What does the state legislature have to do with my family?

Colorado’s state legislature is back in session! What does this mean for the average Colorado resident? 

It means decisions are being made that affect our day to day lives. 

Things like what the state spends our tax dollars on, school testing and decisions that impact our air today and our kids’ futures tomorrow. This is our chance to make sure our state representatives are truly representing us and make sure our voices are heard!

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the state legislature it is made up of 100 individuals – 65 Representatives in the House and 35 Senators in the Senate. We all have one Representative and one Senator. They meet for about 120 days from now until the first part of May. They, with the Governor, determine our state budget and pass laws necessary to run the state.

The best part? You have a say in all of it!

We know parents have a million (and one!) things on their plates every day but that you also care about your children’s wellbeing and future. We all want to feel that we’re doing the very best we can to protect our kids and give them every opportunity to succeed. That’s why we monitor the state legislature for you! 

Make sure you are signed up for our emails and we’ll let you know when an important bill that affects our children’s health and our Colorado outdoor way of life – our clean air and energy, climate change and public lands – is being discussed.

You’ll only hear from us when critical bills come up for debate and when your legislators need to hear from you to ensure they are protecting our interests rather than those of big polluters. 

This session we expect bills on air toxics and transportation, among others.  For example, one bill that is being discussed is an Air Toxics bill which will protect communities by limiting toxic pollution that can be emitted into the air. These are toxins that can damage our health, particularly that of sensitive populations like children! 

We’ll let you know when you can support such action and give you an easy way to send comments, either pre-written or in your own words, to your representatives.

For more information on how to reach your legislator, check out one of our short instructional videos here:

If you’re interested you can find your Representative and Senator by going to the state legislature’s website here. You can also see what is being discussed each day and read about specific bills on this site

Or just stay tuned and we’ll let you know when important bills are up for discussion and how you can have a say on issues impacting our kids!

Top 6 Haunted Hikes (brought to you by LWCF)

Colorado is home to a lot of haunted houses and hotels – the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, the Molly Brown house in Denver – but did you know Colorado has a lot of haunted hikes too? Here are our top 6 “family friendly” haunted (or just plain spooky) public lands… all protected for generations of ghost hunters and spook seekers to come thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

If you want to help keep Colorado haunted, click here to sign our petition to Congress to encourage them to fully #FundLWCF.

#6  – Great Sand Dunes National Park (Crestone/Alamosa)

Of course the Sand Dunes is on our list, from UFO sightings to unexplained cattle mutilations to sightings of Big Foot, the Sand Dunes may not be haunted but it’s certainly full of spooky happenings. In addition, the community on the northern border of the park, Crestone, is home to the Crestone Crater and an energy vortex – part of the reason it has become a spiritual and new age capital.

#5 – Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs)

Garden of the Gods is mostly known for its family-friendly trails, the kissing camels, and stunning views. But did you know it is also known for a few mysterious hauntings? Rumor has it, that before it was developed by the Palmer family, it was a burial ground for local tribes. If you go when it’s quiet (good luck) and put your car in park on the road, you may feel your car being pushed or pulled out of the way. In addition, while walking along the path, you may hear voices echoing around the nooks and crannies of the rocks.

#4 – Castlewood Canyon State Park (Castle Rock)

Located along Colorado 83, just east of Castle Rock, this state park has it all. Things in the offices suddenly moving from one end to the other or display cases shaking and doors slamming, a 40 year old murder mystery, and hairs standing on the back of necks as hikers approach a certain bluff. If you love ghosts, then you’ll want to add this park to your must-visit list. Read more here.

#3 – Riverside Park (Fort Morgan)

Home to the River Witch, an outcast who killed herself in the early 1900’s, people who walk the Fort Morgan Nature Trails say they feel her presence with every step. Reports are mixed: some say the Witch is seeking revenge on those who shunned her, while others say she seemed to welcome their company and even hung around awhile seeking the friendships she missed out on in life. Apparently the Witch likes the day just as much as the night, so you can take your family to greet her no matter the time.

#2 – Horsethief Canyon (Fruita)

Whether floating or scrambling through this canyon, visitors often report seeing an apparition of a woman dressed in white on the trail ahead of them. Supposedly she was trampled to death by a smuggled herd of horses (yes, that’s where the canyon’s name came from). While she keeps her distance from groups, she approaches lone hikers to see if they’ll keep her company in the canyon walls. 

#1 – North Cheyenne Canyon  (Colorado Springs)

North Cheyenne Canyon is home to two haunted hikes: Helen Hunt Falls and Gold Camp Road. When visiting Helen Hunt Falls at night (which we don’t recommend, the terrain can be disorienting), hikers report hearing voices among the rocks and seeing the silhouette of a woman scrambling among the rocks. Meanwhile, Gold Camp Road is haunted 24 hours a day. Hike up to tunnel 3 and peer in to hear children’s voices and a horn (some say the tunnel collapsed on to a school bus, but there’s no official record). Most of the offshoot hikes from both Helen Hunt Falls and Gold Camp Road have also recorded strange instances: hikers feeling hands on their backs, rocks that appear blood soaked one minute and clean the next – there’s definitely something spooky happening in this area!

All of these haunted places will be haunting us for generations to come thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). However, LWCF is under a very real threat. Though it is funded by taxes on oil and gas development, Congress routinely raids the fund for other purposes – scary, right?

We’re calling on Congress to keep Colorado haunted by asking them to fully #FundLWCF moving forward so none of these haunted locations fall prey to something much scarier than ghosts. SIGN YOUR NAME TODAY!

Celebrate Father’s Day and the Governor’s Move to a More Sustainable Future

Hat tip to the dads in our lives and to Colorado’s head Dad, Gov. Jared Polis. Polis led the charge to expand opportunities and protections for Colorado kids and their future. As parents reviewing our state’s recent accomplishments our hearts are full of hope. It’s not just the obvious advancements like full-day kindergarten, which gives all of our kids a leg up, but several new policies helping Colorado’s kids, providing climate safety and security for the next generation.

New legislation signed recently by Polis requires investor-owned utilities to consider the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in electric generation planning. There are many additional costs that need to be taken into consideration beyond power plants and mines when we’re talking about burning coal. Factoring in the cost of carbon means we must consider the impact of carbon pollution on our kids’ health now and in the future.

Another win for our kids, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, passed as well. It sets up a science-based framework for reducing our carbon pollution: 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. It will be the job of the state of Colorado and agencies like the Air Quality Control Commission to achieve these goals and determine technical and policy tools needed, as well as ensure additional time to secure the input of diverse stakeholders and, importantly, the public. We’ve now been set on a path to success with additional legislation requiring that the AQCC collect greenhouse gas emissions data to know if what we’re doing is working, and by setting up the Just Transition Office to provide planning, training and grants to communities with impacted workers and communities transitioning away from coal.

Air pollution has serious impacts on our health, including asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems, developmental problems and even premature death. Recent studies also show growing evidence that links air pollution to autism. The most vulnerable, including our children, are particularly susceptible to these impacts. Health problems lead to doctor and hospital bills, missed work and school days, and other very real costs to Colorado families. Additionally, carbon pollution leads to climate change, which means higher temperatures, more wildfires, food scarcity, more severe storms and longer droughts. That is not the future we want to leave for our kids.

The American Lung Association recently released their 2019 State of the Air report. Sadly, the report shows that the Denver-Aurora metro area has moved up from the 14th worst in the nation for ozone pollution to 12th. Our dreaded brown cloud has reappeared. Our population has exploded, the number of miles driven on our roads has followed, and the number of active gas wells in our state has more than doubled since 2002, all of which leads to more pollution.

This is all happening against a backdrop of a federal administration that is repealing safeguards for our kids and the air they breathe every day. Despite efforts from some of our federal legislators — most notably Rep. Diana DeGette and her recent bill to address harmful climate pollution and methane waste from the oil and gas industry — we must rely on the states instead to be proactive and protect the future. We are grateful to Polis as well as the state Legislature for taking action toward a healthy climate future for our kids. As the father of two young children, the governor understands how critical it is that we tackle the air and carbon pollution problem and that he, like many of us, are raising our kids in Colorado for the outdoor quality of life.

Those amazing little ones that make us parents are the most important people in our worlds, but they are also the most vulnerable, and it’s our No. 1 job to protect them. This year we can all celebrate that we have elected leaders who will work with us to do so. As dads across the state get breakfast in bed or BBQ with their kids, they can breathe a little easier knowing that fellow dad Gov. Polis and our Colorado leaders are working to address our air quality problems and ensure our kids have a bright future.

A Refresher Course for Senator Gardner

Watching the recent nomination hearing of David Bernhardt for Interior Secretary, it was unsettling to hear how he suppressed internal findings about the impact of pesticides on wildlife, and then denied that multiple conflicts of interest he’s incurred for decades as an oil and gas lobbyist would be a factor in his decision-making. More unsettling was our own Sen. Cory Gardner defending Bernhardt, painting his record of favoring of energy industry clients as “valuable experience.” Such a failure to display the meaningful values in life reminded me of a favorite book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. As a parent, I love the way it shows that what we learned when we were little remains a powerful guide for our adult years. Lately I have to wonder whether Senator Gardner was absent the days they taught those lessons in school. We’ve seen so many examples of things that our junior Senator doesn’t seem to understand.  

Play fair – Most of his Colorado constituents would agree that he is hardly playing fair.  We, the Colorado public are not given the same access to him as the special interests are.  Senator Gardner has held almost no town halls where we could talk to him about the issues important to us or to ask him to explain his one-sided votes. That’s not fair.

Put things back where you found them – One of Senator Gardner’s favorite special interests is Big Oil.  He is happy to let them drill, baby, drill, wherever they would like including our public lands.  Unfortunately, while the oil companies profit, public lands never fully recover. Wildlife is often gone for good.  These lands have not left been how they found them, and they are certainly no longer areas I would take my child to run and play in the outdoors.   

Share everything – Many families choose to raise their kids in Colorado because of our outdoor lifestyle of which our shared public lands are a critical element.  It’s where we hike, camp, fish, play sports and explore with our kids. Again, Gardner seems more interested in letting the oil and gas industry do as they please without safeguards in place to protect the rest of us from this industrial activity.  He has supported repeal of the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule meaning methane leaks can continue from oil and gas operations, threatening our kids’ future. Who wants to take their children to play next to an industrial oil field full of gas leaks?  

Clean up your own mess – There are many areas of our public lands that have been damaged by industrial extraction activities and need to be cleaned up.  We would love to see Gardner lead the charge to restore them. Instead he voted to allow oil and gas drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  

Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone – Gardner voted to confirm Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency tasked with protecting public health.  Pruitt went on to institute rollback after rollback of air and water protections, ignoring the public’s health. Then he voted for former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler who had already proposed rolling back protections from mercury, a metal that can damage the brains of developing children which is of particular concern to us moms. Gardner is enabling these men to take away the safeguards that protect our children, leaving them in harm’s way.  No apologies from Gardner yet.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together – I would love for us to be able to stick together as Coloradans to protect our public lands and health.  Our quality of life and the health of our children are at stake. Unfortunately, Gardner supports the short-term gains of a few corporations, earning him an embarrassingly low 7% on the recent League of Conservation Voters scorecard.  

We moms, however, are sticking together to speak up for our kids, their health and their future. Senator Gardner may want to schedule a makeup lesson.

Colorado goes electric! Boogie Woogie Woogie

Air pollution not only affects our kids’ health in the short term, but transportation is the largest emitter of carbon pollution nationally that threatens their future as well. Reducing emissions from the transportation sector is therefore one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon pollution so we can give our kids a brighter future.

Fortunately for those of us raising our kids in Colorado our new Governor, Jared Polis, is off to a great start embracing and promoting clean air! Governor Polis has announced his first executive order – Supporting a Transition to Electric Vehicles. It states several ways the state will support the transition including that the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will consider a Zero Emission Vehicle standard for Colorado. This will mean more consumer choices and electric vehicles on the road in Colorado and is great news! (We’ll keep you updated on how you can help make it happen.)

Electric vehicles are so much more efficient than traditional vehicles that they are always cleaner regardless of the energy on the grid but get even better as the electricity to charge them gets cleaner, a trend we are enjoying in Colorado. Due to the damage that pollutants do to everyone’s health but particularly that of our children, we are hoping the Governor will continue ‘down that road’ of encouraging electric vehicles and reducing carbon pollution. Pollution not only causes asthma attacks and other respiratory problems but can also harm circulatory systems, cause developmental problems and damage the cardiovascular system.

In other good clean air news – the AQCC passed a Low Emission Vehicle standard in November. That means that Colorado will get to maintain the current air quality standards for vehicles sold in our state. Other states that haven’t passed such a standard are likely to have their air quality standards reduced by the Trump Administration. Keeping the current standards means about 30 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions won’t be dumped into the air by 2030 that otherwise would.  Moms approve!

It’s thanks to all of us who speak up for our kids that our leaders are leading on this issue. We need to continue to communicate with them and encourage them to do all they can to protect our kids.  We’ll keep you updated on ways you can do that so stay tuned!

You can join our email list here to make sure you have the latest info on how to help.

How to get the most out of your conversation with a candidate for office

Elections are coming up quickly and there is a lot on the ballot this November.  Make sure you are registered, and your address is up-to-date here. We will decide on a new Governor, Members of Congress, Colorado state House and some Senate seats, and judges in addition to many ballot initiatives.  There are lots of places to gather information on candidates including their websites, local paper endorsements and the League of Women Voters. Another resource that many people don’t know they can access are the candidates themselves. Here’s how.

  • Many candidates are out walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors to talk to their perspective constituents and that is a fantastic opportunity to have a one on one uninterrupted quick conversation.
  • Campaign events.  Call the candidates campaign or check their website to find out when they’ll be holding one near you and attend.  There is often a time at the end for questions or you can simply approach the candidates before or after the speaking portion of the event to talk to them.
  • Debates and forums – many sponsors of events will let the public submit questions. We’ve listed the remaining Gubernatorial debates below.

The best way to get the most information out of the candidate is to ask specific questions.  That way they can’t give a vague answer they think is what you want to hear but will have a better chance at getting into the details of an issue.  Here are some examples of questions on clean air and clean energy important to our kids’ futures:

  • Children are particularly susceptible to the damage done by air pollution. What types of policies would you support that actively work to reduce air and carbon pollution?
  • How will you support the transition to a clean energy economy here in Colorado, and what will you do for workers in traditional energy jobs?
  • More heat means more smog, and heat waves trigger more asthma attacks. One in 12 kids in Colorado have asthma. What will you do to slow climate change in Colorado?

Another tip is that you respectfully request an answer in person at that moment. If they simply refer you to staff or their website, you will just get generic position papers rather than an answer to your specific question. If you get answers to any of these questions from a candidate, we would love to hear what they said!  Let us know at comomsknowbest@gmail.com.

Gubernatorial debates are listed below. There may also be debates for U.S. House of Reps or for seats in the Colorado state Assembly in your neck of the woods.

  •         Oct. 17, 7 p.m. Hosted by 9News and the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
  •         Oct. 23, 6 p.m. Hosted by The Denver Post and ABC 7, at the Cable Center at the University of Denver. live online as well.

Future play spots at risk! Save this valuable outdoor recreation program!

Where do you go to play with your kids?

So many of us rely on our neighborhood park, path, playground or sports field, and our national parks, forests or monuments to get outside with our kids. Whether we want to make sure they are getting enough exercise, want to pry them away from the video games or just get them out to have some fun, many of these play destinations have something in common – they are made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

The LWCF uses funds from offshore energy development — not taxpayers — to protect our natural resources, cultural heritage and to ensure access to recreational opportunities. Some years Congress allocates more funding for projects than others, but nearly every county in Colorado has received funding for outdoor play from the LWCF.

LWCF has created countless projects in Colorado, sometimes by providing a financial match to local and state resources like GOCO. For my family, it’s meant hiking at Golden Gate and Roxborough State Parks. You can check out some of your local projects here.

Sadly, the LWCF program that makes all this possible is in jeopardy.  

President Trump attempted to cut the LWCF fund by 98% in his budget proposal this year but because the LWCF enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, we’ve been able to maintain the program with some basic funding. LWCF is set to expire this September and the Administration wants to shut it down. Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund, our ability to protect natural resources and federal public lands as well as the ability to support states as they create recreation for all, will be decimated. We need to fight to protect the LWCF!

Fortunately, both of our U.S. Senators, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner, have been champions of the LWCF. Let’s thank them but also ask that they work to permanently reauthorize LWCF before it expires in September. Many of us raise our children here in Colorado for the outdoor lifestyle. We need to help ensure our open spaces and parks will be here for our kids in the future.

You can find the local office or email both Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner from their websites. You can also give them a shout on social media @SenCoryGardner and @SenBennetCO. Ask that they permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund before it expires! And be sure to share picture of you and your family enjoying Colorado’s outdoors and use the hashtag #LWCF.

Electric vehicles are here to stay!

Have you thought of making the next family vehicle an electric vehicle (EV)? You are not alone! In fact, more and more people are making the switch. Many people are tired of pouring money into their gas-fueled vehicle with the constant fill-ups, oil changes and more. Others are motivated to ensure a healthier future for their kids by reducing their carbon footprint.

One of the many reasons we love electric vehicles is because they produce less pollutants – meaning cleaner air for our kids! Of course, the source of the electricity, a coal-fired power plant vs renewable energy, will have an impact on air quality, but electric vehicles are so much more efficient that they are always significantly cleaner than traditional gas-fueled vehicles.

You’d think we’d all be driving electric vehicles with those benefits! Unfortunately, one of the main constraints has been the lack of charging stations – giving people ‘range anxiety’.  Fortunately, charging infrastructure is catching up.! There are now more than 47,000 public EV charging outlets across the U.S., according to the Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center — up from 25,602 just three years ago.  

Yesterday, Governor Hickenlooper delivered more good news when he released the “Colorado Electric Vehicles Plan,” which he says will serve “as a road-map to build out a fast-charging network, giving Coloradans the ability to travel anywhere in the state in an EV.” The Colorado Electric Vehicles Plan creates strategies and partnerships to build out EV corridors and to ensure access for all Coloradans.

Which is important considering Colorado is one of the top 10 states in the number of electric vehicles per capita.

We hope that our state policy makers engage on this issue soon and build upon governor Hickenlooper’s leadership.

We want to hear from you about electric vehicles! Let us know what you like about your EV if you have one or what you would like to see change by filling out this survey today. Everyone who takes our poll will be entered for our door prize giveaway for a bouncy castle rental!

Jump into 2018 with Clean Air & a Jumpy Castle

We can all agree, 2017 was quite the challenge and on top of that, we are all just now recovering from the busiest time of the year. To say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, Colorado Moms Know Best has a fun surprise:

We’re giving away an amazing door prize – a $250 gift certificate for a jumpy castle rental! Get a jumping castle delivered and set up for your child’s next party!

You may be asking yourself: “Well, what do I have to do to be entered to win this sweet door prize?!” It’s simple! Below we’ve listed all the ways you can enter – and yes, you can enter more than once!

All you have to do to be entered to win is do one of the following three activities – or do more than one of the activities and get an extra entry for each one you do:

  1. Write to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to help make sure our kids grow up with clean air.
  2. Share an episode from our new weekly Facebook video series with your friends.
  3. Like our Facebook page and be subscribed to our email list.

The PUC needs to hear from us so they know that Coloradans want more renewable energy options that ensure cleaner air across the state. Please join us and ensure our message reaches the PUC! Everyone who completes at least one of the activities above will be eligible to win the gift certificate to Blaster Bouncer – take multiple activities to earn more chances to win.

Thank you for participating and ensuring our kids have clean air!

Jen Clanahan

What is the PUC?

If you’re like me and want excellent health for your kids then you probably want to see more clean, renewable energy in Colorado so that our kids have clean air to breathe.  But who makes those decisions?  It depends on the decision – some might be at the state legislature, sometimes by ballot initiative that we all vote on but often it’s up to the PUC.  

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is the regulatory body for many industries in Colorado and is made up of 3 Commissioners that are appointed by the Governor.  The PUC is responsible for assuring safe and reliable energy at rates that are reasonable.  When the utilities that provide our energy want to make changes in how they deliver our energy they often need permission from the PUC.

That process is underway right now.  Xcel energy has a proposal in front of the PUC that could speed up the process of closing Xcel’s old and dirty Comanche coal-fired power plant in favor of generating more renewable energy.  As you know, pollution stemming from facilities like the Comanche coal power plant create a number of health-related issues for everyone, but particularly for children whose lungs are still growing.  This pollution can lead to lifelong problems like exacerbating asthma and harming lung development as well as causing low birth weight. Our kids shouldn’t face such risks from something we can change.

When making their decision, the PUC will look at questions like if Xcel will still have capacity to generate enough energy to meet demands and will it cause rates to go up for Xcel’s customers.  Fortunately in this case, Xcel plans to generate more energy with renewables than will be lost with the closing of the coal plant. That generation of new renewable energy will also help replace many of the jobs from the coal plant.  Xcel has also stated that they won’t go forward with this proposal unless rates stay the same or even go down, an important stipulation for working class families.

Let’s let the PUC know we want clean energy for our kids! Join us in writing a letter to the PUC and ask that they move this Xcel proposal forward so our kids can benefit from cleaner air!  We’ve made it easy and have written a sample letter that you can use.  Just add your personal thoughts and send a letter by clicking here.