SMART Government Act

Each year Colorado state agencies submit their budget request to the Joint Budget Committee.  House Bill 10-1119, the SMART (State Management for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent) Government Act made some significant changes to the process, requiring strategic planning by all state agencies. For an explanation of the SMART Act and how it works, see the Colorado Legislative Council's Issue Brief.  Today the Senate will be hearing on second reading HB15-1308, concerning the Legislative Branch's responsibilities regarding the SMART Act.  Search our library's web catalog for more information, including access to the strategic and performance plans presented by each state agency.  The plans can also be found on the Office of State Planning & Budgeting website.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado in the 1893 World's Fair

In 1892-93 Chicago was transformed into the "White City" for the dazzling World's Columbian Exposition, also known as the World's Fair.  Presented on the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World, the Fair was dedicated in October 1892 and ran from May through October of 1893.  It covered over 600 acres of downtown Chicago.  200 temporary buildings were erected for the Fair, featuring the work of some of the finest architects and designers of the era:  Daniel Burham, Louis Sullivan, Richard Morris Hunt, Charles McKim, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, and many others.  There was even a Women's Building, showcasing female artists, designed by a female architect, Sophia Hayden.  The many buildings showcased the arts as well as innovations and industry in America from transportation to mining to electricity.  Other attractions included exhibits of international culture, and amusements including the world's original Ferris Wheel.  In addition, many new products and food brands were introduced that would still be recognized today.

Among the exhibits at the Fair, each state had a "pavilion" with which to brag about themselves.  In 1891, the Colorado General Assembly created a Colorado Board of World's Fair Managers.  Members included Governor John L. Routt and a number of leading (and wealthy) Colorado men and women, along with several subject-matter experts such as the Secretary of the State Bureau of Horticulture, Dr. Alexander Shaw.  Colorado apples were judged highly at the horticultural exhibits, according to the bureau's 1893 report.  Among the other features of the Colorado pavilion was an educational exhibit, the planning for which is described in detail on pages 579-627 in the 1892 Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, available from our library.  Other Colorado attractions included a re-creation of Mesa Verde and an exhibit of stuffed wildlife.  The largest part of the Colorado pavilion, however, was a major exhibition on mining, being such a large part of the state's industry and economy.  Just weeks after the close of the exhibition, however, Colorado's economy was devastated by the effects of the Crash of 1893.  Colorado's exhibits were very much Western-themed.  At this time, there was heightened interest in the West, and Frederick Jackson Turner presented his famous "Frontier Thesis," proclaiming the closing of the frontier, at the Fair.  

The World's Columbian Exposition with its neoclassical architecture also hugely influenced the City Beautiful movement, which became popular in Colorado, especially under Mayor Speer's administration in the early 1900s.  For example, the Fair's influence on the architecture of Civic Center Park, though built several decades after the exhibition, is evident.  The Exposition attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors over its six-month run, attracting visitors from all over the world and becoming a significant memory for many people.  It also highly influenced American culture and commerce for decades to come.

The Grand Court of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  The architecture was temporary. (Credit: Wikipedia)


TABOR Refund

Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution is the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, often referred to as TABOR, and was approved by voters in 1992.  One of the elements of TABOR is the TABOR refund, which goes back to taxpayers if revenue exceeds the state spending limit, as calculated by a formula in TABOR.  This year is expected to be one of the years in which this occurs.  For information on how the TABOR refund works, see the Colorado Legislative Council's Issue Briefs, especially #15-08, Tabor Refund Mechanisms, published just this month.  You can also find Briefs on marijuana's effect on the TABOR refund; Colorado's Constitutional Spending Limit, which breaks down the formula; and numerous other short, easy-to-understand explanations of Colorado's economic issues.

Nope, it has nothing to do with Horace.
(Colorado Historical Society)


Teaching with Primary Sources

Metropolitan State University of Denver, a state-funded school, is participating in a program of the Library of Congress entitled Teaching with Primary Sources.  The program helps reach out to educators through workshops, events, and online materials to help them bring primary sources into the classroom to enrich students' experience of history.  To learn more, visit the TPS @ MSU Denver website.

Our library offers students and teachers access to thousands of primary sources, many of which have been digitized.  Examples of primary sources that can be found in our library include governors' speeches; house and senate journals dating back to territorial Colorado; historical reports of state agencies; proceedings from the development of the Colorado Constitution; memoirs of Coloradans; annual and biennial reports; and a myriad other resources that give a look at what was going on in Colorado state government during all eras of our state's history.  Visit our page on the Internet Archive to view hundreds of historical documents from our collection, which can supplement the teaching of our state's history with items and images of long ago.


Colorado's New State Symbols

Some years ago in this blog I posted a series about Colorado's state symbols and emblems.  Since then, Colorado has adopted several new state symbols.

The State Pet is the shelter pet.  Dogs and cats rescued from shelters in Colorado were designated as the state pets in 2013.  School kids from Walsenburg came up with the idea.  The bill designating the state pet can be viewed here.  The Colorado Legislature has recognized shelter pets in numerous ways over the past few years, by establishing an Adopt a Shelter Pet license plate and holding a Pet Adoption Day at the Capitol.

Pack burro racing was designated as the State Summer Heritage Sport in 2012.  Pack burro racing as an organized event started in 1949 between Leadville and Fairplay.  The sport is meant to commemorate Colorado's mining heritage.  Miners used pack burros, or donkeys, to carry their supplies through the mountains in places where it was often too dangerous or cumbersome to use a vehicle, or where trains didn't go.  Pack burro racing is also considered to be the only sport indigenous to Colorado.  The resolution designating the sport can be viewed here.

I'm sure you can guess the State Winter Recreational Sport.  Yep, skiing/snowboarding, designated by the Legislature in 2008.

Colorado's newest state symbol is the State Cactus.   The Claret Cup Cactus was designated in 2014, proposed by a Girl Scout troop from Castle Rock.  View the Act here.  Check out the book Colorado Flora:  Western Slope, available from our library, for more information on this and other Colorado cacti and wildflowers.

Photo courtesy National Park Service


Time Machine Tuesday: 1952's Irrigation Centennial

In 1952 Governor Dan Thornton organized the Colorado Irrigation Centennial Committee, which included 27 members from all parts of the state.  The Committee, along with the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) released a commemorative publication, A Hundred Years of Irrigation in Colorado:  100 Years of Organized and Continuous Irrigation, 1852-1952It is available from our library both in print and digital versions.

The document does note that, while the committee was commemorating "organized and continuous" irrigation, archaeologists have found evidence that irrigation was practiced by the area's earliest peoples long before whites explored and settled what would become Colorado.  (Our library has many publications on Colorado archaeology; search our web catalog for resources).

The publication continues with a history of "Spanish American" settlers in the San Luis Valley, who, experienced in irrigation, taught inexperienced "Pioneers" about irrigating their lands.  As more and more people moved to Colorado, and more competition for water occurred, the courts began to divide water rights into districts and divisions.

The centennial committee held a celebration and ceremony in Alamosa on April 10, 1952.  A plaque was created by the Colorado Historical Society and placed on the site of the original 1852 San Luis People's Ditch as part of the ceremony; it can still be seen at the site.  It contains the phrase "Colorado's Greatness is Built Upon Irrigation."  Speeches made during the program, as well as articles that were presented, are contained in the publication, including a look at future irrigation development from the then-director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Colorado's water law and development has of course changed much since 1952.  For Colorado's water story since 1952, see History of Water Rights in Colorado; Citizens' Guide to Colorado's Water Heritage; Historic Context for Irrigation and Water Supply:  Ditches and Canals in Coloradoand numerous other publications available from our library. 


Preparing for Wildfire Season

Colorado has already seen several small wildfires this spring, and the dry weather suggests that wildfires may be a problem as spring moves into summer.  Numerous Colorado state agencies have provided helpful websites and resources to help property owners, first responders, decision makers, and others prepare for what could be an active wildfire season.

The Colorado Division of Insurance has produced several resources for homeowners living in potential wildfire zones.  Their website Take 5...To Prepare for Wildfire Season encourages homeowners to prepare by checking their homeowners' insurance policy; clear dead leaves, wood, and pine needles away from property; prepare a home inventory; and make sure you are up-to-date on any defensible space and mitigation requirements.  The site also offers tools and apps to help with the preparation of a home inventory -- don't wait until your home is gone to try to remember what was in it!

The Colorado State Forest Service has a wealth of information on their website regarding wildfire preparations.  The Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal is designed both for property owners and for emergency professionals.  By selecting their user type, users can find resources on Colorado wildland fires and the risks of the wildfire-urban interface.  Property owners can use the website to help determine if they are at risk, while emergency management professionals and local governments can register to receive help with wildfire planning.  Also, the "support" section of the website provides links to valuable resources including fact sheets for wildfire protection planning, "firewise" construction, and protecting your home from wildfire.  The site also provides samples and templates to help communities create their own wildfire plans.  Additional resources can be found on the Colorado State Forest Service's Publications webpage

The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), a unit of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, provides valuable public information on disasters and emergencies, including wildfires.  DHSEM publishes a blog, www.coemergency.com, which is also updated through Facebook and Twitter to provide the most up-to-date information.  Also be sure to visit their website's preparedness page for information on community planning, grants, training exercises, critical infrastructure protection, and more.
The new Colorado Wildfire Watch app.

Also housed within the Department of Public Safety is the Division of Fire Prevention and Control, which is the main statewide wildfire planning agency; they also deal with fire codes and regulations for construction and for public buildings such as schools and hospitals.  Their Wildland Fire Management page includes such resources as the state wildfire plans; information on prescribed burning; information on firefighting aircraft; and a new Colorado Wildfire Watch app, available for Apple and Android.

As we saw with the Lower North Fork Fire, controlled burns can quickly become out-of-control if proper precautions are not taken.  In addition to requiring smoke permits for prescribed burns, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) also offers preparedness information for the day of the burn, including how to determine if the conditions are right for a burn, and how to monitor the burn and smoke.  CDPHE's website also includes tips on how to protect your health from wood smoke, and how to check the current air quality in event of wildfire.

The Governor and Legislature have also set up several committees and task forces for dealing with wildfire issues.  The Governor established the Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health in 2013, while the General Assembly's Wildfire Matters Review Committee met over the summer of 2014 to discuss legislation needed to help prepare for and combat wildfires.  

Lastly, be sure and visit our library's web catalog to search for additional preparedness resources as well as reports on past fires.

This homeowner evidently took some significant steps to protect his property.  The tree touching the roof, however, is probably not a good idea.  Photo courtesy Colorado State Forest Service.


Civil War 150th Anniversary

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, which officially ended the Civil War.  Approximately 600,000 troops were killed during the four years of the war.  Although Colorado was far away from the majority of the battles, the territory did contribute to the war as fought in the West, particularly through the participation of the Colorado Volunteers in New Mexico, where they fought against Confederate Texans.

In our library you can find a number of resources, both memoirs and secondary sources, on the Civil War in Colorado.  Selected resources include:

  • Colorado Volunteers 1861-1865, Colorado State Archives. 
  • Distant Bugles, Distant Drums:  The Union Response to the Confederate Invasion of New Mexico, by Flint Whitlock, University Press of Colorado, 2006.
  • This Soldier Life:  The Diaries of Romine H. Ostrander, 1863-1865, in Colorado Territory, Colorado Historical Society, 2006.
  • "Confederate Guerillas in Southern Colorado," by Morris F. Taylor, Colorado Magazine, Fall 1969.
  • Colorado Volunteers in the Civil War:  The New Mexico Campaign in 1862, by William Clark Whitford, Colorado Historical Society, 1963.
  • "Quartermastering for the 2nd Regiment, Colorado Volunteers," by Charlotte Barbour, Colorado Magazine, October 1961.
  • "Life at Camp Weld and Fort Lyon in 1861-62:  An Extract from the Diary of Mrs. Byron N. Sanford," Colorado Magazine, July 1930.
  • "My Experiences in the First Colorado Regiment," by R. B. Wallace, Colorado Magazine, November 1924.
  • "Freedom and Slavery in the Pikes Peak Country, 1859-61," by William J. Convery, Colorado Heritage, Nov/Dec 2011.
  • "Dearfield, A Dream Deferred," by Karen Waddell, Colorado Heritage, 1998, issue 2.
  • Colorado Heritage, Spring 1996 issue on Buffalo Soldiers
  • "Negro Rights in Colorado Territory, 1859-67," by Harmon Mothershead, Colorado Magazine, July 1963.
  •  "Original Letters of General Grant, Written to His Cousin, Silas A. Hudson," Colorado Magazine, March 1937.
  • "Abraham Lincoln in Colorado," by William J. Convery, Colorado Heritage, May/June 2009.
  • "General John A. Logan:  A Name Remembered and Honored in Colorado," by Robert E. Hartley, Colorado Heritage, Summer 2007.


National Public Health Week

To recognize National Public Health Week (April 6-12), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued a news release highlighting Colorado's many public health accomplishments over the past several decades, including

·        Family planning – Increased use of contraceptives, education and other factors mean  Ameri­cans face fewer unintended pregnancies and are far more likely to achieve desired birth spacing and family size.
·        Tobacco as a health hazard – During 1964-1992, approximately 1.6 million deaths caused by smoking were prevented thanks to substantial public health smoking cessation efforts.
·        Motor vehicle safety – The United States has seen a huge reduction in deaths from motor vehicle crashes, which represents the successful public health response to a great technologic advancement, the motorization of America. The response has spanned government, public health, and driver and passenger behavior.
·        Decline in deaths from heart attack and stroke – Although heart attacks and strokes are still the country’s top killers, the public health community has helped achieve remarkable declines in deaths from both diseases. Since 1950, deaths from cardiovascular disease have declined 60 percent, and stroke rates have declined 70 percent.
·        Decline in deaths from infectious disease – In the early 20th century infectious diseases were the leading causes of death in the U.S. Thanks to clean water, food safety, sanitation and vaccinations, those deaths have decreased dramatically.
·        Public health action – Scientific and technologic advances have played a major role in reducing, and in some cases eliminating, the spread of infectious disease, and in establishing today’s disease surveillance and control systems. 
·        Healthier mothers and babies – Infant and maternal mortality rates have decreased in the United States. Envi­ronmental interventions, improvements in nutrition, advances in clinical medicine, improvements in access to health care, improvements in surveillance and monitoring of disease, increases in education levels and improvements in standards of living contributed to this remarkable decline.

Resources on all of these topics can be found in our library.  Search our online catalog for reports, statistics, fact sheets, and much more on these and other Colorado public health topics.


Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Indiana's recent passage of their state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act has made headlines across the country.  How do Colorado's laws compare?  Colorado law is actually very much the opposite of Indiana's -- here in Colorado, "places of public accommodation" are prohibited from discriminating against, including refusing to do business with, persons based on "disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry."  Senate Bill 08-200 expanded Colorado's definitions of discrimination, and is now in statute as C.R.S. 24-34-601.  Colorado legislators introduced House Bill 15-1171 this session, a measure which was somewhat similar to Indiana's, but it was killed in committee.  For more information on discrimination or to send a complaint, visit the Colorado Civil Rights Division.


Organic Fertilizers

It's that time of year where many homeowners' thoughts turn to lawn and garden care.  Fertilizing has long been recognized as an important part of keeping a lawn healthy, but increasingly many people are looking for green alternatives to chemical fertilizers.  The Colorado State University Extension has produced several publications about how to use organic fertilizers that are better for the environment, such as

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