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HB1121, a bill that may have helped lower the cost of health insurance in some parts of Colorado was killed last Thursday by a house panel on a 6-4 vote. Rep. Dorothy Butcher, of Pueblo, who introduced the bill, said she had hoped to find an easy way to help some people save money, particularly those in rural areas, by barring insurance companies from using geographical locations in determining group health rates for small employers. Those opposing HB1121, however, said that they wanted to wait until health care studies that are being conducted statewide are completed before making such fundamental changes in how rates are set. Under current law, health insurance companies can consider a number of demographic factors in setting rates. They include age, family size, claims experience, health, smoking status and geographic location. There are nine geographic areas in Colorado. Insurance companies claim they must use the geographic areas in determining rates because health care costs more in rural areas and without them, people in Colorado Springs and Denver would have to pay more for their health care.
Las Animas County Administrator Bill Cordova said Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to cover two more days‚€™ worth of expenses that the county incurred during the snow cleanup operation. That means that relief funds will now cover 75% of any snow removal expenses, including for overtime that was paid to county road crews and for the hiring of private contractors. Cordova has spent the past month gathering data and organizing daily expenditures from January snow removal efforts. He said he hopes to have a final estimate calculated by sometime this week. Cleanup costs for both snowstorms have already topped $1 million for the county. More than 4 feet of snow fell in Las Animas County between mid-December and the first week of January.
Gilbert Garcia, 18, of Denver, and an Adams State College freshman, was killed last Thursday night in a drive-by shooting while he was visiting his family in Denver. Adams State officials confirmed the death on Friday saying they had no further details. Garcia‚€™s mother reportedly called the school to report her son‚€™s death. According to police reports, the shooting occurred about 9pm on Thursday at the intersection of Bruce Randolph Avenue and Williams Street in Denver‚€™s five points neighborhood. Garcia and two friends were reportedly riding in a vehicle when another care pulled alongside and a single shot was fired. The motive for the incident is not known and no arrests have been made so far.
A protest filed last week by Colorado Wildlife Federation executive director Suzanne O‚€™Neill was successful in preventing 40 acres of land within the Spanish Peaks State Wildlife Area from being sold in U.S. Bureau of Land Management‚€™s oil and gas lease sale that ended on Friday. BLM spokeswoman Jaime Gardner said that the Spanish Peaks area and three others in Colorado were taken off the list offered for sale. Gardner did say that just because the sales have been deferred for now, that doesn‚€™t mean that the parcels in question will be immune to lease sale at a later date.
Trial has been set for June 11th for Yolanda Estrada, 30, of Monte Vista, in connection with the death of her toddler daughter last year. Estrada is charged with the death of Alexis Estrada, who was almost 2 at the time of her death last June 7th. A precariously placed television set reportedly fell on the child at her Monte Vista home. The child was flown to Children‚€™s Hospital in Denver where she was pronounced dead. Estrada entered a plea of not guilty to the charge last month. District Judge Pattie Swift has set the next hearing in the case for March 7th.