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On this week's Colorado Edition, a look at how the "hate state" was transformed into a leader in equal rights. Plus, a look at what happens to a rural community when the young people move away, a program that teaches athlete-level physical conditioning for musicians, and a review of the new movie The Fall of the American Empire.

A state-by-state effort to start using the popular vote as the deciding factor in presidential elections is getting some mixed results in the months after Colorado joined the cause.

The leaders of the national popular vote compact are celebrating Oregon’s decision this month to join the group. If the governor approves the change as expected, the Beaver state will become the 15th state to join the initiative.

Top politicians are in Vail, Colorado, this week for the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association.

It's the unofficial start of summer, and crowds are flocking to national parks and public lands in search of the perfect Instagram shot. We also look at a different kind of crowd — of the home-buying variety — vying to purchase a limited supply of real estate in northern Colorado, and explore how climate change is threatening national security at the North Pole.

That and more in this week's episode of Colorado Edition.

Keegan Kellogg sits at the front of his classroom, facing about 20 students. He points to their next assignment written on a letter-sized piece of white paper.

"It says, 'I learned a bunch in…?'" Kellogg asked.

"Kindergarten," replied the students.

Kellogg teaches at Jackson Elementary School in Greeley. Greeley-Evan School District 6 has offered free, full-day kindergarten for about 15 years. Next year, all school districts in the state will be able to offer the same.

Out on Colorado’s Eastern Plains, the sound of hammers and saw blades cuts through the steady silence. A construction site hums next to a solitary cluster of nearly 150 newly built homes and 48 apartment units.

In the small town of Wiggins, where a pair of grain silos are the tallest structures for miles, the population of less than 900 hadn’t grown in over a decade. But with this new development, the town’s on track to double in size by the middle of 2020.

There’s evidence that bee and butterfly populations are in decline, a phenomenon that some have dubbed the “insect apocalypse.” In response, the Colorado Department of Transportation has brought in a bug expert.

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.

In this week's episode of Colorado Edition, we take a look at what Colorado lawmakers did this past session to help ease the state's transportation issues, dig into the regulations for pesticides used on marijuana plants, venture off the beaten path to where an artist was busy bringing the Breckenridge troll back to life, and more.

It all began with a flashing image: a blank wall with a plate smashing against it.

For more than a year, Aria Tru would see that image just before having a seizure.

"I finally figured out it was my body's way of trying to break the tension that was about to happen," Tru said. Later, the Boulder-based life coach told a friend about the images.

"And we laughed and we realized, you know there's probably a lot of people that need to break some tension and maybe a lot of people that want to break some plates," she said.

And so, Women Breaking Plates was born.

Jenny Sanchez is a first-generation college student.

"My mom stopped at sixth grade and my dad stopped freshman year of high school and they didn't continue from there," she said.

The 19-year-old is a freshman at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), studying biology and pre-med. She wants to be a pediatrician one day.

Colorado lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill giving patients more protection from a practice called “surprise medical billing,” or “balance billing.” Now, it’s headed to the governor’s desk.

This story was updated May 3, 2019 at 3:40 p.m.

Measles cases have reached a 19-year high in the U.S., but a bill in Colorado aimed at improving childhood vaccination rates didn’t succeed. It didn’t really fail, either. It just got mired in super-long hearings, pushback from the governor and, ultimately, a legislative schedule that ran out of time before the bill could reach the Senate.

“I’m still today trying to figure out exactly what happened,” says Rep. Kyle Mullica, who sponsored the bill.

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.

Michael Osterholm is worried. He directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He's also serving a one-year stint as a "Science Envoy for Health Security" with the State Department. And he told Minnesota lawmakers that when it comes to chronic wasting disease, we are playing with fire.

As climate scientists sound the alarm on the effects of rising global temperatures, many of Colorado's electric utilities are shifting their focus to a popular and potentially profitable goal: zero-carbon.

But they're also stuck with one important question: How do they actually get there?

Researchers first identified chronic wasting disease way back in the 1960s. Soon after, Michael Miller got sucked into working on it.

"Yeah, sucked into it is really right," he said.

Miller is a senior wildlife veterinarian with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Back then, local wildlife scientists were studying captive mule deer at a facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. They were trying to figure out how to help mule deer in the wild survive harsh winters, but the animals kept getting sick and dying.

Three weeks ago, Gov. Jared Polis stood outside Denver Health’s downtown hospital and made a long list of promises about improving health care.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle stood next to him and cheered him on, while a glossy, 10-page road map to lowering health care costs circulated through the crowd.

The question of where chronic wasting disease came from reopened in the spring of 2016.

Roy Andersen was monitoring reindeer in Norway. He’s a research technician with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. On a rare, sunny day, Andersen and his colleagues were doing what they often do in the spring: blasting across a snowy plateau, chasing a herd of about 500 wild reindeer.

Heather Swanson and Ryan Prioreschi monitor wildlife with the City of Boulder. They're standing in knee-high golden grass on a slope where the Rocky Mountains start slumping into the plains — the epicenter of a now-international animal epidemic. The ecologists have their binoculars out and they’re staring right at the problem.

A fawn is running circles around the rest of the herd, with the boing of a muscular slinky toy.

In this week's Colorado Edition, we remember Columbine 20 years after the attacks and look at what's changed since then. Other stories include changing the face of public art in Colorado and a review from film critic Howie Movshovitz.

2:30 p.m. update: Gun store owner releases statement

The Littleton gun store that sold Pais a shotgun says they did so legally. The owner of Colorado Gun Broker posted on Facebook that Pais went through a full background check and was cleared by NICS and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

11:41 a.m. update: Sol Pais confirmed dead by FBI

A young Florida woman who traveled to Colorado and bought a shotgun for what authorities feared would be a Columbine-inspired attack just days ahead of the 20th anniversary was found dead Wednesday in an apparent suicide after a nearly 24-hour manhunt.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader said 18-year-old Sol Pais was discovered by the FBI with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Back in 2013, Colorado lawmakers passed bipartisan legislation granting special driver’s licenses to those without documentation. But leaders in the agricultural industry, as well as immigrant rights advocates, had long insisted that the program be expanded to meet demand.   

Is the country careening towards summertime with a shortage of onions?

The National Onion Association certainly seems to think so. The Greeley, Colorado-based trade group is warning consumers the nation’s supply is about 30 percent lower than it was this time last year. The association’s vice president, Greg Yielding, said storms in the southern U.S. and Mexico drowned out crops while in the Netherlands, a top onion producer, dry conditions resulted in a smaller than usual harvest.

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.

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.

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.

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."

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