Colorado Capitol Coverage

During Morning Edition on Four Corners Public Radio
  • Hosted by Bente Birkeland

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland tracks state politics for Rocky Mountain Community Radio. Hear interviews with lawmakers and newsmakers, roundtable discussions, and more.

Recreational marijuana clubs, also called social lounges, are allowed in some Colorado communities, but state law is murky on whether or not their existence is legal and how they should be regulated. Two proposals currently moving through the legislature aim to add clarity by requiring either voters or local governments to approve the clubs.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland sat down with Kristen Wyatt with the Associated Press and Luke Perkins with the Durango Herald to discuss the details.

Colorado is roughly a third of the way through the four-month long legislative session. John Frank, a reporter for The Denver Post, and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com sat down with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland to take stock of the big issues this session.

In the last decade, Democrats have attempted to repeal Colorado's death penalty four times. Their latest attempt on Feb. 15 was amid contentious debate. Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman (D-Denver)  was behind the effort. She knew the odds were against her, but even before the hearing, she said she wanted to raise awareness to the moral and social issues surrounding the death penalty.

“There are a lot of people willing and wanting to learn more and more about the problems with it, the challenges of it, and we need to keep that message going,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll lose the battle, because the battle is long-term.”

A proposal to repeal Colorado’s healthcare exchange and move to the federal program has prompted a lot of debate at the State Capitol. It has also set off a larger fight about the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Here are highlights from our discussion with John Frank, a reporter for The Denver Post and Ed Sealover, a reporter for The Denver Business Journal. They discussed Senate Bill 3, which seeks to repeal Connect for Health Colorado.

Colorado officials have highlighted seven shovel-ready road and water projects should the Trump administration secure roughly $1 trillion in infrastructure funding. The National Governor’s Association sent that list, along with projects from 48 other states and territories, to the Trump administration on Feb. 8.

Colorado’s list includes adding two urgent projects -- an express lane heading west into the mountains on I-70 and adding capacity lanes along the northern and southern parts of I-25. It also includes water projects and one to expand rural broadband.

Law enforcement officers in Colorado would be required to be U.S. citizens under a new measure that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6.

President Trump’s battle with the media doesn’t show any signs of letting up. But, in Colorado, Republicans hope divisive rhetoric doesn’t impede their ability to get their message out. They’ve come up with something very un-Trump -- a model they say will improve their relationship with the media. 

“We really want to be more open and inclusive,” said Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert. He has started doing something old school -- something the president had been criticized for not doing enough of. He and the Senate president are holding weekly briefings with the press. That’s also something his predecessor in Colorado didn’t do. And the Senate GOP plans to hold its first ever off-the-record happy hour with reporters.   

Capitol Conversation

Feb 3, 2017

Lawmakers in both parties are trying to make it more difficult for homeowners to sue condo developers over construction defects. They hope it will lead to more condo development and lower rents. But despite widespread support for the concept, legislation hasn’t been able to pass in previous years.

We talked about the issue with Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal.

The first few days of Colorado’s 2017 legislative session provided glimpses into the next few months as legislative leaders and the governor outlined their plans and priorities.

Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com weighed in on some of the major issues lawmakers will debate.

The Governor delivered his 2017 address Thursday, touching on health care, transportation and marijuana.

Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered one of his last State of the State addresses to the Colorado legislature on Jan. 12. He didn’t delve into specifics, but instead talked broadly about policy, including infrastructure investment and potential health care reform.

Opening day at Colorado’s Capitol may be largely procedural, but legislative leaders take the opportunity to set the tone for the year. Thirty-two of the state’s 100 lawmakers are newly elected, but the makeup of the chambers is largely the same as it was last year. Republicans still control the Senate and Democrats have a majority in the House.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is entering his second to last legislative session as governor. He said he’s very aware of his time in office being limited, and that colored his discussion of his goals for the upcoming legislative session.

Republican Kevin Grantham will lead the state Senate in 2017, where his party held onto its one-seat majority. He represents District 2, located in north-central Colorado and includes northwestern Denver suburbs,  and says he’s the first rural Senate president in over four decades.

Colorado's House Minority Leader Previews 2017 Session

Jan 10, 2017

Republican Rep. Patrick Neville is only serving his second term in office, but he recently rose to the highest position in his caucus -- house minority leader. Rep. Neville’s appointment comes as a surprise; Rep. Polly Lawrence, who has served in the legislature since 2012, was considered the heir apparent.

Democrat Crisanta Duran will serve as the top lawmaker in the state House of Representatives next session, leading the 65-member chamber as speaker of the house. She will also be the first Latina to serve in that role in state history.

Democratic Sen. Lucia Guzman, representing District 34 (Denver), is the only legislative leader returning to her role, but it’s something she didn’t expect. Guzman said Democrats fully anticipated winning the majority in the Senate, but after the November election they are still one seat shy. The GOP holds a 18-17 seat advantage.

Three Things To Know About The 2017 Legislative Session

Nov 15, 2016

Colorado’s lawmakers have selected their leaders for the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January. While the presidential race was marked by deep political divisions, Republicans and Democrats in Colorado are optimistic about working together.

Bente Birkeland sat down to talk shop with two other capitol reporters - Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal and Peter Marcus of The Durango Herald.