Good morning, Colorado! I can feel the energy pulsing from the Capitol building a few blocks down the street, so it must be the first day of the legislative session. But don’t worry — below, we have so much to help you get prepped for the next 120 days.
But first… a shoutout to PEN America for putting on a talk about local news solutions last night here in Denver (PEN just released a report focused on Colorado’s media landscape). The panel was interesting, but the questions from the audience got my attention, specifically concerns that there are too many places to check to get the news these days.
I’m not here to toot horns, my own or otherwise, but this very newsletter is The Sun’s effort to solve that problem. Besides all the latest from The Sun, I share the best journalism I can find in The Colorado Report, culled from the powerful scanner I’ve assembled over the years that scrapes just about every outlet in the state and beyond for news.
It’s a lot of work, but the whole point of The Sun is both to create necessary, thoughtful journalism and to make reading it easier for more people. That’s why we try to make our website fast and clean, our newsletters full of things that make them worth opening every day and our stories free to read (no paywalls in sight).
Thanks — as always — for giving us your support to keep covering what is going to be an extra noisy year. If you want to help beyond your membership, the simple act of sharing our stories or forwarding our newsletters to people in your life (they can sign up for free at coloradosun.com/newsletters) helps us have even more impact.
2020 is going to be extra noisy, so if The Sunriser and the work The Colorado Sun does every week is valuable to you, please consider becoming a member. Not only does a membership go straight to producing more journalism, but your support allows us to keep our reporting free to read for fellow Coloradans who can’t afford to pay themselves. (Plus you stop getting these messages every day 🙂
OK, we’ve got news to get to, so let’s steam this cowboy hat already, shall we?
The Latest from The Sun
Last year’s legislative session significantly shifted the state’s policies, but, as Jesse Paul and John Frank write, the Democratic majority still has a lot left on its to-do list, starting today.
>> 10 ISSUES TO WATCH, INCLUDING FAMILY LEAVE, PUBLIC OPTION, CLIMATE CHANGE
PARTISAN ROBO-BILL-READER LAWSUIT COSTING TAXPAYERS: Jesse Paul has the cost — five digits and counting — of the lawsuit by Republicans against Democrats over their use of computers to speed-read bills (which in turn stemmed from the minority Republicans’ efforts to slow down Democrats’ lawmaking last session). >> STORY + ANALYSIS
TRANSPORTATION FUNDING STILL STUCK, EVERYONE FRUSTRATED: John Frank and Moe Clark lay out how Republicans are again indicating they won’t compromise on transportation funding — insisting other programs like health care be cut to fund roads (and only roads) — and why Prop CC’s failure puts more pressure on lawmakers for a solution. >> STORY + ANALYSIS
MORE FROM THE CAPITOL
- A Democratic state senator is resigning later this month after being diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disorder.
- State Sen. Angela Williams, a Democrat who briefly ran for U.S. Senate, announced Monday that she won’t be seeking reelection to the statehouse in 2020.
Big Ideas for 2020
Featuring Gov. Jared Polis and legislative leaders
WHAT: Discussing the big ideas that will define the 2020 session.
WHEN: 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 14
Gov. Polis said he wanted to close a private prison. GEO Group beat him to it, leaving Colorado scrambling.
“I would have welcomed that phone call in a heartbeat because we have been maintaining what I thought was cooperative discussions … That’s the deal that you make with a private prison corporation. You know that if it starts to go south, you don’t really have long-term leverage to keep a prison going that they are operating.”
—Dean Williams, Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director
The Polis administration — and most of the state’s Democratic leaders — have been pushing to end Colorado’s use of private prisons. After months of targeting a facility run by GEO Group (the same private company that operates the ICE detention center in Aurora) the company said yesterday that they were closing the Cheyenne Mountain Reentry Center — in just 60 days. Jesse Paul has the story on the ripple effect of the decision and the bind it puts lawmakers in to act fast. >> STORY
“Young people are literally dying to talk about what’s going on for them … especially when their stories threaten the adults in their lives.”
— Catherine O’Neill Thorn, of Art from Ashes
Columnist Theo Wilson has a fascinating piece about a Denver nonprofit that is using poetry to tackle some of the most pressing mental health issues facing teenagers — including suicide. >> COLUMN
More from The Sun
- A WHOLE LOT OF POLITICAL ADS COMING TO COLORADO: Sandra Fish crunched the numbers on the early start to the political advertising season — and just how much spending is going to jump in 2020 compared to the $7.2 million already spent in 2019. >> STORY + CHARTS
- CSU STUDY ON CBD & DOG SEIZURES: It’s easy to see CBD as the new snake oil. But a small trial at CSU showed that seizures were reduced in 89% of dogs treated with CBD, which is a good start on backing up the lofty claims on packages. But buyer beware: Some pricey pet products claiming to have CBD had virtually none of the cannabinoid when tested. >> STORY
- GARDNER FEELING IMPEACHMENT PRESSURE FROM THE RIGHT: Sen. Cory Gardner finally made a statement about the impeachment trial heading to the Senate — and it toed the Republican party line. Nick Riccardi has more on how Gardner represents the hold President Trump has over the GOP and the limits of the Democrats’ strategy. >> STORY
- ICYMI: Does Cory Gardner have a breaking point when it comes to Trump? The political climate suggests he better not.
- WOLVES OFFICIALLY ON THE BALLOT: Coloradans will decide in 2020 whether to reintroduce gray wolves in the state.
The Colorado Report
THE BEST JOURNALISM FROM IN AND AROUND THE STATE
// DENVER SIDEWALK REPAIR STILL STUCK: The City of Denver set out to fix its shifting, crumbling or straight-up non-existent sidewalks as part of a push to make the city more walkable and accessible. But 16 months and 1,000+ inspections later, the program and its lone inspector haven’t made it out of the first neighborhood. // The Denver Post ?
// IMMIGRANT LICENSES AVAILABLE AT MORE DMVS: As Jesse Paul reported in November, Colorado’s program to offer driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally — to encourage undocumented drivers already driving to get insurance, among other things — was drastically expanded after a long backlog. Reports from Glenwood Springs and Durango show that the new offices are already being utilized. // The Colorado Sun, Post Independent, Durango Herald
// COLORADO’S RICHEST AND POOREST PLACES: Michael Roberts looked at the latest American Community Survey numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau to compare a ZIP code in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood to Towaoc, located on the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation in Montezuma County. As you can imagine, the difference is drastic. // Westword
// ANOTHER BIKE COMPANY HEADS TO GRAND VALLEY: Canfield Bikes, a maker of performance mountain bikes, is relocating from Bellingham, Washington, to Fruita, a move juiced by $60,000 in incentives from the state. Bicycle Retailer reports that it’s the fourth major move for a bike company to Grand Valley — part of the Western Slope’s outdoor economy renaissance we’ve been covering from Montrose to Grand Junction over the last year. // Bicycle Retailer, The Colorado Sun
// CEO OF COMPANY PUSHING FOR GLENWOOD QUARRY RETIRES: Chad Brownstein is retiring as CEO of Rocky Mountain Resources — aka the company pushing to expand a limestone quarry up the hill from downtown Glenwood Springs. The quarry plans prompted an unprecedented coordinated backlash from local businesses and residents and CPR reports that Rocky Mountain Resources is facing significant financial woes. // CPR News, The Colorado Sun
// COLORADO’S HAT MASTER: This is just a beautiful story about Tom Hirt, the beaver-skin hatmaker to the stars who uses 100-year-old hat blocks to mold his creations from his workshop in Penrose. // The Gazette ?
OK folks, I hope you’re feeling informed and steeled to deal with what is sure to be a twisting, turning year in politics and beyond.
But politics aren’t everything, so if you have tips for stories about interesting Coloradans or issues you think need some journalistic attention, send it to our tipline — firstname.lastname@example.org (or if you need a secure email inbox for sensitive documents, email@example.com). We’re always looking for stories to tell!
Have a great day, and I’ll see you here again Friday morning!