Headlines – August 2, 2023

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    Headlines – August 2, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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Colorado Air Quality Permit for Suncor Shot Down by EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Colorado air quality regulators to revise an air quality permit for Suncor Energy’s refinery in Commerce City.

This decision, viewed as somewhat of an environmental win by local advocates, requires state air regulators to revisit portions of the permit concerning dust and carbon monoxide emissions.

The Agency approved a long-overdue permit renewal for one of the refinery’s plants this time last year. Environmental groups responded with petitions objecting to the move.

This decision isn’t a complete environmental win, though. The EPA rejected one petition from advocacy group 350 Colorado, which called for the agency to reject the permit outright and even potentially cease Suncor Energy operations.

Contractors for a Boulder Affordable Senior Housing terminate Project Due To Rising Costs

An affordable housing project slated for Boulder seniors has been terminated by its contractors, who cite rising costs. 

The housing units were slated for a lot off 33rd street, at the site of a now-demolished patio furniture store. 

According to Boulder Reporting Lab, the project was part of a larger deal which includes the development of new properties in the Mapleton Hill neighborhood. The developers have since donated the land to the city of Boulder, additionally paying $1.7 million into the city’s affordable housing fund.

The housing project sits in a limbo with the lot now under city control. 

Colorado’s “Move Over” Law gets an Upgrade Starting Aug. 7

Starting on Aug. 7, the “move over” law will require drivers to slow down or move over in response to disabled cars with flashing hazard lights. 

2022 marked the deadliest year for emergency responders on the roadway in Colorado. Seven Department of Transportation (CDOT) trucks have been hit on roadways so far this year and a Colorado State Trooper was injured after two vehicles crashed into his patrol car. 

The penalty for disobeying the expanded “move over” law is a Class 2 Misdemeanor traffic offense, possibly an additional fine of $150 and a 3-point license violation. 

Colorado Expanded School Nurse Grant Program Awards Over $4 Million to Address Growing Need for Nurses Across the State

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) has granted $4 million for in-school nursing just ahead of the start of the new school year. 

The state health department expanded its Colorado School Nurse Grant Program in response to an increasing need for school nurses. The program was initially expanded by the State Senate back in 2022. 

This extension provides funding and support for school districts to recruit and retain qualified school nurses for all grade levels, K-12. The program also dedicates funding towards training nurses to fill the growing need. 

Steve Holloway of the CDPHE says the program is particularly crucial in under-resourced rural areas as school nurse responsibilities there “extend beyond traditional roles to encompass student mental health and social services.”

Eighteen school districts across the state will share the $4 million grant. 

Aurora has Approved the First Reading of a Proposal for a Renewed Reserve Police Force

Aurora City Council has approved the first draft of a proposal which would bring back a police officer reserve program. 

The program utilizes unpaid, volunteer police officers and comes as the Aurora Police Department struggles to fill 68 officer vacancies. Eleven officers left the Aurora Police Department in May. 

Candidates for the program would undergo a six week state certification and training period and would report to the Aurora police chief in the same way a fully staffed officer would.

The second reading of the proposal will take place Aug. 14.

Colorado Republicans Challenge Law Allowing Unaffiliated Voters to Participate in Primary Elections

Colorado’s Republican Party sued the state on Monday in an effort to prevent unaffiliated voters from participating in Republican primary elections. 

Passed by voters in 2016, Proposition 108 requires major political parties to allow the participation of unaffiliated voters in primary elections. The lawsuit claims Prop 108 is unconstitutional.

Unaffiliated voters are the state’s largest voting bloc, and this move to strike down Proposition 108 could jeopardize their ability to vote in any party primaries.

Republicans are divided on the party’s ongoing attempt to change how Colorado GOP candidates are nominated. Many believe the unaffiliated vote is important. 

Democratic Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, released a written statement assuring voters that she believes the lawsuit has no merit and will work to protect their constitutional right. 

Colorado’s Kaiser Permanente Staff Cite Worker Shortages as Threatening Patient Care During Ongoing Union Negotiations

Kaiser Permanente workers across the state are joining a multi-state informational picketing to protest what they say is a critical lack of employees in their facilities. 

Workers have said that the lack of assistance causes patient neglect, mistaken diagnosis, and extended wait times.

Unions represent more than 75% of Kaiser employees according to an email sent from Kaiser Permanente to Colorado Public Radio. 

Union contracts are ongoing and are set to expire in September, meaning that serious amendments to union intake need to be negotiated between Kaiser and their workers union. 

According to union representatives, during recent negotiations, the health care giant  has agreed to increase staffing by 10,000 employees by the end of 2023. According to a press release, the workers would like to see concrete proposals on how to reach that goal.  

One third of Kaiser-employed Coloradans have taken to informational picketing last weekend, with more protesting to continue until the union has reached consensus.

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