New Laws Effective January 1, 2009

Tomorrow, being January 1, a number of new laws will take effect. These include:

  • An increase in Colorado's minimum wage. Minimum-wage workers will automatically receive a 26-cent pay increase as required by the Colorado Constitution. For more information, see the Colorado Dept. of Labor & Employment's Minimum Wage Fact Sheet.
  • New drunk driving laws. Careful you don't party too hardy tonight, because a new drunk driving law takes effect at midnight, requiring that everyone charged with a DUI be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car, or lose their license for a period of time. The new law states that interlock devices will be required for first-time offenders as well as repeat offenders.
  • Sales tax rate changes. Some cities and counties will have an increase in sales tax. To find out if your city or county is affected, and what the money will go for, see the Colorado Dept. of Revenue's press release.


Economic Forecasts - who's right?

Last week economic forecasts were released from two different state agencies, the Colorado Legislative Council, and the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting. There is a wide disparity between the two reports -- the Legislative Council is predicting a shortfall of $600 million, while the forecast from the Office of State Planning and Budgeting shows a shortfall of $70.2 million. The economists from both offices are planning to sit down and review the formulas used to derive this year's estimates, and come up with figures that the Joint Budget Committee can use when they make adjustments to the state budget. Which prediction is correct? Decide for yourself -- both forecasts are available online:


Remedial Education

Last week the Colorado Dept. of Higher Education released their 2008 report on remedial education. This report received a great deal of attention in the news due to its findings that more and more college freshmen are needing to take remedial courses, suggesting that high schools are not adequately preparing youngsters for college. To see the report, click on the link above. In it are statistics for each state school regarding how many students have been assigned to remedial classes, comparing the numbers with last year's.


Winter Heating Assistance

When faced with a week of below zero temperatures, keeping warm becomes of vital importance. The high cost of heating fuel can be a burden for many individuals. The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) may be able to help. LEAP is a federal program to assist people with heating costs, and is administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services. Visit the website to find eligibility requirements or call the HEAT HELP line at 1-866-432-8435.


Prairie Dogs

As more and more land gets developed, these cute little critters are becoming endangered. Because prairie dogs are (or at least, used to be) one of the most visible species of wildlife along the front range, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has published a number of guides to these little animals. Available from our library:

Also, see the following publications regarding Colorado's endangered wildlife:


Winter Driving

A winter storm is expected to arrive in the Front Range sometime this afternoon. In preparation, you may want to check out the Colorado Department of Transportation's winter driving website. They have winter driving tips, a de-icer fact sheet about the methods CDOT uses to treat roadways, and links to information on current road conditions and travel advisories.
They also have great FAQ section with information on snow removal, road treatment, and road conditions.

Besides checking their website, you can also call 511 anywhere in the state of Colorado for current travel information.


Secretary of State

Colorado will be getting a new Secretary of State soon, as the current Secretary, Mike Coffman, heads off to Congress. Twenty people have applied for the job, including a variety of people ranging from former legislators to college professors and even a political talk show host. While the Secretary's role in Colorado elections is well-known, he has many other responsibilities as well, including:

(Click on the above links to find out more about each program)

All this is in addition to overseeing elections - so, the new Secretary of State, who will be named later this month, will have a busy job ahead of them!


Focus on the Children

A new and improved version of the State Publications Library's "Focus on the Children" bibliography is now available. The subject guide is a compilation of print and Internet resources that address issues regarding children and youth in the state of Colorado. Topics include adoption, careers, charter schools, child abuse, child welfare, education, health, parenting, and safety.

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