#Coleg Notebook: Rural development death by political cuts

Day 28

#Coleg Notebook: Rural development death by political cuts

Rural development conundrum in the pipes: 

coleg notebook insert Despite early support and positive reviews, Vail Democrat Sen. Kerry Donovan’s rural development bill went down with little comment from Senate state affairs Republicans today. The bill would have made $2 million in retraining grants available for communities like those in Delta County that have seen hundreds of mine-worker layoffs in recent years. In a release, Donovan pointed out that nobody testified in opposition to the bill. She called its death a product of partisan politics.

But Donovan will likely get another shot at the goal of rural development from a slightly different angle. She’s the Senate sponsor for a similar, albeit more systemically-minded, bipartisan rural grants bill that’s just beginning to make its way through the House. Unlike Donovan’s Senate bill, HB 1177 isn’t emergency funding and the bill doesn’t yet specify how much money should go to the program, only that communities must be able to provide matching grants for the funds.

The curious case of the county commissioner: 

This time last year an Elbert County Commissioner was personally fined $1,000 after the three-person commission used taxpayer dollars to promote a ballot initiative that would raise local taxes.

“The administrative judge found them guilty of misusing public funds for a public purpose,” explained Peg Perl at nonprofit Colorado Ethics Watch. Per state statute, the judge ruled that the funds must be returned. But it didn’t make sense for the commissioners as a body to pay the $1,000 fine for misuse of public funds with more public funds, so the judge put the responsibility on the only commissioner whose name was legally a part of the case. (He couldn’t try people who aren’t named, so the other two commissioners got off free). Fast-forward to this year: 

 HB 1074, a bill that’s flying deep below the radar, essentially states that individual county commissioners, unlike individual city council or school board members, can’t get fined for using public dollars on political advocacy.

“Basically this one county commissioner got mad because he got fined and the other two didn’t,” said Perl. “It’s a quirky bad facts kind of case, but it’s producing this law where for some reason county commissioners get treated better than everybody else.”

Having passed more or less unanimously in the House, the measure is now headed for the Senate where it has a bipartisan sponsor in Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa.

Priola back on his feet:

After what can only be described as a quintessentially Colorado lawmaker injury, Rep. Kevin Priola, R- Henderson, is back at the leg. As Lynn Bartels reported, he suffered a skiing accident that left his leg requiring two plates and ten screws.


Pot regulators run into another stumper, dude: 

Last year, lawmakers passed HB 1366, which basically required marijuana edibles producers to figure out how to make a weed brownie look less like a brownie and more like drugs. Folks in the edible industry are not, suffice it to say, thrilled with this requirement. They argue that they already shell out a lot of their profit margin on childproof packaging and that education, not regulation, is the way to go. The Department of Revenue also says the bill is hard to enact because of the impracticality of visually coding some edible products. The debate, like Maureen Dowd’s edible experience, seems like it will never end:     

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About the Author

Tessa Cheek

She writes and makes photos about communities. Her book, Great Wall Style, a monograph-profile-lyric essay, is out from Images Publishing. tcheek@coloradoindependent.com | 720-440-2527 | @tessacheek

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