Colorado

Chalkbeat.org

Just as the state of Colorado is embarking on a number of critical education initiatives, Education Commissioner Rich Crandall shocked the state by suddenly announcing his resignation last week. Crandall had only been on the job for four and a half months, reports Chalkbeat.org.

Theo Stroomer / New York Times

Llooking for something to do this weekend? Why not head out to southern Colorado and wrestle an alligator?  The New York Times recently profiled the Colorado Gators Reptile Park in the San Luis Valle. At the park, people of all ages engage in gator grappling.

hungerfreecolorado.org

Colorado has an exceptionally low enrollment rate for people eligible for food stamps, reports Colorado Public Radio. And now, because of the lack of response, the state’s food stamp administration is receiving close scrutiny from the federal government. Colorado has even drawn sanctions from Washington for its low enrollment rate.

Bloomberg News

Following Texas’s lead, Colorado’s Supreme Court has ruled that local municipalities in the state are not allowed to ban fracking, according to The Wall Street Journal. Cities like Fort Collins and Longmont had previously sought to halt the controversial drilling technique. But now the state’s high court has deemed those local laws “invalid and unenforceable.”

Prowers Journal

Recent precipitation has helped to alleviate drought conditions across parts of Colorado, reports The Prowers Journal. Parts of the central mountains and Front Range saw as much as 3 inches of precipitation. And there’s more good news: short and long term forecasts favor continued precipitation. And reservoir storage looks good, so there are no immediate concerns for water providers.

Business is booming in Colorado, reports The Prowers Journal. According to a new report, in the first three months of the year business formation has rebounded. Colorado employment is also projected to expand over the next two quarters. The news was a welcome relief after two consecutive quarters of business decline.

Brent Lewis / The Denver Post

More people are on the move in Colorado than in any other state, reports The Denver Post. In fact, one in 10 Colorado households lived in another county or state than they did the previous year, according to a study of 2014 tax returns.

Rick Wilking / Reuters

In the wake of the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado officials approved a number of new gun control laws. The measures passed the Colorado legislature in 2013 and were signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper. The new laws were immediately challenged by supporters of gun rights. But now, reports Reuters, a federal appeals court has ordered a lower court judge to dismiss the challenges to the gun legislation.

Source: WalletHub  

American state capitals aren’t always the most exciting places in the nation. Often, these cities serve as seats of government, and not much more. Think Carson City, NV, or Charleston, WV. But the economic website Wallethub has found that many state capitals are, in fact, thriving—and they’re great places to live. The site has now ranked the best and worst state capitals to live in, and High Plains states did fairly well in the rankings.

In fact, Austin, Texas, is listed as the most livable state capital in the country, and Lincoln, Nebraska, came in second. Colorado cracked the top 15, with Denver coming in at number 13. Topeka had a decent showing, landing at number 20, just ahead of Oklahoma City at number 21.

ewea.org

Wind energy is exploding nationwide, and Colorado is hoping to be a big part of the revolution. In 2015 the US wind industry had its third-best year in terms of new wind farms built. Across the nation, the industry installed almost 9,000 megawatts worth of wind turbines, reports Denver Business Journal. That’s a 77 percent increase over the previous year. Colorado installed wind turbines capable of generating 400 megawatts worth of renewable power.

David McNew / Reuters

Of regional interest, in a world where marijuana is legal in many places, the way the drug is viewed by the public is changing. And along with these perceptions, the ways in which marijuana is sold, delivered and consumed are also changing.

americanaddictionnetwork.com

Colorado ranks among the best states in the nation when it comes to education, a booming economy, and the well-being of its residents. But there’s another factor where Colorado rates above average, and this one isn’t something to be proud of. Deaths from drug overdoses in Colorado are above national rates, reports Colorado Public Radio. And some counties are among the nation’s highest.

Prowers Journal

Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point in December to 3.5 percent, reports The Prowers Journal. During the same period, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged from at 5.0 percent. Two southeast Colorado counties—Baca and Kiowa—had the lowest posted unemployment percentages in the state. Otero County had an exceptionally high rate, at 6.7 percent.

CPR / Hart Van Denburg

Colorado’s construction industry continues to thrive, reports Colorado Public Radio. Four out of five construction firms in the state expect to hire more workers this year, according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Colorado construction is at higher levels than the national average. 81% of all firms surveyed plan to add workers.

Tanya Spillane / Flickr Creative Commons

A raft of new laws went into effect in Colorado last week, reports Fox 31 Denver.

One major law will mean money in the pockets of the state’s lowest-paid workers. The minimum wage jumped eight cents, to $8.31. The minimum for tipped workers is now up from $5.21 to $5.29. However, this is a small raise compared to the $15 wage some workers had asked for. The new rate is merely part of a state mandate that the minimum wage be adjusted for inflation each year.

While Colorado Booms, Many Eastern Counties Struggle

Dec 9, 2015
Colorado Public Radio

Colorado consistently ranks highly on lists of best places for businesses. And the state’s unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest in eight years and almost two percent lower than the national rate. However, some Coloradans aren’t sharing in the good times, including much of the eastern part of the state. Colorado Public Radio has published an interactive map that allows Coloradans to see how well their county is doing compared to neighbors.

Colorado Adopts Landmark Water Plan

Nov 23, 2015
Cyrus McCrimmon / Denver Post

Colorado adopted a landmark $20 billion water plan last week, reports The Denver Post. The new law hopes to accommodate rapid population growth in the state.

Hart van Denburg / Colorado Public Radio

Despite a booming economy in Colorado, the state is experiencing a $373 million budget gap, reports Colorado Public Radio. The gap is between what the state will owe and what it will bring in starting in July 2016.

Colorado Health Co-Op Folds

Nov 13, 2015

Rick and Letha Heitman, of Centennial are customers of the cooperative Colorado HealthOP, which is folding.Credit John Daley / CPR NewsEdit | Remove

ABC 7 News Denver

The Huffington Post has posted a news report from Denver's ABC 7 News about a popular exhibit at the Colorado History Museum concerning Colorado's civil rights struggle in the 1960s. While Colorado is not generally the part of the US that comes to mind when the words "civil rights" are mentioned, the Mile High City had its own turmoil, including protests and clashes with police. The exhibit's stay at the museum has now been extended.

You can view the video here.

Rural Colorado Struggles to Find Teachers

Oct 7, 2015
Jenny Brundin / CPR News

Colorado’s rural school districts are on the brink of crisis when it comes to finding enough teachers to fill the classrooms. Colorado is simply not producing enough teachers, reports Colorado Public Radio. Over the past five years, enrollments in the state's teacher prep schools are down 23 percent. Math, science and special education teachers are especially in demand. Colorado has begun to recruit educators in states with teacher surpluses, such as Michigan and Utah.

A New Colorado Water Law Is Put to the Test

Sep 30, 2015
Geoff Elliott / Grand Environmental Services

A groundbreaking 2013 Colorado law allows water rights owners to allocate water to a river during times of low flow. And now that law is being put to the test, reports National Geographic. The law is important because it challenges the old “use-it-or lose-it” rule of water conservation.

In Colorado, Rents Are at an All-Time High

Sep 7, 2015
Dipankan001 / Wikimedia Commons

Colorado rents are at an all-time high, reports Denver station KUSA. The average rent for an apartment in Colorado is nearly $1,200. That's up about 7 percent from last year. To deal with increased demand, housing units are being constructed throughout the state. Even so, Colorado’s vacancy rate sits at a steady 4.4 percent. As soon as one renter leaves, another renter fills their place. And when that happens, the landlord often raises the rent.

In Colorado, Auto Sales are Booming

Aug 31, 2015
Foter / Creative Commons

In regional news, Coloradans are buying more new cars these days than at any time in the last decade, reports Colorado Public Radio. The trend has lifted the spirits—and the profits—of the state’s auto dealers. Many of the state’s residents now feel good enough about the economy  to invest in big purchases such as automobiles.

Laughing Squid / Creative Commons

The expanding marijuana industry in Colorado may have hit a financial roadblock, reports The New York Times. Federal banking officials have rejected an application from The Fourth Corner Credit Union in Denver, which serves Colorado’s pot industry.

dr_relling / Creative Commons

Three water managers in Colorado have stated that the state might have enough water to sustain it in the future, despite dwindling resources, climate change, and a growing population. However, these experts stressed that the state MUST be smart about its water and use it wisely, reports Colorado Public Radio. Colorado’s first state water plan, which is available now for viewing, will be finalized in December.

University of Denver

Civil rights for animals may be the next frontier in the struggle for rights, reports Colorado Public Radio. Justin Marceau is the University of Denver’s first full-time animal professor, and he has been working hard to fight the so-called “Ag-Gag” law in Idaho, which makes filming inside of farms and slaughterhouses illegal. The litigation supposedly targets “extremists” and “agriterrorists.” But Marceau argues that the law would, in fact, prevent whistleblowers from exposing abuses in farms and slaughterhouses. 

Colorado Remembers the Pony Express

Jun 29, 2015
Frank Reese / Flickr

Last week, on a warm Wednesday evening, 600 riders raced on horseback across the northeastern corner of Colorado. The riders were retracing the route of the legendary Pony Express, to commemorate the mail service’s 155th anniversary.

14% of Colorado Residents Use Marijuana, Study Finds

Jun 29, 2015
Chuck Grimmett / Creative Commons

NPR member station KRCC reports that a new study has found that 14% of Coloradoans use marijuana. The Colorado state Health Department reports that of those 14%, one third use pot every day. Almost one if five of state marijuana users drive after using the substance. A little over half of Colorado residents have never tried pot.

Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

While marijuana is now legal in Colorado, you can still be fired for testing positive for the substance. The Washington Post reports that the state supreme court ruled 6 to nothing this week against a man who was trying to get his job back after failing a drug test. Colorado now becomes the fourth state to rule against an employee in such a case.

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