Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

What will you be doing on Monday?  Sleeping in?  Or making a difference in your community?  The Governor's Commission on Community Service and Americorps suggest Coloradans make their day off into a day of service:

Held annually on the anniversary of the Reverend Dr. King’s birthday, volunteers from across the state and nation come together to serve and find solutions to the most pressing problems facing their communities. MLK Day gives everyone the opportunity to start the year by giving back to others and making an impact.

For ideas, or to read about what Coloradans have done on past years' MLK days of service, you can access the program's annual report, available from our library.  Also available are reports for the 9/11 Day of Service, another service day promoted by the Commission.


Legislative Information

The First Regular Session of the 71st General Assembly of Colorado begins today.  In Colorado regular sessions are 120 days, so this year's session will adjourn on May 10, 2017.  A full schedule is available here.

There are many new legislators this session.  To find your Senator or Representative, go to the "Find My Legislator" map feature on the General Assembly homepage.  You can also browse the legislative directory, which lists each member's district, party affiliation, Capitol phone number, committee assignments, occupation, sponsored bills, photo, and email address.

Once introduced, bills will be available at http://leg.colorado.gov/bills.  Here you can browse by subject, search by sponsor or keyword, find the most frequently accessed bills, and connect to a database of all bills.  As the bills move through the legislative process, each version will be added to the website in order to trace the bill's history.  For an overview of the legislative process in Colorado, see the diagram below (click to enlarge):

Citizen participation in the legislative process is encouraged.  You can watch the proceedings in person in the House/Senate galleries at the Capitol, or on the Colorado Channel, which offers both live-stream and archived recordings of the House and Senate floors.  Coloradans are also welcome to write, call, or email their legislator, and may also testify on bills.  For logistical information go to Capitol Information.  As you watch the proceedings, you may be curious about some of the terminology or procedures.  To learn about these go to the House and Senate Rules page.  You can also learn more at the Office of Legislative Legal Services' Colorado LegiSource blog.

Researchers can find previously enacted laws at http://leg.colorado.gov/colorado-laws.  For bills from prior sessions, see the annual Digest of Bills or go to Prior Session Information to view all bills from the 1997 through 2015 sessions.  (Bills from 2016 and after are at this link).  At the State Publications Library, we have numerous resources from prior sessions of the General Assembly, including:
  • House and Senate Journals
  • Colorado Session Laws
  • Status sheets (listing the history of each bill)
  • Directories
  • The "Long Bill" (annual budget bill)
  • Legislative Council research reports
  • Statutorily-required reports
  • Appropriations Reports and other reports of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC)
  • Colorado Revised Statutes
  • Reports from the Office of the State Auditor
  • State agency budgets
  • Issue Briefs 
  • Sunrise and sunset reviews
...and much more.  Search our library's online catalog or call us at 303-866-6725.  We are happy to assist you in your research.


Time Machine Tuesday: The Taylor Grazing Act

With the 1862 Homestead Act thousands of settlers poured into the Great Plains, and over the years cattle grazing and dryland farming destroyed the natural prairie grasses.  Around 1930, a major drought began, and without the grasses to hold it down, the prairie essentially blew away -- huge dust storms covered the land like snow, blocking sunlight for days and creeping into every tiny crevice in settlers' houses.  To make matters worse, the Dust Bowl coincided with the economic losses of the Great Depression.

A dust storm approaches a town on the Great Plains.  Note the land office in the picture.  Photo courtesy USDA.
By 1934 it was clear that something had to be done to protect public lands from overgrazing.  So Edward Taylor, a Colorado congressman, introduced a grazing bill.  Under Taylor's bill -- and later Act -- nearly 80,000,000 acres of public lands in the West were placed under protection of the Department of the Interior through the establishment of grazing districts.  The Act also created a new federal bureau that eventually became the Bureau of Land Management.

Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes appointed a Coloradan, Farrington Carpenter, as head of the new Grazing Bureau.  Political battles led to Carpenter's being fired in 1938.  He later served as Colorado State Treasurer from 1941-42.  His ranch, in Routt County near Hayden, is now held under a conservation easement from the Nature Conservancy and is open to visitors.  Carpenter's autobiography, Confessions of a Maverick, is available for checkout from our library.

Under the Taylor Grazing Act, six grazing districts were created in Colorado, the largest being 2,099,331 acres extending from the White River National Forest and Yampa River to the Utah border.  Being a mining state, some in Colorado worried that the Act would restrict mining activities in the districts.  The Year Book of the State of Colorado, 1935-36, provided assurances that the Act would not provide any limitations on mining.  The Year Book, a biennial publication produced during the first half of the 20th century by the State Planning Commission, included facts and statistics on all matters of life and government in Colorado.  The Taylor Grazing Act is discussed in the 1935-36 book on pages 309-311.  More detail is provided in the following report, for 1937-38, when the Act had been underway for a few years.  That report included, on pages 399-402, statistical tables, financial information, and discussion of the Act and other public land issues in Colorado.

Today the State Treasurer's Office oversees distribution of Federal funds from the Taylor Grazing Act -- see their Federal Funds Distribution website for information.


Protect Yourself, Your Pets, and Livestock from Rabies

In 2016, 88 wild animals tested positive for rabies, with possible exposure to 100 pets, 116 livestock animals, and 32 humans, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Most rabies cases are found in bats and skunks; however, rabid foxes and raccoons have occasionally been reported.

So how can you protect yourself and your domestic animals from rabies?  Visit the CDPHE's Rabies webpage for numerous resources, including brochures and fact sheets; rabies testing protocol; vaccination information; resources and precautions for veterinarians, animal control, and others who work with animals; and more.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture has also published some rabies prevention tips.

Rabies data includes annual statistics back to 2012 as well as maps of occurrences.  Many people think that rabies is more likely to be found in rural areas; these maps illustrate that this is not true -- people in the metro area need to be aware of the risk of rabies.  In 2015, for instance, most rabid bats were found in Denver, Arapahoe, and Larimer counties along the I-25 corridor.

Our library has many resources on rabies, including earlier years' data, and several publications that can provide useful information on protecting yourself, your pets, and livestock.  Selected publications include:
For more resources, visit our library's online catalog. 


Veterans Community Living Centers

Colorado offers five state-run homes for aged veterans and their families.  Located in Aurora (Fitzsimons), Florence, Monte Vista, Rifle, and Walsenburg, the facilities provide a variety of services including long- and short-term care, assisted living, memory care, and hospice services.  Those eligible for the Veterans Community Living Centers (formerly known as State and Veterans Nursing Homes) include honorably discharged veterans, their spouses/widows, and "Gold Star" parents (those whose children died while serving in the Armed Forces).  To find out more about the homes and the services they provide, go to their website.

For detailed information and background on the program, search our library's online catalog using search terms  veterans nursing homes and veterans community living centers.  Here you will find resources such as audit reports, legislative reports, business plans, annual reports, and sunset reviews.