Headlines January 13, 2021
State Congressional Delegation Divided on 25th Amendment Resolution
Colorado’s Congressional delegation was divided along party lines last night as the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to take steps to remove President Donald Trump under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.
The state’s four House Democrats voted in favor of the resolution, while Colorado’s three Republicans voted against. The resolution passed by a vote of 223-205.
Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Aurora said that if the vice president and Cabinet refused to act then they are ready to impeach the president.
Republican Ken Buck of Windsor said that pressuring the vice president to invoke the 25th Amendment–which, he said, was originally intended to pass power when the president is incapacitated–sets a bad constitutional precedent.
The vice-president has said he will not invoke the 25th Amendment, so the next step the Democrats are taking is impeachment.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi named two Colorado Democrats — U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver and Joe Neguse of Lafayette — to the nine-member team that will prosecute President Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Colorado Politics reports that both DeGette and Neguse are attorneys and played key roles the first time the House impeached Trump, a year ago.
COVID-19 Vaccination Priority List Changes Again
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday that the state will soon announce more changes to its priority list for the coronavirus vaccine, with people between the ages of 65 and 69 and possibly others being moved up.
The Colorado Sun reports the changes are in response to new guidance from the federal government, and they will also recommend giving greater priority to adults of any age with serious underlying medical conditions.
Polis said those aged 65 to 69 will likely become eligible in a couple of weeks to receive the vaccine. But his office later announced that the state will release a new priority list next week and was more cautious on the timing for when the new priority group would become eligible.
Dr. Richard Zane, chief innovation officer for UCHealth, says vaccinating people over 70 should still be a top priority because that age group has the highest COVID death rate.
Polis did not answer a question about whether the new priority structure will bump teachers and other essential workers further down the list.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall as Cases Rise
Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Colorado have kept falling since the deadly surge last fall, but new cases are up for a second straight week.
Beth Carlton of the Colorado School of Public Health told the Denver Post it’s not totally clear why the two are moving in opposite directions.
She added that new hospitalizations tend to lag behind the number of new cases, so it’s possible they could rise in a few days, but Carlton noted it’s possible the spread of the virus at holiday gatherings was not enough to cause a major spike.
On Monday, the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 was less than half the fall peak that occurred in early December.
Boulder County Public Health reported Tuesday two new COVID-19 deaths that involved residents of long-term care facilities.
The two residents were in their 80s and 90s and bring the county’s coronavirus death toll to 203. The county reported 47 new cases on Tuesday.
Boulder Valley School District Moves Forward with Plans for High School In-Person Classes
The Boulder Valley School District is moving forward with its plans to bring high school students back for in-person classes in a hybrid model.
The Daily Camera reports that the school board heard an update yesterday from Boulder County and Broomfield public health officials, who said they’re cautiously optimistic that case numbers and other indicators are going in the right direction.
The health officials also said they continue to support the district’s in-person learning plans.
Elementary students began attending four days a week in person last week. Middle school students began attending Tuesday, with two days in person and two days joining the in-person classes.
Next week, high school students are returning in person in the same hybrid model as the middle school students.
Included in the changes to help keep schools open for in-person learning is more testing for teachers and students. The district recently opened a testing site at Lafayette’s Centaurus High School, as well as starting to operate the first of two mobile testing sites this week.
Colorado Legislature Starts with “Soft Open”
The Colorado legislature plans to open its session today, but leaders are calling it a “soft open.”
The Colorado Sun reports that the General Assembly plans to work for three days and will then adjourn until February 16 in order to limit potential exposure to COVID-19 as the number of infections continues to rise.
Most work for the legislature will be on hold for at least a month, but the Democratic leaders – who control the process – say they need to pass a handful of time-sensitive bills to address mistakes from prior terms.
The usual ceremonies and opening speeches on the first few days of the session will be postponed until February.
Security at the Capitol is expected to be enhanced because of an FBI warning about the nationwide threat of armed protests at state capitols ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, and the attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
Denver Auditor Says Hancock Administration Still at Risk for Conflicts
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration is still at risk of allowing political favoritism and conflicts of interest to influence business deals.
City Auditor Tim O’Brien recommended several changes two years ago to improve business deals, but Taylor Overschmidt, a spokesperson for the auditor, said yesterday that, while some city departments followed that advice, Hancock’s office had not.
The Denver Post reports city departments enter into contracts worth a few hundred dollars to millions for things ranging from janitorial services and construction to mental health and affordable housing.
Overschmidt said that not taking action on the earlier recommendations hinders Denver’s ability to deter political influence in the contracting process, obscures details on how taxpayer money is spent and lowers accountability.
Representatives from Hancock’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.