Headlines — May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

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Environmental Bills Pass Before Colorado Session Ends

Colorado lawmakers reviewed a flurry of environmental bills Wednesday as they voted ahead of the midnight deadline that marked the end of the 2022 legislative session. 

House Bill 1244 would establish a new state program to regulate toxic air contaminants. The legislation is part of an effort to protect communities of color and low-income communities from industrial pollution.

House Bill 1355, known as the Producer Responsibility Program For Recycling, also passed the state Senate. The bill would require manufacturers to pay into a fund based on how recyclable their product packaging is. The goal is to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfills. Lawmakers say manufacturers should not make plastic recycling and disposal the responsibility of local communities.

 The bills will next go to Gov. Jared Polis.

Colorado Legislature Approves Landmark Energy Codes Bill

Lawmakers expect Gov. Jared Polis to sign a new bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. The Democratic-sponsored bill, HB22-1362, passed through Senate last week. House Democrats approved it Wednesday.

The new law updates building codes to meet minimum energy-efficiency standards.

Building energy codes are a long-established tool for reducing energy use and utility bills. The codes improve building durability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Colorado is a home rule state where building energy codes, adopted and enforced at the local level, are subject to a consistent set of statewide minimum requirements.

Lawmakers hope the low-energy model will cut carbon and improve home affordability.

To ensure oversight, the bill would create a 21-member Energy Code Board that will develop low energy and carbon code language for cities and counties. The Colorado Energy Office and Department of Local Affairs will co-chair the Board.

Colorado Named In U.S. Report Of Nationwide Native American Assimilation Schools

A federal report released Wednesday identified hundreds of boarding schools that the US Government used to “forcibly assimilate” thousands of Indigenous American children.

The report named five schools in Colorado, including one in Denver that operated from the late 1800s to 1981. 

Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced in a news conference that an investigation uncovered evidence of more than 500 deaths of Native children at 53 different schools in the U.S.

Officials are not identifying burial sites and expect to find more graves. The report says the government quote “directly targeted American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children in the pursuit of a policy of cultural assimilation that coincided with Indian territorial dispossession.” 

Bill to Pay Residents for Grass Removal Goes to Polis 

The new water-saving bill passed the state Senate this week with bipartisan support. The new law would pay property owners to remove and replace their nonnative ornamental grass with more water-efficient landscaping.

The Kentucky Blue Grass, the most common grass for homeowners in Colorado, currently uses more than half of all the water used in Colorado cities. 

The bill would create a statewide turf replacement program that would pay property owners to replace their lawns or offer matching dollars for the approximately 19 existing replacement programs across the state. 

Turf replacement programs are nothing new. There have been programs implemented across the American West that have shown success and have even saved many cities millions of gallons of water per year.

 If Polis signs the bill, the Colorado Water Preservation Board would have to create the program by July 2023.

Two Suspects In Custody After Longmont School Lockdown

A report of a student with a weapon prompted security measures at a local Longmont High School Wednesday. According to a news release from the Longmont Police Department, at around 10 AM, dispatchers received a call from one sibling of the juvenile concerned about his brother’s welfare. They told police that a gun was missing from their family’s home.

When officers could not locate the student, they immediately put Silver Creek High School and other schools in the area on lockdown out of “an abundance of caution.”

Officials located the suspect later that day. Longmont Public Safety spokesperson Robin Ericson said that the Juvenile was not a student at Silver Creek and says he does not believe any weapon was ever on school grounds. Police took the suspect and another juvenile who was with him into custody.

Pilot Killed In Crash Near Broomfield Airport

The pilot of a single-engine plane died Wednesday when his aircraft crashed in Broomfield next to an intersection. The Cessna 172 was a local flight out of Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. Federal investigators are examining the wreckage and are asking drivers to avoid the area near Eldorado Boulevard and Interlocken Loop where the crash occurred.