Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Archives - Colorado Politics
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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 7, 20175min125
Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville said Wednesday he plans to introduce a bill in the next session to give local governments more authority to “plan, zone, and refuse to allow oil and gas operations as they see fit — just as they do with every other industry.” Though Jones is the Senate Democrats’ appointed leader […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 29, 20173min600

The Los Angeles Times published a story this week that says California’s 6-month-old aid-in-dying law has allowed 111 terminally ill people to end their lives. That stands in stark contrast to what we know about Colorado’s new law, which took effect in December.

The advocacy group Compassion & Choices told Colorado Politics it knew of only about 10 people who had used the option, but the information was anecdotal. Our subscribers had access to our deep dive into the issue last weekend online in a cover story for our Statesman magazine titled “Aid in dying: Terminally ill Coloradans can choose to live or die under new law.”

Some but not all of the discrepancy can be explained by population. California is a state of nearly 30 million people. Colorado has about 5.6 million and Oregon about 4 million.

Oregon had 16 in 1998, the year its Death with Dignity Act took effect.  Last year, 203 Oregonians requested the medication, and 133 people died, according to the state health department’s annual report.

Colorado voters passed Proposition 106 last November by a 2 to 1 margin, but the law doesn’t provide the kind of reporting California and Oregon have. Those who petitioned the measure onto the ballot thought those who make a private decision shouldn’t be a definite statistic.

A report on the new Colorado law isn’t due until the end of the year, but the state Department of Public Health and Environment won’t know exactly how many people died. The department can chart the number of prescriptions written, but death certificates will still note the person’s terminal illness.

About 1 in 3 people who get the prescription don’t exercise the option, based on Oregon’s two decades of data.

The Los Angeles Times story said 191 prescriptions had been written, yielding the 111 deaths.

“Though California is far more diverse than Oregon, the majority of those who have died under aid-in-dying laws in both states were white, college-educated cancer patients older than 60,” the article said.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 20, 20174min3912

We are supposed to be on top of these things. Alas. Here we are, just now reporting that Colorado’s third woman lieutenant governor — she was the first Republican woman to have held that office — went to Washington last month to become director of intergovernmental and external affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Yup, another Coloradan joins the Trump administration.

Jane Norton served as lieutenant governor during Republican former Gov. Bill Owens’s second term, from January 2003 to January 2007. She served Owens in his first term as his director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She went on to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010 in a high-profile Republican primary, narrowly losing that race to Ken Buck, who in turn lost the general election to current Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. Norton is married to a former U.S. attorney, Mike Norton.

So, we were asleep at the switch. In our defense, we could find no mention of Jane Norton’s appointment via any other Colorado media, either; it was reported in brief by Beltway-insider Politico.

The pro-life, socially conservative Norton’s selection has not gone unnoticed by her philosophical foes, though. Rewire, a pro-abortion rights website that covers and comments on reproductive rights and related issues, had this to say about Norton in a post last month with the headline, “Trump’s HHS Won’t Stop Adding Anti-Choice Extremists“:

Norton’s record appears to be the most extreme on abortion rights …

During her failed bid for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Norton became the first candidate to ever receive the endorsement of anti-choice legislation mill Americans United for Life …

Norton began waging a war on Planned Parenthood in the late 1990s. Under her leadership, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment moved to ban organizations providing abortion care from receiving state funding.

Meanwhile, yet another Colorado Republican has joined Team Trump in D.C. — also at HHS — and she’s a close comrade of Norton’s. As reported by Politico, Lynn Johnson, the chief exec of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services, has been tapped to become assistant secretary for family support at HHS.

Johnson had served as chief of staff to Norton when Norton was lieutenant governor.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 7, 20173min570
iStock image / maxsattana

 

… what other state agencies might have a similarly freewheeling approach with the public’s checkbook. So surmises conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics.

ColoradoPolitics.com’s Peter Marcus reported earlier this week on a state audit that found none of the $1.9 million in incentives awarded to film projects shot in Colorado had met all the criteria for the subsidies. Marcus writes that the audit “identified $129,000 for projects that did not qualify for incentives and another $1.8 million for projects for which the Office of Film, Television, and Media ‘lacked documentation to substantiate they qualified.'”

Peak Politics pounces upon the findings to propose a list of other worthy prospects for an audit. Some of the suggested targets are among the usual suspects — and regular whipping boys — for those on the right side of the political fence:

  • Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
  • Connect for Health Colorado
  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Colorado Energy Office
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Some of targets are repeat offenders and invite follow-up scrutiny by the lights of Republicans and conservatives. For example, Health Care Policy and Financing (you may know it as “HickPuff”; no relation to the guv), which manages Medicaid for the state; Peak notes a 2016 audit found some Medicaid recipients were ineligible but not removed from the rolls.

And then there’s the Energy Office, much unloved by Republicans who are ever wary of the office’s original green-energy-promoting mandate. Peak observes:

This is the office that lost like $200 million a few years ago. The state auditor just finished up an audit in January, but for the love of God, you lose $200 million, you should be audited always.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 1, 20175min510
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn speaks prior to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence during the Trump-Pence rally at the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs Aug. 3, 2016. (Photo by Michael McGrady/The Colorado Statesman)
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn speaks prior to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence during the Trump-Pence rally at the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs Aug. 3, 2016. (Photo by Michael McGrady/The Colorado Statesman)

 

If they couldn’t fight over water, would longtime rivals Pueblo and Colorado Springs find something else to fight over? Of course! But for now, the ongoing feud over Fountain Creek will do.

The contaminated stormwater that perennially pours into the waterway from the Springs metro area and flows downstream to Pueblo and beyond prompted a lawsuit against Colorado Springs in 2016 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The agencies cited violations of water-quality standards. Pueblo joined the suit even as the two cities started talks and reached an agreement. Colorado Springs agreed to spend $460 million over 20 years on stormwater projects to rein in its runoff. Toward that end, Springs voters agreed in April to give up $12 million in excess tax revenue over two years to spend on stormwater projects.

So, should the state and feds now drop their lawsuit? 5th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs thinks so, as reported last week, and he has asked the Trump administration’s new EPA chief Scott Pruitt to reconsider the litigation. Lamborn’s hope is that the winds of change blowing through the federal agency could shift its tilt on a suit that had been filed under the Obama administration.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers not surprisingly is hoping the same thing and told The Colorado Springs Gazette last Saturday he welcomed Lamborn’s efforts.

Whatever comes of Lamborn’s overture, at least one Pueblo County commissioner isn’t taking it sitting down. And even Lamborn’s fellow Colorado Republican House member, Scott Tipton, whose neighboring 3rd Congressional District includes Pueblo, is expressing misgivings.

A hat tip to Colorado Pols for pointing out the Pueblo Chieftain’s coverage this week of the ensuing dust-up. The Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports:

Pueblo County Commission Chairman Terry Hart said Lamborn has played no role in the years of negotiations between Colorado Springs and county officials over stormwater controls, adding: “He should stay the heck out of it.”

While Lamborn seems to think the agreement between the two cities moots the suit, Hart believes the lawsuit made it possible — and will cement the gain in place:

“The threat of that lawsuit was critically important in our reaching an intergovernmental agreement with Colorado Springs,” Hart said Tuesday. “We joined that lawsuit to protect our interests and right now, Colorado Springs is doing a good job of honoring its commitment. But the lawsuit would nail down the agreement to withstand the political winds that blow back and forth.”

Tipton appeared more circumspect about the foray by his GOP House colleague, but a statement from his office quoted by Roper leaves no doubt the congressman from Cortez isn’t on Lamborn’s side:

“While Congressman Tipton has been encouraged by the commitment demonstrated by Mayor (John) Suthers to solve this long-standing problem, the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason,” a spokesman said.

It’s anyone’s guess where it all will lead with a West Slope water watchdog like Tipton in on the standoff — and taking Pueblo’s side. Yet another illustration of how Colorado’s water wars can cut cross party lines.


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Rebecca LaneRebecca LaneMarch 23, 20175min1158

Recently, several Colorado newspapers have published articles regarding Colorado childhood immunization rates and fears surrounding the de-funding of the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS). CIIS is a $3.3 million per year, tax payer funded, inaccurate, opt-out only tracking system that contains private medical information accessible to health care providers, governmental agencies, and school personnel across the state.


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Brian HeubergerBrian HeubergerMarch 15, 201710min11567

With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting that the Trump administration might intensify the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Colorado leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to the defense of the state’s legal marijuana industry in an uncommon show of solidarity in what many consider to be divisive political times of unmatched proportion. High-level Colorado politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have both publicly defended what has become a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for the state.