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.

Parents and teachers who traveled to Denver on Dec. 18 to watch the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission increase the buffer zones between schools and oil and gas wells didn't have much praise for the state board.

Instead, they questioned why the state wasn't going even further to protect students. They also raised the prospect of another ballot initiative to extend the setbacks if state lawmakers don't act in the upcoming session.

A Republican state lawmaker accused of sexual harassment last session is resigning. Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who represents Northwest Colorado, is stepping down in late January.

His resignation comes after a top Democrat at the capitol suggested he might try to force Baumgardner out during the upcoming session if he didn’t leave on his own.

Out of the dozens of lawmakers who hold leadership positions at the State Capitol, only five live on the Western Slope. State Rep. Dylan Roberts is one of them. The Democrat from Avon will lead the state's new Rural Affairs Committee. He says the rising cost of health insurance will be at the top of his agenda when the session starts next month.

Gov.-elect Jared Polis is bringing a former political rival and members of his congressional staff into his new administration.

Cary Kennedy, who finished second behind Polis in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, will serve as a senior fiscal policy advisor for the new governor. Kennedy served as state treasurer from 2007 to 2011.

Democratic State Sen. Daniel Kagan announced Wednesday evening he is resigning from the legislature next month.

In a statement announcing his departure, the lawmaker from Cherry Hills Village didn't give a specific reason for stepping down. But Kagan found himself making headlines last year for using the wrong restroom at the Capitol.

State Transportation Commissioner Rocky Scott says his lunch conversation at a Colorado Springs steakhouse took on a sobering tone Monday when the discussion turned to the state’s road funding woes.

“I don’t think we’re going to solve this before I leave the commission,” Scott said.

Three weeks after voters rejected two transportation funding measures, Scott and some of the other commissioners who oversee the state’s road improvement budget still sound resigned.

Two members of Colorado's Democratic House delegation are adding some suspense to Nancy Pelosi's quest to become speaker.

This week, Congressman Ed Perlmutter signed a letter with 15 other House Democrats opposing Pelosi's bid.

New cars sold in Colorado will have to run cleaner and average 36 miles per gallon by 2025 thanks to new emission rules adopted Friday.

The move was supported by ski areas and other businesses that have called on the state to take steps to combat the effects of greenhouse gases and climate change.

But some local government leaders and auto dealers in the state are afraid these new rules will have unintended consequences.

By many accounts, Colorado experienced the "blue wave" political experts were predicting during last week's election. For the first time since 1936, Democrats will control both chambers of the Statehouse and every major state office.

But each side has a different take on what one-party control will mean for the state.

Democrats and Republicans didn’t waste any time choosing new leaders for the upcoming legislative session in Colorado.

It felt almost like a lively and cheerful family reunion when the growing Democratic House majority gathered in the Old State Library Thursday afternoon to promote KC Becker of Boulder to the position of House Speaker.

Wednesday Newscast, 11/07/18 8:04 a.m.

Nov 7, 2018

Newscast for Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 8:04 a.m.

Wednesday Newscast, 11/07/18 7:04 a.m.

Nov 7, 2018

Newscast for Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 7:04 a.m.

Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration unveiled a $31.4 billion budget proposal Thursday morning at the State Capitol. The spending plan is 4.6 percent - or $1.4 billion - bigger than the budget proposal made at this time last year. 

Updated Oct. 31, 2018 at 3:45 p.m. — A spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper claims he was making a joke Wednesday morning when he told workers in a New Hampshire coffee shop he was going to run for president.

But some political observers, including one who once worked for the governor, don't think Hickenlooper made the comment to get laughs.

The candidates for state treasurer have largely stayed clear of the spotlight this election season. Colorado’s current treasurer, Republican Walker Stapleton, is term-limited and running for governor.

Democrat Dave Young is a state representative from Greeley and former math teacher. Republican Brian Watson is a real estate investor with no political experience.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders fired up a crowd of Colorado State University students Wednesday night with calls for Medicare for all and free tuition at public universities.

Sanders traveled to Fort Collins to stump with gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and other Democrats seeking higher office.

A new poll from the University of Colorado reveals what voters think of new oil and gas setbacks, a tax increase for education and their choices for governor.

He owns a small business that does contract work for some of Colorado’s largest oil and gas companies. She runs a marketing firm from home and lives within a half-mile of three well pads.

She’s voting yes on Proposition 112. He’s voting no.

Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton squared off Friday morning inside of a barn in Kersey, just east of Greeley. The debate venue was so rustic, the tables in the barn were all equipped with fly swatters.

Here are three things that stuck with us after the debate.

The state's gubernatorial race grew a bit more heated Wednesday night on a debate stage at Colorado State University.

Republican candidate Walker Stapleton ignored the moderators' questions about statewide issues late in the debate as he repeatedly criticized Democrat Jared Polis for an incident that occurred nearly 20 years ago.

In 2002, voters in Colorado supported sweeping changes to state campaign finance laws. The goal was to rein in the influence of money in elections. The law contained a strong preamble about how large campaign contributions could corrupt politics and give special interests, corporations and the rich disproportionate influence.

Then along came the millionaires running for governor, spending millions of their own dollars on their own campaigns.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper weighed in Friday on the future of an embattled Democratic lawmaker, along with some other hot topics at an impromptu press conference at the State Capitol.

A printing error is keeping some Colorado voters from studying up on statewide ballot items this election season.

The error caused some of the state's voting guides, known as blue books, to be printed without some of the pages.

Colorado once turned to comedy to warn residents about the dangerous mixture of drugs and driving. Early advertisements featured actors who got so high, they were trying to start grills without propane. The ads warned that although grilling while high is not illegal, driving while high is.

But as more drivers under the influence of drugs get into fatal car crashes in Colorado, state officials are hoping a new, more simple advertising campaign will help reduce impaired driving.

Cathy Kipp was at a recent back-to-school night at Kruse Elementary School in Fort Collins. She was handing out flyers and printed information about Amendment 73.

"This is game changing," said Kipp, a member of the Poudre School District Board of Education. "This would be the best increase in public school funding that we've been able to get in decades in Colorado."

A computer science major in college, 25-year-old Garrett Hause would fit in at a Silicon Valley startup. But he said he prefers to stay busy and work with his hands, so he decided to do something different.

Last year he took over his grandparents’ farm in Lafayette, Colorado and replaced the fields of alfalfa with five acres of hemp.

In addition to electing a new governor this November, Colorado voters will also decide the fate of 13 statewide ballot questions, including two specifically aimed at funding transportation projects.

But beyond that shared goal, propositions 109 and 110 differ greatly.

Cliff Redish is a political exile. He lives in a world that's colored Republican red and Democrat blue. He used to be a Democrat, but now he's unaffiliated. Perched on a barstool in a pub in Carbondale on Colorado's Western Slope, he's hesitant to even talk about it.

"We're so divided," Redish said. "It's just unbelievable. It's hard to even bring this up in a bar right now."

This year's governor's race is like no other in Colorado history -- at least in terms of money. The $29 million contributed so far to candidates shatters prior records. A large chunk of that money comes from millionaires, spending big in hopes of being elected to a job that pays $90,000 a year.

"There actually are no limits to what an individual can contribute to their own campaign," said Steve Bouey, a manager with the elections division of the Secretary of State's Office.

As Colorado’s population has grown, so has the oil and gas industry. Its presence is an unavoidable part of the landscape. That’s why volunteer Patricia Nelson said she has spent part of her summer collecting signatures for Initiative 97.

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