Politics

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Wyatt Orme / Aspen Public Radio

While the Affordable Care Act “is going to remain the law of the land” for the foreseeable future, that isn’t preventing state lawmakers from debating health care reform efforts in Colorado. One key proposal is moving through the state legislature, however it’s not likely to gain enough traction to become law in part because of the national debate over Obamacare.

A proposal in the Republican-controlled state Senate seeks to do away with the state’s health care exchange – Connect for Health Colorado – and switch over to the federal exchange.  The exchanges are how individuals purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

A proposal to get more money for Colorado’s aging and congested transportation system is on its legislative journey. The bipartisan bill, a top priority for legislative leaders and the governor, would send the question of a sales tax increase to voters and allow the state to borrow $3.5 billion for roads and infrastructure. The first committee hearing lasted about seven hours.  

Colorado Department of Transportation

Wednesday was a long day at the State Capitol. Eighty people signed up to testify on a massive transportation funding bill that if passed, would ultimately end up before voters in the fall.

During a more than seven-hour hearing before the House Transportation and Energy Committee people expressed lots of thoughts on how to improve Colorado’s roads -- and how to pay for them. Lawmakers also offered several dozen changes to House Bill 1242 but, in the end, the measure passed along party lines.

Intel Free Press / Flickr

There are plenty of things that lead to distracted driving along Colorado’s roadways: eating, putting on makeup or changing the station on your radio. Texting and driving is one distraction state lawmakers want to crack down on. 

Ken Lund / Flickr

Colorado’s latest revenue forecast shows that state lawmakers will have to fill a larger budget gap than anticipated -- a $696 million gap. Bente Birkeland spoke with other statehouse reporters about what this could mean for the state budget.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

El-Mekki Idris brought a tray to our table with two fragrant dishes on it. “This is koushouri, and the other one is fool sandwich,” he explains.

Koushouri is a popular rice, pasta and lentil dish from North Africa. It’s topped with tomato sauce and fried onions. Fool, another popular regional dish, consists of mashed fava beans and spices. At Sudan Cafe, Idris serves it as a sandwich on a soft, home-baked roll.

Rural Groups Push Against Proposed Cuts To USDA Spending

Mar 16, 2017
Adam Fagen / Flickr

Farm and rural advocacy groups say cuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would harm rural communities, at a time when many of them need an infusion of cash.

In what’s being called a “skinny budget” because it sets an outline and contains scant details, Trump’s proposal calls for a 21 percent reduction in the USDA’s annual discretionary spending, and lays out rationales for why some programs are either eliminated or scaled back, calling some “duplicative,” or “underperforming.”

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Lawmakers are midway through this year’s legislative session and the big issue at the halfway mark is what to do about funding transportation. Democratic and Republican leaders are backing the idea of asking voters this fall if they support a tax increase to address those needs. The issue is poised to dominate the second half of the session.

“If there is going to be a long-term solution to transportation infrastructure it’s going to almost certainly require something that the voters are going to weigh in on,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican. He made that comment late last year, prior to the January start of the session, and has kept the promise, backing House Bill 1142, which would add millions of dollars for transportation needs.

Bill Badzo / Flickr

Legislative leaders have coalesced around a bill that, if approved, would ask Colorado voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund road, bridge and transit projects. The bipartisan transportation bill is dividing the GOP, with opponents saying Colorado hasn’t done enough to tighten its budget and find efficiencies.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland discussed the issue with Charles Ashby, a reporter for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal.

Courtesy of Senate President Kevin Grantham

A top Republican joined with Democratic leaders at the Colorado legislature Wednesday evening in an effort to find solutions to ongoing transportation woes.

To do that lawmakers are proposing House Bill 1142. It would send the question to voters, asking for a 0.62 cent sales tax increase. That money would go towards priority infrastructure projects as well as to provide funding to local governments for transit, roads, trails, and potholes.

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