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Hick, Bennet pitch Senate on Colorado public lands bills, Hancock bids adieu | WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Today is July 13, 2023, and here’s what you need to know:

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Colorado Democrats, urged their colleagues on Wednesday to adopt two sweeping public lands measures in a hearing before a key Senate panel.

But only one of the bills appears destined to advance through the divided Congress.

“Coloradans crafted these bills on kitchen tables and at trailheads across our state,” Bennet told members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining. “The bills were written in Colorado, not in Washington, and they reflect thoughtful, bipartisan collaboration among tribes, county commissioners, businesses, ranchers, sportsmen and conservationists.”

Bennet and Hickenlooper, who sits on the subcommittee, are sponsors of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, known as the CORE Act, and the Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act. Together, the two pieces of legislation would protect nearly half a million acres in Colorado.

With support from the three Republican members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, the bill to protect more than 68,000 acres along a 70-mile stretch of the Dolores River in southwestern Colorado stands a chance of passing both the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock delivered a farewell address Wednesday over a live feed as he prepares to leave office.

Hancock is Denver’s 45th mayor and second African American to hold the position.

“It was here where an ambitious young middle school kid aspired to be Denver’s first African American mayor,” Hancock said in his address. “While I didn’t get to be the first … being second is just as good.”

He is a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he chairs the Communications and Transportation Committee, is the vice president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and is a member of the African American Mayors Association.

Republican state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer announced Wednesday that she will not seek a rematch against Democratic U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo in Colorado’s battleground 8th Congressional District in next year’s election.

Instead, Kirkmeyer said she will seek reelection to a second term in the legislature, where the Brighton lawmaker serves on the powerful Joint Budget Committee.

“My passion has always been for Colorado,” Kirkmeyer said in a statement. “In 2024, I believe the best way for me to serve our great state is to run for reelection to the state Senate.”

“I appreciate the many supporters who have encouraged me to run again for Colorado’s 8th Congressional District,” she added. “Being the 2022 Republican nominee for CD 8 was the honor of a lifetime. My decision to instead run for reelection comes after careful consideration and deliberation.”

Last year, Kirkmeyer narrowly lost to Caraveo, a former state representative from Thornton, in the evenly divided district, which covers portions of Adams, Weld and Larimer counties, from the suburbs north of Denver to Greeley.

Weld County Commissioner Scott James on Wednesday announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in Colorado’s battleground 8th Congressional District, becoming the first declared challenger hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo.

The veteran radio personality and chairman of the county GOP filed paperwork for the seat hours after Republican state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, who narrowly lost the election to Caraveo last year, announced that she won’t seek a rematch and will instead run for reelection to the legislature.

“I am running for Congress because I believe in my fellow Coloradans,” James said in a statement. “I believe in our rugged individualism and the dreams we have for our families. I believe in our commitment to freedom and the rule of law. I believe we deserve a government that is as good as the people it is elected to serve.”

James co-hosts Scott and Sadie, a popular weekday morning radio show on Big 97.9 FM, a country music station that broadcasts in northern Colorado. He won reelection last year to a second term on the county commission after serving four terms on the Johnstown town council and one term as the town’s mayor.

The Polis administration on Wednesday announced 13 counties are slated to receive a total of $48.8 million to either provide or preserve affordable housing. 

The grants are the third in a series of four disbursements foused on housing from the Department of Local Affairs. Funding for the grants comes from federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The largest grants of $7 million and $6 million will go to the city of Denver and Volunteers for America, respectively. The funds will go to developing Flo Senior, a 212-unit community for seniors (age 55+) and people with disabilities (age 18+) in the Sun Valley neighborhood, as well as a 60-studio room shelter in Denver that will serve families with minor children and homeless veterans.

In Colorado Springs, Catholic Charities will receive $4.4 million to convert a commercial two-story building on its Helen Hunt campus into 24 multi-sized family apartments, with rents based at no more than 30% of area median income.

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