A controversial package of Democratic gun control bills cleared the state house today, and now head to the state senate. As Bente Birkeland reports, the bills still face strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.

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Governor John Hickenlooper is getting pushback for recently telling members of Congress that he once drank frack fluid while touting Colorado as a national model for balanced energy rules. The state’s oil and gas commission has increased the statewide buffer zone between drilling sites and homes and buildings, but many Democratic state lawmakers say [...]

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State lawmakers are scheduled to debate four Democratic gun control bills this afternoon and expect to go late into the night. As Bente Birkeland reports, the measures are moving quickly through the statehouse but face strong Republican opposition.

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Democratic leaders at the statehouse hope to introduce bills dealing with the impacts of hydraulic fracturing by the end of the month. This comes as Governor John Hickenlooper is touting Colorado’s current regulations on fracking as a national model. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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Guns were once again the focus at the Colorado statehouse today. A Democratic proposal to ban concealed-carry weapons on college campuses got its first hearing in the house education committee. It highlights the longer battle that will take place this session on gun laws. Bente Birkeland reports from the capitol.

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A huge crowd turned out at the state capitol yesterday for hearings on two key Democratic gun proposals. One measure would require universal background checks for gun purchases; the other would ban high capacity magazines. Both bills passed their first test, the house judiciary committee. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has voted in favor of increasing the drilling setback distance between oil and gas wells and homes statewide. But the move doesn’t go far enough for the environmental community and goes too far for industry. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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A bill to allow civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado cleared the Democratic controlled senate today with little fanfare. Unlike last year, the measure’s passage is all but certain. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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State Democrats recently unveiled their much-anticipated package of bills aimed at curbing gun violence. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland takes a look at the chances of the bills passing, and the internal debate among state Democrats.

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After an emotional debate, a bill to allow civil unions initially passed the state senate today. The vote was largely divided along party lines. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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The head of the National Rifle Association met with state leaders in Colorado yesterday. Democrats unveiled a package of proposed gun control legislation earlier this week. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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State senators will debate a bill to allow civil unions for gay and lesbian couples tomorrow. The measure is expected to easily pass the Democratic controlled legislature and be signed into law, but as Bente Birkeland reports, the main sponsor says he’s taking a different approach this year.

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The Governor and Democratic lawmakers announced plans to try and improve the state’s child welfare system today/Wednesday. The move comes after the deaths of dozens of children linked to human service departments over the last several years. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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Projections show Colorado still has a long way to go if the state hopes to avoid another dry summer. Water experts briefed state lawmakers on the latest drought conditions, saying it looks grim. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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State senators took the unusual move of voting to take away a portion of state money from the Colorado Energy office for the rest of the fiscal year. As Bente Birkeland reports, the move follows a scathing audit, which showed the energy office mismanaged millions of dollars.

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State senators took the unusual move of voting to take away a portion of state money from the Colorado Energy office for the rest of the fiscal year…Democratic Congressman Jared Polis has introduced a bill in the House to end prohibition of marijuana at the federal level…Pueblo’s City Council is considering a proposal that would allow Fort Carson’s HAMET program, or High Altitude Mountain Environment Training, to rent space at the Pueblo Memorial Airport.

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State Democrats unveiled a package of proposals today, aimed at cracking down on gun violence, among other things. Legislative leaders want to make gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with assault weapons. As Bente Birkeland reports, it’s in response to the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora.

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The gun debate will be one of the central issues during the state’s legislative session, and lawmakers have already heard the first Republican proposals. They both failed along party lines and highlight the wide difference between Democrats and the GOP when it comes to tackling gun violence. Bente Birkeland discusses the dynamic as part [...]

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One of the biggest topics right now across the state is oil and gas development, specifically, hydraulic fracturing. Communities, industry, and the state are all working to ensure their interests are protected. But it’s a complicated issue, and often contentious. This month for Western Skies, we’re holding a magnifying glass up to fracking, the rules, regulations, and community concerns. (This month’s image by artist and rig-worker, Streeter Wright.)

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Governor John Hickenlooper announced new initiatives yesterday to try and make Colorado better prepared for wildfires…Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall is urging the US Forest Service to accelerate their acquisition of eight new firefighting air tankers ahead of this year’s wildfire season…Three Chinook helicopters have been delivered to Fort Carson for a new combat aviation brigade.

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Governor John Hickenlooper announced new initiatives today to try and make Colorado better prepared for wildfires. State officials say they’re also planning for a drought this summer and a potentially bad fire season. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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Governor John Hickenlooper says a lack of water in Colorado poses a series challenge for the state’s tourism industry. The Governor answered questions from industry representatives as part of the annual tourism day at the state capitol. Bente Birkeland has more.

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The gun control debate sounded off both inside and outside the state capitol yesterday. Gun control advocates rallied at the capitol, and Democratic state senators struck down the first gun bill of the legislative session. The measure would’ve allowed school employees to carry concealed handguns. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

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News

AP
December 18, 2014 | NPR · In a year-end news conference, the Russian President said the worst-case scenario for his country’s economy would involve two more years of unease.
 

CDC
December 18, 2014 | NPR · A previously unknown form of botulinum toxin was thought to be resistant to standard treatment raised public health concerns. Subsequent research has allayed those fears.
 

December 18, 2014 | NPR · Just getting a measles vaccine to a child in Pakistan was once an impossible dream. Despite many obstacles, health workers have made great progress in stopping infectious diseases.
 

Arts & Life

iStock
December 18, 2014 | NPR · This playlist includes some blockbuster TED talks that have already inspired millions.
 

December 18, 2014 | NPR · In this final round, every correct answer will start with a jolly “Ho!” sound. Which goalkeeper has won two Olympic medals with the U.S. women’s soccer team? That would be Ho Ho Hope Solo!
 

NPR
December 18, 2014 | NPR · Ah, the comfort of cliché gifts and holiday expectations well met. Frozen songwriters Bobby and Kristen Lopez sing about not-so-original gifts to the tune of Mariah Carey’s classic holiday earworm.
 

Music

FilmMagic
December 18, 2014 | NPR · Just a guess — you’re not done shopping yet, are you? Allow us to ease your load a bit with some thoughtful ideas for the hip-hop head on your list.
 

December 18, 2014 | NPR · Renee Montagne talks with Miles Hoffman about the history of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. Hoffman is the violist of the American Chamber Players, and authored The NPR Classical Music Companion.
 

John Rogers for NPR
December 18, 2014 | WBGO+JAZZ.org · As New York prepares for its January music marathon, watch performances from last year, including Gretchen Parlato, Donald Harrison, Rudy Royston, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.
 

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