Thursday, April 30, 2009


Gov. Ritter today signed into law several key bills to help protect communities from wildfires, promote Colorado's New Energy Economy, help military veterans become educators, and encourage cooperation between Pueblo and El Paso counties on water issues.


Wildfire Prevention


Senate Bill 20, sponsored by Sen. Dan Gibbs and Rep. Christine Scanlan, clarifies the responsibilities of fire protection districts, county sheriffs offices and the State Forest Service when responding to wildfires.


SB 105, also sponsored by Sen. Gibbs and Rep. Scanlan, removes limits on counties to generate funding for the purpose of fighting both forest and prairie fires.


HB 1162, sponsored by Sen. Mike Kopp and Rep. Cheri Gerou, requires the establishment of intergovernmental agreements in certain circumstances.


"Effectively fighting wildfires in Colorado requires a cooperative approach by local, county, state, federal and tribal agencies, Gov. Ritter said. "Fires don't recognize governmental boundaries, and these bills will enhance efforts ate every level of government to help us to better plan for, prevent and fight fires."


"With the real height of the wildfire season on the horizon, the signing of these bills could not come at a better time," Sen. Gibbs said. "We need organization and we need funding to protect communities from the devastating effects of wildfires, and we need it now. This puts us on the right track toward more effective wildfire prevention and protection."


Troops to Teachers


SB 62, the "Troops to Teachers" bill, was sponsored by Sen. Brandon Shaffer and Rep. Dennis Apuan. The bill makes the Teach Colorado Grant Initiative, established in 2008, available to military veterans by providing scholarships to veterans who are studying to become math and science teachers.


"Colorado is home to more than 400,000 military veterans," Gov. Ritter said, "with more coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan all the time. This legislation will allow us to continue fulfilling our obligation to our veterans by helping them find careers as classroom educators while also helping to meet the needs of Colorado students."

"By providing financial incentives and professional development for our troops to become teachers, this law will strengthen our economy as well as our education system," Sen. Shaffer said. "It will put prospective teachers into the classroom, especially in rural and high-needs areas, and we can do it without any fiscal impact to the state's budget."


"Veterans sacrifice so much for us, and the 'Troops to Teachers' bill provides an opportunity to offer a token of our gratitude," Rep. Apuan said. "By providing scholarships for our troops to become teachers, everyone wins: veterans are more able to afford to return to their education and get a good job; schools that are having trouble hiring teachers will have a larger pool to choose from; and our economy and education systems are strengthened. And veterans can continue serving their community – as a teacher."

Fountain Creek Watershed District


SB 141, sponsored by Sen. Abel Tapia, Rep. Marsha Looper, and Rep. Sal Pace, creates the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control, and Greenway District in El Paso and Pueblo counties.


"We all know how important water is to Colorado, including Southern Colorado and the Fountain Creek watershed," Gov. Ritter said. "We also know how contentious water issues can be. This bill opens a new era of cooperation between El Paso and Pueblo counties on water-quality issues. It's a big step forward and I congratulate the lawmakers and everyone who helped bring this bill to my desk."


New Energy Economy


SB 98, sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz and Rep. Edward Vigil, assigns the same tax-exempt status for biodiesel as given to dyed special fuels in Colorado.


"The signing of this bill supports both the biofuel industry and our agricultural community today and into the future," Sen. Schwartz said. "By supporting these industries, we are creating a positive model for the development of alternative energy sources while supporting Colorado businesses and our rural economy."


Colorado Works Program


SB 100, sponsored by Sen. Linda Newell and Rep. Jerry Frangas, changes the definition of a non-custodial parent so that a non-custodial parent may receive employment assistance under the Colorado Works Program even though his or her child is not receiving assistance under the program.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009


GOLDEN -- Gov. Bill Ritter said today that the $100 million in Recovery Act funds for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu will spur innovation in the New Energy Economy, commercialize new technologies and create new sustainable jobs all across Colorado.


Gov. Ritter toured NREL with Secretary Chu before the announcement, calling NREL a key partner in Colorado's New Energy Economy and a driving force in Colorado's internationally recognized clean-energy research corridor.


"We in Colorado have made developing a New Energy Economy a top priority these past few years," Gov. Ritter said. "We're creating thousands of new jobs, attracting countless new companies, and leading America toward a new, more diverse and more secure energy future.


"The funding announced by Secretary Chu today will advance the research and development of transformative technologies that will lead to sustainable jobs, a stronger economy and a cleaner environment.


"As we undertake the hard work of re-tooling our entire economy, America is extremely fortunate to have a scientist and researcher like Secretary Chu leading the Energy Department. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your understanding, your passion and your vision, because it's that vision that will carry this country to where it needs to go."




Wednesday, April 29, 2009


9:45 a.m.         Gov. Ritter will join U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Secretary Chu is announcing significant funding for NREL through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will help spur innovation, create jobs and continue driving Colorado's New Energy Economy forward. Location: NREL, 1617 Cole Blvd., Golden.


Thursday, April 30. 2009


9:30 a.m.         Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks at the Colorado Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Annual Conference. Gov. Ritter served as Denver's District Attorney for more than 12 years before becoming Governor. Location: Vail Marriott, 715 West Lionshead Circle, Vail.


3 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will host a series of signing ceremonies in the West Foyer of the State Capitol for the following bills:


3 p.m.:             SB 20 (Gibbs/Scanlan), Wildland Urban Fire Chain of Command

SB 105 (Gibbs/Scanlan), Remove Limit On Prop Tax To Fight Fires


3:05 p.m.         HB 1162 (Gerou/Kopp), Intergov't Cooperation for Wildfire Mitigation


3:10 p.m.:        SB 62 (Shaffer/Apuan), Troops to Teachers Incentives


3:15 p.m.         SB 100 (Newell/Frangas), Non-custodial Parent Colorado Works


3:20 p.m.         SB 141 (Tapia/Looper & Pace), Fountain Creek Watershed District


3:30 p.m.         SB 98 (Schwartz/Vigil), Tax Exempt Blended Diesel Products


6:30 p.m.        Gov. Ritter will be attending a meeting of the Latino Education Advisory Council. Location: West High School, 951 Elati St., Denver.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009






Myung Oak Kim, 303.764.7703,




U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is scheduled to visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden on Wednesday to announce funding for the agency from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Gov. Bill Ritter is scheduled to tour the facility with Secretary Chu.


"Secretary Chu could not have selected a better location to mark the first 100 days of the Obama Administration," Gov. Ritter said. "Not only is Colorado where President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, but it's also the home of NREL and the New Energy Economy. NREL is a key partner in Colorado's New Energy Economy, and this funding will help create sustainable jobs and allow NREL to continue spurring innovation as we transform America's energy future."


The Recovery Act is expected to bring more than $7 billion to Colorado to support working families, help residents enter the workforce, and invest in infrastructure and growth industries.


For more information about the Recovery Act in Colorado, go to


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Gov. Ritter issued the following statement today thanking Cal Marsella for his 14 years of service as general manager of the Regional Transportation District and wishing him well as he leaves the district for the private sector.


"Thanks in large part to Cal's hard work and leadership, our metro-area public transportation system provides reliable, efficient and affordable service to a large percentage of Colorado's population," Gov. Ritter said. "More than 300,000 people board RTD buses and light rail trains each day, a testament to the legacy that Cal leaves behind as we continue to expand transit options throughout the state. His departure is a great loss to RTD, but I wish him much success in his private-sector endeavors."


Monday, April 27, 2009



Gov. Bill Ritter and Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien today outlined a strategy of innovation that could potentially bring millions of federal dollars of Race to the Top grant money to Colorado's K-12 education system beginning in 2010. Nationally, there will be $4.35 billion available to states deemed to be top-tier in education innovation.


Click the following links to hear the remarks from the meeting:  Gov. Ritter, Lt. Gov. O'Brien, and Commissioner Dwight Jones.


"This is an opportunity to make a huge investment in our education system that could transform the way students learn," said Gov. Bill Ritter. "Colorado's Race to the Top proposal should lay out a roadmap of how we intend to improve the learning environment of every child, rich or poor. We need to be bold in our approach and build on the innovation from the last two years."


Lt. Gov. O'Brien, who co-chairs the P-20 Council on education reform, stressed that a wide spectrum of stakeholders in the education field will have to work over the next year to find a path to a new direction. Over the last two years, the P-20 Council has recommended several changes that the legislature enacted into law and that put Colorado in line with Race to the Top goals.


"This will require vision and courage to create a breakthrough on how our students can achieve," said Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien.  "It's not business as usual and it's not tweaking around the edges. This is potentially a transformative moment and could change the way we look at schools, students, teaching, and how we evaluate education."

"The Department of Education (CDE) stands ready to help develop and write a successful Race to the Top grant application," said Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones.  "Race to the Top awards will be given to states that demonstrate a clear willingness to challenge the status quo. CDE is prepared for that conversation and the department will do what it can to ensure that the grant will have the impact we all expect—and need."

About 200 people attended this morning's session at Auraria campus where leaders outlined the strategy to be used over the next year. The attendees were asked to join one of four work groups that will make recommendations for the proposal in the fall.


The focus of Race to the Top is divided into four areas:

·        Ensuring that quality teachers are spread equitably throughout the state

·        Better use of data to track students', schools' and educators' improvement

·        Creating international benchmark standards and assessments

·        Strategies for improving low-performing schools


The deadline for the first phase of the Race to the Top grant proposal is October 1, 2009. Ten percent of the funds will be awarded to an initial group of states in early 2010. A second phase grant proposal for 90% of the funds will be in spring of 2010. Implementation of the Race to the Top grant is expected to take place over the next four years. Working groups will begin meeting this summer to make recommendations for the first phase of the proposal.





Monday, April 27, 2009


8 a.m.              Gov. Ritter will join Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien and Colorado Education Commissioner Dwight Jones to kick off the first Race to the Top strategy meeting for educators and other stakeholders. Race to the Top is a competitive education-reform grant being made available to states as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Location: St. Cajetan's, Auraria Higher Education Center, 900 Auraria Parkway, Denver.


1 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will proclaim May "Rediscover Colorado Month" during a news conference kicking off Colorado's summer tourism season. Location: West Steps or West Foyer, State Capitol.


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Sunday, April 26, 2009



Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that in response to the rapidly changing swine flu outbreak he had taken the precautionary measure of requesting Colorado's allotment of antiviral medication from the federal national stockpile.  There still have been no documented or reported Colorado cases associated with the swine influenza outbreak.


"We are keeping in constant contact with federal authorities, particularly officials at the CDC," Gov. Ritter said at a news conference this afternoon at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "We continue to monitor the situation and to be in contact with all of the local public health agencies in the state, as well as medical providers and pharmacies."


There have been 20 confirmed cases of swine influenza in the United States involving California, Texas, Kansas, New York and Ohio.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared a public health emergency in order to activate national resources in addressing the evaluation of the situation.


"We continue to monitor flu-like illness rates and will be monitoring respiratory illness at hospitals to be on the look out for swine influenza," Colorado Chief Medical Officer Ned Calonge said. "I fully expect us to identify cases in the near future, given the presence of the virus in other states. It's important to understand that at this time, in the United States, the swine flu is acting just like seasonal flu.  It is a relatively mild disease; all cases have fully recovered and only one has required hospitalization."


Calonge added: "We are asking all individuals with mild flu-like illness to stay home.  This is regardless of travel history.  Children and adolescents with fever should not go to day care or school.  Adults with fever should not go to work until their symptoms resolve.  Individuals with severe illness, such as difficulty breathing, should contact their health care provider."


The state health department also encourages people to take these personal precautions to decrease their chances of getting the flu:

·         Wash hands frequently

·         Cover your sneezes and coughs

·         Avoid others with respiratory illnesses


This is a good time to make sure you and your family are prepared for an emergency that might require you to stay at home for several days. We want to take the opportunity to remind people to be prepared at home, including considering having food, water and other necessities.


The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu in humans and may include: Fever greater than 100°F, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache and body aches, and fatigue.  Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.


Severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection outside the US. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.


Swine flu is passed from person to person and not from pigs or from eating pork.


Again, this is a rapidly evolving situation and the state health department is asking people to be alert for changes in the department's guidance, which will available at


Saturday, April 25, 2009


LITTLETON — Gov. Bill Ritter today signed into law a measure that allows insurance companies to offer discounts and incentives to small business and their employees who participate in health and wellness programs. Insurers are currently prohibited from offering incentives even to small businesses that want access to health plans with financial and health rewards.


The signing ceremony for House Bill 1012 took place at the Douglas H. Buck Community Recreation Center in Littleton. Gov. Ritter was joined by two of the bill's prime sponsors, Rep. Joe Rice and Sen. Linda Newell.


"This legislation will help employers maintain a healthy workforce, and it will encourage employees to take personal responsibility for their health by participating in wellness programs," Gov. Ritter said. "It also comes at a time when we need our workforce to be healthy and strong to lead Colorado forward."  


"Providing incentives for wellness is a common sense idea that benefits our health and our pocketbooks.  Employees will be healthier and employers can increase productivity, all while reducing health care costs. Now that's a win-win," Rep. Rice said. "Also, employees welcome the extra motivation to quit smoking, to exercise, or to lose weight."


"This wellness and prevention bill will help the employer minimize absenteeism, increase productivity and reduce health care costs," Sen. Newell said. "It will also help the employee control his or her own health care costs and have a better chance of better health. Healthy communities mean healthy workers and a healthy economy.  It's truly a win-win scenario of personal and business responsibility."


This was the third significant health care bill signed by Gov. Ritter this week. He also signed the Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act – a historic act that will provide health coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans. Gov. Ritter also signed House Bill 1103, allowing patients in need of long-term care to be presumptively eligible for Medicaid, which will save costs and improve patients' quality of life. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Newell.


 "HB 1103 could make Colorado the first in the nation to speed up the process of Medicaid eligibility for long-term care," said Sen. Newell.


Photo Caption Information:


Bill Signing 1: Gov. Ritter is joined by Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien (far right), Sen. Linda Newell (second from right) and Rep. Joe Rice (behind Gov. Ritter to the left) at the signing ceremony for House Bill 1012 at the Buck Community Recreation Center in Littleton.


Bill Signing 2: Rep. Rice addresses the crowd during the signing ceremony.


Bill Signing 3: Sen. Newell addresses the crowd during the signing ceremony.


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Friday, April 24, 2009


Saturday, April 25, 2009


Noon               Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks to about 300 educators, parents and others at the 88th annual Colorado Parent Teacher Convention. Location: Four Points Sheraton Denver Southeast, 6363 E. Hampden Ave.


1 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will sign House Bill 1012, which encourages participation in health and wellness programs. Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien and bill sponsors Rep. Joe Rice and Sen. Linda Newell will also take part in the signing ceremony. Location: Buck Community Recreation Center, 2004 W. Powers Ave., Littleton.


Monday, April 27, 2009


8 a.m.              Gov. Ritter will join Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien and Colorado Education Commissioner Dwight Jones to kick off the first Race to the Top strategy meeting for educators and other stakeholders. Race to the Top is a competitive education-reform grant being made available to states as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Location: St. Cajetan's, Auraria Higher Education Center, 900 Auraria Parkway, Denver.


1 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will proclaim May "Rediscover Colorado Month" during a news conference kicking off Colorado's summer tourism season. Location: West Steps, State Capitol.




Gov. Bill Ritter today announced that the Colorado Health Information Technology (HIT) Advisory Committee has released a new report identifying how Colorado can significantly reduce costs, improve patient outcomes and make the state's healthcare system more efficient and effective.


Established by Senate Bill 07-196, the Committee was charged with recommending strategies to use HIT throughout Colorado.


"These recommendations provide a framework for modernizing Colorado's healthcare delivery system and maximizing HIT to deliver higher quality, cost-effective care to all our citizens," Gov. Ritter said. "This report complements our Building Blocks to Health Reform agenda and provides guidance as we utilize HIT to lead Colorado forward."


The report provides recommendations in four strategic areas:

·         Strategies to promote adoption and incorporation of HIT.

·         Strategies to promote interoperability and Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE).

·         Executive branch and other strategies by policymakers for fostering implementation.

·         Private sector engagement and strategies to expand the use of HIT.


Gov. Ritter appointed Committee members, including employer groups, the HIT industry, healthcare providers, consumers and the Colorado General Assembly. Colorado's Chief Information Officer, Michael Locatis, chaired the Committee. The Committee spent more than a year assessing Colorado's HIT landscape, considering healthcare issues and HIT development among providers and communities across the state, region and nation.


"The Advisory Committee is proud of Colorado's accomplishments in HIT to date and believes Colorado is poised to be a national leader on the adoption and implementation of HIT," Locatis said.


Gov. Ritter has already acted on one of the Committee's recommendations through an executive order by designating the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) as the lead organization to coordinate HIT development in Colorado, including implementation of funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 


The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee Report is available at the Governor's Office of Information Technology website: