House protects against flood-damaged car sales; Senate battles over pipelines, paint cans

Not shopping for a submarine car? House has your back.


The House has moved forward a bipartisan consumer protection bill to keep consumers from unwittingly buying a flood-damaged cars.  HB 1100 is sponsored by Rep. Spencer Swalm of Centennial and Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver.

Swalm said the bill was inspired by Hurricane Sandy’s fallout. After the devastation back East, peculiarities of Colorado’s auto title laws made it possible for seedy salespeople to ship in and sell vehicles damaged by the hurricane’s flooding without notifying consumers about the cars’ history.

“The damage was often not very visible, just water that got into electrical components,” Swalm said.

The sponsor added that the measure, which would  end what’s known — ironically — as “title washing,” would also protect consumers from any local business’s foul play while Colorado’s used car industry recovers from our own devastating floods last year.

“This is a nonpartisan bill about consumer protections, not Democratic consumers, not Republican consumers — all consumers,” Pabon said. 

The bill will go up for a third-reading vote tomorrow.

Senate Republicans fit to bust over proposed paint recycling program

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Senator Linda Newell of Littleton’s bill (SB 29) to establish an environmentally-sound architectural paint disposal program hit a serious partisan roadblock on third reading in the Senate today. Virtually every Republican senator worth his or her local-control, anti-mandate salt took the floor to speak out against the bill, resulting in a lengthy session for all.

“This is a mandate in every respect. Read the bill. The word ‘must’ is repeated over and over,” griped Sen. David Balmer of Centennial.

“This boils down to a matter of trust — trust in the public that elects us. We trust them for that, don’t we? Then why can’t we trust them to figure out the proper way to dispose of paint?” Asked Sen. George Rivera of Pueblo.

Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango said the bill also raised logistical concerns for rural Coloradans. She noted that part of the measure requires that 90 percent of Coloradans have a permanent paint collection site within 15 miles of their home.

“The only thing within a fifteen mile radius of a lot of homes in my district is coyotes … This would be extremely challenging in an urban environment. But in a rural one it is unworkable,” she said.

Funding to set up the program was a major point of contention. In other states, similar environmental stewardship programs cost about 75 cents extra per gallon of paint.

Sen. Steve King of Grand Junction noted that in his district, landfills charge a small ‘tipping fee’ which hasn’t gone up in five years and which provides for environmentally sound disposal of 9,000 gallons of paint each year at virtually no cost to taxpayers.

“Local control is where you find innovation and problem solving. One-size-fits all doesn’t fit anyone right,” concluded King.

The measure was finally amended to formally tie the per-gallon fee to the actual cost of the program. The bill passed second reading and will come up for a final vote tomorrow.

Private pipelines get right of way in Senate

After serious debate yesterday, the Senate approved Sen. Cheri Jahn’s bill giving private companies the right to use private land in the name of the public good. That public good is, in effect, energy companies’ ability to move oil and gas through pipelines.

SB 93 would clarify current statue, which allows electrical companies to install lines on private land, to also include pipelines for fuels like oil and gas.

The bill comes in response to a 2012 court case between private land owners in Weld County and Sinclair Transportation Co. in which the Colorado Supreme Court decided the law didn’t give Sinclair the right to build a pipeline on private land if the owners refused.

Jahn said the bill is little more than a technical clarification of a statute which has allowed private companies to forcibly purchase the use of private lands for some 139 years.

Be that as it may, a bipartisan coalition of senators felt the bill raised important land-use concerns that didn’t merit such easy approval.

Senator Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud said the measure would private companies the power of eminent domain — the right granted strictly to public entities by the 5th amendment of the U.S. Constitution to control private land for public use.

“I should hope most private companies in Colorado serve the public good, but that’s not the same as public use. Public use is when private land is taken for a public road to be put in place or expanded,” said Lundberg.

“This bill, which supposedly makes a little technical adjustment to move us back to where we thought we were, in fact puts before us a significant question. ‘Shall private businesses be allowed to take property as if they were the government and as if it were for public use, when they aren’t?”

SB 93 passed final reading by a solid 14 votes, but not without a couple staunch liberals — Sens. John Kefalas, Matt Jones and Irene Aguilar — joining Lundberg’s no.

House says treat yourself to low copay wellness

Yesterday, Rep. Amy Stephens — who at the time was still a formal U.S. Senate hopeful — took the floor amid controversy about how she’ll vote on Republican college Janak Joshi’s to repeal the very state health care exchange Stephens helped set up in 2011. Stephens threw her bipartisan weight behind a bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera to cap co-payments for medical services like physical therapy at the same rate as primary care visits.

In keeping with his Tea Party record of staunch health care disagreement, Joshi took the floor to critique the bill for capping co-payments on such services as acupuncture and chiropractic. Both Joshi and Rep. Spencer Swalm said that while the bill sounds like a good deal, consumers will see a financial hit on their premiums.

Primavera disagreed, calling the bill a smart incentive for preventative care.

“This is a good bill for small businesses, for rural Colorado, and for overall health,”  she said.

The measure passed final vote today without any debate and also without a vote from Stephens, who was absent and excused.