In the News...
The Pueblo Cheiftain
August 11, 2012
By: Tracy Harmon
SALIDA — Residents were wowed Friday by their first look at the new $30 million Salida High School during a dedication of the modern marvel that replaces a 50-year-old school. Located at 26 Jones Ave., the new school is adjacent to the site of the old high school, which has been torn down. The building “will be the cornerstone of our community,” said State Sen. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, who has worked on the state education committee during his eight years in the Legislature.
“The quality education we provide across the state and in this district is overwhelming,” Massey said. “I am so proud to have this school here. We do great things with building a campus like this and investing in education. It’s a great day for Salida.”
Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, also was on hand to help celebrate.
“Voters supported a bond issue that shows their continued investment in quality education,” Schwartz said, pointing out that about $12 million of the school’s cost was funded through a Building Excellent Schools Today state grant.Full story
The Englewood Herald
August 2, 2012
By: Tom Munds
There wasn’t a big crowd at one time, but there was a steady flow of people coming in to check out the displays at the July 29 community safety fair sponsored by state Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton.
The event was to be held in the Englewood Civic Center Amphitheater but, because of the heat, it was moved to the community room in the civic center. Booths were set up around the room for the agencies, plus there were tables in the center of the room with crayons so kids could color.
“This is a helpful event,” Lori Cummings said. “I learned about free resources I didn’t know were available for my two girls, like the free swim lessons at the Littleton YMCA. I also found some information about services available for my aging parents. I’m glad we came.”
Newell said she organized the event to bring the availability of resources to the attention of the community.
“Health and safety are critical issues for everyone,” she said. “I knew about all the free resources available, and I sponsored this event so these agencies could set up and talk to people about the services they offer.”Full story
The Colorado Statesman
July 20, 2012
By: Peter Marcus
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislative bills having to do with education that aim to increase intervention and teacher effectiveness, while motivating parental involvement and modernizing the state’s K-12 and higher education systems.
Perhaps the most ambitious of the education bills was House Bill 1238, an early literacy bill sponsored by Reps. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Sens. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and Nancy Spence, R-Centennial.
The Colorado Basic Literacy Act focuses on early identification of children with significant reading deficiencies and calls for the creation of a statewide intervention plan called Reading to Ensure Academic Development, or READ plan.
The bill took a long journey, having originally started with the intention of requiring retention of struggling third graders. But after widespread opposition, lawmakers dropped that proposal for one that requires a meeting with parents, teachers and administrators to determine whether a student should be held back.
“This is legislation that really does put kids first,” Hickenlooper said of the bill. “Reading proficiency is the single most powerful foundation that we have for all future success.”Full story
By: President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont)
June 25, 2012
When we put party politics aside…
The 2012 legislative session ended just over one month ago, and while its final days were marked with a bitter partisan fight over civil unions, one of the untold stories of the session is that Democrats and Republicans demonstrated unprecedented cooperation in addressing the state’s business this year.
This year, 304 bills were sent to the governor and signed into law. Of those 304 bills, 97 percent had bipartisan sponsorship. That’s right, 97 percent of the body of work coming from the Legislature had both Democratic and Republican sponsorship.
Our main goal this session was to put party politics aside and do what we could to create jobs and a stronger economic climate. With that in mind, we passed a number of bills that will help existing Colorado businesses, or attract new ones to our state. For example, we passed the Aerospace Jobs Act to expand our existing aerospace industry, we passed legislation to lower unemployment insurance rates for Colorado businesses, and we authorized vital job-creating water infrastructure projects across the state.Full story
The Colorado Business Journal
May 23, 2012
By: Amanda Miller
The Colorado legislature passed a bill during its special session that aims to return the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to solvency.
The bill will allow employers to borrow money at about 1.5 percent through bonds from private investors to pay federal debt in the fund.
“Right now the unemployment insurance trust fund is about $230 million the red,” said Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, who sponsored the bill. “After this, we’ll be about $230,000 in the black.”
House Bill 1002 will allow employers to receive credit within their individual accounts for repayment of principal-related bonding amounts.
The bill was sponsored by Reps. Liston and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, as well as by Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge.Full story
The Denver Business Journal
April 18, 2012
By: Ed Sealover
It turns out the third time was the charm for efforts to add $5.7 million in economic-development incentives to the Colorado state budget on Wednesday.Full story
Senate Democrats voted to include the money, as well as $300,000 in additional funding for the state’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) program, in the $19 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.
The House must agree with the changes, but a sponsor of Wednesday’s budget amendment said she’s been told by Joint Budget Committee (JBC) members that they can find a way to fund the request from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office.
The successful inclusion of the funding came after the House rejected a similar move twice during its budget debate last week.
“This is the biggest amendment for jobs we could have,” said Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, who sponsored the amendment with Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge.
Hickenlooper announced when he introduced his budget proposal in November that he wanted to put an extra $6 million to economic-development incentives to help the state attract and retain jobs as the economic downturn was beginning to ease.
The Delta County Independent
March 28, 2012
Everybody knows how much news the North Fork Valley continually makes. When Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Cottage Foods Act on March 15, it was a success for every little farm and orchard across the state.
The creation of this act by Senate Bill 12-048, spearheaded by Sen. Gail Schwartz and Rep. Don Coram, means that a producer may use their home kitchen or a commercial, private or public kitchen to produce foods sold directly to their personal customers.Full story
The act allows the producer to sell certain foods that are considered not potentially hazardous and do not require refrigeration. The foods, the act says, are limited to spices, teas, dehydrated produce, nuts, seeds, honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter baked goods including candy. While pickles and tomatoes are not allowed to be sold, many other fruits and vegetables are. The act contains specific guidelines on marketing small number of eggs.
The producer must be certified in safe food handling and processing by a third party certified entity, which locally would be CSU Extension and Delta County Health Department.
The Longmont Times-CallFull story
By: John Fryar
March 21, 2012
LONGMONT -- Colorado's Legislature isn't always as politically polarized as news accounts may make it appear, Longmont's legislative delegation assured constituents during a Wednesday night town hall meeting here.
Notwithstanding the occasional highly publicized disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over specific bills, "we can work together on some issues," said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.
Singer noted, for example, the bipartisan sponsorship of a bill introduced this week by Broomfield Republican Sen. Shawn Mitchell that proposes to reduce some drug-possession penalties and would direct the money saved from incarcerating those offenders to substance abuse treatment programs.
The primary House sponsors of Mitchell's Senate bill are to be Reps. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield, and Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Singer is one of several other legislators from both major political parties who have signed on as co-sponsors.
Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, told the 15 people attending the town hall meeting at Abbondanza's Pizzeria that he'd readily agreed to allow Mitchell to introduce the bill late in this year's session, once deadlines had passed.
The Arvada PressFull story
By: Megan Quinn
March 16, 2012
School districts may reconsider their formal procedures for identifying future dropouts after new legislation goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.
Co-sponsored by Sens. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, and Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, the bill would ask Jeffco Public Schools and school districts across the state to consider adopting procedures that could help prevent middle schoolers from dropping out of school later in their educational career.
Most districts already have dropout prevention programs, such as Jeffco Public Schools' Dropout Prevention and Recovery program. The new legislation asks districts to look deeper into policies and procedures, especially as they relate to middle schoolers.
The bill also would create a task force to determine what might help keep high-risk children in school. Depending on each student's needs, districts could provide counseling, tutoring options or other types of help.
Some students show signs that they might drop out before they hit high school, said Dave Kollar, director of dropout prevention and recovery at Jeffco Public Schools.
Some of the signs include low grades, skipping class, misbehavior or signs of depression.
The Denver PostFull story
February 21st, 2012
Although she's only a junior at Skyline High School in Longmont, Anna Gutierrez says she hopes to run for political office "real soon." Which is part of the reason why Monday's Latino Advocacy Day was so important to her.
"A lot of people don't think young people care, but our voice has to be heard," Gutierrez said as she stood in the shadow of the state Capitol. "And it's not only for us. We represent our families and our communities and our schools."
Having a voice was indeed the focus of the sixth annual gathering, which drew representatives and activists from across the state over the past two days. On Monday, about 200 people braved the chill to rally on the west steps of the Capitol. Citing statistics that pointed to their increasing numbers in the political process - in 2008, 10 million Latinos voted in the presidential election, a 25 percent increase from four years earlier, said state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver - a number of speakers said the group is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
"We have the power to change the outcome of the 2012 elections," Aguilar said.
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