Colorado Capitol Coverage

KSUT is a member of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. More than 15 public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

You have to go back more than a century to find another time Coloradans faced a statewide crisis as big and deadly as the current COVID-19 pandemic. But experts who studied the state’s response to the Spanish flu of 1918 say history is not repeating itself when it comes to how state lawmakers are responding to the latest outbreak.

Today, visitors to the Capitol building must wear masks and have their temperatures taken, and lawmakers sit between plexiglass dividers.

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

Gov. Jared Polis told lawmakers during his annual state of the state that Colorado has been “bruised, battered, and shaken to its core” over the last year.

But with vaccines being rolled out — and case numbers dropping — he sounded optimistic about what lies ahead.

“Coming out of this traumatic year, we can finally live up to our fullest potential to truly create a Colorado for all,” he said. “There’s a lot of work ahead. But we’re more than ready.”

As Colorado embarks on an effort to reintroduce gray wolves, two competing packs are starting to form.

One wants to run, and the other wants to walk.

Gov. Jared Polis is leading the pack wanting to speed up the process, saying wolves “take care of themselves” and will be easier to release into the landscape than other animals Colorado has already brought back, including the Canada lynx and the black-footed ferret.

Polis says he has already lined up the first batch.

Colorado plans to start offering the coronavirus vaccine to residents ages 65 to 69 and all pre-school and K-12 teachers on Feb. 8, Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday.

Polis said it will take about three weeks to administer the vaccine to all educators who want it.

It will also be offered to child-care workers, school bus drivers and other school staff who work directly with children.

Polis said the decision was made to prioritize teachers because they are “foundational to our society to function, for workplace equity, for the sanity of families with kids.”

Gov. Jared Polis needed a dry-erase board and some math skills on Friday as he attempted to clarify Colorado’s current vaccine distribution situation in front of a live TV audience.

Polis kicked off his latest COVID-19 update by blasting the Trump administration, saying it lied to Colorado and other states about speeding up distribution of millions of vaccine doses from a national reserve.

“I’m not going to cast dispersions; my guess is it’s gross incompetence,” he said.

During the past ten months, KSUT has continued to broaden its scope of local and regional news and information, complementing the station's national and international news from NPR and BBC. In doing so, KSUT has hired its own reporters, and actively engaged several content partners, strengthening its available reporting in the Four Corners and Rocky Mountain West.

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Colorado lawmakers started a legislative session on Wednesday that will be defined in its early days by a raging pandemic and a heightened sense of unrest following a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

There were more police on hand than usual for a session kickoff a week after extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people. Colorado state troopers on bicycles circled the outside of the building, while three troopers stood guard at one point outside the House Chamber.

Colorado Lawmakers Start New Session Wednesday, But Things Will 'Look A Lot Different'

Jan 12, 2021
Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and new fears raised by last week’s deadly attack at the U.S. Capitol, this Wednesday’s kickoff will be short and subdued.

Colorado Clarifies How Residents 70 And Up Can Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Jan 8, 2021
Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post Pool Photo

Following confusion and frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to seniors in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference on January 6 to talk about how residents ages 70 and up can try to gain access.

Colorado has changed its vaccine distribution plan to give higher priority to residents who are 70 years or older, along with essential frontline workers.

Gov. Jared Polis says the vaccines for older Coloradans are starting now in counties that have completed distributing their first doses to frontline health care workers.

Polis estimates it should take about four to five weeks to get the vaccines to any Coloradan aged 70 or older who wants it.

Gov. Jared Polis has made hundreds of decisions this year that have affected millions of Coloradans. He's the one deciding where we can eat, whether we have to wear masks and most recently, who is first in line to get the vaccine. He's also had to govern through his own COVID-19 diagnosis.

Capitol Coverage reporter Scott Franz recently spoke with Polis about his coronavirus response. Below are highlights from the interview.

Colorado's upcoming legislative session will not kick into high gear until at least mid-February because lawmakers do not want to hold large gatherings during the pandemic.

Democrats say the plan is still to gavel in the session as scheduled on Jan. 13, but only to swear in new members and address any urgent business.

Lawmakers say they will then go into a recess until at least Feb. 16 to avoid unnecessary exposure.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said the arrival of the vaccine is promising, but the pandemic is "far from over."

David Zalubowski / AP Photo, Pool

The nine members of Colorado's electoral college, like their counterparts across the country, met Monday at the state Capitol to cast their votes in the 2020 presidential election.

Government workers in Colorado are busy this month building the new websites and application forms that will let residents get their share of more than $240 million in coronavirus relief approved by lawmakers during a special session.

“This stuff is working at breakneck speed, so we’re working as quickly as we can to get this up,” said Brett McPherson, a spokesman for the Department of Local Affairs.

Colorado lawmakers passed a state-funded stimulus package worth more than $200 million during a three-day special session that stayed mostly cordial and bipartisan.

They also gave Gov. Jared Polis an additional $100 million to respond to the pandemic and rejected Republican lawmakers’ attempts to limit Polis’ power to issue more executive orders during the virus outbreak.

Lawmakers stressed the stimulus package is far short of what the federal government could provide.

Colorado lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday to consider a $220 million stimulus package for restaurants, movie theaters, child care centers and other businesses that have been hard hit by coronavirus restrictions.

But lawmakers spent the week leading up to the special session trying to manage their constituents’ expectations for the state-funded stimulus.

Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, said at a recent town hall the package would not be a “silver bullet.”

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