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Colorado Legislature may take sides in Forest Service-ski industry water rights showdown

Interim committee of Colorado lawmakers to grapple with several water-related bills this week.

Interim review committee to discuss several water measures this week

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado lawmakers may weigh in on a dispute between the ski industry and the U.S. Forest Service with a resolution opposing the federal agency’s efforts to protect publicly owned water rights originating on national forest lands.

The proposed resolution, under review by an interim legislative committee, would oppose a new Forest Service water rights clause in ski area special use permits that would bar resorts from transferring certain water rights to third  parties.

The Forest Service clause also requires ski areas to transfer certain water rights to the United States or to subsequent special permit use holders if a permit is terminated.

The measure is one of several water bills on the agenda during a session of the interim Water Resources Review Committee. The bills will be discussed by lawmakers Thursday (Sept. 27) morning, with public testimony in the afternoon. The session will be streamed on the web. Go to this Colorado Legislature website and click on the House Committee 0112 link. Continue reading

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Colorado Dems target Senate District 8 as key race

Emily Tracy.

Competitive senate district encompasses resorts, rural ag communities

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Following Randy Baumgardner’s victory in the Senate District 8 GOP primary, state democratic leaders say that Emily Tracy‘s bid for the seat has become a top-tier race in the contest to hold on to a slim majority in the State Senate.

Tracy, a Breckenridge resident, is former city councilwoman and a trained mediator with a career in child protection. She will receive financial, communications, grassroots and strategic support from the party organization in what could be a tight race in a presidential election year. Continue reading

Colorado: State Rep. Millie Hamner kicks off reelection bid

State Rep. Millie Hamner.

New House District looks very competitive

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with an intense race for the White House, there will be a fierce battle for control of the Colorado Legislature in November, and the newly formed House District 61, including Summit County, could be a key race.

Unaffiliated voters make up a significant plurality both in Summit County and the rest of the district, with Democrats holding a slight edge over Republicans in the West Slope district, which now puts Summit County together with Lake, Pitkin and parts of Delta and Gunnison counties.

State Rep. Millie Hamner is the incumbent but will have to contest the seat in a big new geographical area, where her focus on education should resonate with voters. Hamner is kicking off her campaign today (June 19) with a fundraising event at Pug Ryan’s in Dillon, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Hamner will face either Summit County’s Debra Irvine or David Justice, who are currently contesting a Republican primary, and she may have an additional challenge from veteran lawmaker Kathleen Curry, who is currently petitioning to get a ballot spot as an independent candidate. Continue reading

Colorado law would try to force the sale of federal lands

Colorado Republicans want BLM and Forest Service to sell off land suitable for agriculture and share the proceeds with the state

This meadow at Shrine Pass has a history of sheep grazing, so presumably, a proposed bill the Colorado Legislature would require the U.S. Forest Service to sell it and give 5 percent of the proceeds to the state. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Republican Colorado legislators are putting a new twist on the concept of takings by introducing a bill that would try force the federal government to sell off public lands that are suitable for agriculture.

House Bill 12-1322 would require agencies like the Forest Service to sell those lands by Dec. 31, 2012. Any land not sold by that date would no longer be exempt from property taxes, and would also require the federal government to pay the state 5 percent of the net sales proceeds from the sales.

The money would be earmarked for water projects and education. The bill exempts  national parks, private property, land held in trust by the state and land belonging to tribes. Continue reading

Colorado: Civil unions bill dies in committee

A civil unions bill in Colorado may be dead in the water after reactionary Republicans voted it down in the House Judiciary Committee.

Ideology trumps reason, as conservative lawmakers swim against  the current of public opinion

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservative Republicans on the Colorado House Judiciary Committee Thursday effectively killed a civil unions bill that would have given same-sex couples critical legal protections, including the ability to inherit property, to take family leave to care for a partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, and to make medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner.

The party line vote came after hours of testimony, and the outcome didn’t surprise backers, who were concerned when the measure was sent to the judiciary panel, which includes three El Paso right-wing Republicans who opposed the bill on ideological grounds.

“Today’s vote was out of touch with everyday Colorado voters. With 72 percent of Coloradans in support of civil unions, House Republicans are out of the mainstream,” said Brad Clark, director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Once again, they have turned their backs on Colorado families and kids.” Continue reading

Colorado House passes anti-bullying measure

The Colorado House has passed a statewide bullying prevention measure that could set up a grant program to help school districts establish effective programs. PHOTO BY GREG O'BEIRNE VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Grant program could help school districts set up effective programs

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado House of Representatives today passed a bill that creates an anti-bullying grant program and requires school districts to adopted comprehensive, evidence-based anti-bullying policies.

HB-1254 passed on a -18 bipartisan vote and will now move to the Senate. The goal of the measure is to reduce the frequency of bullying in public schools. Some school districts have effective programs in place. The statewide measure should help those districts that are lagging behind. Continue reading

Colorado budget crunch spurs listening tour

State. Rep. Millie Hamner.

Colorado lawmakers want input on how to fill a gaping $1 billion hole; two West Slope stops scheduled

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Halfway through the 2011 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers are still working on the most vexing part of their agenda — how to balance a budget that has a $1 billion hole.

According to an email circulated by State Rep. Millie Hamner, the budget will include deep cuts to services and programs throughout state government. But the devil, as always, is in the detail, and before making those cuts, elected representatives want to hear from their constituents.

Together with Rep. Roger Wilson and Sen. Gail Schwartz, Hamner is part of a statewide listening tour this weekend, with two West Slope stops:

Eagle County
When:  Saturday, March 19th, 2011, 10 a.m.-11:30am
Where:  Eagle County Room, 590 Broadway, Eagle

Western Slope
When:  Saturday, March 19th, 2011, 1 p.m.-2:30pm
Where:  Garfield County Administration Building, 108 8th Street, Suite 100, Glenwood Springs. Continue reading

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