News, January 23rd

GOVERNOR SUPPORTS WILDFIRE PREVENTION BILLS

DENVER (AP) – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed support for legislation that’s been introduced to combat wildfires, including tax incentives for mitigation and funding to buy better equipment for firefighters.  But the Democratic governor indicated he’s not ready to support more aggressive suggestions from Republicans who want a state-owned aerial firefighting fleet, or a building codes and fees proposed by a wildfire task force that Hickenlooper created. Hickenlooper said Thursday he believes incentives for homeowners to conduct mitigation on their properties will work better than building mandates, or fees for living in high-risk fire areas. He says a state-owned fleet could be too costly.  In addition to tax credits, lawmakers are proposing a death benefit to wildland firefighters and changes to the state’s prescribed burning program. 

MORE COLORADO KIDS STAYING IN SCHOOL

DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Department of Education says the dropout rate for public school students is the lowest since 2003. The department said Thursday the rate is now down for the seventh consecutive year. Officials say graduation rate increases were seen across nearly all racial and ethnic groups.  The department says many students are taking advantage of programs that give them more time to work toward a high school diploma.

UPGRADES TO COLORADO SCHOOL SAFETY HOTLINE CONSIDERED

DENVER (AP) – Colorado lawmakers are starting work on a school safety measure with broad support for more funding for a safety hotline. The Senate Education Committee votes Thursday on a bill to spend about $250,000 shoring up the Safe2Tell hotline. It’s an anonymous threat-gathering system created in 2004 for students and teachers to report threats and bullying. State officials say the hotline has prevented more than two dozen school attacks since its creation. The hotline was a recommendation of the Columbine Commission, a state panel that reviewed school safety after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School. Sponsors from both parties say the hotline should be funded by the state and not subject to annual donations to keep the program afloat.

PALISADE WOMAN STANDS TRIAL FOR DEATH OF TWO SONS

GRAND JUNCTION (AP) – A trial is underway for a Palisade woman charged with criminally negligent homicide and fatal child abuse after her two young sons died from overheating when she left them in her SUV. Prosecutors portrayed Heather Jensen as lying and selfish, while her lawyer described her as a lonely widow trying to protect her children.
Investigators say Jensen’s 2- and 4-year-old sons died in November 2012 when she left them in her SUV with the motor running and the heater on while she had sex and smoked marijuana in another vehicle nearby.  Her husband had died in a car less than two months earlier.  Jensen sobbed loudly as the attorneys made their statements.

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