Headlines June 9, 2021

Headlines June 9, 2021

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Legislature Ends Session with Many Bills on Democratic Agenda Advancing

The 2021 Colorado legislature ended its session yesterday with many bills on the Democratic majority’s agenda – some with significant amendments – advancing to the governor’s desk for his signature into law.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Democrat from Boulder, told the Colorado Sun that he thinks it was probably one of the more productive sessions they’ve ever had.

The legislature gave final approval to House Bill 1189 that will require industrial plants like Suncor’s refinery in Commerce City to set up air monitoring at the border of their properties. The companies will have to publicly report the results. The bill also expands mobile air quality testing by the state.

Latinx legislators and others making a push for environmental justice supported the bill. Carmen Abrego Vasquez, a resident of Globeville nearby the Suncor facility, said that her whole family has suffered from respiratory issues from neighborhood pollutants. Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign the bill.

Lawmakers also passed a bill yesterday that they hope will make a dent in the rise of prescription drug costs. The law which the governor has supported would set up an affordability board to review medication costs and set ceilings for some drugs.

Another new measure sent to the governor yesterday would establish a fee for single use products like plastic and paper grocery bags. And it would also ban the use of Styrofoam by restaurants starting in three years.

Lawmakers also passed a bill that would give survivors of child sexual assault the opportunity to bring a lawsuit during three years beginning January 1. Those who could bring a case had been banned by the current statute of limitations from suing their abuser – or an institution that failed to stop the abuse.

This session the legislature passed more gun restrictions than ever before, some in response to the mass shooting at the King Soopers in Boulder. Stolen and lost firearms will have to be reported. Guns will have to be stored safely and universal background checks will be expanded. Additionally, cities will be allowed to pass stricter gun laws than the state’s.

Boulder Valley School Board Passes Budget

Tuesday the Boulder Valley School Board approved next year’s budget, along with contracts for teachers, other employee groups and the superintendent. The Daily Camera reports that the district is increasing spending in several areas in its general fund of over $400 million.

The budget includes staff additions related to equitable discipline. 11 school safety advocates will be added, in addition to a safety supervisor and several mental health positions. The new positions are part of a plan to phase out school resource officers by January.

The district will also increase spending on employee compensation, coronavirus catchup efforts and funding for schools based on achievement and percentage of high-needs students.

Diagonal Highway Improvements Discussed

Plans to upgrade the Diagonal Highway between Boulder and Longmont were discussed during an online meeting yesterday. Commuting Solutions – a non-profit based in Louisville – hosted the discussion to provide an update on the more than $250 million upgrade which will include express lanes for buses and a commuter bike path. The Daily Camera reports the project is planned for 2022 and the following year.

The Diagonal Highway carries about 45,000 vehicles per day and was identified as a priority for improvement in a recent mobility study.

CU South Project May Have Enough Signatures for the November Ballot

An initiative to put the Colorado University South project to a vote in Boulder has tentatively obtained enough signatures to make the November ballot. The project, if approved, would annex more than 300 acres – known as CU South – into Boulder city limits and designate a portion of it for the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation project. The Daily Camera reports that the University of Colorado Boulder would provide land for flood mitigation to the city in exchange for city services.

The city now has 10 days to verify signatures to place the initiative on the ballot which is formally known as “Let Boulder Voters Decide on Annexation of CU South.”

Denver Dueling Measures Address Green Space

And in Denver voters may face dueling ballot measures in November that address development on protected green spaces. One measure would prohibit commercial and housing construction without voter approval on any parks and city-owned land protected by a conservation easement.

A group known as Save Open Space Denver is backing this petition and opposes development on land in the north Park Hill area.

In contrast, a counter proposal by developers would change the definition of a “conservation easement” in order to make an exception for a 150-acre property that was formerly Park Hill Golf Course, and could also apply to other green space.

The Denver Post reports development of that property has been blocked for nearly 25 years.

The dueling ballot measures focus attention on the fact that green space in Denver has not kept pace with population growth and development. About 8% of Denver is designated as parks, compared with 20% and greater in other large U.S. cities.

KGNU Signal Maybe Be Disrupted Today 

Listeners to KGNU’s 88 point 5 FM signal may notice disruptions today. A telecommunications company will be doing work on the FM broadcast tower, right around our antennas. We will have to reduce power, possibly shut down altogether, starting at 9:30am until as late as 7 this evening. The work may continue Thursday and Friday as well. Our 1390 AM signal will not be affected. Listeners can also tune into our online streams at kgnu dot org or hear programming over our app.