Pulling Out on Pulling Out

Hey, better late than never. Unless you hate Gravy, then ‘never’ is probably better.

Governor Bill Ritter may soon have carpal tunnel syndrome. Ritter signed 14 bills into law yesterday, including a new energy bill. As Charles Ashby of The Pueblo Chieftain reports:

Property owners who add energy-efficient devices to their homes or offices will qualify for rebates from their utility suppliers under a bill signed by Gov. Bill Ritter on Tuesday.

But to pay for the rebates, all customers of “investor-owned” utilities, such as Aquila and Xcel, will see slight increases in their monthly power bills.
The measure, HB1037, is designed to help Colorado save energy by encouraging the use of more energy-efficient appliances, such as water heaters and energy-efficient windows, Ritter said just before he signed the measure into law.

“You can do a great deal by looking at energy efficiency,” Ritter said. “People who understand the energy economy will tell you that this is a very significant way for us as a state to approach energy conservation, and make a difference in terms of our carbon footprint.”

Proponents of the measure say that despite the nominal cost increase – anywhere from 25 cents to 40 cents a month – ultimately power users will save up to $1.2 billion in energy costs over the next 20 years by installing more energy-efficient appliances.

The measure is similar to two that former Gov. Bill Owens vetoed after the 2005 and 2006 legislative sessions.

Ritter is scheduled to sign a bunch of additional bills today, as a press release from the governor’s office explains:

Gov. Bill Ritter is scheduled to sign bills Wednesday that will improve education, support crime victims and advance Colorado’s New Energy Economy.

All signing ceremonies will take place in the West Foyer of the state Capitol.

Education, 1:30-2 p.m.
HB 1345, Streamline Accountability Reports (Massey & Merrifield/Windels)
HB 1270, Education Data Systems Review and Study (Stephens/Shaffer)
HB 1320, Ed Data Technology System (Benefield/Bacon)
HB 1066, Online Education Reimbursement (Massey/Schwartz)
SB 215, Online Accountability (Windels/T. Carroll)

Criminal Justice, 2-2:30 p.m.
HB 1358, Criminal Justice Commission (T. Carroll/Gordon)
HB 1161, Juvenile Risk Assessment Training (Labuda/Boyd)
HB 1375, Report Sex Crimes Licensed Professionals (Primavera/Bacon)
SB 55, Fund for Crime Victim Services (Boyd/Green)

Renewable Energy, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
HB 1060, Bringing Biofuels to Market (Riesberg/Shaffer)
HB 1169, Net Metering (Solano/Shaffer)
HB 1288, Recycling (Solano/Shaffer)
HB 1203, Energy Management Conservation Studies (Fischer/Romer)
HB 1150, Transmission Bonding (Gardner/Kester)
HB 1279, Renewable Tax Credits (McKinley/Romer)


Democrats are pulling out on pulling out.

As The Washington Post reports:

Democrats gave up their demand for troop-withdrawal deadlines in an Iraq war spending package yesterday, abandoning their top goal of bringing U.S. troops home and handing President Bush a victory in a debate that has roiled Congress for months.

Bush, who has already vetoed one spending bill with a troop timeline, had threatened to do the same with the next version if it came with such a condition. Democratic leaders had moved ahead anyway, under heavy pressure from liberals who believe that the party won control of Congress in November on the strength of antiwar sentiment. But in the end, Democrats said they did not have enough votes to override a presidential veto and could not delay troop funding.

The spending package, expected to total $120 billion when the final version is released today, would require Bush to surrender virtually none of his war authority. Democrats were working to secure two other priorities that the president had previously resisted: an increase in the minimum wage and funding for domestic programs, including veterans’ benefits, Hurricane Katrina relief and agricultural aid.

Instead of sticking with troop-withdrawal dates, Democrats accepted a GOP plan to establish 18 political and legislative benchmarks for the Iraqi government, with periodic reports from Bush on its progress, starting in late July. If the Iraqis fall short, they could forfeit U.S. reconstruction aid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was so disappointed with the outcome that she said she might vote against the Iraq portion of the package, which will be split into two parts when it comes before the House. “I’m not likely to vote for something that doesn’t have a timetable,” she said.


Fort Carson may not be doing such a great job dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues, as Tom Roeder of The Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Congress sent dueling letters to the Defense Department on Tuesday, taking a different spin on mental-health care at Fort Carson.

Colorado lawmakers shipped off a largely laudatory statement, praising the post’s efforts to treat troops with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder while calling for more federal resources.

Others, including Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton, penned a letter that’s more critical of the post, saying, “While Fort Carson has taken some important steps to improve care for soldiers . . . the reality remains that the base is facing significant challenges in providing mental health care services.”

The letters followed a congressional staff visit to Fort Carson in the wake of allegations that some soldiers’ PTSD complaints were mishandled or ignored.

Colorado’s senators, Democrat Ken Salazar and Republican Wayne Allard, said Fort Carson is probably doing a better job of caring for troops than similar installations around the country.

“We have learned that Fort Carson is leading the Army in some health care areas and aggressively responding to the remaining challenges that vex the entire Army,” Allard said in a statement released Tuesday.

The non-Colorado group sent staffers to the post last week to interview soldiers.

“After meeting with soldiers as well as commanders at the base, our staff concluded that the stigma of mental illness is a significant barrier to care,” the senators wrote. “They also determined there is a considerable lack of resources to adequately support the psychological needs of our service members and their families, and a lack of training and education regarding mental health problems for leaders from the division level to the unit level.”


Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave apparently was finally informed that there is a scandal involving Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. As The Associated Press reports:

Colorado Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave asked embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign Tuesday “for the good of our country and out of loyalty to the president.”

Support for Gonzales has eroded as Congress investigates last year’s ousters of eight federal prosecutors and his role in a controversial warrantless eavesdropping program.

The Senate is prepared to hold a no-confidence vote on Gonzales, possibly this week, and five Republican senators have joined many Democrats in calling for his resignation.

Republicans and Democrats alike have been calling for Gonzales’ ouster for weeks. Where has Musgrave been?

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Jason Bane

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