Colorado Edition: An Election, A Lawsuit And A Moratorium

Sep 11, 2019

Today on Colorado Edition: as a handful of state Republican cancel their 2020 primaries, we look at Colorado's rules, and how our elections will look this cycle. Plus, a federal lawsuit has put Colorado's Aid in Dying law in the spotlight. We'll also learn about an Opportunity Zone controversy in Boulder, and how prescribed burns could help with wildfires. Finally, we'll visit a 9/11 memorial ceremony at Red Rocks. 

News Of The Day: 

  • John Walsh Drops Out of Senate Race - The field of Democrats hoping to unseat U.S. Senator Cory Gardner continues to shrink. John Walsh, Colorado's former U.S. Attorney, dropped out and endorsed former Governor John Hickenlooper. Walsh is the second Democrat to quit this month after Hickenlooper's entrance into the race. Last week, former state senator Mike Johnston bowed out saying he wanted to avoid a negative primary campaign. There are still ten candidates left in the Democratic primary, including former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and State Senator Angela Williams. 
     
  • Marijuana Dispensaries in Estes Park - The Estes Park Board of Trustees voted unanimously to schedule a special election this winter on allowing marijuana dispensaries in town. Those in favor of the ordinance say it would increase tax revenue and create jobs. Those opposed say that opening dispensaries will ruin the character of Estes Park and could lead to a larger drug problem. The election is scheduled for December 10. 
     
  • Purdue Pharma Lawsuit - Nearly half of states and some 2,000 local governments have agreed to a tentative settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over the toll of the nation's opioid crisis. State attorneys general are offering mixed opinions. Colorado AG Phil Weiser said in a statement: "Colorado has not agreed to any settlement with Purdue Pharma or the Sackler Family. No current offer adequately addresses the harm that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused to communities and individuals in Colorado by contributing to the opioid crisis. We will continue to work hard to hold them accountable and obtain an appropriate settlement or judgment to address the crisis." Note: This is a developing story; we will update as we learn more.

Looking Ahead To 2020

Credit Creative Commons

The Republican Parties of South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas and Arizona have announced that they will not be holding their 2020 GOP primaries. The parties have committed all of their delegates to President Donald Trump. 

We called up Judd Choate, the state election director for Colorado, to learn about whether or not political parties in Colorado could do this. 

We also spoke with Seth Masket, the director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, to discuss how next year's presidential election will look in the state. 

Right To Die

Credit Travis Wise / CC BY 2.0

In November of 2016, Colorado voters passed the End of Life Options Act that allows individuals with certain conditions to voluntarily end their lives using medical aid-in-dying. 

Colorado's law is unique from other states with similar laws in a big way: the law prohibits health care facilities from punishing doctors who choose to, or choose not to, provide this care to patients. 

That made it surprising when Centura Health fired a doctor at the end of August for attempting to get an end-of-life prescription for a patient -- a decision that has now set off a federal court battle. 

Matthew Wynia, the Director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, joined us to discuss this in more detail.  

Opportunity Zones

Credit Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0

Attempts to take advantage of a new tax incentive program called an opportunity zone in Boulder have stalled due to a development moratorium, creating tension about the future growth of the city. 

Lucas High, a reporter for BizWest, has been covering this, and joined us to explain what's going on. 

Prescribed Burns

A statue of Smokey Bear greets visitors at the Nevada Division of Forestry offices in Carson City, Nevada
Credit Noah Glick / Mountain West News Bureau

A recent study says the American West should be doing more prescribed burns to keep forests healthy and to help lessen the impacts of wildfires across our region. The study also concluded that there needs to be a change in how we perceive the practice for that to happen. 

Noah Glick reports. 

9/11 Tribute At Red Rocks

Credit Courtesy of Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Today is the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Every year, firefighters from around the state gather at Red Rocks to honor those who lost their lives that day. Henry Zimmerman attended the event, and spoke with some of the participants. 

Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music this week by Blue Dot Sessions:

  • "Horizon Liner" by The Pine Barrens
  • "Chromium Blush" by Ray Catcher
  • "Vibrant Canopy" by Origami
  • "Dirbike Lovers" by Desert Orchard
  • "LaBranche" by Bayou Birds
  • "Wingspan" by Bayou Birds

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman (@HWZimmerman), and produced by Lily Tyson. The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. News director Catherine Welch and managing editor Brian Larson contributed to this episode.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC's air Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m.