Headlines July 27, 2021

Headlines July 27, 2021

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Redistricting Commissions, Preliminary Map Hearings

Colorado’s two Independent Redistricting Commissions will conduct joint public hearings on the road this week addressing the preliminary maps for the state’s eight U.S. congressional districts and the state’s 65 house and 35 senate districts.

The commissions will accept in-person and remote testimony from Colorado residents.

The first joint hearing this week will take place tonight in Denver at the Green Valley Recreation Center, starting at 7pm.

The Community College of Aurora will hold Wednesday night’s joint hearing at 7pm.

More information about the hearings and the preliminary maps is online at redistricting.colorado.gov.

U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms LGBTQ Ruling

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit yesterday confirmed a lower court decision that denied 303 Creative LLC, a Colorado marketing and design firm’s request to be exempt from CADA, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

The 303 Creative owner Lorie Smith wanted to be allowed to refuse website design services to same-sex couples because she claimed, in her lawsuit, it violated her religion to treat same- and different-sex couples equally. The owner also wanted to include a statement on her business website saying that she would not serve same-sex couples.

Lambda Legal, a national organization designed to protect the civil rights of LGBTQ people and their families, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of CADA. In 2018 Lambda Legal submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 7–2 decision, the Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission did not employ religious neutrality thus violating Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ rights to free exercise.

303 Creative is one of a number of cases in state and federal courts in which businesses have claimed a religious and free speech license to discriminate and in which Lambda Legal participates either through direct representation or as a friend-of-the-court.

303 Creative was represented by ADF, Alliance Defending Freedom an anti-LGBT legal organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

CDPHE Will Send Vaccine Reminders Messages to Parents and Guardians

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has announced it will begin sending text and email notifications to parents and guardians of 12 to 17 year-olds who may be overdue for their second COVID-19 vaccine.

Text messages will be sent from the recipient 45778, beginning today, and email notifications will start going out later this week.

The notifications will be sent in English and Spanish and will include information on how to find a vaccine provider to schedule an appointment.

The state health department says the reminders will be similar to those sent to people over the age of 18 who were overdue for their second shots.

Denver Mayor Gives State of the City Speech

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock presented his annual State of the City address yesterday.

Major topics included homelessness, law enforcement, and post-pandemic resilience – as well as a $450 million infrastructure spending proposal that will go before voters and includes bonds for a new, mid-size arena at the National Western Center, possibly replacing existing facilities.

According to the Denver Post, the 10,000 seat arena has an estimated projected cost of $160 million dollars and other infrastructure line items targeting sidewalk and bike lane improvements, renovations such as the Curtis Park public pool and the Sloan’s Lake boathouse, and funding for homeless shelters.

During the address, the mayor said he will refer the bonding proposal to the city council this week.

The Denver Post also reports that the Mayor reiterated support for more sanctioned campgrounds for those experiencing homelessness, an expansion of a pilot program he did not initially support.

Xcel Energy Wants Another Rate Increase

The Colorado Sun reported on Monday that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission has rejected a request for an expedited decision on $344 million dollar rate increase from Xcel Energy.

The utility, which is the largest electricity provider in the state and serves 1.3 million Colorado customers, is seeking the rate increase to build a smarter and greener electric grid.

There is pushback by consumer advocates and regulators as previous and pending requests that have occurred since the start of 2020 could increase Colorado customer bills by as much as 20%.

The PUC will hold a hearing in August to determine how to proceed with the matter.