The Home Front: Hickenlooper goes to Washington

“Gov. John Hickenlooper advocated a bipartisan revision to the nation’s health insurance program during a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Many people are angry, and they have a right to be,” the Democratic governor testified. He developed the plan with six governors from both parties as the time to revise the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act is running out this year. A Senate budget resolution that Republicans have been using to authorize repeal of Obamacare expires at the end of this month. Meanwhile, insurance companies hit with huge claims are dramatically increasing premiums or closing their business in some states. Virginia and Tennessee could lose all of their health insurers in little more than a year unless Congress intervenes to change the Affordable Care Act, senators said at the hearing. In Colorado, 14 counties are served by only one health insurer since other companies dropped out, Hickenlooper said. Some families pay as much as a quarter of their income to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to be insured, known as the individual mandate.”

“After a 211 Crew parolee killed Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements in 2013, officials began banishing leaders of the white supremacist gang to prisons across the U.S. through an inmate-swapping system in which high-risk prisoners are secretly traded from one state to the next, The Denver Post has learned,” according to today’s paper. “That diaspora of shot callers — those who can order gang murders — is why Benjamin Davis was at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, south of Rawlins, when he killed himself last month. Davis was a founder and leader of the 211 Crew and was suspected of ordering Clements’ assassination.”

“Stephanie Rauda Chavez didn’t know she was an undocumented immigrant until she was 16. She’d filled out most of a job application and just needed her social security number to complete it,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Like most 16 year olds, she didn’t know what it was, so she asked her mom. That’s when she learned the truth. Rauda Chavez’s mom brought her to the country when she was a toddler. She celebrated her third birthday on U.S. soil. Now 22, Rauda Chavez doesn’t remember the journey. When former president Obama passed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Rauda Chavez felt she had a chance to chase her dreams, like her friends. She enrolled at Aims Community College to study criminal justice. She dreams of working for the Weld County District Attorney’s office someday.”

“The proposed expansion of the West Elk Mine near Somerset won approval from the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday, giving Delta County officials cause to celebrate and sparking environmental organizations to dig in deeper against the mining plan,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “In the draft record of decision, Forest Supervisor Scott G. Armentrout wrote that the benefits of the 1,720-acre, 17 million-ton coal mine expansion outweighed any environmental threat. Delta County Commissioner Mark Roeber said the draft approval marked a ‘step forward and part of the process.’ That process now goes to a 45-day review period in which Roeber said he expected environmental organizations to file objections.”

“Ken Armfield saved a house from being bulldozed into a million pieces,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “In a deal with the Longmont landowner of 2120 17th Ave., Armfield said he agreed to pay CCI House movers to relocate in the wee hours of Thursday morning an 816-square-foot, ranch-style house by truck and crane to his residence at 904 Alta St. The one-story house was built in 1910, according to Boulder County property records, and was scheduled for demolition to make room for a dentist office at the site across from the FAA, but Armfield said the landowner was eager to have the house spared and recycled by this summer, if possible.”

“Last week, a man and a woman were arrested after allegedly carjacking a 63-year-old man and injuring him,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “It was the second time each had recently been arrested. One of the suspects in the incident, Antwanette Springs, 33, had been arrested Aug. 17 on a warrant for contempt of court. The other suspect, Lawrence Maxwell, 27, had been arrested and charged on Aug. 16 after reportedly crashing a stolen car, and he had a parole violation warrant at that time. According to police, the carjacking on Aug. 29 happened within five hours of Springs and Maxwell being released from custody. They’re both now being held at jail in lieu of $35,000 bail on charges they accrued from the alleged carjacking incident.”

“For Alejandro Parra, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, had been a blessing,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “During the past four years, DACA has allowed Parra to build Ruby’s Company, LLC from the ground up. His efforts with the local cleaning company have paid off with a home, a car and the opportunity to provide for his family, including his two young children who are American citizens. “With the DACA, I have a lot of opportunity,” Parra said. ‘I opened my own company and established my own business, and I get my driver’s license. I started doing good for my family.'”

“Ingrid Gaspar was in class on Tuesday when she got a text from a friend,” reports The Summit Daily News. ‘We’re screwed,’ it said. Ingrid, an 18-year-old freshman at Colorado Mountain College in Dillon, was confused. Her friend clarified: the Trump administration had announced it was ending a deportation relief program for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. “I texted back and was like, ‘I knew it,'” Ingrid said. “That was my only response.” Ingrid is one of roughly 800,000 beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that protected young people like her from deportation and allowed them to work legally.”

“With the growth of social media and cellphone use among youths, Loveland Police Department school resource officers have changed how they advise students in Thompson School District middle and high schools,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “A new program has been adopted by LPD school resource officers to teach students proper digital citizenship, how to form appropriate relationships both online and in person and avoid substance abuse. Known as the Digital Futures Initiative, the educational program is used by school resource officers throughout the state, said Bobbie Jo Pastecki, LPD’s school resource officer for Bill Reed Middle School and Walt Clark Middle School. The program offers school resource officers prepared materials that they can present to students. It was first adopted last year, and officers are hoping to do more with Digital Futures Initiative this year.”

“If you buy an individual insurance policy in Colorado, then your premium will be more than a quarter higher in 2018 than it was this year,” reports Vail Daily. “Colorado’s Division of Insurance gave insurance companies approval to raise rates an average of 26.7 percent across Colorado, exactly what the companies asked for when filing insurance plans earlier this summer. We won’t know what that increase means for Eagle County until later this month or early October, when the Division of Insurance releases rate increases by county, said Bethe Wright, who runs Wright Insurance Co. in Eagle.”

“As the second Colorado State University football game at the new stadium approaches, police say it’s still too early to tell exactly what to expect and if changes need to be made,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “The stadium’s location in the middle of Fort Collins meant the city and police services had a lot of new factors to consider, including responses to traffic, noise and disruptive behaviors. The city of Fort Collins issued 69 parking citations and 19 warnings at the Aug. 26 game, according to city of Fort Collins special event coordinator Jan Sawyer. The city also towed 49 vehicles. No citations were issued for any party registrations.”

“For a second time in two weeks, Cotter Corp. in Cañon City has reported a break-in,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “According to a news release sent Wednesday evening, ‘Officials have reported to the state Radiation Program that the company’s Cañon City Milling Facility was burglarized during the Labor Day weekend.'”

“This week, Mayor Suzanne Jones summarized the City Council’s message to voters this November, as it pertains to Boulder’s continuing effort to separate from Xcel Energy and form a municipal electric utility,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “My sound bite,” the mayor said, “would be: This fall, (give us) a little bit more money, a little bit more time, and we’ll give you a vote before we spend big bucks.” That final clause will be spelled out in Boulder ballot measure 2O, which is one of three items related to municipalization that the council has referred to city voters: “Shall Section 178 of the Charter be amended pursuant to Ordinance 8193,” the drafted ballot question reads, ‘to require a vote at a general or special election prior to the enterprise incurring debt for construction to separate the existing utility system for the City to provide electricity to customers of the City by a separate system.'”

“A campaign by the Pew Charitable Trusts is working to raise awareness of eroding infrastructure at national parks – a problem that’s hitting Mesa Verde National Park, which lists more than $65 million in maintenance needs,” reports The Durango Herald. “Restore America’s Parks aims to address an estimated $11.3 billion worth of deferred maintenance needs across 400 national park units, according to a Pew report. Restore America’s Parks is a Pew project. Colorado’s 12 national parks and monuments have racked up $277.2 million in backlog maintenance needs, based on fiscal year 2016. Mesa Verde National Park reports $65.7 million in maintenance needs that have been delayed because of budget constraints. Howenweep National Monument lists $255,000 in backlogged repairs, and Yucca House National Monument lists $125,000.”