The Home Front: ‘There is no contingency plan’ for the estimated 90k Colorado families who rely on CHIP for basic healthcare

“Everyone from government officials to late night hosts are sounding the alarm as the Child Health Insurance Program runs out of money, putting almost nine million children nationwide at risk of losing health coverage,” reports Summit Daily. “In Summit County, more than 600 children rely on the program for low-cost coverage. Local leaders are calling for Congress to come together and refund a program that had until recently seen bipartisan support. CHIP is a health insurance program for low-income children and pregnant women who do not financially qualify for Medicaid. For 20 years, it has covered doctor and hospital visits, emergency room visits, immunizations, dental care and other critical needs. However, with a Republican majority seeking ways to shrink the government while also cutting taxes, CHIP has become a bargaining chip in budget negotiations for 2018. Funding ran out for the program in September and there is no timeline for renewal. Several states are set to lose funding in the next few months, including Colorado, and there is no contingency plan for the estimated 90,000 Colorado families who rely on the program for basic health care.”

“Consider this paradox: If federal rules protecting net neutrality are rescinded, it could prove a boon to Fort Collins’ municipal broadband efforts,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Federal net neutrality rules, set to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday, require internet service providers to treat all data the same. Open-internet supporters warn that rescinding those rules could lead to Internet-based companies being forced to pay more to have their services offered to consumers — for example, slowing Netflix streams so much they come with their own antique dial-up tones unless Netflix pays a premium. If those fears materialize — Comcast has pledged not to discriminate against content — it could be a marketing tool for Fort Collins’ planned municipal broadband effort. The Fort Collins City Council will develop policies around net neutrality and privacy for its users later in the project.”

“David May clicked to the next slide of his presentation on Wednesday at the northern Colorado Regional Issues Summit at the Embassy Suites, and it showed a picture that encapsulate the day: A custom Colorado license plate that read IH8 I25,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “‘You get in your car, and sometimes you go like hell,” said May, CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce and the convener of the Fix North Interstate-25 business alliance steering committee. “Sometimes it is hell.” The audience laughed, but the issue isn’t funny. Coloradans drove 49.3 billion total miles on I-25 in 2015, according to May’s presentation, and that figure will increase to more than 90 billion by 2040. If the interstate remains in the same shape it is now, May said, the average drive from Fort Collins to Denver will eventually take three hours. And the Colorado Department of Transportation’s $10 billion budget shortfall, which grows by about $1 billion per year, will make it hard for the state to fund the improvements to avoid the bottleneck.”

“David Eisner has never been a courtroom rager,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The longtime Grand Junction defense attorney is known more for his soft-spoken manner, his extreme attention to detail, and the trademark bow ties he’s sported since the mid-’80s, than for raucous courtroom antics. After more than four decades defending the criminally accused in Colorado — and a Mesa County career bookended by trial victories — Eisner will retire after handling one last sentencing Tuesday. Recognized by peers as a brilliant attorney who contributed to the quality of Colorado’s public defense system during his years handling death penalty cases across the state and heading Grand Junction’s public defender office, Eisner “definitely was a mentor” to a generation of defense attorneys, said Steve Colvin, Grand Junction’s current public defender office head.”

“Longmont’s City Council has signed off on an advisory panel’s recommendations for distributing $630,837 in city funds to 28 human services agencies with safety-net programs that assist low- to moderate-income Longmont residents,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Council members voted 6-0 Tuesday night for a motion by Councilwoman Bonnie Finley to approve the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board’s recommendations for those awards. The City Council did not raise or add any of the funding amounts the advisory board had suggested for city funding in 2018, but it did, in a separate 6-0 vote on a motion by Mayor Brian Bagley, add a 29th recipient, El Comité, to the list. The council decided to allocate $15,000 to support El Comité’s efforts to provide advocacy, referral and direct services to that agency’s clients.”

“Approval of five capital projects was among the items of business at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Pueblo City Schools (D60) board of education,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The three-hour session, which also included reports on a mill-levy override survey and enrollment projections, was the first for recently elected board members Dennis Maes and Taylor Voss. The district’s aging facilities and structures continue to take a toll on the capital project fund.”

“These days Matt Ingles takes life at a little slower pace,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “You won’t find him driving on mountain roads at night, and he gives a little more thought about what the future might hold. It’s been a little over a year since an accident on Rabbit Ears Pass changed the life of the 33-year-old, medical device sales representative who made his living driving across northwestern Colorado. “In the simplest terms possible, it slowed me down in terms of my thinking, in terms of what I want for the future,” Ingles said. ‘It throws that in your face and makes you ask those questions of yourself — what you want out of life.'”

“Loveland police arrested three men on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping Tuesday evening after a woman was allegedly intimidated with a gun inside a vehicle,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald.

“From fixing stoves to building front steps for elderly neighbors at no charge, Paul Perez said his father regularly helps people when they ask for his assistance,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Now that his parents lost everything in a fire, Paul Perez is asking the community to help them, by spreading the word about a GoFundMe page created to raise money for their recovery. Tony and Patricia Perez, who live on Brewster Lane in Florence, lost nearly everything in the fire, which started at about 10 p.m. Friday. They were able to save their two dogs and escape from the fire uninjured, but since their home is more than a century old, most of their belongings were either burned or covered in asbestos. Tony Perez said they don’t know the exact cause of the fire yet, but he thinks it might have been electrical.”

“There will be no new 16-person housing co-op in Boulder after all, it was decided Wednesday morning,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Lincoln Miller of the Boulder Housing Coalition, who had been leading the charge for the city to waive its 12-person limit and allow extra density in a co-op in Martin Acres, withdrew the request Wednesday morning and will settle for the usual limit. “What we’d like to do,” Miller said, “is get 12 people living there and show that we’re good neighbors, wait one year and maybe two, then go back and ask for the 16 once we’ve shown we can be good neighbors.” The Boulder Planning Board was previously scheduled to review the application for extra density on Thursday, but that hearing is no longer necessary.”

“Greg Smith, executive director of the Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association, died unexpectedly on a family vacation in Hawaii Wednesday,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Smith, 56, joined PERA in 2002 as its general counsel. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2009 and named PERA’s sixth executive director in 2012, succeeding Meredith Williams. Next month Smith was expected to lead the pension plan at the Colorado General Assembly on legislation intended to shore up its $32 billion unfunded liability.”

“Denver plants that are supposed to be brown, scraggly and dead this time of year are instead green, flourishing and alive,” reports The Denver Post. “From dandelions and pansies to trees and lawns, plants are popping up, budding and thriving, clearly feeling confused about when they’re supposed to go dormant this season — if at all. A 65-day dry spell has had plants and people behaving as if it’s October, not mid-December. Unless a storm moving in late Wednesday and into Thursday delivers precipitation — and forecasters say there’s a better-than-even chance — Denver could be on its way to breaking its 69-day record of no moisture. Should the city stay dry through Monday, the streak will have reached 70 days. It has been so dry that city of Denver parks workers this week dusted off their tools to aerate grass at Civic Center and turned sprinklers back on for a few days to help the lawn weather the dry spell. Experts recommend giving residential trees and shrubs a deep watering, too.”

“A lobbying effort to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument was churning since the spring in Colorado, the Washington Post reported last week,” according to ColoradoPolitics. “Lakewood-based Energy Fuels Resources hired lobbyists and made a low-profile federal case that a federal umbrella over 1.35 million acres in southeast Utah could hurt its ability to operate the nation’s only uranium processing mill near the border at White Mesa, as well as lock away deposits of uranium inside the monument. “It is shocking to learn that a Colorado-based corporation was lobbying Secretary Zinke behind the scenes to destroy a national monument protecting thousands of cultural sites sacred to tribes, just so they can maybe mine some more uranium and keep their polluting mill in Utah in business,” Scott Braden, the wilderness and public lands advocate for Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental group, told Colorado Politics Wednesday night.”

“With the holiday shipping season in full swing, Denver Police Department is reporting a spike in package thefts this year around the city,” reports Denverite. “As of Tuesday, 457 packages were reported stolen. The percent of snagged boxes jumped 41 percent — 133 cases — from 2016 to 2017, DPD said on social media. Police are encouraging people to get their packages delivered to their workplaces or to a trusted neighbor or friend who is likely to be home. Other tips shared by police include selecting to sign for deliveries, tracking the status online to be home for deliveries and asking packages to be held at the shipping facility or a locker pickup location.”