Capitol Coverage

Capitol Coverage on 91.5 KRCC is a collaborative public policy reporting project supported by fifteen Colorado public radio stations providing news and analysis to communities statewide. 91.5 KRCC and KUNC in Greeley provide editorial oversight and management.

Colorado Democrats have tabled their effort to repeal the death penalty after some members of their own party expressed concerns about the bill.

The proposal was stuck in limbo for more than two weeks as State Sen. Angela Williams tried to secure the votes the bill needed to clear the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 19-16 majority.

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."

The Colorado Senate narrowly passed a contentious gun control bill on Thursday that would allow police to temporarily take away someone's firearms.

The extreme risk protection order proposal would give law enforcement the ability to take the weapons away if a judge determines their owner poses a risk to themselves or others.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

Colorado has a new, more colorful state logo. The new logo features mountains, an evergreen tree and the iconic letter C that centers the state's flag. It also contains yellow, meant to symbolize the state's sunshine and its wheat crops, blue for its water and red for its soil and rocks.

The basement of the state Capitol is ground zero for legislative strategizing. Lobbyists take over the small cafeteria and crowd around tables with lawmakers for several hours. Some walk into the bathrooms still talking on their phones about legislation. It’s here in this noisy basement where the oil and gas industry has been mounting fierce opposition to stronger regulations on the industry.

Colorado lawmakers are now more than halfway through the legislative session, and they’ve debated at length over oil and gas regulations and how the state votes for presidents.

But one issue has been notably absent so far from the agenda: Transportation funding.

It’s been four months since voters rejected two tax measures that would have provided billions of dollars worth of funding for the state’s roads and bridges.

After days of fierce partisanship at the state Capitol, Democrats in the Colorado Senate advanced a bill Wednesday that will give local governments more control over oil and gas drilling operations.

But as the bill heads over to the House for more debate, there are signs it will undergo some more changes in the coming days.

Lawmakers who have launched an effort to repeal Colorado’s death penalty argue that it unfairly targets minorities and does not prevent violent crimes. Add to their list of concerns that an innocent person could be put to death.

“The death penalty is unjust,” state Sen. Angela Williams told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol. “It is costly. It is immoral.”

Noelle Cerone has noticed a disturbing trend at her high school situated in the mountains just north of Steamboat Springs.

“I know a lot of kids who have changed over time because they have gotten addicted to the nicotine in vape pens,” the Steamboat Mountain School junior wrote this week in a letter to state lawmakers.

Democratic lawmakers will introduce a bill soon that would give local governments in Colorado more control over oil and gas drilling operations.

The legislation from House Speaker KC Becker and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg would not increase the setbacks between oil wells and homes. But the lawmakers say it will give cities and counties the ability to increase those setbacks themselves.

Former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran has launched a campaign for a U.S. House seat that fellow Democrat Diana DeGette has held for more than two decades.

Duran is hoping voters in the district are ready for change.

Colorado lawmakers are renewing an effort to prevent accidents and travel headaches on Interstate 70 in the mountains.

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday would require drivers to carry chains or have tires with sufficient tread throughout the entire winter season on the interstate.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is planning to join at least 10 other states in a lawsuit that will try to stop President Donald Trump from using an emergency declaration to build a border wall.

On Monday afternoon, Weiser was the lead speaker at a protest against the emergency declaration held at the state Capitol.

When Jennifer Knowles helped her three sons set up a lemonade stand in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood last summer, she thought she was teaching them about the joys of running a small business.

But then someone called the police and the stand was shut down because the family didn’t have the right permit.

Longmont resident Ingrid Moore went to the state Capitol on Tuesday carrying a stack of maps she said illustrates why Colorado should change the way it chooses U.S. presidents.

"Over 57 percent of all the 2016 campaign events were held in just four states," she said as lawmakers on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee reviewed the map. "Virtually all campaign events ... were held in just 12 states. And those 12 states just have 30 percent of the population."

A cell phone, two good samaritans and a Facebook page helped Denver Police find the man suspected of breaking into the state Capitol last month and damaging several statues.

On Friday, police arrested Elias Anthony Dominguez, 26, on suspicion of burglary. According to an arrest affidavit, Dominguez allegedly entered the Capitol through a faulty security door just after 2 a.m. on Jan. 27 and started breaking chairs, glass display cabinets and bronze busts of former politicians.

Last year, the town of Avon got little resistance from its residents when it asked them to approve a $3 tax on every pack of cigarettes sold in the town.

Town Council member Scott Prince said it was supported by more than 70 percent of voters.

"There was zero campaigning done on behalf of that tax measure," Prince said. "It really speaks volumes about the residents and how much people see the impacts of tobacco and cigarette products."

Seven Colorado Democrats advanced a comprehensive sexual education bill at the State Capitol on Wednesday, after a contentious hearing that ended just before midnight. The hearing included testimony from dozens of opponents and a flurry of attempted Republican amendments to the bill.

The legislation aims to expand sexual education curriculum at public schools to include such topics as consent, birth control and STD prevention.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association is going to court to try and put the brakes on regulations that will require all new cars sold in the state to run cleaner and with better gas mileage by 2025.

The state's Air Quality Control Commission voted unanimously in November to adopt the stronger emission rules, which come with a mandate that new cars average 36 miles per gallon.

Health care is emerging as a top priority for both Democratic and Republicans at the State Capitol this session, and some of the proposed legislation is already packing hearing rooms.

One of the bills would add autism to a list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. Similar legislation was vetoed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper last year.

It was a busy week at the State Capitol as lawmakers started debating an initial round of bills at committee hearings and Gov. Jared Polis issued his first executive order to promote electric vehicles.

Here are some highlights, and some things to look for when lawmakers come back on Tuesday.

Cheers from environmental groups drowned out nearby construction noise in downtown Denver Thursday morning after Gov. Jared Polis announced an executive order that aims to bring more electric vehicles to Colorado.

Gov. Jared Polis wants to leverage Colorado's stronger than expected revenue projections to pay for full-day kindergarten next school year.

He's asking lawmakers to approve $227 million in the budget for the kindergarten classes.

Polis says the spending will allow 30,000 families to stop paying tuition.

More Americans are being impacted by what is now the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. This week, the already stressful world of air travel is feeling the pinch as Transportation Security Administration workers call in sick.

But for now, things are still operating smoothly at Denver International Airport.

DIA spokeswoman Emily Williams said the average wait time at security checkpoints averaged about 10 minutes on Sunday.

Democrats applauded as Gov. Jared Polis outlined his administration's priorities in his first State of the State Thursday. He touched on topics from full-day kindergarten funding to paid family leave and oil and gas development.

But the governor's address was criticized by Republicans for its lack of specifics on where all the money for his agenda will come from.

When a caravan of lawmakers arrived at the state Capitol Tuesday morning carrying several pink boxes of Voodoo doughnuts, it was apparent something very significant was about to happen.

Some of the lawmakers had grins on their faces. They were ready to welcome a new governor with a ceremony that would include fighter jets roaring above and loud cannon fire that would spook dozens of pigeons out of the trees in nearby Civic Center Park.

As Colorado's new lawmakers showed off their desks to their kids on Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper was busy cleaning out his own. He was down to his final days as the head of state government.

Signed baseball bats and other memorabilia were scattered on the floor of his office. His desk was littered with piles of old papers.

Colorado Democrats promised to pass paid family leave, address the rising cost of health care and pursue a gun control measure on Friday as they gaveled in a new legislative session.

New House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, called gun violence in the state an “epidemic” that needs to be addressed this session.

Jena Griswold, who will soon become Colorado's first Democratic Secretary of State in 60 years, has announced who will help her lead the office.

Meanwhile, outgoing Secretary of State Wayne Williams told the Colorado Springs Gazette he is thinking about running for city council next year.

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