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Colorado hemp bill’s author dismisses claims of conflict

Dan Njegomir (Colorado Politics)- Legislation intended to keep federal water flowing to Colorado’s hemp crop — a growing industry in the state, if you’ll forgive the expression — has unexpectedly led to an anonymous accusation that the bill’s sponsor has a conflict of interest. So says a report in the Durango Herald.

Spoiler alert: The law seems to be on the sponsor’s side, as the Herald reports.

Senate Bill 117, adopted by lawmakers in the 2017 session and now awaiting the governor’s signature, was supposed to quell controversy, not cause it. As explained in a press release by the state Senate Republican majority when the bill was approved by the legislature last month, industrial hemp is misunderstood because of its association with marijuana, and that has led to bad policy by the federal government:

After Colorado voters approved hemp’s cultivation as part of a broader legalization of marijuana, questions arose about the legality of using federal reclamation water to grow a  crop often wrongly confused with marijuana.

Montrose Republican state Sen. Don Coram, who introduced the measure, said in the press release that the bill “ensures that Washington can’t deny hemp growers access to water from federal reclamation projects, due to disagreements between Washington and Denver on drug and farm policies.”

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Ken Salazar Working For Anadarko After Promising To Honor Federal Ethics Law

David Sirota, Lydia O’Neal, Andrew Perez (International Business Times)- Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been working for a major oil and gas company as it has sought to limit political damage after a deadly explosion near one of its Colorado wells, a spokesperson for Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and emails obtained by International Business Times and MapLight say.

One of his state’s most powerful Democrats, Salazar was in touch with Hickenlooper’s office after the blast on behalf of Anadarko Petroleum — a company Salazar helped when he ran the Interior Department under former President Barack Obama.

Salazar, a corporate lawyer, has previously said he would honor federal ethics laws by walling himself off from matters in which he was involved at the agency. Emails show he has been working for Anadarko in Colorado though he has not registered to lobby for the company there, state records show.

Click here to read the full story in the International Business Times.

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2 Boulder Planning Board members face possible conflicts ahead of vote on 1440 Pine St.

Alex Burness (Boulder Daily Camera)- Potential conflicts of interest for two Planning Board members loom over the board’s highly anticipated Thursday vote on whether to approve a controversial plan to build housing in downtown Boulder for 40 chronically homeless young adults.

Member Crystal Gray, whose longtime partner has been, for a year and a half, among the most outspoken opponents of the project, says she doesn’t plan to recuse herself from the hearing.

Her partner, John Spitzer, is a former Planning Board member, and has been one of the primary organizers of neighborhood opposition to the project, which has centered on the building’s density and height and on the opinion that homeless people ages 18-24 will be at further risk living in busy downtown.

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Nor’wood negoatiates to buy government land southwest of downtown

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- If at first you don’t succeed, work out a new deal and continue moving forward.

That might be an apt description of Nor’wood Development Group’s efforts to gain control of land located in the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area owned by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

After an agreement with RBD collapsed last fall due to conflict of interest questions and legal requirements, Nor’wood persuaded the Regional Building board, composed of elected officials, to simply sell the property to Nor’wood without placing it on the open market.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Colorado marijuana czar and fellow top regulator make leap into consulting

Alicia Wallace (The Cannabist)- Colorado’s marijuana czar and one of its top enforcement chiefs are jumping to the private sector to advise local and state governments hashing out cannabis regulations.

Andrew Freedman, the state’s director of marijuana coordination, Lewis Koski, Colorado Department of Revenue deputy senior director of enforcement, and John Hudak, drug policy expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, formed Freedman & Koski LLC.

Click here to read the full story in The Cannabist.

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Pay Colorado’s elected officials and judges their due

Denver Post Editorial Board – Colorado’s elected officials have a complex job to do, and a growing population to serve, but they are paid quite a lot less than their peers in other states. We’ve stood behind the idea of raising their salaries over the years, and applaud a plan that makes use of a recent law to finally pay these public servants what they’re worth.

Yes, money is tight at the state level. And critics of high-dollar salaries for some city and county elected officials across the state are right to question them.

But we would argue that it is highly unfair not to have raised pay for top officials, like the governor and attorney general, since 1999, as is sadly the case.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Denver Post.

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Colorado judges seek steep pay hikes that also would benefit lawmakers

Brian Eason (Denver Post) – Colorado judges are asking for more than double the pay raise of the typical state employee in 2017 — a wish that, if granted, would trigger a ripple effect of pay hikes for the state’s top elected officials.

In the Judicial Branch’s budget presentation recently, Chief Justice Nancy Rice of the Colorado Supreme Court laid out a case for a 3.15 percent raise for judges and certain staff members, on top of the 2.5 percent across-the-board pay hike that Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed in his annual budget.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Denver Post.

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Councilor Tom Strand allowed a city-funded agency to pay for an out-of-state trip

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Whether it’s having coffee with Sen. Cory Gardner, taking part in the Mayor’s Cup golf tournament or flying to Washington, D.C., with the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, City Council members do so at the expense of taxpayers.

With one exception.

When Councilor Tom Strand tagged along on an RBA regional leaders trip to Columbus, Ohio, in April, his $1,580 tab was later picked up by the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau — an agency Strand is poised to vote to fund as part of the city budget.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Gov. Hickenlooper solicits money for Democrats from his office

Billie Stanton Anleu (Colorado Springs Gazette)- The Colorado GOP is calling for an ethics investigation into Gov. John Hickenlooper’s video soliciting partisan donations while standing in front of the state seal in his office in the Capitol.

A video since deleted from his Facebook page shows Hickenlooper accepting the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund’s “glass ceiling challenge” and donating $20 to the cause, then challenging Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and state Rep. Daneya Esgar – all Democrats – to contribute $20 each too.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Gazette.


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Update: Regional Building takes second look at questionable deal

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- A deal reported in this week’s edition of the Independent, “Partnering up,” that would give Nor’wood Development Group control of $2.1 million worth of property in the lower downtown area is undergoing further examination for its legality.

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department had agreed to pursue a “participation agreement” in which it would place two properties it owns near the Olympic Museum site into a new entity with Nor’wood properties. The new entity, with Nor’wood having a 63-percent stake, would then develop the property and have first right to buy the Regional Building land.

Now, Regional Building Official Roger Lovell tells the Indy the deal is on hold.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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