Bente Birkeland

Bente is an award-winning journalist who joined Colorado Public Radio in August 2018 after a decade of reporting on the Colorado state capitol for the Rocky Mountain Community Radio collaborative and KUNC. In 2017, Bente was named Colorado Journalist of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and she was awarded with a National Investigative Reporting Award by SPJ a year later.

Professional Background:

Before joining CPR and KUNC, she was a reporter at KMOX Radio and KOMU TV, and also worked as a research analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Awards:

In 2017, Bente was named Colorado Journalist of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and she was awarded with a National Investigative Reporting Award by SPJ a year later. She also won an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2015 for her work on KRCC’s series on the Southwest Chief, “Railroad West.”

Throughout her career, Bente has been honored with various accolades from the Colorado Broadcaster’s Association, the Association of Statehouse Reporter and Editors, the Third Coast International Audio Festival, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Mortar Board National Honorary Society and the Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Honorary Society.

Education:

Bachelor’s degree economics with a mathematical emphasis, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Master’s degree in journalism, University of Missouri

  • State lawmakers return to the capitol on Wednesday and they face a tough political climate. Several members are running for higher office. The makeup in the senate has also changed since last session: two Democrats were recalled for supporting stricter gun laws, and another Democrat resigned rather than face a potential recall election.
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  • State lawmakers are once again heading into a legislative session following a school shooting. Colorado passed controversial gun laws earlier this year in the wake of the Aurora theatre shooting and the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
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  • Democratic state lawmakers say a new law requiring universal background checks for gun purchases is working well. Data from the Department of Public Safety shows 2% of private gun sales were blocked because of the law.
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  • Colorado’s energy industry trade group is now involved on three fronts with lawsuits over voter approved fracking bans or moratoriums. The latest move involved the announcement of suits against Lafayette and Fort Collins.  A lawsuit is already pending against the city of Longmont for a ban approved in 2012.
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  • A new study from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business shows that it may be difficult to quantify how droughts, fires and floods are impacting the state’s economy over the long term. But it’s safe to say natural disasters are already influencing public policy and are requiring communities to shift their thinking.
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  • Colorado’s budget is not structurally sound, according to a new study released yesterday. Economists from Colorado State University say over the long term, the state will spend more money than it receives. As Bente Birkeland reports, the study points to a number of causes.
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  • Colorado’s Energy industry is continuing to make the case that hydraulic fracturing is safe and a critical part of the state’s economy. They’re stepping up efforts following the recent passage of fracking bans and moratoriums in three Front Range communities. The outcome of a ban in Broomfield has yet to be determined.
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  • Theater projectors are going where most of the dazzling special effects in summer blockbusters have gone: All digital. In 2014, Hollywood will no longer release movies on traditional film stock.
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  • Less than a year away from the 2014 election, a new poll from Quinnipiac University shows Governor John Hickenlooper edging out his Republican challengers, but as Bente Birkeland reports, reaction is also mixed to some of his policies.
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  • Originally published on November 18, 2013 3:15 pm Calling them ‘groundbreaking,’ Governor John Hickenlooper proposed new statewide air quality rules for oil and gas drilling Monday. The rules aim to reduce air pollution from methane emissions.
    A drilling rig nestled in the greenspace between developments in Frederick, Colo., Aug. 2013.A drilling rig nestled in the greenspace between developments in Frederick, Colo., Aug. 2013.
  • Colorado voters support taxing recreational marijuana, but gave a crushing defeat to a proposed billion-dollar tax increase for public schools. In this special election edition of Capitol Conversation, Bente Birkeland analyzes the long- term impacts of the election results with political reporters.
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  • Colorado voters gave a mixed reaction at the ballot box on a pair of statewide tax increases during yesterday’s election. As Bente Birkeland reports, voters didn’t want to tax themselves to pay for education, but were overwhelmingly willing to tax recreational marijuana to help rebuild schools.
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  • A new state committee tasked with studying wildfire issues has wrapped up its work. The bi-partisan group of lawmakers is recommending a tax credit to encourage people to mitigate fire risks and a proposal to give individual counties more authority to cut down hazardous trees. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
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  • Originally published on October 23, 2013 3:03 pm A bipartisan committee of 12 Colorado lawmakers will soon meet to examine the state’s response to September’s devastating Front Range floods. Of concern is infrastructure.
    Flooded areas are seen from a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Boulder County, Colo., Sept. 18, 2013.Flooded areas are seen from a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Boulder County, Colo., Sept. 18, 2013.
  • Originally published on October 21, 2013 2:43 pm Colorado is preparing for the state’s first recreational marijuana stores to open this January. In the meantime, voters still have the final say on how the new product will be taxed through Proposition AA.
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  • Originally published on October 16, 2013 10:31 am With just over three weeks until the election, the campaign asking Colorado voters to approve a $1 billion tax increase to pay for improvements to public schools are planning what they call a robust door-to-door operation.
    Governor John Hickenlooper meets with members of the business group Colorado Succeeds, which has endorsed the measure.Governor John Hickenlooper meets with members of the business group Colorado Succeeds, which has endorsed the measure.