Unaffiliated Legislators

Yesterday's announcement that a key Democrat in the Colorado House of Representatives switched to Unaffiliated (see Denver Post story) brings up many questions about how to deal with a Representative who is neither Republican or Democrat. According to the Colorado Legislative Council's Legislator Biographies database, the last time an Unaffiliated member served in the House was in the 1960s, with Reginald L. Howard serving 1963-64. (Another House member, Bud Edmonds, who served 1967-74 as a Republican, lost the 1974 Senate race when he decided to run as an Independent). The Colorado Legislator's Handbook and the online House and Senate Rules can give some insight into Legislative proceedings when a member is not a part of either party caucus.


Wildlife Viewing.

Winter in Colorado provides many opportunities for wildlife viewing. The Department of Natural Resources has a great website on wildlife viewing, with information on places to go, tips for viewing specific species, and a listing of events. We've recently received a couple of publications that may be of interest:


SPL's Most Popular Items

For something different I thought it would be fun to search and list our top-ten most frequently checked out items:

10. The Incredible Years: Parent, Teacher and Child Training Series. Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2001.
9. (Tie) Instructionally Differentiated Programming: A Needs-Based Approach for Students with Behavior Disorders, Colorado Department of Education, 1993; and Establishing a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen, University of Colorado at Denver, 1997.
8. Trials & Triumphs: A Colorado Portrait of the Great Depression, University Press of Colorado, 1993.
7. (Tie) Insects & Disases of Woody Plants of the Central Rockies, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, 2000; and Colorado: A History of the Centennial State, 3rd edition, University Press of Colorado, 1994.
6. Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing. Colorado Historical Society, 2004.
5. Down to the Bone: Quick and Easy Method for Deboning an Elk in the Field, DVD, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 2006.
4. Best Perennials for the Rocky Mountains and High Plains, Colorado State University Experiment Station, 2003.
3. (Tie) Fly Fishing Colorado, DVD, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 2008; and Messages in Stone: Colorado's Colorful Geology, Colorado Geological Survey, 2003.
2. Elk-Hunting Colorado, DVD, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 2006.
1. And the number-one most frequently checked-out item in our collection: Colorado, A History of the Centennial State, 4th edition, University Press of Colorado, 2005.

Other frequently-checked out titles include Gold Panning and Placering in Colorado: Where and How; Synopsis of Colorado Water Law; Sacred Objects & Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions; and Big Game CD.


Scenic & Historic Byways

Colorado has 25 scenic and historic "byways," routes designated for their extra-special scenery or historical value. The Colorado Dept. of Transportation oversees the byways program, and you can see photos and information on each byway at the program website. This year, the program celebrated its 20th birthday.

Our library has a number of resources on Colorado's Scenic and Historic Byways, including:
  • Colorado: The Official Guide to the Scenic and Historic Byways
  • Discover Colorado: Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways
  • Colorado Byways: A Guide Through Scenic and Historic Landscapes

The Byways are located all over the state - not just in the mountains - showcasing the many varied landscapes across our state.


Made in Colorado

As you shop for gifts this holiday season, consider buying Colorado commodities. The Department of Agriculture has put together a Colorado Food and Agriculture Gift Guide. The guide includes a list of companies with items made in Colorado -- including meats and cheeses, desserts, fruits and vegetables, as well as non-food items. Links to retail websites are included, so your Colorado gift is just a click away. Support the state economy, and buy Coloradoan this year.


Holiday Stress?

Although they are supposed to be a time of relaxation and togetherness, the holidays often become the opposite - hectic and stressful. If you need help managing an extra dose of stress this season, the State has several publications that you may find beneficial. First, the CSU Extension has published a fact sheet, Happier Holidays, for dealing with stress during this time of year. On a more general level, the Dept. of Human Services has a Stress Management brochure. Their website also offers a tip sheet on 26 Ways to Manage Stress, from the Jefferson Center for Mental Health. Finally, check out this fact sheet from the Colorado State Employees Assistance Program.



According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the number of active hunters in Colorado has been on a steady decline since 1996. Sixty seven percent of funding for the Division of Wildlife is dependent on revenue generated from hunter's licenses. Understandably, the decline in active hunters is a concern -- the reduction in revenue means that funding for wildlife conservation programs may be in danger. In response to this concern, the Division has developed outreach programs to generate interest in hunting. The Hunter Outreach Program trains citizen volunteers as certified Huntmasters. Huntmasters attend a formal course of instruction provided by the Division of Wildlife, then upon graduation are charged with planning, coordinating and running youth and novice hunts throughout the state. The Huntmaster teams are responsible for all elements of the hunt from safety, to education, to cultivating participation by landowners in their regional areas.

In addition to the "Huntmaster" program, the Division provides educational seminars for hunters and the general public across the state. Instructors and state biologists provide hunting seminars on elk, deer, grouse, pheasant and waterfowl. They also have hands-on skill clinics covering anything from duck-calling to shooting.

For more information on the Hunter Outreach Program, take a look at the "Youth Outreach and Women Afield Report", "Huntmaster Manual", or visit the Hunting portal of the Colorado Division of Wildlife website.


Holiday Plants - Poinsettias, Mistletoe, Evergreens

If you're getting ready to decorate your home for the holidays, you may be considering some festive holiday red-and-greenery. If you plan to bring in live plants, you may be interested in some of the fact sheets produced by the Colorado State University Extension.

Did you know that poinsettias were first cultivated by the Aztecs in Mexico? Poinsettias are a traditional and beautiful holiday flower, long thought to be poisonous - however, according to the Poinsettias fact sheet from CSU, poinsettias were tested in 1995 and found to be not poisonous. This fact sheet will tell you all about care of these festive plants.

Chances are if you have the always-romantic mistletoe in your home, it's just a cutting. However, if you're curious about where it comes from, check out the CSU Dwarf Mistletoe Management fact sheet, where you will learn that mistletoe is not a plant, but is a parasite of trees!

Finally, the most famous Christmas decoration of all is the Christmas tree. You can learn all about evergreen trees from CSU's Evergreen Trees fact sheet.


Water Law

Water is one of the most important issues in the West, and is the subject of many complicated laws. If you're trying to understand Colorado's water laws, here are some good places to start:

  • Vranesh's Colorado Water Law. This chunky book is usually considered the resource on water law in Colorado. But, if you're looking for something a little easier to digest, try
  • Synopsis of Colorado Water Law. This little booklet is designed for the lay person to understand Colorado's complicated water laws.
  • If you're involved in a legal issue concerning water, see Non-Attorney's Guidebook to Colorado Water Courts, published by the Colorado Supreme Court.
  • CSU has produced a Glossary of Water Terminology as well as Colorado Citizens' Water Law Handbook and Water Quality and Water Rights in Colorado.
  • Check out the richly illustrated Citizen's Guide to Colorado Water Law, produced by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, available for checkout from our library.
  • Also, the Natural Resources Law Center of the CU-Boulder Law School has issued a number of publications relating to water law, including Groundwater Law Sourcebook of the Western United States; Negotiating High Stakes Water Conflicts; Water and the American West; Controlling Water Use; The Connection Between Water Quality and Water Quantity; Emerging Forces in Western Water Law; Values and Western Water; Water and the Cities of the Southwest; Water Rights Decisions in the Western States; and Water and Growth in Colorado: A Review of Legal and Policy Issues.


Colorado Public Art

Yesterday's passing of artist Jeanne-Claude, who was working with her husband, Christo, on the "Over the River" installation over the Arkansas, reminds us that Colorado is full of public art. They made their name in Colorado history with the "Valley Curtain," which hung in Rifle, Colorado for one day in August, 1972. (Christo says he is planning to continue with the "Over the River" project.) Colorado is full of public art. The Colorado Council on the Arts has produced a number of publications, including booklets entitled Everywhere You Look and Art in Public Places, as well as a 40th-anniversary commemorative video about the arts in Colroado. But they are not the only agency to have produced publications (available from our library) about Colorado art. The Department of Transportation, for example, issued a booklet in 2004 about Wall Art on the T-Rex Project. Also, the Colorado Legislative Council has produced Memorials and Art In and Around the Colorado State Capitol. Finally, the City and County of Denver has produced an excellent guide to public art within Denver, grouped by location to facilitate walkability. Take a look around - Colorado is filled with public art.

Great American Smokeout

Today is the Great American Smokeout. Please support anyone you know who is trying to kick the habit. A free program is available from the state to help people stop smoking. The Colorado Quitline will help you develop a quit program tailored to your individual needs. They provide nicotine replacement therapy, and offer telephone coaching. Check out their website at http://www.coquitline.org/ or give them a call: 1-800-Quit-Now for information and assistance.


New Resource on Colorado's Climate

The University of Colorado-Boulder has released a new website, Learn More About Climate: Climate Change and Colorado's Future. The site includes a video series on climate change, a water calculator to calculate your "water footprint," and a photoblog about a CU scientist's expedition to Antarctica. There's also a "Tools for Schools" section, with resources and lesson plans for teaching kids about water. Finally, the site offers "Green Resources," links to sites with information on water, energy, waste reduction, and green living.


State Hiring Freeze

Lately some politicians and members of the media have been investigating how many state employees have been hired since a hiring freeze went into effect in response to the current state budget crisis. For monthly statistics on how many employees have been hired by state government or have left employment, see the last page of each month's Stateline newsletter. These statistics are broken down by classified employee vs. non-classified, reason for leaving (resignation, termination, retirement, etc.) and more. The one thing it does not show, however, is whether the new hires are state or federally funded. For this information, you will need to examine the agency budget requests, which are available from our library or online on the governor's homepage.


Cyber Security

The State of Colorado has an Office of Cyber Security, aimed at helping citizens and consumers achieve the highest level of protection for their online activities. The Office of Cyber Security's webpage offers such tips as dealing with cyberbullies, how to choose a firewall, protecting your identity, and how to protect portable computer devices. The page also offers updates on current viruses or other threats.


Guide to Colorado Statistics

Wondering how many H1N1 cases there have been so far in Colorado? Need data on drunk driving statistics? Want to keep up with the latest economic forecasts for the state? Look no further. Our newly updated "Quick Guide to Colorado State Government Statistical Information" is a great place to start when you need statistics about Colorado. Organized by topic, the guide is a quick way to locate relevant information in a sea of agency web sites. Check it out!


New Model Content Standards

The Colorado Dept. of Education is in the process of developing new model content standards for schools. The standards were last developed in the mid-1990s so are in need of an update. The update started in early 2009 and took place in three phases. To find information on the review process along with drafts of the new standards, visit CDE's Academic Standards page.

CDE summarizes the new standards on their website: "Currently, Colorado is transitioning from traditional Kindergarten through twelfth grade standards to an inclusion of early school readiness and postsecondary competencies. Historically, these standards have been organized by grade spans but are evolving to more articulated and specific descriptions. Additionally, state standards will reflect workforce readiness and 21st century skills such as problem-solving, information literacy and innovation. The ability to take responsibility for additional learning, self direction and interaction with others to learn new information quickly and more naturally is the new emerging direction of our work."


State Parole Board

Due to the State budget deficit, the state has established an "early release initiative" whereby convicted felons are being released from prison a few weeks early to save the state money. According to an article in the Denver Post, the first ten felons have now been released through this initiative. The inmates designated for early parole are reviewed by the State Parole Board. For background on the decision-making process of the Parole Board, see the documents Parole Board Hearings and Decisions. For newly updated information, however, see the Dept. of Corrections' Parole Board website. Here you will find a database of offenders scheduled for their parole hearing. You can search for an individual or, simply select a month or a county to receive a list. The website also publishes the dates for upcoming hearings.


Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse

A story in today's Denver Post highlights the U.S. Dept of Game and Fish's new effort to expand the habitat of a threatened species native to Colorado and Wyoming. The tiny Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse has been listed as a threatened species since 1998. The expanded habitat means that more areas will be required to maintain protections for the species. To understand the importance of this tiny creature, read the Colorado Division of Wildlife's web story, Why Care About a Mouse? You can also read about the Colorado Dept of Transportation's efforts to conserve the mice in their Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse Bulletin from 2004. Focusing on a specific location, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (part of Colorado State University) published Conservation and Management Plan for Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse on the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999. Finally, the Division of Wildlife surveyed the species in the years leading up to its listing as a threatened species. You can check out the survey reports from our library.

You can also read about Colorado's threatened and endangered species in an Issue Brief released by the General Assembly in 2001; and in the DOW's publication Wildlife in Danger.

(Photo from the Colorado Division of Wildlife's Image Gallery)


Window to State Government Research

The State Publications Library has recently updated and revised several subject guides that may be of interest to students, researchers and librarians.

School Research Topics - a collection of links to online reports, statistics, and educational information from Colorado state agencies

Colorado Business and Economic Information - resources to assist businesses plus information about economic development in the state from various Colorado government agencies.

Quick Guide to Colorado State Government Statistical Information - links to statistics and data provided by Colorado state agencies.

These, and other subject guides can be found at:



PlantTalk Colorado

Colorado State University has teamed up with the Denver Botanic Gardens to offer the website PlantTalk Colorado. This handy website gives information on annuals and perennials; design; fruits; houseplants; insects and diseases; lawns; soils, amendments and composting; trees, shrubs, and vines; vegetables; Xeriscaping; weeds; water issues; and wildlife issues, plus much more. So next time your garden is giving you grief, try this website to help solve common plant problems.


Water Wells

If you live outside the city limits, as I do, most likely you depend on a private well for your water. Public water systems are regulated by the government, but water quality in private wells is left up to the owner. That's why I was pleased to see that the Colorado State University Extension has updated their bulletin, "Protecting Your Private Well." The bulletin has information that will help you understand more about your water system, and help you evaluate activities around your home that may contaminate wells and groundwater.

Other publications that may be of interest:



The Colorado Dept. of Education has recently released their new online tool entitled SchoolView. SchoolView is meant to be a central location for statewide K-12 school data, including the new Colorado Growth Model statistical analysis; school performance and assessment data; and reports, videos, and demonstrations about the data and growth model. The new site is a handy resource for parents, teachers, and district administrators for finding out how their school stacks up.


More State Budget Woes

Two new revenue forecasts for the state government were released yesterday, and the news is not good: an additional $240 million revenue shortfall for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. The governor is working with members of the legislature to find additional measures that will help balance the budget. Governor Ritter's statement and audio comments are available on his website. Check out the economic revenue forecast from the Colorado Legislative Council, Focus Colorado and the September Revenue Forecast from the Office of State Planning and Budgeting for all the details.


State Museums

Even though the main Colorado History Museum is closing in a few months, you can still visit any of the Historical Society's regional museums. Nine sites around Colorado include historic houses (Byers-Evans House and Pierce-McAllister Cottage in Denver; the Baca and Bloom Houses in Trinidad; and the Healy House and Dexter Cabin in Leadville); old forts (Fort Garland, Fort Vasquez, and the El Pueblo Museum); a working railraod (Georgetown Loop); and a museum focusing on Native Americans (Ute Indian Museum).

The Colorado Historical Society is working on publishing guidebooks on each of these sites for their Capsule History and Guide series. So far they have finished guides on the Georgetown Loop, the Trinidad History Museum (which includes the two mansions plus a pioneer museum), Fort Garland, El Pueblo, the Ute Indian Museum, and Fort Vasquez. All guides are available from our library. And although a guide hasn't been written about the Byers-Evans House, an entire issue of Colorado Heritage was devoted to the museum when it was opened in 1989. In addition, three Colorado Magazine articles from 1946, 1948 and 1952 focus on the Healy House, while the Dexter Cabin is covered in a 1946 article. Colorado Heritage and Colorado Magazine are both available for checkout from our library.


Colorado Backseat Budgeter

Do you have a suggestion for balancing Colorado's state budget? Colorado State University's Bighorn Leadership Development Program just launched the Colorado Backseat Budgeter, an online tool where the public can submit their ideas for balancing Colorado's budget. The website also includes state budget data and a discussion forum. For more information on the Budgeter, see CSU's press release.


Consumer Resource on Insurance

In 2008, the Legislature passed HB 1385, which required a consumer guide to insurance be published on the web. The result of this legislation is How to Choose Insurance that is Right for You: A Guide for Colorado Consumers. This guide helps consumers choose from all types of insurance, including health, auto, home, life, and title. The site also provides information on filing complaints, enforcement, insurance laws, finding an agent, and more. Check this handy resource next time you are shopping for insurance.


Transparency in Government

A new tool was launched yesterday that gives the public access to information about the expenditures and revenues of the Colorado state government. The new "Transparency Online Project" (http://tops.state.co.us/), provides data on the goods and services purchased with state funds, as well as a comparison of spending between agencies. The initial data view is an overall summary, but you can drill down for more detailed information by clicking on the dollar amounts. Figures are also available on incoming revenue streams, and who receives these funds.


State Fair

The Colorado State Fair starts today in Pueblo, and runs August 29 through September 7. For over 130 years, the state fair has been celebrating Colorado's agricultural heritage. Some of the many attractions include rodeos, cultural heritage exhibits, concerts, the agricultural pavilion, monster trucks, carnival rides and a petting zoo. Visit the State Fair website for the event schedule and ticket information. You can also follow the fair on You Tube, Blogspot, and MySpace.


Home care for H1N1

The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment has just released a new guidebook concerning what to do if you get H1N1 or Swine Flu. The guidebook, released in both English and Spanish, lists the symptoms of H1N1 and how to care for a sick person at home. The guide includes suggestions for diet and medicines; fever signs to watch for; and how to keep from catching the flu when you are caring for someone. The guide isn't just for those who are sick, though: it also lists preparedness information and a supply list just in case the pandemic becomes an epidemic and we are forced to stay at home. Experts are predicting this winter is going to be a severe flu season, so it always helps to be prepared. The both language versions of the guidebook, along with flu preparedness videos and fact sheets, can be found at the CDPHE's Home Healthcare Resources for Pandemic Flu webpage.


Ground broken for new history museum

Yesterday dignitaries gave speeches and lowered shovels in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Colorado History Museum, which will be built at 12th and Lincoln, just south of the current history museum site. The museum is being forced out of their current location by the Colorado Judicial Branch, which now shares the block at 13th between Lincoln and Broadway, but wants to build a larger facility taking up the whole block. The State is using Certificates of Participation along with ARRA funds to build the new museum. For information on the project, visit the Colorado Historical Society's project webpage. According to a CBS 4 article, actual construction will begin in September after archaeologists finish sifting through the preserved cellars of a rowhouse that once stood on the site. Meanwhile, until the new building is completed, the museum and its Stephen Hart Library will be closed. The current museum and Judicial Building will be demolished early next year.


State Budget Cuts

Governor Ritter released his latest budget plan for the 2009/10 fiscal year. A deficit of $318 million in revenue has led to program cuts and the elimination of 270 full time positions. A press release from the governor's office provides an overview. Details of the proposed cuts can be found in the governor's budget-balancing plan online.


Senior Citizens

The Colorado state government homepage, www.colorado.gov, includes a webpage with helpful information for senior citizens, including information on health, consumer protection, transportation, social security, housing/assisted living, and much more. On this site, you can find out how to get a discounted membership to State Parks or the Colorado Historical Society; where to learn computer skills; how to avoid scams and fraud; learn about driving safety; find volunteer opportunities; and understand Medicaid.

The State Publications Library has also produced a guide to information for seniors, Quick Guide to State Information for Seniors and Caregivers, with helpful state information resources and websites.


Health Care Reform in Colorado

It's impossible to pick up a newspaper these days without seeing an article on President Obama's proposals for health care reform. Here in Colorado, the governor is also focused on reform of the health care system. Governor Ritter has released a new report: "Leading Colorado to a Healthier Future," outlining the progress made in Colorado health care initiatives over the past two years, and setting goals for the future.

The following publications from our collection might also be of interest:


Find a Child Care Facility

The Colorado Dept. of Human Services just made your search for child care easier. They've set up a new database, Colorado Child Care Facility Search. Here you can locate child care providers based on location or by name or license number. This website is helpful not only in finding a nearby provider, but also allows you to search for information on providers' licensing activity, inspections, complaints, and investigations.


Favorite Historical Sites

In honor of Colorado Day (the 133rd anniversary of Colorado's statehood), Governor Ritter is gathering a list of favorite destinations "for experiencing or learning about Colorado's rich history. "

Coloradans have been invited to recommend three of their favorite historical sites before August 16th. The governor will post a list of the 133 most popular sites on his web page and encourage tourists and natives alike to visit a place of historical interest before the end of summer. Jump on in, and add your vote!


E-Colorado: Online Workforce Information

As part of the State of Colorado's economic recovery plan, the Dept. of Labor and Employment has set up a new website, http://www.e-colorado.org/. Using this website, job seekers can access tools to help build a resume, plan a career path, or match skills and interests with potential careers. The site also features information on in-demand jobs; online education and training programs; credentials and certificates; unemployment benefits; financial assistance; emerging technologies; entrepreneurship; professional development; and much more. E-Colorado is also a helpful tool for employers, with information on workforce laws and legislation, economic data, and suggestions for posting job vacancies. E-Colorado is a wealth of tips, tools, and interactive information designed to get Colorado workers back on their feet. If you're recently unemployed, or considering a career change, check out this handy resource.


Unclaimed Property/Assets

Have you lost track of a bank account, stock certificate or retirement account? Did you move before receiving your income tax refund? The Unclaimed Property Office of the Colorado State Treasurer may have money for you. They have a searchable online database called "The Great Colorado Payback." You can search by personal name or business name to see if there is unclaimed property waiting for you. The database includes oil and gas royalties, safe deposit boxes, uncashed insurance checks, savings accounts, mutual funds, money orders, payroll wages, dividends, and security deposits.



Looking for basic information on a disease, or tips for a healthy lifestyle? Health A to Z is a great place to start. Over 300 fact sheets are available from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment covering general health and nutrition, specific diseases, emergency health mangement (how to prepare for pandemics, natural disasters, etc.), along with information on services provided by the state.


Add Emergency Contacts to your Driver's License Record

Thanks to a new law passed during the 2008 Legislative session, Colorado drivers may now add emergency contact information to their driver's license record. The process is quick and easy - just fill out a simple online form set up by the State's DMV, and you're on your way. This is a good way to ensure your loved ones are contacted in case anything should happen to you in your vehicle.


New Books on Colorado

If you're interested in Colorado history and looking for a good book to read, check out the Colorado Historical Society's Book Review Center, where local authors, historians, and museum staff review new books on Colorado history. In addition to the reviews, the Center's website also offers a full list of new books on Colorado, updated quarterly. This is a great resource for anyone interested in finding a good book on the history of our state. Some of these books, including those published by University Press, will also be available for checkout from our library.


Colorado Boatable Waters Directory

If you're looking for a place to go boating, there are many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs throughout the state that you can go, whether you're into kayaking, motorboating, sailing, rafting, waterskiing, or other types of water recreating. To find out where you can boat, check out the Colorado Boatable Waters Directory from the Dept. of Natural Resources. This handy online directory gives driving directions and information on fees, types of boating allowed, fish species, water acres, and elevation. It's the perfect way to select a destination based on your specific interests.


Wind Farm in Eastern Colorado

Governor Ritter announced yesterday plans for the first wind farm on the central-eastern plains. Duke Energy and Tri-State Generation and Transmission are teaming together to form the "Kit Carson Windpower Project." The construction project will bring new jobs to Colorado, and the new farm will tap into the existing Tri-State grid, for fast delivery of generated power. Check out the press release and the Governor's New Energy Economy website for more information.

We have several related titles at the State Publications Library that may be of interest:


Colorado Geology Map for Tourists

If you're taking a road trip through Colorado this summer, you might want to check out the Colorado Geological Survey's Tourist Guide to Colorado Geology, brand new this year. This fun and easy-to-use map instructs tourists and visitors on the various elements of the geology of Colorado. You can learn the names and ages of different rocks and formations, as well as information on the prehistory of the area. Using this map you can also find State Parks and points of geological interest. The map might also be a helpful way to amuse the kiddies in the backseat! ("hey Junior, why don't you count how many quartzite deposits you can spot before we stop for lunch...") You can also find other tourist-related geological resources from the Survey, including their book Messages in Stone as well as their Field Trip Guide series, available from our library.


Troubles with the Unemployment Claiming System

The state's online system for taking claims for unemployment benefits has crashed repeatedly in the last few days. People can still get through, but the system is much slower than usual. As a result the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has seen an increase in calls to their toll-free automated claims system. The volume of calls has been so great that many people cannot get through. If you need to get through to the Labor Department, there is an automated phone line in the 303 area code: (303) 813-2800. You can also email Bill Thoennes at bill.thoennes@state.co.us. He will forward your information to the call-back team, so they can contact you rather than continuing to struggle with the online/automated phone systems.


Revenue Forecast

The Colorado Legislative Council has just announced their June 2009 quarterly revenue forecast. Legislative Council, the research and economics support agency for the State Legislature, publishes a forecast each March, June, September, and December. This June's forecast was awaited with much anticipation due to the current budget crisis. So what was the Council's predicted budget shortfall? Check the forecast to find out.


Miller Moths

This year is an especially heavy year for miller moths. Millers migrate in the late spring/early summer from the plains to the mountains, passing through the Front Range on their way. Moths often get into homes and cars and, although they can be a nuisance, miller moths don't eat household furnishings and they don't reproduce during the migratory period, according to researchers at Colorado State University. For more information on these pesky but harmless creatures, see CSU's Miller Moths fact sheet.


Bike Safety

June is Colorado Bike Month, and Bike to Work Day is coming up next week (June 24). Before you ride into town, you may want to check out the Bicycling Manual from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The manual includes rules of the road, and tips for bike saftey. Information about Bike to Work Day events can be found on the Denver Regional Council of Governments website. A list of other bike related events this month is provided by Bicycle Colorado.


Victims' Assistance

The Colorado Dept. of Public Safety strongly advocates for the rights of crime victims. Their fund, VALE (Victim Assistance and Law Enforcement) assists victims of crimes. (To view the VALE annual report, click here.) The department's Office for Victims Programs publishes a newsletter, Colorado Connections. They have also prroduced a brochure, Victims and Witnesses Have Rights!, available for checkout from our library.

In addition, the Colorado Supreme Court has published a brochure, Answers to Your Questions About Victims' and Witnesses' Rights. The Supreme Court has also published a brochure on restitution, entitled Restitution: Background and Highlights.

To find out more about victims' assistance, contact the Office for Victims Programs, 303-239-5719 or visit their website.


Colorado's Hot Jobs & Growing Industries

In spite of the recent down economy, there are still many good jobs to be found. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has recently issued a series of brochures and industry guidebooks on Colorado jobs. The brochures explore the fastest-growing jobs in several areas: jobs requiring higher education, jobs with on-the-job training, and "hot jobs." Each category is broken down by region. In addition to these brochures, the Department has also issued four Industry Guidebooks on fast-growing industries: Energy Extraction; Healthcare; Hospitality and Tourism; and Logistics and Transportation.


Farmer's Markets

Summer is almost here, and that means fresh produce is available from local farmers. One of my favorite things to do is buy fruit and vegetables from a farmer's market, it may be all in my imagination, but they seem to look and taste better than the produce you find in a grocery store. Plus, shopping at a farmer's market is a great way to support small growers and stimulate the local economy. The Colorado Department of Agriculture has a listing with the dates and times for farmer's markets in Colorado. Head on out, and make good meals using Colorado products.



As humans increasingly push into their habitats, coyotes are becoming a much more common sight in urban/suburban areas. Recently, Greenwood Village has killed a number of coyotes. There are other ways, however, to minimize potential conflicts between coyotes and humans (and pets). The Colorado Division of Wildlife has just issued a new brochure, Your Guide to Avoiding Human-Coyote Conflicts, brand new this year to address these recent concerns. The DOW also published, in 2002, Living with Widlife in Coyote Country. Both of these brochures can be checked out from our library. Other state-published resources on coyotes include:
  • Who is Coyote? This is a "Colorado's Wildlife Company" publication, which are simple, illustrated guides for all ages.

  • Control of Damage by Coyotes and Some Other Carnivores. Although from 1973, this Colorado State University publication still provides some relevant information.

  • Effects of Population Growth on Wildlife Habitat in Colorado. Addressing many kinds of wildlife besides coyotes, this guide addresses what happens when animals are pushed from their habitats.

Finally, for more information on Colorado wildlife, view our library's featured subject resource guide, Wildlife in Colorado.


Long-distance Rates

Even though cell phone use is increasing, many people still depend on a land-line for long-distance telephone service. The latest issue of "Consumer News" from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies has a chart that compares the rates and monthly fees from telephone service providers. It's a great resource for people who are moving and need to set up their phone service, and also a way to decide if you want to change the service you already have. The Office of Consumer Counsel website is also a good place to find information on other utility services, like electricity and gas.


Colorado Rail Relocation Implementation Study

The State Publications Library has just received a major publication by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Rail Relocation and Implementation Study. This publication studies the impact of moving the state's rail lines for the development of more passenger rail, and has important information regarding potential eminent domain, etc. The study may be checked out from our library either in hard copy or on CD, or, it is accessible online.


Seat Belt Laws

SB09-296 failed to make it through the legislature, but the bill that would have toughened seat belt laws still generated a lot of publicity on the issue. The State Publications Library has a number of resources available that address current seat belt laws as well as seat belt use among Coloradans. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment published a fact sheet, Seat Belt Use in Colorado, in 2006. Also, the Colorado Department of Transportation has issued a brochure on their Click It or Ticket campaign. Other CDOT resources on seat belt laws and usage include:

The Colorado State Patrol also has some information on seat belt use on their website. See these State Patrol links for information on seat belt laws and use:


Death Penalty

The General Assembly has been discussing a bill (HB09-1274) that would repeal the death penalty and re-direct funds into a program to investigate "cold-case" murders. The Senate amended the bill, funding the cold-case program through fees charged to anyone convicted of a traffic, misdemeanor or felony offense -- completely removing the death penalty from the discussion. Today, the bill will be discussed in a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two bills. A history of the bill, along with committee reports and fiscal analysis can be accessed by a "death penalty" keyword search on the General Assembly's "Search for a Bill" page.

Related resources:


Aquatic Nuisance Species

In response to new state laws, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources has produced new guidelines for the inspection of boats to help stop the spread of acquatic nuisance species (ANS) such as zebra mussels. This document may be checked out from our library, and is also available online.


Swine Flu

The news has been filled with the recent outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, and several cases have been reported in the United States. As of yet, there have been no cases of swine flu found in Colorado. The governor has issued a press release on Colorado's plans for handling the virus, along with suggestions on actions people can take to stay healthy. The state health department is encouraging people to take precautions to decrease their chances of getting the flu, by
washing hands frequently, covering your sneezes and coughs, and avoiding others with respiratory illnesses. News alerts on the status of swine flu in Colorado along with additional information on the virus can be found on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website.


Pinnacol Assurance

As the legislature struggles to balance the budget in these difficult economic times, they have started to look toward the State's workers' compensation fund, Pinnacol Assurance. A Joint Budget Committee bill, SB09-273, would, if passed, change the laws "to allow the State to make use of certain funds authorized by statute to be collected by Pinnacol Assurance, and...augmenting state revenues by requiring the transmittal of certain surplus funds of Pinnacol Assurance to the State Treasury..." The State has long been keeping watch over Pinnacol, frequently auditing the company. For more information on Pinnacol's financial situation, see their most recent financial statements, available both online and in print from our library. Previous years' financial statements are also available. Visit our library or, for online reports, visit the State Auditor's website.


2009 "Long Bill" State Budget

It's the most contentious Long Bill in years as lawmakers try to find ways to cut millions of dollars out of this year's State Budget. The official state budget -- known as the Long Bill because it is, well, really long -- is introduced each spring in the legislature, alternating years between introduction in the House and in the Senate. This year's bill originated in the Senate, and after long debate in that chamber has made its way over to the House. To view the Long Bill and other supporting documents, visit the website of the legislature's Joint Budget Committee.


Four-Day School Weeks

With the current difficult economic times, many school districts are considering going to four-day school weeks to save money. Four-day school weeks can save the schools on energy costs (heating and cooling the building one less day per week), transportation costs (running buses one less day per week saves on gas), and food service costs (one less day of lunches to provide). Some argue that the four school days, which must be made longer to make up for the loss of the fifth, can be more productive, because the time spent on some non-learning activities such as "settling in for the day" (roll call, etc.) only has to be done four times instead of five, yet the students are getting the same number of contact hours.

To decide for yourself if this idea has merit, or if your child's district is considering this option, take a look at CDE's guidebook The 4-Day School Week. This guide offers the history and the pros and cons of this system, as well as financial and political implications and effects on student performance.


In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition

The news coverage regarding SB09-170, a bill that would allow children of illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition, may have you wondering what exactly is the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates for Colorado state-funded colleges and universities. By using the tables compiled by the Colorado Dept. of Higher Education, you can compare in-state and out-of-state tuition rates for undergraduate, graduate, 2-year and 4-year programs in all state-funded higher education institutions in Colorado. These tables are also very valuable for those who are choosing a college or university -- the tables can provide valuable data to draw a comparison between similar schools. Especially helpful on this page is a comparison of the mandatory student fees charged at each school. Knowing how much a prospective student will be paying in fees can also be helpful in determining the overall cost of attending a state higher education institution.


Colorado Complete Count Campaign

A new committee is being formed to increase awareness about the the 2010 census, and to encourage people to participate so that there will be an accurate count for Colorado. In addition to members of the legislature and representatives from state agencies, members of the community are also encouraged to apply for an appointment to the committee. Information about the "Complete Count Campaign" and application forms can be found in a press release from the Lt. Governor.

The executive order explains the importance of participating in the Census:
"This Census will determine how the national government distributes $300 billion annually to fund critical community services and generate jobs. It will also determine how many seats Colorado will have in the US House of Representatives, as well as determine the boundaries of legislative districts. Further, it will provide valuable information for both the state and nation as they make decisions regarding land use and resource planning, economic development, workforce development, health services planning, housing needs planning, and community needs planning."

Additional information about Colorado's participation in the 2010 Census can be found on the State Demography Office website.


Road Conditions/Highway Closures

For up-to-date road conditions around the state, and to find out which highways are open or closed, visit the Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT)'s road conditions webpage.


American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and Colorado

Many people are wondering how the federal Recovery & Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. Federal Stimulus) will benefit Colorado. Governor Ritter's office has produced a website that attempts to answer these questions, officially known as the Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability Website. The site addresses not only the Federal Stimulus information but also addresses what Colorado is doing to overcome the struggling economy. The site includes news updates from the Governor's office; information on transportation projects, "new energy economy," and other growing industries; and links to other economic recovery websites from state agencies and the federal government. The website is designed to be a useful tool for Coloradans facing tough economic times.


Diabetes Awareness

Yesterday was American Diabetes Alert Day, a day to inform the public about the seriousness of diabetes. People are encouraged to take the diabetes risk test to discover if they are at risk for developing diabetes.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), approximately 220,867 Coloradans have diabetes, and an additional 92,000 are undiagnosed. Luckily diabetes can be prevented through moderate changes in diet and exercise. CDPHE has put together a nice collection of resources on diabetes and diabetes prevention.

Other resources that may be of interest:


Presidential Election by Popular Vote

Presently the Legislature is considering HB09-1299, which seeks to change Colorado's system of elections by entering into an agreement with other states to give Colorado's 9 electoral votes to the candidate who earns the most popular votes in all the states combined. The other states in the agreement would do this as well. The idea behind this system is to stay aligned with the constitution, which requires the use of the electoral college, but would circumvent the old winner-take-all system. Proponents argue that the measure will make elections more fair, giving less power to the most populous states, and will allow voters to feel that their vote actually counts; further, propoents seek to avoid situations where presidential candidates who receive more popular votes may not win the election because they don't have the electoral votes. Opponents of HB1299, however, argue in favor of adhering to the Constitution and the system set up by the founding fathers; and that the new system will undermine Colorado's sovereignity and cause candidates to ignore our state, as votes in other states will dictate where our electoral votes go. With strong arguments on both sides, this bill has caused considerable debate in the legislature.

Where to go to find out more about Colorado's electoral system? The Colorado Secretary of State's office's Election Center is a good place to start. The Secretary of State is officially in charge of elections in Colorado. The site will also link to national voter sites that explain the civic process of the United States.


Sunshine Week

This week is "Sunshine Week", a national initiative focusing on the importance of open government and freedom of information.

In Colorado, there is a law in the statutes called the "sunshine law" (CRS Title 24, Article 6) that requires disclosure statements from elected officials, and lobbyists; and an open meetings law that declares that the formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret.

The mission of the State Publications Library is to aid in the transparency of government by making publications produced by Colorado state agencies freely available to the public. You can find state publications by searching our online catalog. We have also created subject guides to help locate online resources.

In an effort to keep citizens informed in regards to the economy recovery package, Governor Ritter has created a website, www.colorado.gov/recovery , that details how the stimulus money is being distributed for transportation and education projects.

For more details on open government at the federal level, check out the Sunshine Week website: www.sunshineweek.org.


Transportation Construction Projects

The recent passage of the FASTER bill means that now drivers will be paying an additional $40 on their car registrations. This money will fund construction projects around the state, mainly addressing the repair of structurally deficient bridges.

Where will this money go? By utilizing the Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT)'s website, you can find out about current and upcoming construction projects near you. The CDOT website features an annual map of construction projects around the state, as well as webpages providing information on many of the larger projects. This information can help commuters plan alternate routes and can help those living and working nearby to adjust to the projects. To find these webpages, just visit the CDOT homepage and click on the Travel Info menu.


Dropout Prevention

HB09-1243 addresses Colorado's high school graduation rates and what can be done to encourage high school students not to drop out. Colorado's Department of Education and Department of Higher Education, as well as some of the state institutions of higher education, have produced numerous studies and statistical material regarding this topic, including:
  • The Graduation Gap in Colorado: Who is Most Likely to Graduate High School in Colorado (2007)
  • Report to the Colorado General Assembly on the Pilot Program for Teen Pregnancy and Dropout Prevention (2005)
  • Colorado Education Facts (includes statistics on high school graduation rates)
  • Colorado Graduation Rates for Class of ... and ... Annual Dropout Rates (data from the 1990s)
  • Labor Market Conditions and the High School Dropout Rate: Evidence from New York State (study by the University of Colorado at Denver)
  • Colorado Public School Annual Dropout Rates, Grades 7 through 12 (data from 1990-1991)
  • Colorado Department of Education Dropout Prevention Projects (1988)
  • The Cost of High School Dropouts to the Economic Development of Colorado (1988)
  • Minority Youth Dropouts: Personal, Social, and Institutional Reasons for Leaving School (1986 study by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs)
  • Colorado Public School Dropout Data (annual reports from the 1960s)
  • Colorado Education Statistics


Enacting Legislation for Amendment 50 (Expanded Gaming)

In November voters passed Amendment 50, which expands gambling to include higher bets and new games. The extra money would then go to community colleges. The problem with implementation, however, is that nobody knows how much extra money the new rules will bring in, so HB09-1272 has been introduced to determine how much money should go to community colleges and how much should continue to fund programs like the State Historical Fund, which voters approved to give gaming money to the restoration of historic buildings. The bill is currently in the Senate.

For statistics on gaming revenues in Colorado, see Industry Statistics; Statement of Gaming Revenues; and the monthly newsletter, Gaming Update.

For other information on gaming in Colorado, see Understanding How a Slot Machine Works; Gaming Impacts the Colorado Economy; What are the Facts? Limited Gaming Information Booklet; and Gaming in Colorado Fact Book & [Annual] Abstract.

For information on the State Historical Fund and its relationship to gaming, see Guide to Colorado Historic Places: Sites Supported by the Colorado Historical Society's State Historical Fund; The Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation in Colorado; Saving Colorado's Treasures (DVD); State Historical Fund Annual Report; and Riches and Regrets: Betting on Gambling in Two Colorado Mountain Towns.

All of the above listed items are available from our library.


The Arveschoug-Bird Spending Limit

With the current economic situation, a major focus of the state legislature this session has been the budget. According to the Rocky Mountain News, a bi-partisan-sponsored bill is expected to be introduced that would, if passed, do away with the Arveschoug-Bird 6% general fund spending limit, in place since 1991. For an explanation of how Arveschoug-Bird works, see the Office of Legislative Legal Services' fact sheet on Arveschoug-Bird. I will post information on the bill as soon as it has been introduced, so check back here soon.



The current economic crisis has led the governor and the general assembly to consider ways to cut spending to accomodate the budget shortfall. One suggested option is mandatory furloughs for state employees. The governor's budget recommendations include five furlough days for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The joint budget committee recommended against using furloughs, concluding that the benefits of furloughs for the state budget were offset by concerns over how state services would be affected.

However, mandatory furloughs for state employees are not yet off the table. Representative King has introduced HB 1221 requiring 1-2 furlough days a month for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 fiscal years.The bill will come before the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee for discussion tomorrow (February 19).

You can listen to audio broadcasts of the committee proceedings from the General Assembly website. The State Veterans and Military Affairs committee is scheduled to meet in House Committee Room 112 at 8:00am.


Conservation Easements

With the current budget crisis, conservation easements are a frequent topic of discussion, particularly in regards to rural areas of Colorado. This legislative session, a bill has been introduced regarding oversight of conservation easements, HB09-1014. To find out more about what conservation easements do, you may want to consult some resources that can be found here at our library, including Update on Conservation Easement Guidelines: What Every Colorado Landowner Should Know, from the Colorado State University Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. (The link is to a 2007 document, but an updated and expanded 2008 version can be checked out from our library). Also, CSU published in 2002 the Colorado Landowner Conservation Easement Survey, a helpful resource for understanding Coloradans' views on conservation easements. Finally, visit the Colorado Division of Real Estate's Conservation Easement Oversight Commission website for more information.



In an effort to aid homeowners, the state legislature is introducing a "foreclosure timeout bill" which gives homeowners a 90-day moratorium on foreclosure so they have a chance to renegotiate their mortgages before losing their home. The text of HB 09-1276 is available on the General Assembly website.

The Colorado Foreclosure Hotline (1-877-601-HOPE) is another source of assistance. The hotline is a free service for Colorado homeowners who have questions about their home loans. Counselors can assist borrowers who are concerned about missing future loan payments, homeowners in the middle of foreclosure, and borrowers who are having trouble communicating with their financial institutions.

Foreclosure reports and other data are available from the Colorado Division of Housing. They also have a nice collection of general information for homebuyers and homeowners.


Business Express

There is a new tool available for small business owners on colorado.gov called "Business Express." There are quick links to information on starting a business in Colorado, licensing, finding capital, and tax forms. By selecting from a list of topics you can also create a "custom resource guide", a list of links to state agency websites with business information.

"Business Express" was created through a partnership between the Office of Economic Development and International Trade,Department of Revenue, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Regulatory Agencies, Secretary of State’s Office, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Additional resources can be found on colorado.gov's business portal.


Wellness Programs

Right now the popular thing to do is to implement wellness programs - whether for workers, schools, or other groups. Wellness programs promote good health through encouraging healthy choices, nutrition, and daily physical activity. The State of Colorado actively sponsors several wellness programs, including Lt. Gov. O'Brien's new initiative, the Your Heart is In Your Hands health challenge. For those interested in wellness programs in their own community, the State offers guidance for getting started. These include such documents as Colorado Action Plan for Older Adult Wellness and School Wellness: A Step-by-Step Guide. The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment sponsors the Women's Wellness Connection. Also, the Dept. of Personnel and Administration's website offers links to wellness centers and programs. Finally, HB09-1012, introduced this session, would, if passed, provide insurance carriers incentives for encouraging the implementation of wellness programs.


Bill to Promote Colorado Film

The Colorado House of Representatives recently introduced HB09-1010, which would create an office to promote Colorado as a film location, and establish a film production tax credit. Proponents of the measure argue that promoting film brings revenue and promotes tourism; while opponents of the measure argue that, with Colorado's current budget crisis, Colorado cannot afford to give tax credits. Virtually the same bill was introduced in 2008 and defeated; sponsors are trying again this year.

For information on past film production and promotion in Colorado, visit the Colorado Production Resource Guide website. For information on this hotly debated issue, see the Colorado Office of Economic Development's reports The Impact of the Film Industry on Colorado (2003) and Film Industry Growth & Development 2005-2007 (2005).


Education Bill Tracker

The Colorado Department of Education has created a tool called the "Education Bill Tracker" to track the progress of state legislation relating to public education. Each entry includes a summary of the bill, history, links to fiscal notes and the current version of the text. If you are interested in the state of education in Colorado, give this website a try.


Retail Sales

With the current struggling economy, retail sales dropped and many stores posted numbers below expectation for the recent holiday season. (An article in today's Rocky Mountain News explains more). To research sales rates for cities and counties, visit the Colorado Dept. of Revenue's website for monthly breakdowns of state sales tax collected in cities and in counties as well as monthly summaries for the sales of building materials, restaurants, automobiles, liquor, and motor fuel. These reports compare not only the sales and taxes for each month, but also compare to past years, providing a statistical picture of the current economic crisis.


Carbon Monoxide

The General Assembly is considering a bill that requires carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all new residential construction, and in any properties that are sold, or leased to new tenants. In the last 2 months, 6 Coloradans have died from carbon monoxide poisoning. These incidents inspired the creation of the Lofgren Family Carbon Monoxide Safety Act (HB1091). The bill was introduced before the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee yesterday (January 12). To track the status of the bill, go to the General Assembly "status sheets" website, and use the drop down menu to select the range of bills that includes HB1091.

For more information on carbon monoxide in homes, you may want to read "Preventing Carbon Monoxide Problems", from the Colorado State University Extension, or visit the website of the Indoor Air Quality Unit of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.


Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan

Recently the Colorado State Parks released their 2008 SCORP (Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan). This study includes survey data and other information to "identify outdoor recreation trends, needs, and issues for Colorado, as well as to provide a strategic plan to help address these concerns and expectations", according to their website. The plan can be accessed online by clicking here. Our library also has copies available for checkout, along with previous year's SCORPs for comparison purposes.


Colorado Legislature - Back in Session Tomorrow (Jan. 7)

The Colorado State Legislature will convene for a new session tomorrow (January 7, 2009). They will be addressing the budget shortfall, improving transportation, road/bridge maintenance and finding ways to bring new jobs to the state. You can listen in on the proceedings in the House and Senate chambers using the live legislative audio on the General Assembly website. Once the session gets rolling, information on bills and committee discussions will be available. The State Publications Library has created a "quick guide" to legislative information that may help you navigate through the complexities of the Colorado General Assembly.

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