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ICYMI: February’s Biggest Headlines

Life is busy, but the news cycle doesn’t stop. Here’s a quick primer to some of the top Centennial State stories during the past month.

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The shortest month was just a little bit longer thanks to Leap Year. And we hope you used the extra hours to do something fantastic. (Happy belated birthday to all of you born on February 29!) I spent the day cross-country skiing, reading up on the coronavirus (wash your hands please!), and enjoying a few extra hours with the fam. What did you do with the bonus time?

Looking back on February, though, the littlest month sure did pack in a lot of attention-grabbing news stories, including several topics that have been perennial discussion points—you could call it unfinished business—in the Centennial State. From pit bulls to Denver International Airport, here are some stories that I’m still thinking about.

Veto Power:
Last month, I wrote about how Council member Chris Herndon’s proposal to replace Denver’s pit-bull ban with a licensing process was heading to City Council. It did, and the Council approved the proposal with a 7–4 vote. But, in a rare move, Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed the measure, citing—among other things—concerns about how the program would work given how few of the city’s dogs are licensed. In a subsequent vote, the Council was unable to overturn the veto, but the issue might end up on November’s ballot so you can weigh in.

The takeaway: Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed a proposal that would have changed Denver’s pit-bull ban.

Try, try again:
When the legislative session ended last year, there was plenty of talk about what the Democratic Party—which controlled the state House, Senate, and Governor’s Office—accomplished. That included applause, but also criticism about things moving too fast or too far to the left. And there were unresolved topics, including ending Colorado’s death penalty and implementing a family and medical leave plan. This year, both discussions were back in rotation at the State Capitol.

SB20-100, which would “repeal the death penalty” in Colorado, passed the State Senate on January 31. A few weeks later, on February 26, the State House of Representatives also passed the bill, sending it to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk for a final signature. If he does sign the bill into law, the death penalty could no longer be used for crimes committed “on or after July 1, 2020.” This is an important point because the bill does not change the sentences of the three men currently on death row, and it is possible that the governor could commute those sentences.

Meanwhile, efforts to establish paid family and medical leave—a topic that was sent to a task force for additional study last year—have stalled. Two Democratic Party co-sponsors pulled their support of the draft bill, which has been championed by Sen. Faith Winter, and it is unclear what the next step will be this session. The one thing that we’re fairly certain about is that the conversation isn’t over.

The takeaway: It looks like Colorado will repeal the death penalty and the debate about establishing paid family and medical leave will continue.

Happy birthday, Denver International Airport:
Denverites have had plenty to complain about when it comes to DIA lately. No, I’m not talking about lost baggage or conspiracy theories, but the ongoing construction. (Quick recap: The city fired the contractors.) But, this month, there was a reason to celebrate the massive airport because it turned 25. The airport’s impact on the city—and the metro area—is a story that’s still being written, but the rapid changes, especially in Aurora, are evident. All of which reminded me of another time when things didn’t go quite according to plan at DIA and architect Curtis Fentress was brought in to finish the project. The result? The tented canopies that mimic the nearby Rockies, which turned out to be a pretty nice Plan B.

The takeaway: DIA is 25-years-old.

Is It November Yet?:
You already know that on Super Tuesday Sen. Bernie Sanders won Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary and that President Donald Trump won the Republican contest (no big surprises there). And, while I know that this is technically March news, February was full of primary talk, starting with Iowa’s caucus, which made more headlines for what went wrong in the counting process than who actually won the state (it was South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for the record). Candidates then headed east to New Hampshire where Sanders made a strong showing. Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet did not, and he dropped out of the race on February 11. After South Carolina’s primary on February 29, which former Vice President Joe Biden won, Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar both suspended their campaigns and endorsed Biden—who picked up the most delegates on Super Tuesday. Whew. That’s where things stand, but don’t think you’ll get a reprieve from political news now that Colorado’s presidential primary is over: We’re on to caucuses and in June, there will be another primary for several races, including the Senate.

The takeaway: Super Tuesday is done, but election season is just getting started.

Bonus: News to Smile About
We know that Denver’s food scene is pretty darn exciting, but it is lovely when other people say so too. Which is exactly what happened this month when the James Beard Foundation announced 18 Colorado semifinalists for their annual awards. And! And! That was just days after El Taco de Mexico earned an America’s Classic award from the Foundation. That’s an awful lot of good news, but here’s some more. The Denver Zoo announced that Tensing, a one-horned rhino, gave birth to a baby girl. And, yes, the photo is adorable.

(MORE: Read last month’s ICYMI)

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