Afternoon Headlines May 1, 2017

A deal to free up millions for hospitals is perilously close to failing, after its Republican Senate sponsor spilled the details to the press without a firm agreement from House Democrats.

The bill, introduced in March, has at its heart reclassifying the hospital provider fee, a program that puts millions of dollars into hospitals to help them pay for health care for low-income Coloradans.

As of last week, Senate and House sponsors were close to a deal that would have reclassified the fee into a government-owned business, which would have allowed the state to bring in more revenue to spend on transportation and education. The bill would also have put money toward rural schools and even would have given Republicans one of their greatest wishes: adjusting a business personal property tax for small business.

But the deal was on the verge of falling apart Monday after Democrats accused Republicans of writing in a doubling of Medicaid copays that Democrats never agreed to. Lawmakers now have just nine days left in the 2017 session to come up with a compromise that will fly in both chambers. Without the bill, hospitals are facing a more than $500 million budget cut.

Boulder County’s five-year ban on new oil and gas development officially expired this morning. In its place, new rules governing oil and gas development in the county will take effect, which county commissioners say are the “strongest set of regulations on oil and gas development in the State of Colorado.”

Oil and gas industry officials have already vowed to challenge the new rules, saying they are essentially a ban by another name.

But “fracktivists” in Colorado’s most politically progressive county say that the regulations aren’t enough, that lifting the ban defies the will of the people who live here. They’re planning everything from civil disobedience to mass meditation to prevent new drilling.

After today, it’s unlikely that there will be an immediate rush of new applications to drill in Boulder County. A rush of lawsuits is likely to come first. But driller Crestone Peak Resources has already applied for a “Comprehensive Drilling Plan” that affects about a 12-square mile swath of the county – an administrative move that could precede a drilling application.

You can read more in The Colorado Independent for more on what the next moves in Boulder County might mean for the debate over fracking in the state.

Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg became the fourth big name to launch a Democratic campaign for Colorado governor this week. The CEO of Intertech Plastics and nonprofit founder who brought Hillary Clinton to tour his headquarters in Denver in 2014, kicked off his bid at the Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo.

Ginsburg is so far the only high-profile candidate in the Democratic primary who hasn’t previously held public office. The entrance of this non-politician follows that of former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. The race is shaping up to be an energetic Democratic primary — something Colorado has not seen in many years.

“I am clearly a Democrat but I am more moderate,” Ginsburg told The Colorado Independent. He hopes a moderate approach will help him in a Democratic primary where unaffiliated voters will be able to participate next year under a new law. “My fear is for the Democratic Party, if we push too far left we’ll have a Republican as the next governor of this state,” Ginsburg says.

One campaign theme for him will be a push to “modernize” a formula in the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment so voters will still be asked to vote on future tax increases, but the government can keep more money to pay for infrastructure and education. He will also focus on mental health issues. “I am not a super-extroverted career politician,” Ginsburg says. “I bring a different style than we’re used to seeing in our officials.”

For more on these and other local news stories go to

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