Danny Katz Archives - Colorado Politics
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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 8, 20184min2200

Colorado lawmakers began laying the bricks of a firewall for consumers who might be victims of identity theft as a result of such breaches as the Equifax hack last year. They started with children and at-risk adults.

Most children don’t have credit histories, and often their clean credit is used in “family fraud,” by someone who knows the child or at-risk adult

The State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to pass House Bill 1233, sponsored by House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Rep. Polly Lawrence.

“Securing personal information is a growing priority for adults,” parent Jessica Duke told the committee. “And it should be for children, too.”

Reps. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, and Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, voted against the bill “for today,” because they want to be sure the legislation doesn’t create a credit report for a child simply by a parent asking the credit reporting agency if one exists.

The bill appears broadly supported, however.

The legislative effort this session is driven by the last year’s Equifax data breach. Hackers gained access to 145 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses, a trove for identity thieves to create phony credit accounts. At least four bills are expected this session, in response.

The Duran-Lawrence bill would allow parents or guardians to freeze, at no charge, credit reports opened in the name of a child 16 and younger or an at-risk adult.  Children’s Social Security numbers can be stolen from schools, doctor’s offices or even cell phone accounts.

“This bill gives parents a lock and a key for their children and dependants’ credit,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado consumer advocacy group CoPIRG. “Most importantly that lock and key are free of charge. Parents and guardians should not have to pay to protect their children and dependants from problems they didn’t create.”

Equifax already is waiving any fees to place a credit freeze on its credit reports until June 30.

Rich Jones of the Denver-based Bell Policy Center was pleased to see the bill includes older Coloradans, who have a designated financial guardian.

“We think given the aging of our population here in Colorado, a growing number of people are going to need some of that protection,” Jones said.

Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, sought to give consumers more protection over their data by requiring consent. He cited the power and, clearly, the vulnerability of bureaus such as Equifax. House Bill 1063 wasn’t voted on Wednesday, as Williams sought more time to amend it.

A half-dozen opponents said it was too broadly written and would create unintended consequences, including making it harder to do employee background checks and impeding earnest consumers’ ability to get credit.

“Our concern is the consumers who have the most to hide will hide the most,” Eric Ellman of the Consumer Data Industry Association told the committee.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 10, 20174min218
The Denver-based CoPIRG Foundation is taking on the fidget spinner over a couple of products’ high level of lead and its presumption that the toys are not meant for kids. The national consumer protection group said its lab results showed high levels of lead in the ball-bearing fad on sale at Target stores across the […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 20, 20173min341
Older Coloradans are among the most aggrieved in the country about credit reports, mortgages, credit cards and other financial services, according to a study released this week. “Older Consumers in the Financial Marketplace” was compiled by the Colorado consumer group CoPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group, a left-leaning advocacy organization. Colorado ranked ninth for the […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 18, 20173min696
Colorado has a transportation plan on the table to spend $68 million on mass transit, greener fuels and a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The only public hearing on the proposal is Monday afternoon in Denver. The money has to go for clear-air programs related to vehicle exhaust, according to the $14.7 billion […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 29, 20174min2830

Environmental groups are cheering on a plan to spend Colorado’s $68 million lawsuit settlement from Volkswagen on green-powered solutions to getting around.

Under the draft, $18 million for transit buses, another $18 million for trucks and buses that run on alternative fuels, $10 million to electric vehicle charging stations plus administration and other clean-air spending.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will hold a public hearing on the prosal oon Sept. 18 and take public comments into October before a final decision that’s expected in November.

The $68 million is the state’s entire share of a mediated $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen after  it was discovered the automaker installed computer software to cheat emissions tests in about 550,000 diesel vehicles from 2009 through 2016. About 9,700 of those vehicles were sold in Colorado.

The money from the settlement must go toward reducing vehicle emissions.

“The goal of this settlement is to reduce harmful pollution and positively impact public health as much as possible,”Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, transportation and energy advocate for Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, said in a statement. “To accomplish these goals, the CDPHE needs to electrify our buses and trucks. This is also an opportunity to make sure our whole state benefits from infrastructure that will positively impact our air and quality of life, especially underserved urban and rural communities.”

The $10 million Colorado could put into electric-charging stations is the maximum the settlement allows. That’s enough to put in 60 fast-charging stations. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group say if those stations are placed 30 miles apart, the stations would offer enough juice to cross interstates 70, 25, and 76, along with most of U.S. 160, U.S. 550, U.S. 50, U.S. 285 and U.S. 40

“Volkswagen’s misleadingly dirty cars emitted pollutants by as much as 40 times over the legal limit,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG’s director. “Colorado has an opportunity to use this money in a truly transformative way by focusing on electric cars, buses and trucks. Supporting electrification is the best way to put us on track to where we ought to go — a transportation system with zero emissions.”

Will Toor, the transportation program director for SWEEP, said Colorado should “hit the accelerator for electric vehicles” with the windfall.

“Because Colorado’s major utilities have been closing their most polluting older power plants and rapidly adding wind and solar, the state’s electricity mix is getting cleaner and cleaner so moving towards electricity as the fuel for vehicles puts us on a path to a zero emissions transportation system,” he said in the statement.

More electric vehicles on the road has the support of most statehouse Democrats, including Gov. John Hickenlooper. Last December he, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said they would draw up a plan over the next year to put up stations to give electric vehicles a network of more than 2,000 miles of highway.

“Our residents and the millions of visitors to our states will be able to drive electric vehicles from Denver to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas—from the Rockies to the Pacific,” Hickenlooper said at the time.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 17, 20174min2370

CoPirg is celebrating the Bustang’s second year, as the horse-named Greyhound is picking up the pace as it connects Denver to Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and some of the mountain towns.

The left-leaning research nonprofit based in Denver released ridership numbers this week that show the Bustang’s use jumped 52 percent to 155,864 trips.

CoPIRG Foundation staff greeted riders and the public Tuesday at Bustang’s gate in Denver’s Union Station, collecting signatures on a giant birthday card.

The CoPIRG Foundation plans to deliver card to the Colorado Department of Transportation along with a letter signed by 41 Colorado mayors, city council members and county commissioners in support of expanding the regional bus service.

“Bustang has provided thousands of people with the freedom to travel to Denver from Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and mountain towns along I-70 and vice versa without driving their car,” Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation’s director, tells Colorado Politics in an e-mail. “The huge growth in ridership demonstrates the clear need for even more statewide bus service like Bustang.”

Bustang ridership
(Provided by CoPirg)

The Denver Post reported this week that the service cost had a $10 million startup cost and takes about $3 million a year to operate. Last year it brought in about $1.5 million.

CDOT has a fleet of 13 black-and-purple coaches that each seat 51 riders. Each has wifi and room to store bicycles, along with restrooms so you can go while you’re going.

A ride from Denver to Fort Collins cost $10, to Colorado Springs it’s $12 and at the westernmost destination, Glenwood Springs, it’s $28 with cheaper stops in between at Idaho Springs ($5), Frisco ($12), Vail ($17) and Eagle ($22).

The Bustang also charters for events such as Broncos games, skiers and the RamsRoute, which ferries Colorado State students from Fort Collins to Denver on Friday nights and back on Sunday nights during the school year.

“Whether you don’t own a car or want to avoid the hassle of driving and paying for parking, Bustang is connecting our biggest cities and economic areas via wifi-equipped buses. It’s crazy it took until 2015 to have a statewide public bus service, but now that Coloradans have the option to ride a bus, people are using it. We should keep expanding the service until everyone in Colorado has transportation options,” said Katz.


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinNovember 7, 20167min391

Colorado public interest, environmental and public health organizations have called upon the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to use funds from the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal to support a transition to a zero-emission transportation future. At issue is $61.3 million Colorado will receive between 2017 and 2027 from a settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Volkswagen related to the company’s violation of emission control laws in more than half a million vehicles.