Headlines – December 7, 2021

Headlines December 7, 2021

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Boulder Requires City Employees Show Proof of Vaccination by Today

A vaccine mandate for employees of the City of Boulder takes effect today at 5 PM. Under the mandate, city employees must submit proof of vaccination or request an exemption. According to a city spokesperson, fewer than 100 employees have requested a religious or medical exemption. To encourage compliance, the city is paying vaccinated employees a $250 bonus.

Department Of Labor And Employment Could Pay $73 million in Fraudulent Unemployment Claims

A state audit report found the Department of Labor and Employment may have paid just over $73 million in fraudulent unemployment claims spanning between March 1, 2020 to April 30th of this year. That money would add to the $30 million the department already owes for improperly paid claims. 

The Legislative Audit Committee met yesterday to hear the report. Potential fraud includes unemployment to dead people, inmates, underage applicants, claimants with multiple fraud indicators, and claimants with suspicious bank account information.

The audit noted three major contributors to the potential fraud, which include expedited payments mandated by the governor’s March 2020 executive order, federal pandemic requirements such as unemployment for gig workers, and the department’s delay in moving to an efficient computer system.

Office Of eHealth Creates New Roadmap

Colorado’s Office of eHealth Innovation released an new roadmap to address gaps in the state’s healthcare system. Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera told Colorado Newsline the department wants to save people money and time.

Primavera said the pandemic highlighted weaknesses and strengths in the electronic healthcare system. Among their findings, older, as well as Black and Asian patients, used electronic healthcare options less than other groups. A more comprehensive system would allow doctors to access patient records from previous providers, which would prevent duplicate testing and medical visits.

Potential funding for health care IT infrastructure could come from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, The American Rescue Plan Act and the recently passed infrastructure bill. 

High Job Growth Predicted For Next Year 

Economists at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business predict robust job growth next year in most sectors. According to the Leed’s faculty director, the state has the fourth highest labor force participation rate in the country.

Forecasters said the leisure and activity, and tourism sectors will lag behind the rest in terms of job growth in coming years. These sectors include performing arts, entertainment, sports, recreation, and food services. Forecasters predict tourism spending will not return to 2019 levels for another two or three years.

State Demographer Elizabeth Garner said Colorado’s 2021 population growth was slower than its been in three decades because of slow domestic migration and almost no international migration. 

Denver City Council Approves $700 Million in Bonds For DIA

The Denver City Council has approved the issuance of $700 million in bonds to the Denver International Airport. The 10 to 1 vote occurred last evening with Councilperson Candi CdeBaca voting no without comment. 

The Denver Gazette reports the bonds will be interim notes used to finance remaining projects under the airport’s 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program. Slated spending priorities include gate expansion and phases one and two of the Great Hall Project. 

Denver Set To Ban Flavored Tobacco Products In 2023

Denver City Council has also approved a ban on the sale of most flavored tobacco products. The measure passed yesterday evening by an 8 to 3 vote. The ban will take effect on July 1, 2023 and includes flavored menthol cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping products. An exemption exists for Hookah, natural cigars, pipe tobacco, and harm reduction tools.

According to The Denver Gazette, the ban was first introduced in October to curb youth tobacco use, particularly with vaping.