Afternoon headlines January 4, 2017

Lafayette’s City Council took the first step last night towards adopting a citywide Climate Bill of Rights, a law that would codify residents’ right to a healthy climate — and their ability to defend that right. 

As part of a larger effort to protect Lafayette and Boulder County from oil and gas development, the Bill of Rights would protect community members who take nonviolent direct action, such as protests or blockades, against activities they deem a threat to their right to a healthy climate. 

The Council voted, 4 to 1, to instruct the city attorney to draft the ordinance so that it ready for a first reading and vote at its Jan. 17 meeting. 
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, more than a dozen residents, all but one in support, said such a law was needed. Several   recalled their experiences protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock as inspiration. Supporters argued that in the face of decreased options to limit or ban drilling activities —  including the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling last year that cities do not have local control over fracking — civil disobedience has become one of the last remaining options. If the law passes,  Lafayette will become only the second city in the nation to implement such a measure, following Grant Township, Pennsylvania’s decision to do so last year in the face of a proposed well.

The 2018 field for governor is shaping up on the Democratic side as current and former lawmakers, the former state treasurer, and an entrepreneur who worked for the Clinton Foundation, join the list of potential candidates. Among the familiar names: state senator Mike Merrifield from Colorado Springs, Denver senator Mike Johnston, Thorton representative Joe Salazar, former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, and former US senator Ken Salazar.
Among the not-as-familiar: the recently declared Noel Ginsburg, an entrepreneur and Intertech Plastics CEO who formerly worked at the Clinton Foundation. He says he is running because he wants to bring his “business and civic leadership to Colorado as a whole.”

As the field firms up, political observers are watching to see whether candidates align themselves to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party or to its more business-oriented centrist wing. During the March presidential caucuses last year Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton by nearly 20 points, though most of Colorado’s establishment Democrats were backing Clinton. 

Also drawing interest is the impact of a new voter-initiated law opening party primaries to unaffiliated voters. One of the arguments for opening the primaries was that it would moderate candidates who otherwise might have taken more extreme positions to win over their bases. 

The 2017 legislative session opens on January 11th with new leadership, new faces and a lot of old business. 

Transportation, education, freeing up more spending money under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and how to build more affordable housing are among some of the top issues. But figuring out how to pay for $3 billion in road and bridge projects is atop the priority list of both Republican and Democratic leadership. There is talk of floating state bonds and a potential voter-approved tax increases. The fight to reclassify the hospital provider fee, which hospitals pay and which, if moved from the general fund, could  free up millions for transportation needs, is not likely to see much traction again this year The state’s most influential business group, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, would still like the legislature to deal with it. But Republicans still say no, calling it an end run around the state’s spending limits.

Republicans hold a one-seat advantage in the Senate as they did last year. Democrats built on their advantage in the House, holding 37 out of 65 seats in 2017 versus 34 seats in 2016.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has hinted that he’s looking for a backup plan should Congress repeal the Affordable Care Act. Hickenlooper has said he is concerned that a repeal of Obamacare would leave people with pre-existing medical conditions without health insurance coverage. He also expressed concerns about rollbacks on environmental regulations and the possible sale of the state’s public lands.

For more on these and other local news stories go to

Afternoon headlines are heard on KGNU, Monday through Friday at 2.55pm.

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