The Colorado Independent,2020
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Two state lawmakers from mountain districts are working Capitol Hill the next couple of days in a bid to get the federal government to find some funds to fight the growing mountain pine beetle infestation that has laid waste to more than 2 million acres of Colorado forest. State Rep. Christin Scanlan, D-Dillon, and state Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, whose districts have been ravaged by the rice-sized bugs, testified before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Tuesday that resulting wildfires could knock out the nation’s electrical grid and spoil water supplies for millions of downstream consumers in other states.
Picture a scenario sometime after 2010 where -- if Gov. Bill Ritter is reelected and the Dems keep control of the statehouse -- we’ll all be driving plug-in hybrids that run on a mix of ethanol and ground-up bark beetles, with tiny snowboarders emblazoned on our license plates. It’s a nightmare vision for most right-wingers, straight out of the Shangri-La they sneeringly refer to as the “People’s Republic of Boulder,” but it’s a little closer to reality today after Governor Renewable signed House Bill 1331, which provides state tax incentives for high-tech, fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Colorado Senate finally gave an initial OK to an $18 billion state budget late Thursday night after approving a plan over vehement GOP objections to lift $500 million from a state worker's compensation fund to avoid massive cuts in higher education funding. But not before things got mighty testy.
The biggest no-brainer piece of legislation the state’s 67th General Assembly will like see this session, the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (or SB 1), easily passed out of the House on Wednesday, even as its co-sponsor, Rep. Christine Scanlan (D-Dillon) headed to Washington seeking federal funds to combat the beetle-kill epidemic.
SB 108, the so-called FASTER plan to fund road and bridge repairs, is just a couple of minor procedural steps from hitting Gov. Bill Ritter’s desk for a signature after the state House of Representatives passed it 34-31 on final reading Wednesday.
State Sen. Dan Gibbs (D-Dillon) took his controversial transportation-funding bill on the road over the weekend, trying to get out in front a fickle public largely unwilling to increase taxes for road and bridge fixes in recent years.
Lawmakers, after initially singing Kumbaya on a transportation funding bill that would raise vehicle registration fees to pay for road and bridge repairs, went their bipartisan ways late Wednesday when the possibility of tolling on existing roads was reintroduced. That prompted a Democrat-led state Senate vote of approval by a 19-16 party-line margin late Wednesday, and a mass exodus by Republicans.
Senate Republicans and Democrats smoked a peace pipe Wednesday in their heated debate over a transportation funding bill called FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery).
State lawmakers continue to be divided along party lines on a controversial Senate bill that would raise vehicle registration fees $32 a year to pay for badly needed road and bridge repairs. The bill's main impact would be to boost vehicle registration fees $32 annually, raising a little over $200 million in its first year to fund badly needed road and bridge repairs, including the state’s 126 structurally deficient bridges. It's cruising through the statehouse under the catchy slogan-title Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery or FASTER.