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Also, great stories from our producers, partners and people in our region. 

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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.

Liam Neupert

Students went on strike Friday, March 15, in more than 100 countries around the world and every state in the Mountain West region. They want action on climate change.

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.

Colorado Department of Transportation

Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Denver is fully open as of around 3:00, although drivers are still urged to proceed with caution. Some roads, particularly in the eastern and northeastern plains, remain closed.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

UPDATE Thursday, 3/14/19, 6:10 a.m.: Many roads throughout Colorado remain closed after yesterday's severe winter weather, including northbound Interstate 25 at Woodman. Officials are still encouraging residents to stay home, and, if they must go out, to check routes. You can also check the latest closures here.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office / Creative Commons

El Paso County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday in favor becoming a Second Amendment Preservation County. It’s just the latest of several other counties across the state speaking out against a so-called red flag bill currently in the legislature. The state measure would allow law enforcement to remove firearms from citizens deemed to be a danger to self or others.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Haven Coleman perched on the steps of the Colorado state capitol in a puffy jacket and hat. The 12-year-old looked tiny against the gray stone columns rising up at her back. With her mom standing nearby, she held up a simple sign. On it, she had written the words “School Strike for Climate” in big black magic-markered letters.

Jeffrey Beall / Creative Commons 2.0

Several Democratic hopefuls for 2020 say they support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. But the potential nominee from our region who oversaw the legalization of the drug is his state, has reservations.

Mike McBride / Flickr-Creative Commons

A growing number of Colorado counties have declared themselves as Second Amendment sanctuaries in response to a so-called red flag bill making its way through the state Legislature. Custer, Fremont, Montezuma, Otero and Weld counties have said they would not enforce the legislation should it become law. Teller County has also denounced the measure, although commissioners there did not claim a "sanctuary" title.

Researchers studying wild black bears have found that eating human food could have a deep impact on the animals’ bodies.

Ecologists tracked 30 wild black bears around Durango, Colorado over a few summers and winters. They also tested their hair and blood.

They found that bears that foraged more on human food hibernated for shorter periods of time.

A study in the medical journal BMJ found a strong association between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of mass shootings.

Paul Reeping is an epidemiologist with Columbia University and first author on the paper. He says researchers had already looked at the relationship between gun laws and outcomes like suicide or homicide.

Abigail Beckman / 91.5 KRCC

Starting in the late 80s, rainbow trout in Colorado began dying off because of a parasite that causes whirling disease. By 1997, wild rainbows in the state had all but vanished. The disease is caused by a water-borne parasite that infects young trout and some species of salmon, causing deformities of the skull and spinal column. The infected fish swim in circles, hence the name whirling disease. Ultimately, it leads to death.

Water is again flowing through faucets in the Western Slope town of Paonia.

Town administrator Ken Knight told residents at a meeting Tuesday evening enough water is being treated and kept in storage to return service to the more than 1,500 people who rely on the town for drinking water. Some residents have been without drinkable tap water for nearly two weeks after officials discovered leaks in water pipes.

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.”

Tom Arthur / Creative Commons 2.0

At least one state in our region is poised to join the movement to change how we vote for our president. Colorado’s Governor, Jared Polis, is expected to sign legislation soon.

When Paonia resident Jon Howard went turn on the dishwasher last Friday morning, there was no water to clean the dishes.

Same thing when he went to the bathroom, wanted to take a shower or fill up a glass from the kitchen sink.

Updated at 10:57 a.m.

Former two-term Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced his 2020 presidential bid in an online video on Monday, pitching himself as the centrist antidote to a dysfunctional, divided Washington.

He joins an already crowded field of Democratic contenders including senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders.

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.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0

A bacterial infection that infects Canada geese called "new duck disease" has turned up in the Mountain West.

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.

woodley wonderworks / Creative Commons 2.0

Several Mountain West states are considering legislation that would change sex education in their schools and they are all taking very different approaches.

Updated at 1:55 p.m., Feb. 26, 2019:

As a measles outbreak continues in Washington state, a congressional hearing Wednesday will discuss the preventable disease, now considered to be a “growing public health threat.”

Several states are considering legislation to encourage higher rates of childhood vaccines. The response in our region is mixed.

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.

Shanna Lewis / 91.5 KRCC

A new multimillion-dollar recreation master plan for the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is complete. The goal of the process, according to the document, was to come up with ways to increase river recreation, improve connectivity to the river as well as its ecology, and provide for more economic development opportunities.

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.

Abigail Beckman / 91.5 KRCC

The Fine Arts Center at Colorado College is 100 years old this year. It began in the former home of philanthropists Julie and Spencer Penrose in 1919 as the Broadmoor Art Academy. By the 1930s, what was initially a local art colony had become a major force in the art world. 

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / publicdomainpictures.net

National Parks and public lands in the West are having trouble with cactus poachers. But some park rangers are fighting back by micro-chipping their cacti.

Joshua Doubek / Creative Commons 3.0

A recent study backs up longstanding research that the oil boom in the Bakken region of Montana and North Dakota contributed to a significant increase in violence in the surrounding communities.

A few months ago, John Parker retired and moved into a salmon-colored log house on a mountain called Tungsten in unincorporated Boulder County.

"Just to get a little piece of heaven, get away from the madding crowd," he says.

Inside, a wood-fired stove fills the house with heat and a low hum. Outside, the snow feels like thick, gritty icing. The wind barrels up a slope, gathering snow into a glittery stream. When the glitter stream meets the house, it curves around and hugs it, piling up around the back steps. It does not feel like the time to think about wildfires. But if that same wind was carrying embers instead of snow, those would follow the same path and instead of glittering, that pile by the back door would be glowing.

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.

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