Headlines — April 14, 2022

Headlines April 14, 2022

Listen:

[Download Audio]

Colorado Lawmakers Pass Harsher Fentanyl Bill

Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee approved an amendment Wednesday that toughens a bill targeting fentanyl use. Following criticisms from law enforcement, legislators changed House Bill 1326, making it a felony to knowingly possess more than one gram of fentanyl for personal use.

Republican lawmakers say the previous legislation, passed in 2019, underestimated fentanyl’s potency. Under that law, authorities could charge a person possessing up to 4 grams of fentanyl with a misdemeanor. Since then, legislatures have learned that a few grains of the synthetic opioid can be fatal.

Many harm reduction advocates oppose the new bill. They say that criminal punishment doesn’t stop drug addiction.

The bill will next move to the House Appropriations Committee.

Nebraska Lawmakers Approve Colorado Canal Project

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska is expected to sign a controversial bill this week allowing Nebraska to begin construction on an estimated $500 million canal diverting water from Colorado’s South Platte River to Nebraska.

Ricketts is invoking the legally binding water-sharing agreement made in 1923 between Colorado, Nebraska and Congress called the South Platte Compact. The agreement gives Nebraska the right to build the canal.

Colorado already provides a portion of water during the summer irrigation season. The canal would allow Nebraska to store some water in late fall, winter, and early spring. A spokesperson for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says the project undermines a long, successful agreement between the two states and will be costly for Nebraska taxpayers.

Frontier Airlines Settles Pregnancy and Lactation Discrimination Suit

Frontier Airlines agreed in a settlement Wednesday to change its policies regarding pregnant and lactating flight attendants. The ACLU and other groups filed lawsuits for the case brought by four flight attendants. Plaintiffs said the airlines did not provide time and space for attendants to pump breast milk in a healthy, sanitary way. They also demanded that pregnancy-related absences not result in disciplinary action.

Frontier did not admit any liability but announced it was proud to be at the forefront of accommodating the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in the airline industry.

Fire News: 

Marshall Fire Burn Areas Pass Soil Safety Test

Boulder County health officials say soil testing sites in and around the Marshall Fire burn areas don’t contain substances that pose a significant health risk. The county checked for 17 metals and found slightly elevated arsenic levels at a select site but nothing that pointed to widespread contamination. Boulder health officials say the arsenic levels are safe and within the normal range for the area. The data will help inform proper debris removal and cleanup.

In related news, people who lost their homes to the Marshall will be able to use their home addresses on their voter registration forms according to a new law Gov. Jared Polis signed this week. Colorado Senate President Steve Fenberg says he hopes the bill will set a precedent for voting rights in future disasters.

Fires Continue To Burn Across Colorado

Firefighters have been battling two grassland fires in southeastern Colorado since Tuesday. The Fort Lyon River Fire, east of Las Animas, destroyed two homes and burned almost 3,000 acres. Another fire west of Las Animas, is near Bent’s Fort, a national historic landmark. The Bent’s Fort fire has gone through almost 2,000 acres. Officials don’t know what caused the blazes.

The New “Safety Stop” Law Allows Bicyclists To Yield At Stop Signs 

Gov. Jared Polis signed the “Safety Stop” bill Wednesday which allows bicycles, e-bikes, and electric scooters to legally roll through stop signs. 

Bikers will still be required to yield to pedestrians, vehicles and red lights. However, if there are no cars coming or safety hazards, they may proceed before lights turn green. 

Bicycle Colorado, an advocacy group for cyclists, promoted the bill, which passed through the legislature by a comfortable majority despite driver complaints. Rep. Matt Gray told The Denver Post the bill is a critical step in keeping cyclists and other micromobility commuters safe during their ride.