Denver

Jim Hill / KUNC

Colorado's four month legislative session is halfway over. As is normally the case, the only things lawmakers are required to do is pass a budget. Now that we're at the midpoint, attention can turn to the state's impending budget crunch and another hot topic: reclassifying the hospital provider fee under TABOR.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Inside a nondescript warehouse south of I-70 in Denver, Nick Hice opens a door into a large room holding a few hundred cannabis plants. One of the first things you notice about the room: It's bright. Glaring yellow high-pressure sodium light fixtures are strung from the ceiling. The whole place has a feverish glow. Even though it's indoors, Hice and his workers here at Denver Relief typically wear sunglasses when working here.

It's those lights that are the key to growing commercial marijuana successfully.

"It's very important. It's one of the things we talk about the most with these artificial environments," said Hice, an expert grower and operations manager at Denver Relief and a founding partner in its associated cannabis consulting business.

There's a cost that comes with using the same kind of lighting technology used to brighten stadiums and streets: high electric bills. That's why some enterprising businessmen are creating alternatives that might help cannabis growers cut down on their electricity load.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The U.S. oil and gas industry was shocked by the sudden death of Aubrey McClendon. The former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, a major producer now floundering under low oil and gas prices, was an influential executive. His death came just a day after being indicted on bid rigging and price fixing charges.

Chesapeake Energy was a key leader in the U.S. oil and gas boom of the last decade. It was aggressive with new technologies and took big risks leasing a lot of land with oil and gas locked up in tight shale rock formations. These days though, there's a lot of bad news coming from the oilfield. Companies large and small are laying off workers and selling off assets. Even among companies in trouble, there's just something different about Oklahoma-based Chesapeake.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

Cannabis is beginning to look a lot like a commodity crop.

After spending decades in darkened basements and secreted away on small parcels of land, marijuana growers are commercializing once-illegal plant varieties: industrial hemp, recreational marijuana and medical cannabis.

As more states legalize the growth of certain types of cannabis, those in the industry are turning to traditional farmers for help, to transform the plant from black market scourge into the next big American cash crop.

Two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning, 39, announced his retirement Monday at a news conference in Englewood, Colo.

A visibly emotional Manning shared an anecdote from his first of 18 seasons in the NFL, when he had a chance to shake the hand of legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas after a tough loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Choking up as he remembered the exchange, Manning said: "He told me, 'Peyton, you stay at it, I'm pulling for you.' "

Peyton Manning, the NFL's all-time leading passer and its winningest starting quarterback, told the Denver Broncos that he is retiring, a spokesman for team says.

Manning is stepping away from the game after winning his second Super Bowl and after 18 seasons.

Colorado General Assembly

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.

--

Colorado is on the road to becoming the final state in the country to legalize rain barrels, after Democrats reached an agreement with several Republicans who opposed previous versions of the measure.

"It is a water right and what you have done with this, you have protected that water right," said Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose), who had voted against a rain barrel bill last session.

Now he said he can back it – and other Republicans are also on board with HB 16-1005 [.pdf].

A lot of visitors to Colorado figure they might give the state's good ganja a try, but they might not be prepared for the effects. When it comes to bad weed trips, out-of-staters have been doing much worse than Colorado residents and are going to the ER more often since recreational sales of marijuana began in 2014.

Colorado General Assembly

A bill that would have allowed terminally ill patients to take medication to end their own lives has failed in the Colorado Legislature. The main sponsors asked lawmakers to defeat the bill before it could be debated by the full House.

"The choice we made today, was to give you the relief from having to have this conversation because we know many of you have deeply held convictions that make you uncomfortable with this bill," said state Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver). "We are doing you this favor, to not have this debate, but make no mistake the voice of the people of this state will be heard."

Ian Mackenzie / Flickr - Creative Commons

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.

--

Colorado is the only state in the country where it is illegal to capture rainwater for use at a later time. State lawmakers are once again debating whether to allow residents to use rain barrels to collect precipitation that falls from their roofs.

"This is really straightforward," said Representative Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge), one of the main sponsor's of House Bill 16-1005 [.pdf]. "You could use that water when you see fit, for your tomato plants or flower gardens."

Pages