Colorado Public Radio

Colorado could be the next state to consider a ban on "assault-style" weapons, Colorado Public Radio has learned, although discussions are still in the preliminary stages at the state capitol and no legislation has been introduced yet.

A little more than a year into the pandemic in the U.S. and governors across the country continue to be thrust into the spotlight as they maneuver through vaccine distribution and decisions on opening up their states.

During the public health emergency, governors have used extraordinary powers to shut down businesses and mandate masks and social distancing. No governor ever ran for office "expecting to lead a state through a pandemic," says Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat.

In the shadow of former President Donald Trump, the Republican Party is trying to find its footing nationally and in many corners of the county.

In Colorado, after facing major losses in the last few cycles, a volatile election for the party chair in El Paso County — one of the GOP's traditional strongholds — shows how deep some of the divides have become.

Lyle Darrah was on a conference call at work in rural Weld County, north of Denver, when the riot at the U.S. Capitol started on Jan. 6. When his boss mentioned what was happening, he turned on news coverage — and immediately felt his last allegiance to the Republican Party slipping away.

Kurt Papenfus, a doctor in the small town of Cheyenne Wells, Colo., started to feel sick around Halloween. He developed a scary cough, intestinal symptoms and a headache. In the midst of a pandemic, the news that he had COVID-19 wasn't surprising, but Papenfus' illness would have repercussions far beyond his own health.

Papenfus is the lone full-time emergency room doctor in the town of 900, not far from the Kansas line.

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.

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.

Colorado voters could well decide this fall which party controls the U.S. Senate.

But first, on Tuesday, voters will pick the Democrat to challenge GOP Sen. Cory Gardner. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is the national party's first choice for the nomination, but his campaign has hit some snags in recent weeks. He was a two-term governor, former mayor of Denver and had a short-lived presidential bid.

At first glance, this modest home nestled against a hillside in the mountains somewhere west of Colorado Springs appears to have all the amenities you'd expect in a quiet retreat. There's even a two-story tower built right in. An otherwise peaceful place to catch the 360-degree view of winter's splendor.

"[It's a] really nice place to sit and vacation — enjoy. But, if necessary, it's a guard post," Drew Miller pointed out.

When Amy, a 16-year-old from Thornton, began to struggle with depression, she found herself alone with it.

“I missed a lot of school, like a few months of school, because of depression. I tried getting help, but my mom said, ‘You don’t have a reason to be depressed,’” Amy told lawmakers at a hearing last winter. “So I kind of stopped trusting her and wouldn’t tell her anything.”

She wasn’t 15 yet, old enough to access mental health care without parental permission, so she was stuck.

Many teenagers have found themselves in this situation, she said.

Colorado’s annual legislative session will convene on Jan. 8 under the shadow of the impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and the November election.

Most of those same lawmakers will themselves be up for re-election.

Even with those dual headwinds, Democrats, who control both chambers and the governor’s office, say there’s a lot they want to get done. But while members in both parties expect to work together on some issues, they’re braced for acrimony.

Half of a million Colorado workers are set to receive new labor protections that go into effect in 2020, but not everyone is happy. Some employers are upset with the new rules, and some workers are upset that they have been left out.

A few workers who traditionally haven’t gotten protections like overtime pay and guaranteed rest breaks will get them, but critics say the proposed rules will change things too slowly and for too few people.

Colorado’s red flag law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 — it’s the one that allows a judge to temporarily remove somebody’s firearms if they’re a danger to themselves or others. 

The law has raised a lot of questions for Coloradans about how it’ll be implemented, who will enforce it and how it’s different from other states with similar laws. 

The seven members of Colorado’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation will cast historic votes Wednesday on whether to approve two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.

Looking back, it now seems the vote was inevitable. As with past impeachments, there has been a strong partisan tinge to the debate. 

The state’s three Republican representatives were clear from the start that nothing they’ve seen or read about the president’s conduct amounts to an impeachable offense.

On a beautiful late spring day a few years ago, Mark Bergman was driving his Mazda Miata through the Vail Valley. The scenic ride turned sour when the car in front of him kicked up a rock and threw it backward — right into his windshield.

“I’m just glad I had the top up,” he said.

Scientist Gabrielle Petron looks out into the world and sees numbers. In her work for the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Petron plots data on her computer like most people complete a shopping list on the back of an envelope. 

Arapahoe County needed three days to finish counting ballots after election night, despite relatively light participation in the 2019 off-year election.

Denver needed nearly two, and many of the state’s most populated counties needed more than one.

Get used to it.

Copyright 2020 CPR News. To see more, visit CPR News.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Richard Dash of Alumina Energy stood in front of a small crowd gathered inside the white, marble hallways of the Colorado Governor’s Residence. This was his chance to pitch oil and gas executives on his company’s thermal storage system to capture energy from renewable or fuel-fired power plants. 

Public hearings in the impeachment inquiry begin in the U.S. House today. Coloradans of various political stripes said this week they will watch the hearings closely, but hope the process goes quickly. 

At the Federal Center light rail stop, just west of Denver in Lakewood, on Tuesday, voter Joe Brosky said the public hearings would ideally bring more facts to light.

Democrats are smarting from their latest loss on fiscal policy after this week’s defeat of Proposition CC, but as the next legislative session approaches, they are considering doubling down and asking voters for a full repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights next year.

FBI Announces Arrest In Plot To Attack Pueblo's Temple Emanuel Synagogue

Nov 7, 2019

Federal officials have arrested a man accused of plotting to attack a historic synagogue in Pueblo. The co-conspirators turned out to be undercover FBI agents.

Court documents say Richard Holzer, 27, of Pueblo, was arrested Friday just after the agents brought him what were supposedly two pipe bombs along with dynamite to blow up Temple Emanuel.

If Proposition DD passes this November, not only would sports betting become legal, but Colorado could secure a new way to fund “state water projects and obligations.”

Just three years ago, the CEO of Molson Coors was bragging about Denver being home to the world’s third-largest beer maker.

Not anymore.

The announcement that Molson Coors would shift its corporate headquarters from Denver to Chicago ends a nearly 150-year corporate governance relationship between the beer “brewed with pure Rocky Mountain water” and Colorado.

This is the first installment in CPR’s series Teens Under Stress, a months-long examination of the pressures adolescents are under and what can be done about it.

Neal Levine remembers the reaction he would get when he first introduced himself to statehouse legislators as a cannabis lobbyist.

“‘Is that a real job?’” he recalled. Yes, it is a real job.

As more and more states legalize marijuana in one form or another, it’s become a billion-dollar industry that has attracted the attention of federal lawmakers and lobbyists.

Outside groups continue to spend millions of dollars to sway Colorado voters on a key tax question: Should the state be able to keep excess revenue and spend it on transportation and education? The answer will impact how Colorado budgets.

In addition to mail and advertising, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity has sent people door to door.

“We are asking you to vote no on Prop CC. It weakens our Taxpayer Bill of rights,” Heather Williamson said to a Republican voter in Westminster who answered the door.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Will recreational and medical marijuana voters have more political clout in 2020? The Cannabis Voter Project hopes so. The project made inroads identifying voters during the 2018 midterm election and now they’re turning their recruitment efforts to pot stores in Colorado and across the country.

When state Rep. Alec Garnett heard the U.S. Supreme Court would allow states to start sports gambling he didn’t waste a moment. Colorado’s Democratic House Majority Leader immediately called ‘dibs.’

He tweeted that he would sponsor a bill he initially thought would be a slam dunk for passage since there were so many reasons to do it.

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