Morning Magazine Headlines – March 21, 2023
Headlines – March 21, 2023 John Kelin
Gun Safety Measures/Testimony
Gun safety activists say they have done their part to strengthen laws in Colorado, and that now it’s time for lawmakers to get a series of measures “across the finish line.”
On Monday, members of Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action came before the Colorado House State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, in support of legislation to raise the minimum age to buy a firearm in the state to twenty-one.
Their testimony yesterday came ahead of additional hearings set for tomorrow in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, on two Senate bills.
Senate Bill 23-170 is meant to strengthen Colorado’s Extreme Risk law, by restricting access to guns from people who are in crisis.
Senate Bill 23-168 would reform firearms industry immunity laws.
Advocates of these measures have attended and testified at a series of hearings on gun violence prevention bills in recent weeks.
Wyoming Abortion Ban Challenge
A new, near-total abortion ban in Wyoming is already seeing legal challenges. A group of abortion access advocates in Teton County is hoping to block the ban this week.
As of Sunday, it’s a felony to give an abortion in Wyoming. A bill the GOP-led state legislature passed this year went into effect without Republican Governor Mark Gordon’s signature.
Teton County provider Giovannina Anthony says she’s already had to cancel three appointments.
“What these laws do is they force physicians like myself from providing good, evidence-based care and my own welfare,” she said. “And that’s an impossible choice to make.”
Anthony is one of several plaintiffs who have filed a legal challenge to halt the abortion ban. A judge could hold a hearing early this week.
Wyoming is also now the first state to specifically ban *abortion pills. Governor Gordon signed that legislation, which will go into effect in July. Anthony says the group will also challenge that law.
Feds & Colorado River States Want A Supreme Court Block On Navajo Nation Lawsuit
The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing a case that could determine to what extent Native American tribes have rights to divert water from the drought-stricken Colorado River and other major tributaries.
The Navajo Nation says that a third of its 175,000 residents don’t have running water in their homes. Tribal citizens rely mostly on groundwater but have fought for access to surface water for decades.
States such as Arizona, California and Nevada want the Supreme Court to block the Navajo Nation’s lawsuit, arguing that their own water supplies are running low for cities and agriculture. The Navajo reservation is the largest in the U.S. at about 25,000 square miles…about the size of West Virginia. The tribe previously reached settlements for water from the San Juan River in the Four Corners region of New Mexico and Utah.
The Navajo Nation’s lawsuit claims treaties signed with the federal government in the mid-1800s relocating the tribe to their current reservation promised a “permanent home.” Navajo representatives say this promise implies not only land, but also a sufficient supply of water.
Denver Land Purchase/Affordable Housing
Denver City Council has approved a more than five-and-a-half million dollar agreement to help support the acquisition of land for new affordable housing.
The agreement with Shanahan Development LLC will finance the purchase of the lot for a six-story building with nearly 200 low-income units in the La Alma-Lincoln Park neighborhood. About a quarter of those units will be three- or four-bedroom apartments for families, according to a city press release.
Development financing will be provided by Denver’s Department of Housing Stability. Shanahan Development will apply for low-income housing tax credit financing, and construction of the building should be finished in 2026.
Non Profit Hospitals/Community Spending Bill
A bill that would require non-profit hospitals in Colorado to spend more money on so-called “community benefit” is now before state lawmakers.
House Bill 1243 calls for each non-profit hospital to spend at least three percent of its revenue from treating patients, on community benefit.
The Denver Post says the measure would also expand the definition of community benefit spending, which currently includes free or discounted health care to those who need it.
Colorado Prescription Drug Bills Advance
Meanwhile, the Colorado House of Representatives has advanced three bills to save Coloradans money on health care and improved access to prescription drugs.
The three bills are meant to reduce health insurance premiums and have easier availability and affordability. Health Bill 23 1225 will increase the impact of the prescription drug affordability Board to save people money on out-of-pocket prescription drugs. HB 2324 is aimed to lower health insurance by limiting things like administrative expenses in excessive.
It would also make it easier for customers to find and compare plans that would lower their out-of-pocket costs.
HB 23 1183 would exempt patients with serious or complex medical conditions from being required to use an alternative drug. House Communications Advisor Kaitlin Begin told KGNU that 23 1183 has passed its third reading and is headed to the Senate, while 1225 and 1224 remain in the house pending a third reading for each.
High Country Deaths
Four people died in three separate winter recreation incidents in the high country this past weekend.
The Denver Post says two teenagers died Sunday night while sledding at the Copper Mountain ski resort.
A statement from the Summit County Sheriff’s Department said the two teenagers, both in Colorado from Illinois on spring break, were sledding down a half-pipe together, when they crashed onto hard ice. Emergency medical attention failed to revive either one.
In an unrelated incident earlier Sunday, a skier died in an avalanche near the Aspen Highlands Ski Resort, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
And on Friday in Gunnison County, a 36-year-old man died after an avalanche buried him in four feet of snow.
All told, nine people have died in avalanches in Colorado this winter season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Headlines – March 21, 2023 John Kelin