Colorado Public Radio

Conservatives gathered for the 10th annual Western Conservative Summit found an unexpected name on the agenda Friday morning: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. It was the first time a Democratic elected official has ever agreed to speak at the right-leaning political gathering in Denver.

It’s become a regular summer event on the Front Range: Ink-black clouds sweep through and unleash hail on homes, cars and unsuspecting people. As more people move to the state, all that damage is adding up to an increasingly expensive menace for property owners and insurance companies. 

Update, 10:15 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect recent reports of wolf sightings in Jackson County and Grand County.

Last year, Eric Washburn shot and killed a mule buck in Northern Colorado. Its thick coat and massive rack of antlers convinced him of the animal’s health, so he had the meat processed and chucked it into his freezer.

A bill that would install a sculpture by a Colorado artist commemorating the women’s suffrage movement in Washington, D.C. had hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

The entire Colorado delegation supports the bill. Boulder Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse has led the legislative effort in the House. He’s a new father and told the committee he wants his daughter “and every girl growing up alongside her feel represented, empowered and are ensured of the fundamental role that they play in our society.”

Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Miami will give two Coloradans a chance to introduce themselves to a wide audience of voters nationwide. But they’re no strangers to each other. 

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet’s lives have intersected and at times ran on parallel tracks. Now, they each want a moment to stand out. 

When most people look at the forest right now, they see an abundance of green, fed by a wet spring. When Butch Knowlton, director of emergency preparedness for La Plata County and a 40-year wildfire veteran, looks at it he sees risk.

Knowlton knows that even though snow still covers the high peaks at the southern end of the county, “some of our vegetation in our forested areas down there are already starting to dry out,” he said. As everything dries out, the chances of a fire rise.

The Trump administration has temporarily postponed plans to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants, but that hasn’t calmed fears within Colorado’s immigrant community. 

Colorado Republicans cheered President Trump Tuesday night as he officially kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign with a televised rally in Orlando, Florida.

There were at least nine county Republican watch parties across the state. In deep blue Denver, dozens of the president’s supporters, decked out in American flag hoodies and MAGA hats, packed a sports bar in the tony Washington Park neighborhood.

Published 8:30 a.m. | Updated 11:40 a.m.

Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday to outline policies he hopes will increase Colorado’s kindergarten vaccination rate while at the same time, as he describes it, “honor the rights of parents.”

Nicole Pember has two healthy daughters but during both pregnancies, she could have died.

Not only did she have preeclampsia twice, but she also had HELLP syndrome and severe postpartum depression

“We just kind of have this expectation also that women just suffer for the good of everyone and it makes it really easy to miss very serious problems,” Pember said. “Things like Preeclampsia, the symptoms are very similar to just kind of like being pregnant and miserable.”

A clear, surging mountain stream is an iconic Colorado image, even as water can be pretty scarce in this typically arid state. It's a pristine reputation that several companies have tried to capitalize on.

Sara DeMeola asked Colorado Wonders if bottled water in Colorado has become big business.

“It’s hard to find much information on where bottled water comes from or how much bottled water companies have bought into the water rights of the West,” she said.

Colorado law enforcement announced in May that they’d seized what amounted to a small forest of marijuana: 80,000 individual plants and two tons of finished cannabis product. 

It was part of a sweeping marijuana bust, just the latest in the state’s crackdown on illegal cannabis. There have been more than 500 felony arrests and almost 100,000 plants seized between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest data from the Rocky Mountain HIDTA Colorado Task Force.

By 2030, Colorado plans to cut the emission of climate-warming pollution by 50 percent. By 2050, it will be 90 percent.

That means more of the state’s energy will have to come from renewable energy, up to 100 percent by 2040, according to a vision laid out by Gov. Jared Polis.

Several years ago, art teacher Jessica Ruby started to notice something concerning at the end of each class she taught.

“I would give them their art and they would walk by my trash can and throw it away on their way out of my room,” said Ruby, who teaches at Pete Mirich Elementary in Weld County School District RE-1. “I thought, ‘What’s happening? What’s making them do this?’”

Published May 28, 4:00 a.m. | Updated May 29, 9:48 a.m.

Standing on Colfax Avenue across from the state Capitol, Vernon Lewis, in a red cap that matches his shirt, describes a near-death event that happened a few months back when a man overdosed near a park bench.

“He was drinking, and I guess he took his medication,” he said. “His medication was Oxy.”

The Colorado Legislature has wrapped up its work for the year and by now most lawmakers are probably almost caught up on all the sleep they lost in the final weeks of the session.

Colorado lawmakers will consider a bill to raise taxes on nicotine and tobacco as the state's teen vaping rate skyrockets.

Last summer, Eagle County, at the rooftop of Colorado’s high country, faced its first major wild land fire. The Lake Christine Fire started a few blocks from the town of Basalt and burned more than 12,000 acres. Jill Ryan, at the time an Eagle County Commissioner, said most folks evacuated or were told to stay inside, because of “really poor air quality, the smoke that just settled in that valley.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed sweeping new regulations for the booming oil and gas industry. In a lengthy press conference, the governor talked about ending the contentious wars between oil and gas companies and communities.

“I will ask that those in this room and those who are not in this room commit to seeing this bill and this effort be a success for implementation and for the future of Colorado,” he said.

As more states across the country legalize recreational marijuana, there’s at least one place where the rules haven’t changed: the military. Active service members are strictly forbidden to use marijuana, whether it’s recreational or medicinal.

That creates tension in places that both rely on the economic stability nearby military bases bring and also have the opportunity to create a local recreational marijuana marketplace — which can bring in hefty tax dollars.

At one point last weekend — actually, more than a couple of times — John Hickenlooper felt compelled to tell a listener, whether in a church in South Carolina, or over a plate of barbecue in Alabama, why the numbers reflecting his decidedly underdog status in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value.

Public defenders are urging state lawmakers to consider legislation that would shift all drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors — a move that could reduce the state’s prison population.

The bill, getting its first airing this week in the state House of Representatives, lowers sentences to probation and up to 120 days in jail as a condition of — or a violation of — probation. It also allows counties to create drug courts.

A last-minute bipartisan deal in the state Senate to put more money into transportation — a top priority for Republicans — helped the next Colorado budget pass quickly on Thursday, with wide support and no delay tactics or long debates.

But now it’s the House’s turn to take up the budget bill, and several Democrats, who hold the majority in that chamber, are skeptical of the late compromise.

Gov. Jared Polis told Colorado Matters on Monday that although he disagreed with how Immigration Customs and Enforcement was fundamentally doing its job in Colorado, he was not going to interfere with the work between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

Still reeling from historic losses that put Democrats in charge of Colorado’s government, a group of current and former Republican state lawmakers say it’s time for a different strategy. They created a new organization to recruit and train more moderate candidates. The aim is to appeal to a broader swath of voters, especially the state’s growing segment of unaffiliated voters.

Backers see it as part of a larger rebranding the party needs to stay relevant in Colorado. But it could put them at odds with an existing soft money group controlled by House GOP leadership.

The death penalty, and whether to repeal it, is likely to be one of the weightiest topics Colorado’s legislature will debate this session. It’s a matter of life and death, justice and redemption — with passionate feelings on all sides.

And for some at the Capitol, the issue is deeply personal.  

The Colorado Capitol was busy into the early hours of Wednesday morning, as hundreds of people came to weigh in on a sweeping overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations. The marathon 12-hour Senate hearing ended at 2:00 a.m. with the Democratic bill passing out of committee on a party-line vote.

Nearly two years ago, Erin Martinez experienced the worst tragedy imaginable.

Her brother, Joey Irwin, and husband, Mark Martinez, were killed when their Firestone home exploded. Erin Martinez was also in the house at the time, and suffered burns on 40 percent of her body.

Now Martinez is speaking out publicly about the home explosion that investigators have linked to an improperly abandoned flowline extending from an Anadarko Petroleum well.

Colorado used to be on top of the cannabis world. As legalization spreads both in the U.S. and abroad, a lack of investor capital here could be the industry’s undoing.

“Now we are chasing the wagon,” said Dean Heizer, the executive director and chief legal strategist of LivWell. “And we need to get back on the wagon, and we need to get enough capital so that we can actually start driving the wagon again. We are falling behind.”

Corporate investments in renewable energy used to be symbolic. A few solar panels here, a small wind farm investment there. But in 2018 some companies became voracious green energy consumers.

Kaiser Permanente’s Denver administrative office is awash with rooftop solar and solar panels on carports.