Colorado lawmaker says bill was too broad, bu supports expanded background checks and limits on high-capacity ammo clips
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.
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.
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 may repeal the death penalty”→
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.
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.
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: Udall pushes for additional wildfire funding”→
Congressional delegation readies bill that would exempt Colorado from federal Controlled Substances Act
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 “Colorado lawmakers ask feds to back off on marijuana”→