Now you know: May 4, 2023

This week’s news in Boulder County and beyond


State passes gun laws 

Colorado is taking steps to address gun violence in the state. 

Gov. Jared Polis on April 28 signed four bills into law establishing a three-day minimum waiting period to receive a purchased firearm (HB23-1219) and increasing the minimum age to possess a firearm to 21 (SB23-169), among other things.

Grassroots group Colorado Ceasefire has long advocated for gun-law reform in the state. 

“While none of the measures [are] a fix-all, addressing the problem in various steps means we can begin to address the gun fatalities affecting our state,” the organization wrote in a statement to Boulder Weekly. “The enactment of these measures indicates that gun violence prevention is on the move in Colorado.”

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2021 had the highest rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people (18.2) in the last four decades. 

Senate Bill 23-168 opens the civil court system to lawsuits against gun manufacturers and their products if its product was used in an act of violence. 

In addition to family members and law enforcement, SB23-170 expands who can petition for an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) —  often called red flag laws — to medical care providers, educators and district attorneys. ERPOs temporarily restrict access to or could lead to the confiscation of a firearm or concealed carry permit of someone who “poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm.” 

“We are taking some important steps to help make Colorado one of the 10 safest states, and building upon the ongoing work to make Colorado communities safer,” Gov. Polis said in a press release. 

This comes just over a month after a student opened fire at East High School in Denver and injured two school administrators, five months after the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs that killed five and wounded 17 people, and two years after the King Soopers shooting in Boulder that killed 10 people. 

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, based in Loveland, filed two lawsuits against the state over the two bills that establish a minimum wait period and increase the age to possess a firearm.
— Will Matuska

Cows build fire resilience 

Thirty-five heads of cattle are helping the city of Louisville Open Space mitigate wildfire risk. 

The city is implementing regenerative grazing practices in three designated areas of Davidson Mesa Open Space through May 14 as part of the recovery process following the Marshall Fire. 

“The collaboration with local ranchers to reduce invasive weeds and mitigate potential wildfire fuel sources while improving soil quality and community education is one that we are happy to bring to Louisville and to our valued open spaces,” Adam Blackmore, director of recreation and open space for the city of Louisville told Boulder Weekly via email. 

More regenerative grazing projects will occur on select properties, like goats on North Open Space, into the fall.
— Will Matuska

Xylazine found in drug market 

The Boulder County Drug Task Force and Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) found xylazine in the county’s illicit drug market. 

Xylazine is a drug used for sedation and muscle relaxation in animals like horses and cattle, but it’s linked to human overdose deaths across the country. Also known as “tranq,” it isn’t approved for human consumption. 

BCPH urges residents to take caution — xylazine could be mixed with heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and other narcotics. BCPH wrote in an email to BW that it is working to obtain xylazine test kits for people participating in its harm-reduction program and for those experiencing homelessness. 

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported xylazine is a threat across the country — finding 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in 2022 contained xylazine. 

BCPH says to administer Naloxone if an overdose is suspected and someone is unresponsive.
— Will Matuska


With Boulder City Council set to vote on May 4 on whether to remove Lisa Sweeney-Miran as a member of the Police Oversight Panel (POP), her lawyer maintains that City Council does not have the authority to do so. 

In a May 1 letter to the city attorney, Teresa Tate, and deputy city attorneys, Erin Poe and Sandra Llanes, Dan Williams of Hutchinson, Black and Cook disagrees with Poe’s April 20 assessment that City Council has the power to remove Sweeney-Miran from the POP under a general city ordinance governing management of boards and commissions. 

“[The Boulder Municipal Code] doesn’t reference [the POP] as a board or commission,” Williams tells Boulder Weekly. [The POP] actually has provisions that would be inconsistent with the idea that this is a board or commission. It doesn’t function like a board or commission.” According to Williams, boards and commissions must be composed of Boulder residents and make recommendations to City Council, whereas the POP can include nonresidents (those employed in Boulder or with children in Boulder schools) and makes recommendations on police oversight to the Boulder Police Department.  

Williams also maintains that special counsel Clay Douglas’ recommendation to remove Sweeney-Miran falls outside his task to investigate a number of code of conduct complaints, two of which claim that Sweeney-Miran has been publicly critical of police and is unable to make impartial decisions on the panel. However, neither of the two code of conduct complaints directly accuse Sweeney-Miran of misconduct. One complaint accuses members of the POP selection committee of misconduct by selecting Sweeney-Miran. The second complaint accuses six members of Boulder City Council of misconduct by voting to approve Sweeney-Miran’s seat on the panel. 

“Given Mr. Douglas was not tasked with making recommendations outside of what is specified in the code of conduct,” Williams wrote in his letter, “Mr. Douglas’s gratuitous suggestion [to remove Sweeney-Miran from the POP] should be treated for what it is — public input from a non-city resident that does not require any further action by City Council.” 

At its regular meeting on May 4, Council has the option to accept the findings of Douglas’ report and remove Sweeney-Miran, reject the findings in the report and confirm Sweeney-Miran’s panel position, or “take other action as Council decides in its discretion.”
— Caitlin Rockett