Headlines May 26, 2021

Headlines May 26, 2021

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Experts Say There Is a Mental Health Emergency for Youth

Experts at Children’s Hospital Colorado are sounding alarms over the increasing mental health crisis among youth   The situation has become so dire that the hospital system, with its main campus in Aurora declared a “pediatric mental health state of emergency.”

Suicide attempts are rising and emergency room visits for mental health crises were 90 percent higher last month. The Colorado Sun reports that the crisis has escalated to the point this spring that hospital beds are full and more parents are sending kids out of state for treatment

Dr. David Brumbaugh, the system’s Chief Medical Officer, said that in the last 15 months he has seen a demand in children’s mental health care like nothing he’s ever experienced, and he began to cry as he spoke of a dad whose 9th-grade son tried to kill himself after not making the baseball team near the close of his first year of high school.

Dr. Jenna Glover, director of psychological training at Children’s, said that the isolation and stress of the pandemic have exacerbated mental health struggles, with higher rates of substance abuse in kids and teens.

Glover said that kids are turning to alcohol and drugs more than ever to escape feelings or try to find a sense of control, rather than asking for help because they think they will cause more stress for their parents.  She suggested that parents check in with their children and ask about their mental health at least once every month.

New Law Allows Higher Education Institutions Not to Require ACT and SAT Scores

Governor Jared Polis signed a new law into effect yesterday under which the state’s public colleges and universities are no longer required to consider SAT or ACT scores for first-time freshmen during the admissions process.  Officials at the University of Colorado Boulder said in a release that those scores can present a barrier to lower-income students, and removing that barrier puts institutions in line with their similar colleges and universities across the country.

Wealthier families can afford tutoring for the tests and also live in better funded school districts that produce applicants with higher scores.

The Denver Post reports that the new law, which goes into effect immediately, preserves the option for an applicant to submit an SAT or ACT score when they apply.

Gov. Jared Polis also signed another bill that makes Colorado the first state to prevent legacy admissions at its public universities. Wealthier families are more likely to have family legacies at Colorado colleges and universities.

Polis said that they need to make sure that admissions practices are equitable.

Legislators in State Senate Begin Debating Health Care Bill

Legislators in the state senate have begun debating a health care bill which in its current form would have the commissioner of insurance create a standard insurance plan. Colorado Politics reports that doctors and all healthcare providers and hospitals would be required to accept the plan and insurance companies would be mandated to offer it with penalties if they didn’t.

Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Democrat from Boulder, told the Senate that the bill isn’t the silver bullet for fixing healthcare. The measure won preliminary approval and will be on the calendar for a final vote in committee today.

Bill Sent to Governor That Would Require Notice before Online Companies Renew Subscriptions

The legislature has also sent a bill to the governor for his signature that would require online companies including in-person dating services to provide a three-day cancelation window for members. Companies with automatic-renewal contracts like magazines would have to tell residents of Colorado before a renewal or price increase takes effect.

The bill is expected to take effect Jan. 1.

Lawmakers Attempt to Put Figure on Carbon Emissions

State lawmakers are also trying to calculate the “social cost of carbon” in order to measure the economic harm of putting carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere.

The social cost of carbon is already embedded in a state law regulating utilities, and there are two bills working their way through the legislature this year that would employ it to manage natural gas energy efficiency programs and cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The dollar value of the social cost of carbon is not without controversy. The Colorado Sun reports that thirteen Republican attorneys general have sued to block the Biden administration’s effort to calculate carbon costs, arguing the figure is “inherently speculative.”

Boulder Court Sets Preliminary Hearing for Man Accused in King Soopers Shootings

The man who has been charged with killing 10 people at a south Boulder King Soopers in March is now set to have a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for the case against him to proceed to trial.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa is charged with over one hundred counts. During a status conference yesterday the judge scheduled the preliminary hearing for September 7.

Denver Accepts Federal Funds for Rental Assistance

The Denver City Council accepted more than $27 million yesterday from the federal government that is expected to be used to help low- and moderate-income families stay in their homes. Denverite reports It’s the second time this year the city got money from the federal government to help people struggling to pay their bills during the pandemic.

Those who want to apply for assistance must qualify for unemployment, have seen a cut in their pay, or felt some other financial hardships because of the pandemic.

The city will prioritize applicants who have been unemployed for 90 days.