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Sen. Mark Udall votes against assault weapons ban

Colorado lawmaker says bill was too broad, bu supports expanded background checks and limits on high-capacity ammo clips

Sen. Mark Udall said Coloradans are entitled under the second amendment to own weapons that can be used to commit mass murder.

Sen. Mark Udall says Coloradans are entitled under the Second Amendment to own weapons that can be used to commit mass murders.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO— Facing reelection next year, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) this week voted against a proposed ban on assault weapons, saying the measure was too broad for his gun-toting Colorado constituents.

Udall did support a background check bill, which failed when four Democratic senators, all up for reelection next year, voted against it. According to many polls, more than 90 percent of Americans support stronger background checks.

Udall dusted off the Second Amendment and said, “Coloradans, including sportsmen, hunters and responsible gun owners, agree that we need to keep dangerous military-style weapons off of our streets and out of places like our schools and movie theaters. Continue reading

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Colorado: More wrangling over the Roan Plateau, as the BLM takes comments for another environmental impact statement

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A view of the Roan Plateau from a NASA satellite.

BLM starts new environmental study for drilling leases in sensitive wildlife area

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With comments coming in on a revised BLM study for fossil fuel development on Colorado’s Roan Plateau, it’s clear that there’s little common ground between the energy industry and conservation groups.

Hunters, anglers and environmentalists want the federal agency to set strict protections for natural resources, while oil and gas companies say the government needs to get on with opening the area for drilling as required under federal law.

A federal court last year ruled that the 2008 drilling plan didn’t consider conservation-oriented options, and that it didn’t adequately analyze the cumulative air quality impacts of oil and gas drilling. The BLM has acknowledged that developing up to 1,500 wells on the Roan Plateau would permanently alter some areas of high quality fish and wildlife habitat.

Meanwhile, fossil fuel stakeholders, represented by the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association also submitted comments, explaining that federal law requires the Roan Plateau to be leased and calling on the BLM to make only the specific supplemental analysis required by the court. Continue reading

Colorado may repeal the death penalty

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A bill to repeal the death penalty in Colorado is pending in the State Legislature.

State following national trend

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Following in the footsteps of at least a half-dozen other states, Colorado lawmakers this week will start considering a bill that would repeal the death penalty.

The measure was introduced in the Colorado Legislature this week, and got some immediate support from a group of 30 family members of Colorado murder victims, including Robert Autobee, whose son Eric was a prison guard and killed by an inmate. Continue reading

Colorado: Fort Collins moves closer to fracking ban

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SkyTruth created this map with 2008 data, showing the general location of oil and gas drilling activities in Colorado.

Town seeks to protect health and well-being of residents; critics say local bans violate state law

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Creating yet another headache for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pro-fracking administration, Fort Collins this week voted to ban oil and gas exploration — including hydraulic fracturing — within city limits.

The 5-2 city council vote came after a several hours of citizen testimony, with a large majority of residents apparently in favor of a drilling ban. To become final, the ordinance must be passed by another vote in a few weeks.

Arguments over the ban remain the same. Supporters of the ban say the industrial processes associated with fossil fuel development don’t belong anywhere near residential areas, and the chemicals and air pollution associated with drilling pose a significant health risk. Continue reading

Colorado: Governor requests spending increases for education, wildfire mitigation and fracking studies

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

State ranks near the bottom for per-pupil funding

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As Colorado’s budget picture continues to brighten, Gov. John Hickenlooper this week requested budget amendments that would boost spending on education and allocate funds to study environmental impacts of energy development and for forest health work.

The 2013-2014 budget will be the first in several years that includes more spending on education and without any big cuts. Overall, the state’s general fund is expected grow by about $.5 billion, from 7.6 billion to $8.1 billion.

State budget officials said Hickenlooper’s request fulfills his intent to spend increased revenue on education, public health, safety and infrastructure. Specifically, spending on k-12 education would increase by $12.8 million, boosting per-student funding to $6,607 dollars, up $228 from last year.

Only a handful of states spend less per pupil than Colorado, including Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, North Carolina. See the rankings here. Top-ranked states like New York, Vermont and Connecticut spend about twice as much per student. Continue reading

Colorado: Udall pushes for additional wildfire funding

Recovery in an area burned by the Waldo Canyon Fire, near Colorado Springs, Photo courtesy PSICC.

Recovery in an area burned by the Waldo Canyon Fire, near Colorado Springs, Photo courtesy PSICC.

Emergency funds sought to help preparedness

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With some fire experts expecting another bad fire season next summer, a pair of Democratic senators from the Rocky Mountain region are trying to boost funding for the Forest Service.

An amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance offered by Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) would allocate an additional $653 million for firefighting and fire prevention.

The funds would be used to pre-position ground crews, hot shots, and air support in places where wildfire risk is very high. The funds also would be available for the acquisition of additional large air tankers and the removal of hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface, the fire-prone areas between cities and the backcountry. Continue reading

Colorado lawmakers ask feds to back off on marijuana

Congressional delegation readies bill that would exempt Colorado from federal Controlled Substances Act

Will Colorado and the federal government find common ground?

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal enforcement actions in Colorado against individuals for possession of marijuana would be a bad idea, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said Friday.

Along with 15 other Democratic congressmen, Polis sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and DEA chief Michele Leonhart, urging the federal government to take no action against anyone who acts in compliance with the laws of Colorado, Washington and any other states that choose to regulate access to marijuana. Continue reading

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