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Welcome to the League of Women Voters of La Plata County

2040 Film Poster

Join the League of Women Voters for the La Plata County premier of 2040  - a hybrid feature documentary that looks to the future, but is vitally important NOW!

Award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream. Structured as a visual letter to his 4-year-old daughter, Damon blends traditional documentary with dramatized sequences and high-end visual effects to create a vision board of how these solutions could regenerate the world for future generations.

Drawing on the best minds from around the world to focus on climate, economics, technology, civil society, agriculture and sustainability, 2040 maps out a pathway for change that can lead us to a more ecologically sustainable and equitable future.

Motivated by his 4-year-old daughter and concern for the planet she will inherit, Damon Gameau embarks on a global journey to meet the innovators and change makers pioneering the best solutions already available to us today to improve the health of our planet and societies.

Aimed at a broad audience that includes children and their parents, serious information is delivered with irreverence and humor.  2040 is an aspirational film full of hope about the possibility to make changes that will shift the course for humanity and the planet.

This is the narrative the 
next generation needs to see, to aspire to, and to believe is possible.

February 9, 6pm at the Durango Public Library

Free!

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Disposable bag fees, higher minimum wage and cage-free eggs:
Colorado laws going into effect for 2023

Minimum wage increase

On Jan. 1, the statewide hourly minimum wage will increase by $1.09, to $13.65 for regular employees and $10.63 for tipped employees. In Denver, the only city to set its own minimum wage, the regular rate will increase to $17.29 an hour.  Colorado’s minimum wage changes at the start of each year based on the past year’s inflation rate. The statewide increase is equal to nearly 9 percent. It’s a small silver lining amid inflation, though it also adds a new cost for employers to absorb or pass along.

Plastic bag fee

Shoppers who forget their reusable bags will feel the sting of this change quite quickly in the new year.  Starting Jan. 1, stores across the state will be required to charge ten cents for every paper or plastic bag they provide to a customer. Local governments can set the fee even higher. The money collected is split between stores and local governments, which can spend the money on recycling and related programs. Stores will get 40 percent, while the local governments get 60 percent of the money.

The universal fee is the next step toward a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that will take effect in 2024. The same law also bans single-use foam food containers starting next year.

People who show proof of being enrolled in a state or federal food assistance program are exempt from paying the fee.

The start of paid family leave deductions

Colorado workers will see their paychecks shrink slightly in the new year, as the state starts collecting the fees that will eventually fund a new paid leave program, open to workers taking time off to care for themself, a new child, or an ill loved one, among other reasons.

Up to $4.50 for every $1,000 of wages will be withheld from many worker’s paychecks.

Additional penalties for late vehicle registrations 

Coloradans who fail to register a vehicle within 90 days of moving from out of state will have to pay additional penalties. The new law closes a loophole that exempted vehicle owners with a temporary registration permit from another state from paying late fees when registering their vehicle with the Department of Revenue. 

According to a state fiscal analysis in 2021, around 500,000 vehicles were registered with an expired temporary registration permit. 

Under the new law vehicle owners who register late will need to pay back taxes and fees. The change is estimated to bring in nearly $7.6 million additional dollars to the state this next fiscal year, and $15.4 million in fiscal year 2023-24.

Increase use of alcohol-monitoring technology after DUIs

Colorado will require more people to wear alcohol-monitoring devices if they’re convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Under SB22-055, any person who’s put on probation for a felony drunk or drugged driving offense will be required to wear a device that can detect if they’re consuming alcohol. They’ll have to wear the “continuous alcohol monitoring” devices for at least 90 days.

The change applies to the most significant DUI charges, which can be pressed when a drunk driver seriously injures or kills someone in a crash, or if a person has racked up multiple past convictions. 

It’s the nation’s first law mandating the use of the technology, according to manufacturer Scram Systems, although Colorado judges can already choose to require them in some cases. If the device detects a person is drinking, their probation can be revoked and they could be jailed.

The rule isn’t ironclad: People can be exempted from the monitoring requirement if they live in an area where they can’t “reasonably obtain” the device, or if it would not be “in the best interests of justice.” People forced to use the devices are charged $8 to $10 per day to cover the cost, unless they’re unable to afford it.

State analysts expect that nearly 900 people per year will be required to wear the monitoring devices under the new law — quadruple the current number.

The law also includes a change that could help some people get back on the road faster after a DUI conviction, assuming they’re willing to have an alcohol-detection system in the car.

People convicted of DUI, DWAI or excess blood-alcohol content will be able to apply immediately for an “interlock-restricted license,” meaning they can drive using a system that tests a person’s breath for alcohol before the car starts.

That’s already an option under current law, but those drivers currently must wait at least a month before applying for the interlock-restricted license. Drivers who refuse to get an interlock system face license revocations of at least nine months, starting with the first DUI offense, according to the law firm Colorado Legal Defense.

Say goodbye to eggs from caged chickens

Colorado’s largest egg providers are on the path to keeping all of their hens outside of cages. The first step, which goes into effect Jan. 1, requires that each hen have at least a square foot of floor space in their enclosure. By the start of 2025, cages will be banned altogether and hens will have to be kept in open barns, although the law does not require that they have access to the outdoors.

Proponents say the traditional system of keeping hens confined to small cages is inhumane, preventing the birds from performing natural behaviors like perching and dust bathing. However, the transition could significantly increase the cost of a dozen eggs. For example, the cheapest cage-free eggs on sale at Walmart are currently selling for more than double the chain’s cheapest conventional eggs.

More treatment for fentanyl users

State lawmakers passed a new law in 2022 to address criminal penalties and treatment options for fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that is deadly in small amounts.

Some elements of the bill already took effect — most notably, a new felony penalty for possession of more than a gram of the drug, which began on July 1, 2022.

But several significant provisions kick in with the new year. Starting Jan. 1, people convicted of certain drug offenses will have to undergo a substance-use assessment, and they could then be ordered into treatment, including staying at a residential facility.

County jails that receive certain state funding will have to implement policies by Jan. 1 to connect people with medication-assisted treatment and other services after they leave jail — rather than just while they’re behind bars. The state also will offer a service in 2023 to create a real-time map of overdoses and fentanyl poisonings across Colorado.

Meanwhile, the large organizations that oversee much of the state’s behavioral health system — also known as managed service organizations —  will have to establish contracts to offer short-term residential care for withdrawal, medication-assisted treatment and more.

The law, House Bill 1326, cleared the state legislature last year largely on partisan lines with Democrats in support and a small number of Republicans backing the changes. It also puts more money into addiction treatment, distribution of overdose reversal drugs, and other services. 

Tax credits for alternative transportation

Corporations will have a new incentive to provide transit passes and other transportation options to employees in 2023.

The new law, HB22-1026, replaces an older tax deduction. The previous deduction similarly encouraged companies to provide “alternative” transportation options, but state auditors found it was rarely used because it offered a “relatively low tax benefit” and due to a lack of awareness by employers.

The new credit is meant to be more beneficial and easier to use for companies. They will get a tax credit to cover up to half the cost of providing or subsidizing ridesharing, bikes or ebikes, bike and scooter rentals and other options for employees. 

Each company can collect up to $250,000 — with a maximum of $2,000 per employee using the transportation options — and the benefit is available to nonprofits and local governments, as well as private sector businesses. The tax credit is refundable, meaning that even companies without tax obligations can collect the benefit in cash instead.

State analysts estimated that about 1 percent of Colorado employees, or about 38,000 people, will receive eligible benefits in 2023. Their employers will get about $23.5 million in state tax breaks under the new law in the next fiscal year, the analysts predicted.

New rules for sellers in online marketplaces

Frequent users of online marketplaces like eBay and Facebook Marketplace will be required to provide certain identifying information to the company and their customers starting on Jan. 1.

The new requirement under HB22-1099 applies only to “high-volume” sellers with more than $20,000 in annual revenues. The marketplace will have to track information such as their bank account number, contact information, and tax identification number.

People buying products from high-volume sellers also will be provided with the seller’s full name, physical address and contact information, as well as information about any other companies that may be fulfilling the sale. Finally, marketplaces must provide a convenient way to report suspicious activity from high-volume sellers.

The bill was originally focused on shutting down criminal operations that sell large amounts of stolen retail goods. But it also could help crack down on sellers of counterfeit toys, said Danny Katz, director of the CoPIRG, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

“It’s too easy for those companies, when they don’t have to provide basic information, to use these online marketplaces to potentially put in danger kids and other consumers,” he said. “If we can identify those companies … then we can do a better job of getting those off the marketplace.”

Some platforms already are collecting some similar information about sellers. For example, Facebook Marketplace began asking all sellers this year for partial social security or tax identification numbers. Those with sales over $499 are required to provide full identification numbers.

The law passed with strong support earlier this year, with only three Republican representatives opposed and all Democrats in favor, according to data from Colorado Capitol Watch.

People who use powered wheelchairs have the right to repair them

Colorado passed the first law of this kind in the nation, allowing wheelchair owners access to parts, software and manuals so they can repair their own chairs. 

The law also gives independent repair shops the same access to materials, so that users don’t have to rely solely on manufacturers for help. This “right to repair” law does not apply to other devices such as cell phones and other electronics. 

Medicare pays for parts and labor but not for technicians’ travel time and does not pay for preventative maintenance. Because some wheelchair users aren’t able to do routine maintenance, problems can snowball until their wheelchair has stopped working altogether, leaving users with very limited mobility.

Manufacturers argued against the bill, which lawmakers passed last session, saying said that the information is proprietary and shouldn’t be shared with third parties. But people who use wheelchairs said that it can sometimes take months to get parts and service from authorized vendors, significantly affecting their quality of life. Advocates hope the change will make it easier for other shops — or even mechanics who don’t specialize in wheelchairs — to perform simple repairs.

“I think it's gonna empower those that feel comfortable with repairing their own chairs and caregivers … to repair basic items that break down over and over again,” said Rep. David Ortiz, a Democrat who sponsored the bipartisan bill. “In the medium to longer term, I expect that you'll see more shops opening up that will also start providing those parts and repairs in a timely manner.”

Additional funding for backcountry search and rescue operations 

A surcharge increase on snowmobile and off-road vehicle licenses will help pay for more funds for backcountry search and rescue equipment and training. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife will oversee the program, which was previously located within the Division of Local Affairs. 

The division still needs to conduct a rulemaking process to set the new fees. Backcountry search and rescue cards which people can purchase also go to fund search and rescue operations. 

The new law also would give dependents of people who die in search and rescue operations free in-state college tuition.

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Survey suggests majority of La Plata County residents want universal health care

 

Respondents dissatisfied with private insurance, delayed seeking medical care because of costs


By Megan K. Olsen Herald Staff Writer

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 7:53 PM Updated Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 11:29 AM


A La Plata County survey indicates a majority of residents want an improvement in availability of local physicians and hospitals, as well as overall affordable health care coverage.


Dissatisfaction in La Plata County’s health care system was evident in a recent survey conducted by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County from March to September, which asked residents to give their opinions and experiences on the local physicians, hospitals and insurance companies.


The survey was anonymous and garnered a total of 546 responses from a variety of local demographics. The majority of respondents were older La Plata County residents with nearly 40% having a household income of $100,000 or more.


“We did skew a little bit to an older group of people, and a lot of them are on Medicare,” said Jan Phillips, health care Advocacy and Action Committee chair for the League of Women Voters. “People who are using health care services and have a little higher income level (answered the survey). There were so many concerns and issues that are pretty reflective of the needs of our health care system.”


Those respondents who have private health insurance were 65% less satisfied with their coverage compared to those with 70% public health insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The most common complaint among those with private health insurance were the high cost of insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Fifty-eight percent avoided seeking medical care as a result of those costs, whereas only 37% of those with public health care avoided seeking medical care because of cost reasons.


As one respondent said in the comments section of the survey, “There are plenty of elective surgeries that I would like to get done (vasectomy, knee, etc.) but burden of cost prevents me from seeking a better quality of life.”


Another respondent commented that he or she simply refrained from taking prescription medication because of the high cost. “I try not to take prescription drugs because they are too expensive and don’t fit in my budget,” the respondent said. A third respondent said he or she turns to Canada for prescription medication.


Satisfaction with local physicians and hospitals, as well as availability, was also given low to moderate ratings by La Plata County residents. The quality of local physicians and hospitals fared a little better with a high rating of 39%, though 25% of respondents still gave it a low rating. The lowest ratings were given to the availability and the length of time to get an appointment to see local physicians. Accessibility to a full array of health care services in La Plata County was also a concern.


“I think any system that moves us toward universal care is vital,” said one respondent. Another respondent pointed out the problem with not being able to qualify with any insurance companies. “The reason my husband and I (age 64 and 62) have no medical insurance is because we don’t fit the mold for The Affordable Care Act, and we do not qualify for eligibility with the independent insurance companies. We are too old, make too much money, and live rurally,” they said.


When asked whether health care was a human right, 87% of respondents agreed, while 8% remained neutral on the question and 6% disagreed. Fewer respondents agreed that health care should be a nonprofit industry, with 73% agreeing and 10% disagreeing. Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed, however, that a universal health care system should be established. Eighty-two percent of respondents also believe the government should be able to negotiate drug prices for Medicare, and 65% believe Medicare needs to be expanded to American citizens 50 and over.


“Many times, instead of going to the doc,” commented one respondent, “I just wait and see if whatever malady gets better.”


Phillips said the sentiments of those in La Plata County are probably no different from those of the rest of the county. “I have a feeling we're not that dissimilar nationwide of what's going on in health care,” Phillips said. “It's discouraging. It's sad, especially in rural areas.”


Now that the League of Women Voters has a cross-section on La Plata County residents’ opinions and experiences of the local health care system, it plans to move forward with forming a coalition of local community leaders, businesses and other health care-engaged groups to explore potential solutions to health care issues.

“Hopefully, the coalition will have different subgroups working on different areas,” Phillips said. “We'd love to have the local community members involved, letting us know what their specific needs are. If they want to hear what's going on, we're hoping to be very public with what we're doing.”


Phillips also encourages La Plata County residents to become involved in the process of improving local health care.


The (respondents) comments were very telling, and that's where we were able to find a lot of the specific concerns of people, which spanned every economic level,” Phillips said. “There weren’t a whole lot of people real satisfied with the way things are working now. We want to have that kind of input from the community. If there's an area we're not addressing that they're having difficulties with, we'd like to hear about that, too.”


Details of the survey and its results can be found on the LWVLPC website.

molsen@durangoherald.com

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Health Care In La Plata County Banner



Healthcare Survey Results Are In!


The Healthcare Committee has just published the results of the survey conducted throughout La Plata County this summer - to read the summary report Click here. You can also Click here for the HealthCare Survey Executive Summary.


We are making the report available to anyone interested in healthcare in La Plata County and will be calling together representatives from various healthcare stakeholders early in 2023 to brainstorm action steps to address the concerns expressed by the 500+ respondents to the survey. Please feel free to share the documents with friends, neighbors and community leaders.


Thank you to all of you who shared your personal stories and experiences with us through this survey; we are grateful for your thoughtful comments and honored to be trusted with your heartfelt responses.

Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events

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Health Care In La Plata County Banner


Durango held its last Farmer's Market on Saturday October 29 and what a great season it was! Thank you to all the members who volunteered to staff our booth and register voters, answer questions about the ballot and generally engage in lively and passionate conversations with our neighbors and out-of-town visitors about steps we can all take to empower voters and defend our democracy.


Thanks to this young lady from the Durango Circus who joined LWV La Plata Board Member Leslie O'Loughlin to give a big shout out for voting!








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Story Corps Logo
Golden Rule Video Still

Do you believe we have more in common than what divides us? Have a conversation, and see for yourself. 

 


Join in community conversations sponsored by our local NPR station, KSUT – and their new project “One Small Step”. 

One Small Step conversations are not to debate or convince. They’re simply a chance to break the ice: to talk about who we are as people, what we care about, and our dreams for the future.

Ask and answer questions like:

“Who has been the most influential person in your life? What did they teach you?”

“Is there someone you disagree with but still love or respect?”

“What are your fears or concerns about the future of our country?”

One Small Step helps us move beyond labels like "Democrat" and "Republican" and into the life experiences that shaped how each of us sees our world.

KSUT is teaming up with civic organizations, churches, and other community groups and leaders to spread the word and connect Four Corners residents from all backgrounds who are ready to take One Small Step.

Do you want to get your group or organization involved in the effort? Contact Adam Burke at onesmallstepksut@gmail.com for more details.  KSUT will be matching participants and hosting recorded conversations throughout 2022.

Click here to learn more and sign up for a conversation



 

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League Advocacy and Action

A Voting Rights Rollercoaster

After escalating actions demanding that President Biden do all within his power to promote voting rights legislation, the League was thrilled to see POTUS stand for the freedom to vote and call for the end of the filibuster. His shift was a direct result of all the work activists undertook in 2021.

January also saw disappointments, such as the Senate's failure to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. During this time, we're reminded of the many obstacles that the Voting Rights Act faced before passing; we know that our current fight, though no less challenging, will be successful.

Tackling Gerrymandered Maps

State Leagues and partners across the US are taking legal action to counter gerrymandered maps. The League has joined cases in Baltimore County, MD, and the state of Georgiaopposing racial gerrymandering.

To stay up to date on this work, sign up for our People Powered Fair Mapsnewsletter.

New Staff and Digital Design in 2022

The League kicked off the new year by welcoming several new team members to the national office, including Press Secretary Shannon Augustus and Senior Director for Voting and Elections Adam Ambrogi. The recruitment process isn't over, either—the League is currently searching for organizers, analysts, marketers, and more to join our team.

We also launched a fresh new website design to better showcase the League's priorities and promote resources like VOTE411 and our legal cases. This is just the first in a series of digital enhancements, so stay tuned!


About Us - LWVLPC Leadership Team




The League is nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.  We encourage informed and active participation in government, and work to increase understanding of major public policy issues.  We influence public policy through education and advocacy based on policy positions that are adopted by our members following studies and agreement.



The League of Women Voters of La Plata County has restated its goals
for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion -

The League of Women Voters of La Plata County works for a stronger democracy, rooted in principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our JEDI working group is committed to ensuring that every voice is heard, every individual is counted, and every person has a seat at the table. 2/22/2021

Leadership Team 021722


Our LWVLPC Leadership Team for 2021-2022


Board of Directors

Laurie Meininger, President

Diane Goodchild, Vice President

Siggy Palmer, Treasurer

Martha Mason, Secretary (not pictured)

Trish Pegram, Director at Large (not pictured)

Alex Lemmel, Director at Large

Jean Aaro, Immediate Past President



Committee Leaders

Karen McManus– Voter Services Team * (looking of a new team leader)

Diane Goodchild - Membership Team

Alex Lemmel - JEDI Team

Jan Phillips - Health Care Advocacy and Action Team

Gale Zander-Barlow - Climate Advocacy and Action Team (not pictured)

Vacant – Communications & Technology Team, Webmaster


Contact us via Our Contact Page