Headlines — March 03, 2022

Headlines March 03, 2022

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Marshall Fire Updates: Recovery Funding And Water Treatment

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to fund removal of foundations, basements, and vehicles damaged in the Marshall Fire. Congressman Joe Neguse, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper requested the addition of the rarely funded coverage to the Private Property Debris Removal Program. The foundations pose a health hazard, and steep demolition costs are stalling the rebuilding efforts of property owners.

On Wednesday, the same leaders requested that a U.S. House and Senate committee expand funding for a national disaster recovery program. The written request stated that Marshall Fire damages are expected to cost over $513 million. Lawmakers say money earmarked for nationwide disasters that occurred in 2020 and 2021 is not enough to also cover the needs of Marshall Fire victims.

In related news, the town of Superior announced Wednesday that its water treatment plant has a temporary way to remove a smoky taste and odor from tap water that some residents have been reporting. Officials say a chlorine dioxide system was installed as a short-term remedy. It will cost around $30,000 a month. The town hopes to find alternative methods for removing fire ash during the water treatment process.

Political Guild Announces Wage Increase For Aides

The Political Workers Guild of Colorado announced that legislative aides at the Denver Capitol will receive wage and hour increases. Aides will now be employed full-time, work 40-hour work weeks, and will receive a 25% pay increase, up from $16 to $20 per hour.

The guild was formed in March of 2021 by Democratic aides and is the first of its kind in the nation. It has grown to nearly 100 dues-paying members across party lines, and represents legislative aides who work for the state’s House and Senate legislators. Aides assist lawmakers in various ways, including monitoring pending legislation, conducting research and drafting legislation. The guild also represents campaign workers and political organizers.

CU To Liquidate Investments In Russian Companies

The University of Colorado announced plans to liquidate its investments in Russian companies in protest of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. CU officials say the university system’s investments in publicly traded Russian companies are small, with less than 0.1% held in securities. Less than 0.25% is invested in mutual funds that have equity holdings in Russia. According to CU, Russia is also not funding any university research.

Republican Lawsuit Targets Unaffiliated Colorado Voters

​​Colorado Republican leaders filed a lawsuit in February against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold. GOP lawmakers want to block Griswold from enforcing Proposition 108, which allows unaffiliated voters to cast their ballots in partisan primary elections. GOP leaders say Proposition 108 infringes on their First Amendment rights to free speech and association because it allows non-Republicans to interfere with the candidate selection process. They also argue the measure violates their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Attorney John Eastman filed the suit. Eastman is a former CU Boulder visiting scholar who was stripped of public duties after speaking at a rally near the White House before the January 6 insurrection. Lawsuit plaintiffs include Representative Ron Hanks of Fremont County, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat in the June primaries, and Laurel Imer of Jefferson County, who is seeking a congressional seat.

AG Weiser Joins Nationwide Investigation Into TikTok Harms

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday that he is joining his colleagues in a nationwide investigation into TikTok. Attorneys general across the country say the social media platform should not promote and provide its services to children and young adults because using it creates physical and mental health harms. Attorneys are focusing on how TikTok gets young users to spend extra time on the platform. The bipartisan coalition is looking into whether TikTok violated consumer protection laws. The same coalition is also investigating Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook. A TikTok spokesperson says the company will provide information about how it protects the safety and privacy of teens.