The Home Front: In contrarian Colorado, union membership is up and access to birth control is getting easier

“Unions are registering growth in Colorado, despite organized labor’s long, slow decline across most of the country,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “That should be good news for Centennial State Democrats, who have a long alliance with unions, but last year Donald Trump blurred the lines that divide billionaires and working-class voters. Trump lost Colorado to Hillary Clinton, but his message found a home in the working-class heart of the state. When Trump won Pueblo County, he was the first GOP presidential candidate to do so since Richard Nixon in 1972. Mary Beth Corsentino, chairwoman of the Pueblo County Democratic Party, pointed to the decline in union organizing and political activity at the local steel mill. There was a time in Pueblo when the steelworkers called the shots from the factory floor to the board room to the halls of government.”

“Colorado pharmacists soon can begin prescribing oral contraceptives under a new protocol that will provide unprecedented access to birth control in this state,” The Denver Post reports. “Women who are at least 18 can complete a questionnaire, blood-pressure check and a 10- to 15-minute consultation with a pharmacist, then walk out with birth-control pills or patches, under new rules set in motion by a 2016 state law with bipartisan support. Colorado is just the third state with such access, joining Oregon and California.”

Courts in Mesa County are still coping with a drug bust sting that nabbed 33 suspects last summer, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports. “While 20 suspected dealers are continuing to grind through the court system, nine of those whose cases are resolved received prison sentences, said Mark Hand, Mesa County chief deputy district attorney. Several interconnected drug rings were targeted by the multi-jurisdictional investigation that included several dealers law enforcement believed used the drug trade as their major income source.”

The Greeley Tribune localizes the potential impact of President Donald Trump’s proposed tariff on Mexico. “Weld County is more than 700 miles from the closest Mexican border, but a proposed import tariff on the United States’ southern neighbor leaves local agriculture commodities in a state of uncertainty,” the paper reports. “At the end of January, President Donald Trump suggested a 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico to pay for his long-promised wall between the bordering countries. The move could spark a trade war that would harm Weld producers if Mexico executed a retaliatory tax or implemented trade barriers. Local producers could lose the income they get from exporting goods to Mexico. The tax also could raise prices on products for consumers in both countries or limit the products they could purchase.”

“A road reconstruction project that was put on the back burner in 2012 is now back in the planning stages and utility work could begin as early as May for the north Garfield Avenue reconstruction project,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The plan is for making improvements on Garfield Avenue from Eisenhower Boulevard north to the BNSF Railway Crossing. According to city officials, the project is about 2,400 feet long and 40 feet wide. City staff members reignited conversations with neighbors in the area about a month ago, and Public Works Director Leah Browder said staff took feedback from those meetings as well as other individual meetings with residents to redesign the plan.”

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports how Garfield County has seen the lowest oil-and-gas spills in a decade. “Last year, the county saw 47 spills or releases, according to data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Information System, maintained by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission,” the paper reports. “That’s down from 90 in 2015 and the lowest since 2006. According to COGIS, the highest number of recent spills came in 2010, when Garfield County saw 140 such incidents. Spill materials include oil, condensate, produced water, flow back or “frac fluids,” exploration and production waste, drilling fluid and other kinds of waste.”

“Fake news, the future of the economy and climate change are among the timely topics experts will discuss during the 15th annual Seminars at Steamboat talks, slated to begin July 10,” reports The Steamboat Pilot & Today. Seminars at Steamboat board chair Bob Stein said board members outdid themselves in August by identifying topics and potential speakers who would have relevant presentations nearly a year later. “The board last August really aced it, I think, in coming up with five topics and speakers that would be fresh, topical and important this summer,” Stein said, according to the paper. “To do it that far ahead of time is very foresightful, and they did it.”

The Longmont Times-Call reports on the final concept design of a local co-housing community. “Bohn Farm Cohousing Community developer Peter Spaulding led tours Sunday, showing off views and future building locations on the 5.89-acre Longmont property,” the paper reports. “He also presented the final concept plans at Sunday’s open house, with 46 units — including six commercial units — planned for the community at the southwest corner of Spruce Avenue and Grant Street.” “We’re averaging 20 to 30 people at community meetings,” he said, according to the paper. “People are starting to really get it and understand cohousing. It’s really inspiring.”

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that something “related to Boulder’s municipalization bid is going on the city’s November ballot,” but exactly what isn’t certain. “It could be an extension of the voter-approved Utility Occupation Tax that has funded the Boulder bid to acquire certain Xcel Energy assets and form a municipal electric utility, or it could be a new franchise agreement with Xcel that allows the incumbent to retain its customers in the city. Proceedings at the state Public Utilites Commission in coming months will determine what, exactly, citizens are voting on come November.”

“Can a region have too much transportation funding?” That’s what The Coloradoan in Fort Collins asks today in a story on the front page. “For Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly the answer is no. Unequivocally. Donnelly last year pushed through a multi-government agreement that allows the region to recoup money from a road and bridge mill levy that typically would go to local governments. The agreement was the cornerstone of a plan to add a third-lane to Interstate 25 between Fort Collins and Loveland. The roughly $25 million in funding (over five years) constituted a unique solution for work typically paid for by state and federal dollars.”

The Cañon City Daily Record reports on a local speech by Morgan Carroll, a candidate for chair of the state Democratic Party who “feels that after the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the future of the free world is at stake, and the only one who can fix it is the Democratic Party.”