Headlines March 31, 2021
Boulder Officer Remembered
Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley was remembered yesterday during a memorial service at the Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette. Talley was killed last Monday while responding to an active shooter at the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder.
Nine others were also killed by the shooter. A suspect has been charged with 10 counts of murder and one of attempted murder.
At the memorial service, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said there is no doubt that–because of Officer Talley’s bravery and quick action¬–dozens of innocent lives were saved. She said she hopes this brings solace to his family in the years ahead.
The Daily Camera reports that the memorial filled the streets of Lafayette and surrounding communities yesterday morning as more than 500 law enforcement vehicles escorted Talley’s body and his family to the service. Law enforcement officials traveled from across the country to attend. The church estimated that up to 3,000 people were at the service.
COVID-19 Mask Mandate Set to Be Modified
Boulder County public health officials say they’re not sure yet what the governor’s new mask order will look like. The state’s mandate is set to expire on Saturday, and the Daily Camera reports that a spokesperson for Governor Jared Polis said he intends to sign a new 30-day order that will account for where we are in the pandemic.
The news comes as county officials said yesterday that the average number of new COVID-19 cases “has ticked up a bit in the last week,” though, hospitalizations haven’t followed the trend. Boulder County reported 70 new cases Tuesday. The seven-day average of the number of cases in the county was almost 63 this week and just over 52 last week. Mike Stratton, Boulder County Public Health spokesperson said that the uptick is not large, but it’s something to watch.
Low Vaccination Rate of State Prison Staff Leads to Monetary Incentive
In related news, the Colorado Department of Corrections is now offering a $500 incentive to staff members to get a COVID-19 vaccine. KDVR reports that more than half of Colorado’s state prison workers have not received any COVID-19 vaccine, despite being eligible for months. Currently, there are active COVID-19 outbreaks at seven different state prisons.
Whistleblowers: Colorado Air Quality Enforcers Ordered Staff to Relax Measurements
Three whistleblowers who work in the State’s Air Pollution Control Division are claiming that managers in the agency endangered the health of Coloradans by ordering employees to stop performing certain functions required by the federal Clean Air Act. The three filed a complaint yesterday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Colorado Sun reports that the whistleblowers run computer models that predict how much air pollution will result from a company’s activities. They say their managers bypassed rules in order to speed permits and avoid a paper trail should the state be sued by environmental groups. They claim the alleged halt to the required modeling is part of a year’s long pattern of unlawful actions, all of which increased health-damaging pollution in Colorado. The loose permitting also pushed the state deeper into “non-attainment” of U.S. air standards.
The noxious emissions, which the whistleblowing employees claim are being illegally ignored, contribute to high concentrations of ozone along the Front Range, which spikes to levels dangerous for human health on hot Colorado days.
Colorado to Become First in Nation to Extend Housing Benefits Regardless of Immigration Status
Colorado is set to become the first state in the nation to provide housing benefits to residents regardless of their immigration status. Yesterday, the state Senate gave final approval to the bill which would affect about 180,000 people estimated to be living in the state without authorization. Under the bill, they will benefit not only from emergency pandemic housing assistance, but all forms of state housing support moving forward.
John Cooke, a Republican Senator from Weld County said the state should have kept the immigration status requirement, and that government funding should not benefit anyone living in this country without legal permission. However, Representative Dominique Jackson, a Democrat of Aurora, and the lead sponsor of the bill in the House said the measure is needed because housing is a human right and everybody deserves a safe and affordable place to live.
The Denver Post reports that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.
Sex Assault Statute of Limitations Eliminated
In other news from the State Legislature, lawmakers have approved a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases. The new measure means that survivors including those molested as children will have unlimited time to file a civil suit against their abusers.
Under current law, child sex assault victims in Colorado have six years from the day they turn 18 to sue their abusers; but Senate Bill 73 gives people for whom that six-year statute of limitations hasn’t run out, and anyone abused after Jan. 1, next year, unlimited time to file a lawsuit against their abuser.
For criminal cases, there is no statute of limitations for child sex assault in Colorado.
The new legislation does not affect victims of historic sexual abuse, such as those victimized by priests in the state decades ago. The Denver Post reports that the legislature is debating a bill which would give those people time to sue their abusers and the institutions that may have covered up the crimes.
Gov. Jared Polis says he will sign the newly passed bill.
Measure Introduced to Codify Pollution
Democratic legislators are seeking to put into law the pollution reductions that have been outlined by Governor Polis’s administration. The Colorado Sun reports the move would bolster the state’s push to cut greenhouse gas emissions and would codify much of the work that has been done to curb pollutants since climate legislation was first passed two years ago.
The measure would also set firm caps on emissions from key sectors of the economy. And it also aims to ensure that disadvantaged communities participate in the process, and creates the position of environmental justice ombudsperson.
Yesterday, the Polis administration pushed back on the pollution limits in the bill. A spokesperson said that while they are open to parts of it, like the expanded focus on environmental justice, they cannot support hard emissions caps as the bill outlines.