Good morning, folks, and happy snow day! Remember the new state mantra during storms like this — “we need the moisture, though” — and make sure to whisper it under your breath when you get stuck behind a plow.
We are absolutely jam-packed with news and updates from around the state, so let’s salt this road already and get on it with it, shall we?
The death of Caden McWilliams could spark new rules for at-risk kids suddenly pulled from school
Advocates are calling for change in Colorado’s home schooling regulations after 7-year-old Caden McWilliams was found dead and encased in concrete in a Denver storage unit. One reason no one was looking for McWilliams? He was reportedly withdrawn from his school last fall to be home schooled, although authorities believe he had been dead since May. In October, Karen Augé reported about the small minority of parents who use home schooling as a cover for child abuse in Colorado, and now experts and lawmakers are exploring the possibility of new regulations for at-risk home school kids.
RELATED: Colorado’s child abuse hotline received more than 221,000 calls, leading to 13,000 substantiated cases, in 2018.
Oil rigs get the headlines and protests, but Colorado’s network of pipelines could be what gets pinched by Democratic lawmakers
“I don’t think saying ‘Hey, we want to decrease emissions’ means we’re screwing the [oil and gas] industry.”
— House Speaker KC Becker during a Dec. 19 conference call with investment managers
Colorado Democrats have made it clear that one of their priorities during this legislative session is to increase regulations on Colorado’s oil and gas industry. While drilling rigs are the most visible parts of the industry, often drawing protests, there is a multibillion-dollar network of processing plants and pipelines — the “midstream” — that could be seriously affected by any policies that slow the amount of oil flowing from the Front Range.
Gov. Jared Polis unveiled his ambitious, expensive plans in his first State of the State — and we annotated the whole speech
Gov. Jared Polis took to the lectern in the Colorado House chambers at the Capitol and spoke for 55 minutes, outlining a plan that largely matched his campaign promises, but have lawmakers (including Democrats) wondering how the state will pay for them in a state with TABOR restrictions on raising taxes. Rather than just drop the text of his speech for you to read, the staff of The Sun hunkered down and annotated the entire thing (even the governor’s ad libs) with context, explanations and references to help you understand exactly what he was talking about.
A Quick Note: That annotated speech was a team effort, with most of our staff getting involved in some way, lending either institutional knowledge, policy expertise or even just transcription help to make something we think is useful for readers. We can only take the time to do things like this because we work for you, the reader, and not advertisers. Becoming a member, starting at just $5 a month, helps us do projects like this and the many more we have planned for the future. Click here to join our community.
More from The Sun
- New Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has big plans for his office, including a list of legal actions against the Trump administration over health care and the census.
- U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who declared the GOP “is dead” in a 2017 editorial, has tossed his hat into the ring to be the reeling Republican party’s leader in Colorado.
- Denver has unveiled the system it will use to clear thousands of low-level marijuana convictions.
- Rocky Mountain National Park is still open during the federal government shutdown — kind of — but employees and Estes Park businesses are already feeling the pain.
- Activists want more details on a criminal investigation into mishandling of hazardous materials at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in the early ’90s.
The Fun Stuff
- Jim Morrissey finally figured out the reason behind those blue sneakers Jared Polis is always wearing.
- In this week’s “What’d I Miss?” we meet Ossie’s parents and experience that peculiar way a mother’s words can cut down and build up in one fell swoop. (Start here if you want to get caught up on this awesome strip)
“I hope I don’t sound like a sadist here, but I had the most fun putting my characters through hell.”
In this week’s SunLit pick, we have our first genuine fantasy series from Air Force veteran, chemist and Monument resident Laura E. Reeve. From inspiration from a matriarchal “horse tribe,” Reeve created a rich world grounded in some decidedly earthy tropes. Read the interview with Laura here to get a sense of why she was drawn to those themes, and then read an excerpt from her Colorado Book Award Finalist “Souls for the Phrenii” here.
Real beer is in your grocer’s cooler. Here’s what the new law means for Colorado’s craft brewers.
“I can’t for the life of me get my finger on how much velocity is going to happen in those grocery stores. But I think we have to try, we have to dabble in that.”
— John Bachman, the beer director for the parent company of Post Brewing in Lafayette
We’re on day 11 of full-strength beer in grocery stores, and while the exact effect on the state’s sprawling craft beer industry can’t be known yet, it’s already causing breweries to make some big business decisions now to avoid being left behind.
JOHN FRANK’S BEER PICK
Denver Beer Co. transports beer fans to a tropical island in these cold winter months with its seasonal Double IPA called Big Juicy Freak. The beer is fermented with oranges to give it a juicy touch without being overly hazy. And it’s packed with enough alcohol — 9 percent ABV — to make it stiff for the darker days.
Stuff about Colorado worth checking out
// After years of work, seven states in the West, including Colorado, are “tantalizingly close” to shoring up water supplies in Lake Powell and Lake Mead through a Colorado River plan, but Arizona lawmakers are on the hot seat as the last piece of the puzzle. Jason Blevins reports for The Sun. // The Colorado Sun
// Yesterday, a bunch of mindless animals took to the streets of Denver (but enough about the drivers in this town — zing!). I, of course, am referring to the traditional National Western Stock Show Parade. We didn’t send a photographer, but luckily, every other outlet in town did. So let’s have a little steer-off! Who shot it best? The unbeatable team of RJ Sangosti/Helen Richardson at The Denver Post? My former deskmate Francie Swidler for Colorado Public Radio, with a choice shot of these alpacas? Or Denverite’s Kevin Beaty who really captured the human faces of the parade? Or are they all winners? // The Denver Post, CPR, Denverite
// A man was taken to receive mental health treatment after a 12-hour standoff from the rafters of the University of Northern Colorado’s arena Thursday morning. // Greeley Tribune
// If you’ve seen a news story about the struggle to keep kids from getting involved in gang violence in Denver, you know the Rev. Leon Kelly. After working for the past 36 years, he’s ready to retire, but he says there’s no one to replace him. // 9News
// Drag Queen Story Hour at the Windsor Library is not only back after an initial backlash, it’s booked solid. // The Coloradoan
// Oh hey, the billionaire septuagenarian who funded Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica and was suddenly made a volunteer sheriff’s deputy in Yuma County after a fund of his bought the department a new truck doesn’t have his badge anymore after the sheriff lost his primary race. // Bloomberg
// You’d think with all the coal plants shutting down, emissions would go with it. But the boom in natural gas, a major industry here in Colorado, is actually helping greenhouse gas levels go up. // KUNC
// This story came and went late Wednesday with little fanfare, but the effects could be huge. Here in Denver, a federal judge awarded $65 million to a group of au pairs who filed a class action suit against the companies that brought them to the U.S. The director of the group that filed the lawsuit called it “perhaps the largest settlement ever on behalf of minimum wage workers.” // AP
// Doug Bruce bought a house in Missouri, then let it go derelict, then sued the city when the house was set for demolition. This story is both wild and par for the course for the man behind Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. // Daily Journal Online, CPR (h/t Nathaniel Minor)
// Let’s check in on the federal government shutdown:
- A Salvadoran man fighting deportation moved into a Colorado Springs church because the shutdown stalled his immigration application. // CBS 4
- The Food Bank of the Rockies is stepping up distributions and creating emergency distribution centers for federal employees (and everyone else, as always). // Denverite
- “We will not be held hostage,” said some federal workers who rallied in Denver yesterday. // The Denver Post
- A whole bunch of routine FDA inspections of food have been cut back, just a few weeks after a massive recall of contaminated romaine lettuce. // NYT
- As the president tosses the idea around of declaring a non-existent “emergency” to draw on funds currently helping rebuild Puerto Rico to build the wall, the government doesn’t even own all the land it wants to build on and landowners are prepared to fight. // CNN, Washington Post
- Which, of course, reminded me of this extremely good episode of 99 Percent Invisible featuring the American landowners that will be on the Mexico side of any wall built. // 99PI
Your Thing for Today
Why You Might Like It: I’m about to type the most uncontroversial statement ever: The Beatles were good. Try not to pass out from the shock. One thing about The Beatles is that they were so good and so popular and so groundbreaking that there are enough covers of their songs that are sublime in their own right it’s like there’s a whole parallel universe existing as a reflection of their discography. I don’t care if you don’t even like reggae, you’re going to love Marcia Griffiths’ version of my favorite Beatles song “Don’t Let Me Down.” And have you ever heard the Stevie Wonder-produced cover of “She’s Leaving Home” by Syreeta? Or Fiona Apple’s ghostly “Across The Universe” or Wilson Pickett’s “Hey Jude” or Nina Simone’s “Here Comes the Sun” (a newsroom favorite) or … *trails off into infinity*.
Editor’s note: Every Sunriser will include one … thing … to cap off our time together. The Thing will be just about anything, like a TV show or a book or a particularly cool dog toy.
Thanks for sticking with us for another week and another long newsletter (no shame in coming back to read more over the weekend, remember). Drive safe, stay warm and have a great weekend!