Headlines – May 5, 2023 benita
Senators Approve Hospital and Pay Transparency Bills
Colorado legislators are racing towards the May 6th finish line of the 2023 lawmaking season with multiple bills that are getting closer to the governor’s desk.
On Thursday, state senators passed House Bill 1215, which targets surprise hospital fees in an effort to make them more transparent and affordable for patients. If signed into law, 1215 would require hospitals to give patients information about facility fees in advance. It would also limit facility fees for preventative care.
The Colorado Senate on Thursday passed another bill to better ensure transparency – this time for equal pay. Senate Bill 105 was created to update Colorado’s 2019 Equal Pay law.
Bill 105 will enforce greater transparency by allowing the state’s Department of Labor to investigate discrimination claims as an alternative to the expensive, drawn-out court process.
Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign the Equal Pay for Equal Work update. Lawmakers say Bill 105 will enable women and especially women of color to get fairer pay.
Boulder City Council Overrules Police Oversight Selection Committee
The Boulder City Council overruled the Police Oversight Selection Committee on Thursday evening, voting to oust panelist Lisa Sweeney-Miran.
Sweeney-Miran was chosen to join the 11-person panel to review and offer recommendations on police discipline investigations and policies. The City Council created the panel in 2020 after police held a Black student at gunpoint while he was cleaning up trash in front of his home.
The controversy around Sweeney-Miran began when Boulder residents filed a complaint stating that the new panelist’s social media posts demonstrated bias against police. They also noted Sweeney-Miran’s involvement in an ACLU lawsuit against the City of Boulder for its treatment of homeless people, saying it was a conflict of interest.
A city ordinance says panelists must show “an absence of any real or perceived bias, prejudice or conflict of interest.”
Sweeney-Miran withdrew from the lawsuit five days after her panel appointment.
The Council hired an independent investigator to determine whether Sweeney-Miran’s ‘real or perceived bias or prejudice’ would disrupt the public’s trust in the Police Oversight Panel.
The investigator, attorney Clay Douglas, quoted multiple Twitter posts by Sweeney-Miran in a report released in April, and recommended that she resign.
Retired Colorado Chief Justice May Face Unprecedented Censure
An unprecedented request of public censure was announced in an agreement Thursday between the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline and retired Chief Justice Nathan Coats.
The move against the retired Chief Justice stems from a $2.75 million contract awarded to former Colorado Judicial Department Chief of Staff Mindy Masias. The Denver Post reports that an independent investigation last year showed that Masias and other top officials leveraged a toxic work environment as they sought the multi-million dollar contract.
The Post says Coats admitted to the commission that he failed to “perform judicial and administrative duties competently and diligently” by allowing the contract, even though Masias had resigned her position rather than be fired.
The independent investigation also said that, despite earlier reports to the contrary, the contract was not meant to keep Masias from revealing potentially damaging information, but was unethical and dishonest.
The recommendation to censure the retired chief justice is being reviewed by a special tribunal of state appeals court judges.
Coats, who retired from the bench in 2020, has declined to comment. The recommended censure against him does not carry a penalty.
Oil & Gas Company Pausing Plans To Drill On Boulder Land
A five-year legal battle between Boulder County and an oil and gas company is over – for now.
Extraction Oil & Gas announced Monday that it will indefinitely pause efforts to drill for minerals in the county.
The company first pitched the Blue Paintbrush project in 2018. Up to 32 new wells were to be drilled on a conservation easement located in Weld County that is owned by Boulder County. Boulder officials fought the project, citing dangers to public health and the environment.
Extraction Oil & Gas intended to begin work in early 2022, but was blocked in October by Boulder’s Board of County Commissioners, who rejected the company’s lease offer.
In a press release, Boulder officials said although they’re working out the details, they’re pleased that Extraction’s attempt to drill for minerals on open space purchased with Boulder taypayers’ money was thwarted.
Colorado Man Pleads Guilty To Church Hate Crime
A man pleaded guilty Thursday to throwing Molotov cocktails at a Loveland church earlier this year, saying he did not agree with the congregation’s religious character. According to a Department of Justice press release, 22-year-old Darion Ray Sexton admitted to the hate crime charge in a Denver federal courtroom.
On January 19th, Sexton intended to destroy Abiding Love Lutheran Church when he tossed one Molotov cocktail at the front doors of the building, and another at the basement. Both fires were put out quickly and only caused minor damage. The FBI, ATF and Loveland Police and Fire worked on the investigation that led to Sexton’s arrest.
Sexton will be sentenced in July and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Coloradans To Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Today is the 5th of May or Cinco de Mayo, which means at least two days of community festivities throughout Colorado honoring Mexican heritage and culture.
This weekend, Longmont is holding its 20th Annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at Roosevelt Park with food, shopping, live entertainment and even a break dance competition.
And at Denver’s Civic Center Park, there will be taco-eating contests, Chihuahua races and a parade.
Headlines – May 5, 2023 benita