Wed May 20, 2015

It Was A Quiet Session At The Colorado Statehouse For Oil & Gas

Ken Lund Flickr - Creative Commons

Energy development is always a hot topic at the statehouse, but 2015 was oddly quiet. Even with recommendations from a task force studying the issue, state lawmakers did little this past session where oil and gas drilling is concerned. As a result, some of the more long-standing issues as local control and public health concerns are still simmering.

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Fri May 15, 2015

Criminal Records, Not Diplomas, A More Likely Outcome Of Colorado Foster Care

Tamisha Macklin, now an advocate for foster kids, entered the foster care system at age six and by 14 she was spending most of her time in group homes and detention centers.
Joe Mahoney Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

A Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of data provided by the Colorado Department of Human Services revealed that only 28.7 percent of foster youth will graduate from high school on time, but at least 38 percent will have been incarcerated between ages 16 and 19.

By age 19, foster youth who were never placed in a permanent home are more likely to have a criminal record than a high school diploma.

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Mon May 11, 2015

Hemp Seed On Its Way To Colorado, With A Federal Blessing

Different hemp varieties are grown for their tensile fibers and oil-rich seeds.
Credit Edward the Bonobo / Flickr

Following months of wrangling, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has secured a permit from federal drug enforcement officials to import industrial hemp seed from foreign countries.

The seeds are essential to kick-start Colorado’s hemp industry, which state agriculture officials say has seen a bottleneck in research and cultivation due to a lack of viable seed stocks

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Thu May 7, 2015

Colorado's 2015 Legislature Takes A Bow With A Flurry Of Activity

Gov. John Hickenlooper signing the annual budget bill, April 24, 2015. Under the state constitution the only thing the legislature is required to do is pass a balanced budget each year. The last day of the 2015 session was a mad dash for some bills.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

State lawmakers waited until the last minute to decide some of the biggest issues hanging over the capitol for the 2015 legislative session. They worked overtime to get everything wrapped up before a Wednesday midnight.

Reducing the number of standardized tests public school children take has been a top priority for lawmakers in both parties this session. The Governor even mentioned it during his January State of the State Address. Despite overall agreement on the problem, the issue wasn't resolved until the final moments of the session, after months of negotiations and numerous bills on the topic.

Test reform wasn't alone, priorities such as a felony DUI bill, reauthorization of the Office of Consumer Counsel, a change in the law for rain barrels, and a salary increase for elected officials were all on the docket in the waning moments of the General Assembly.

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Thu May 7, 2015

When Colorado Raids Severance Taxes, The 'Energy Impacted' Feel The Pinch

Weld County, one of the centers of the oil boom in Colorado received $14,507,445 in direct severance tax funds in 2014, and nearly as much in grants. Some of those funds are used to mitigate the impacts of industry in the county, like truck traffic.
Jim Hill KUNC

Severance taxes are what energy companies pay to the state for the oil, gas, coal, or other minerals they take out of the ground. Each year that adds up to a lot of cash. In Colorado, half of that money is supposed to go back to cities and counties impacted by energy development.

That's why when Colorado lawmakers voted to take $20 million away from the state’s severance tax fund for the 2015/2016 state budget, Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer wasn't happy.

"Every year they try to take it. So we fight this every year," said Kirkmeyer.

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