have some regional music on the horizon from a folk favorite, The Annie Oakley. Identical twin sisters, Jo and Sophia Babb, have owned their lockdown with nonstop music composition, creation, innovation (and more than a few colorful, coated candies).

Colorado voters have decided to bring back a wild animal that was eradicated from the state in the 1940s because of the threats it posed to livestock and ranchers’ livelihoods.

But don’t expect to hear a gray wolf howl on Colorado’s West Slope just yet.

Following the narrow passage of Proposition 114, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will now spend the next three years coming up with a plan for how to reintroduce the animals by 2023.

The planning process will include public hearings to help determine how many wolves will be released in Colorado, and where.

Colorado voters have narrowly endorsed a movement to change the way the United States picks its presidents.

With the passage of Proposition 113, Colorado will stay in the so-called National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

The initiative consists of a group of states wanting to award all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 11/4/2020

Colorado voters rejected a measure that would have prevented women from getting an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy unless the procedure was needed to save the woman's life.

Proposition 115 failed 59% to 41% with 85% of votes tallied as of Wednesday morning.

As a result, Colorado will remain one of seven states in the country without restrictions on abortions.

Colorado workers who need paid time off to care for a newborn or a sick relative are one step closer to having access to such a benefit after voters passed Proposition 118.

The measure, which was winning 57.09% to 42.91% will create a new statewide leave program allowing all Colorado workers to take up to 12 weeks off for a number of medical reasons while still collecting most of their paycheck.

Starting in 2023, workers and their employers will begin paying premiums each month for the benefit, which won’t start until 2024.

Boosted by the state’s deep disapproval of President Donald Trump, former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner and flipped a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado.

Hickenlooper, a two-term governor who led the state through floods, wildfires and the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, ran a campaign largely focused on criticizing Gardner for supporting Trump and attempting to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper spent more than three hours together in recent weeks trading attacks and making their pitches to voters. If you didn’t watch all three of their debates, here are some of the main takeaways to catch up on.

Lagging in the polls, Gardner is trying to make the race about character.

For many communities in the West, the water that flows out of kitchen faucets and bathroom showerheads starts high up in the mountains, as snowpack tucked under canopies of spruce and pine trees.

This summer’s record-breaking wildfires have reduced some of those headwater forests to burnt trees and heaps of ash. In high alpine ecosystems, climate change has tipped the scales toward drier forests, lessened snowpack, hotter summers and extended fire seasons.

Colorado is among the states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. In August, the state logged about 2,000 new cases a week. Last week, that number jumped to more than 8,000.

The state's Democratic governor, Jared Polis, warns that the situation could worsen in the coming months.

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the hardest hit areas were big cities, from Seattle to New York. But now, eight months after the crisis hit the U.S, new cases are surging in some small towns and rural areas around the country.

Colorado is among more than a dozen states that set a seven-day record for positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

Major wildfires have burned through the Western U.S. in 2020, breaking records for their scale and damage. As firefighters tamp down their immediate effects, those who live nearby are coming to grips with the lingering danger of wildfires. Even long after the flames are gone, residents face a serious increase in the threat of flooding.

Giuliana Day says the 22nd week of a woman’s pregnancy is an important milestone.

“That is over five months into the pregnancy when a baby is fully formed and is a fully alive human being, and we treat them like a human being,” Day said.

It’s also when Day says a fetus can survive outside the womb. Its why she says she is leading an effort to stop abortions after this phase unless the mother’s life is at risk because of her pregnancy. Day’s effort to get Proposition 115 on the ballot was boosted by several Catholic churches, which helped circulate petitions.

Of the 11 ballot questions Colorado voters will decide in November, Amendment B is by far the most complicated. It seeks to repeal a 38-year-old state law affecting how much residents must pay in property taxes.

If you own a home or commercial property, your bank account has been affected by the Gallagher Amendment in some way. Voters approved the amendment in 1982 to put more of the property tax burden on businesses, which must pay 55% of the state’s property taxes. Meanwhile, homeowners pay 45%.

In Glenwood Springs, Colo., the restaurant Masala and Curry was having its best summer ever. Residents of the densely-populated Denver Metro Area eager for a COVID-19 summer staycation flooded the mountains along the critical transportation artery that is Interstate 70. And many stopped in to try the restaurant's Indian cuisine.

Tonja Jimenez is far from the only person driving an RV down Colorado's rural highways. But unlike the other rigs, her 34-foot-long motor home is equipped as an addiction treatment clinic on wheels, bringing lifesaving treatment to the northeastern corner of the state, where patients with substance use disorders are often left to fend for themselves.

Dan Thompson says he has seen wolves at their best, and their worst.

As the big carnivore supervisor for Wyoming Fish and Game, Thompson has gotten to step within a few feet of a wolf after biologists prepared to tranquilize the animal in a trap.

“Just to see that yellow in the eyes and that little bark and howl, I mean, it kind of penetrates your soul quite honestly,” Thompson said last month from his home in Lander, Wyoming.

But on the flip side, Thompson says he has seen a more unflattering side of wolves.

Democrats at the state Capitol have tried for several years to create a paid family and medical leave program, but concerns from small businesses and Gov. Jared Polis have kept it from becoming law.

Now the political battle is moving from the state Capitol to the ballot box, where voters will have the final say.

Kris Garcia, who has spent more than a decade advocating for stronger paid leave benefits, is attending virtual rallies and sharing his story about what life is like without family and medical leave programs.

The Colorado River’s largest reservoirs are expected to keep struggling over the next five years due to climate change, according to the federal agency that oversees them.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s new modeling projections, which include this year’s record-breaking heat and dryness in some parts of the southwestern watershed, show an increasing likelihood of an official shortage declaration before 2026.

State Rep. Jeni Arndt joined a very exclusive club in the world of Colorado politics last year when one of her bills became so controversial, it triggered the first statewide referendum since 1932.

“I got a lot of feedback (on the bill) … some death threats,” Arndt said of her bill to put Colorado in the National Popular Vote Compact, a growing group of states that want to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gets the most votes nationwide.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

This article comes to HPPR from KUNC's Capitol Coverage. Click here for a link to the original article. 

Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday the state will spend $2 million of federal coronavirus relief money on a new effort to bring high-speed internet to tens of thousands of students who still do not have it at home.

COVID Plans Put To Test As Firefighters Crowd Camps For Peak Wildfire Season

Aug 20, 2020
U.S. Forest Service

HELENA, Mont. — Jon Paul was leery entering his first wildfire camp of the year late last month to fight three lightning-caused fires scorching parts of a Northern California forest that hadn’t burned in 40 years.

Two back-to-back blazes broke out around Los Angeles this week, marking a dramatic start to the wildfire season.

A wildfire that started Thursday continues to burn near the San Gabriel Canyon east of Los Angeles. Activity at what's called the Ranch2 Fire is expected to increase today due to extreme heat — with highs near 108.

The sheep and goats, pigs and cows lounging in the shade of the covered, outdoor arena had no idea about the strange times we're living through. They didn't know that just beyond their pens — more spaced-out than normal — there weren't the typical carnival rides, funnel cake stands or crowds at this year's Mesa County Fair in Grand Junction, Colo.

Even though 9-year-old Harold Stafford had been planning for the fair for months, he still seemed surprised to be there.

High Plains Public Radio

As the growth rate in positive COVID-19 cases in eastern Colorado counties located in the High Plains Public Radio listening area remains relatively flat, a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases two eastern Colorado counties are being traced primarily to two correctional facilities.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

Public health officials closed a restaurant in Castle Rock, Colo., on Monday, one day after its owner hosted a Mother's Day event in which the entire dining room was open to seat customers — most of whom weren't wearing face masks.

When Scott Severs learned about the federal stimulus checks, he was excited at first.

Then he wondered whether he truly needed the help.

Severs works as a natural resources technician for Longmont, Colo., and his wife Julie Bartlett is a federal contractor.

The city, his employer, is expecting a major drop in revenue this year because of the anticipated drop in taxes from income, payroll and sales. Still, for now, both he and his wife have jobs and their paychecks have been coming in.

The coronavirus crisis could be igniting a revolution of sorts in the legal cannabis industry.

Thirty-three states across the U.S. allow for some form of sale and consumption of marijuana. And of those, more than 20 states have designated the cannabis industry as essential during the coronavirus outbreak.

While advocates are applauding many of the interim marijuana laws, they also say those laws exposes dangerous disparities among states.

Frustration with stay-at-home orders is mounting in many parts of the country. In Colorado, protesters gathered Sunday afternoon on a hillside in front of the state capitol in Denver.

"I'm watching businesses close. I'm watching friends lose their incomes," protester Deesa Hurt told Colorado Public Radio. "We just want to reopen Colorado. That's all we want."

https://covid19.colorado.gov/case-data

Baca County, Colorado, along with several other Colorado counties, are reporting their first cases of COVID-19.  As of Friday, eastern Colorado counties reporting COVID-19 cases, and their respective number of cases, are as follows: Baca (1), Logan (3), Morgan (4), Washington (1), Yuma (2), Lincoln (1), Kit Carson (2), Crowley (1), Otero (2).

The Bureau of Land Management's new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., is a long 1,900 miles away from Washington, D.C.

In the small western Colorado city, it's impossible to ignore you are surrounded by federal public land: the towering mesas, red rock canyons and the Colorado National Monument.

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