DU encampment ends, BVSD budget cuts, AI and other bills, RTD zero fare ends, wolves and ranchers

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    05_30_24_am_headlines John Kelin

DU Encampment Ends

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the University of Denver campus have ended their nearly three-week long encampment.

The tents that went up on May 9th were peacefully removed from DU’s Carnegie Green yesterday.

DU officials said in a statement that the University and members of DU for Palestine met on Tuesday to discuss the encampment, as well as protester demands that DU divest from any companies linked to the ongoing war in Gaza.

The university administration told protestors that they would not meet any of their demands, according to 9News, citing practical and policy reasons. They also cited concerns about safety and discrimination on the DU campus during the encampment.

Later, in a statement posted on Instagram, DU for Palestine called the administration cowards who are supporting genocide. They also said that while the encampment was over, their fight was not.

A similar encampment on Denver’s Auraria campus ended on May 18th. Organizers there also vowed to continue protesting the war in Gaza.

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BVSD Budget Cuts

The Boulder Valley School District is eyeing $5 million in budget cuts in the coming fiscal year, with a vote on a final budget expected at its June 11 meeting.

The $5 million in cuts will allow the district to give all of its employees a four percent cost-of-living salary increase for the next school year, according to the Daily Camera.

The cuts mean the elimination of numerous teaching, administrative, and other positions.

Enrollment in BVSD schools is expected to drop by about three hundred students this fall, contributing to the tighter budget. Total enrollment in BVSD schools is 27,896 students.

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AI And Other Bills

A newly-signed state law requires campaign advertising with audio, video, or other content generated by artificial intelligence to be clearly marked as such.

According to the Denver Post, the law comes into play when AI advertising is used within sixty days of a primary election, or ninety days of a general election.

Colorado legislators passed the law in their recently-concluded session. They say it’s needed because artificial intelligence can be used to create false depictions of political candidates, which can damage the candidates’ reputation beyond repair.

Any candidate who is falsely portrayed by AI advertising can file a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office. They also have the right to sue.

Boulder Democrat Junie Joseph co-sponsored the bill. She said she wants to ensure more transparent and accountable elections in Colorado.

Governor Jared Polis has also signed several gun measures into law during the most recent legislative session. Senate Bill 003 gives the Colorado Bureau of Investigation more authority to investigate illegal gun activity. House Bill 1348 requires more responsible storage of firearms left in vehicles.

The governor also signed a bill that revives Colorado’s Federal Indian Boarding School Research Program.

The bi-partisan bill will extend funding, enhance the scope of the program, and establish a steering committee made up of survivors of the state’s boarding schools and other impacted people.

The bill directs researchers to collect oral histories from survivors of these schools, and conduct listening sessions with indigenous communities in the state. Researchers are meant to then make recommendations to Colorado state agencies to address the ongoing impacts of the schools.

A total of one million dollars in the next 3 fiscal years will be provided to determine the intergenerational impacts of the schools that, consistent with other Indian Boarding Schools across the U.S., sought to completely remove cultural identification and practices of the children attending these schools.

There were at least seven Indian boarding schools in Colorado that operated between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

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Read more (gun safety bills)

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RTD Zero Fare Program Ends

Metro Denver’s Regional Transportation District won’t be offering free rides to adults this summer, as it has for the last two summers.

RTD created the Zero Fare for Better Air program to help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. Ridership went up when the program was in effect, according to RTD statistics. But Boulder Reporting Lab says that a lack of new state funding has forced RTD to eliminate it.

Even though the Zero Fare for Better Air program won’t happen this summer, RTD is offering incentives to some riders to take a bus instead of their car. They’ll be extending their Free Fare Youth Program through August, and may extend it beyond that.

Other rider incentives include free shuttle service to Chautauqua Park on weekends and holidays from different stops around Boulder. That goes until September 2nd.

Also on weekends and holidays, there’s free shuttle service from Boulder to Eldorado Canyon State Park, and Marshall Mesa. That also goes until September 2.

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Wolves and Ranchers

Ranchers in Grand County want state wildlife officials to do more to protect their livestock from wolves.

The Stockgrowers Association says three calves have been killed by wolves since last month, when the state gave them $20,000 to hire range riders to protect their herds.

The association’s president says that non-lethal measures like range riders aren’t working. They want the state to kill two wolves specifically. The wolves are identified by the collar numbers they got when they were reintroduced to Colorado last year.

Ranchers say that the wolves have learned to evade range riders, instead of running away from them.

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