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Local news roundup with The Colorado Sun - 6/23/2022

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Every Tuesday we talk with our colleagues over at the Colorado Sun about the local stories they're following.

This morning KUNC’s Samantha Coetzee spoke to Michael Booth, environment writer for the Colorado Sun.

Interview Highlights:
These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Samantha Coetzee: Let’s talk about the unique platform some sheriff candidates in Colorado are running on. They’re saying that they won’t enforce certain laws they deem unconstitutional? 

Michael Booth: It's an interesting story. Shannon Najmabadi reports for us that more than a dozen candidates for sheriff in Colorado this year are running for the top law enforcement job in their counties by saying there are few laws they will refuse to enforce. This is part of a larger constitutional sheriff movement where some candidates argue that the design of the sheriff's office allows them to make up their own minds about what laws do follow the Constitution.

This most often comes into play when talking about red flag gun laws that some states have passed that allow courts to order guns taken away from people who are deemed dangerous. Some of the candidates are saying they won't enforce those gun and take away laws, though the laws are on the books and have withstood some legal challenges. Some candidates are also against enforcing mandates that became common during the COVID era, such as wearing masks in public places.

Political experts that I've talked to know that these movements were once considered a rural sheriff gambit, but are now moving into suburban areas like Douglas County and even some urban counties. In a 2021 poll by a university researcher, more sheriffs have not said they believe their authority supersedes federal or state governments in their county. Now we'll see if this is a philosophy that state voters agree with in Colorado.

Coetzee: Now, let’s talk about gas. It’s pushing $5 a gallon in many parts of the state. The alternative is electric, but what’s the real cost of that? 

Booth: So when gas gets very close to $5 a gallon, as it now is across Colorado, the steady stream of interest in electric vehicles really can become a flood. And that's what's happening right now. But electricity isn't free either. So we wanted to look at what it actually costs to run an electric vehicle at current rates versus what it costs to run a gasoline vehicle at $5 a gallon.

Luckily, there are some people out there who really love their EVs and are good with spreadsheets and keep track down to the penny. So what are our contacts in the environmental community? We have the numbers at Xcel utility rates for his Nissan Leaf. He drives about the average 11,000 to 12,000 miles a year, charging mostly at home. It cost them about $470 to run his electric vehicle in the past year — driving the same number of miles in a comparable gasoline car at five bucks a gallon would have cost him more than $2,000.

Now, you also have to look at what electric cars cost. So we did. They can start about $10,000 higher than a comparable gasoline model, although tax credits from the federal and state government could lower that gap a little bit. Problem is, it's hard for consumers to find any car they want of any kind right now. Dealers tell us your favorite model of anything is very likely on backorder.

Coetzee: And finally, COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children under 5 in Colorado. What does that mean for families and Coloradans in general?

Booth: So John Ingold reports that getting to this group of young kids was the hard fought battle for scientists and regulators who went back and forth over the dosages for the shots and how effective they would be in this group of about six months. This group has not had access to them before. Now they do. The bottom line, though, is that it appears the shots are somewhere between 40% and 80% effective in preventing symptomatic cases of COVID in this young age group, depending on which vaccine maker’s shots you take. Now, that seems like a wide range. They'd like to pin it down further in future studies.

But still, the shots are now being recommended for a reason. They give a large number of vulnerable kids a fighting chance against dangerous disease, and they appear to give about the same amount of protection in kids through age 5 that they've already given to teenagers and adults so far. So it's definitely worth it for parents to at least be thinking about it and get it done for their kids.

John likes to talk to parents as well as researchers and sometimes researchers who happen to also be parents. They are very excited about getting the shots for their own families. Families should expect a good chance of some of the usual side effects, such as fatigue, irritability, some fevers come along with it. But in another important note from John, in his research, there were no deaths and no serious heart problems in the child studies. And those are things that researchers have been watching carefully for throughout the vaccine trials.

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