NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS AND SPORTS FOR THURSDAY, MAY 9TH

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY URGE HICKENLOOPER NOT TO SIGN ENERGY BILL

Lawmakers representing rural Colorado’s farm, ranch and mountain communities denounced legislation today that will double the renewable-energy mandate on rural ratepayers. Senate Bill 252 would raise from 10 percent to 20 percent the amount of power that rural electric cooperatives–the nonprofit utilities serving much of the state–must obtain from costly renewable-energy sources.  The measure, passed by the 2013 General Assembly before it concluded yesterday, now awaits action by Governor John Hickenlooper, who has indicated he would sign it. The rural state senators and representatives, joined by other rural Colorado stakeholders on the steps of the State Capitol at a news conference hosted by Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, called on the governor to veto the contentious legislation. The bill had sparked heated debate in both chambers of the legislature, leaving lawmakers sharply divided and emerging from the state Senate by only one vote.  Americans For Prosperity states “This measure came out of nowhere late in the legislative session without any input from the people who would be most affected by it–our state’s family farms and ranches and the small towns they rely on.  The bill blindsided rural lawmakers, and now it blindsides their constituents, who will be stuck with the tab.”

FORMER ROUTT COUNTY SHERIFF TAKES PLEA DEAL IN DWAI CASE

Last week, in Routt County Court, former Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall plead guilty to Driving While Ability Impaired in a plea agreement.  Wall’s blood test came back with a blood alcohol level of .056.  Wall was given a Deferred Judgment and Sentence which will require him to complete two years of supervised probation, ten days in jail, an alcohol evaluation, twenty-four hours of community service, and a $100 charitable donation to Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, among other fines and costs. The Deferred Judgment and Sentence will be in place for two years. If at the end of that period, Wall has completed the requirements and committed no new violations, the case will be dismissed.

 

TMH BOARD INVITES RESIDENTS TO MEET CEO FINALIST

The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees has chosen James Christian “Chris” Smolik as the finalist for the CEO position at the hospital. The board interviewed a total of four candidates before selecting Smolik as the finalist.  TMH board members will host a forum a week from today for community members to meet Smolik.  Smolik most recently served six years as the CEO of Riverton Memorial Hospital in Riverton, Wyoming, a 70-bed acute care hospital. Prior to moving to Wyoming, he was the CEO at Edinburg Regional Medical Center in Edinburg, Texas.  The forum will be from 5:30 to 7:30, May 16th in the conference rooms of the hospital.

 

RESIDENTS ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND SEND-OFF FOR GIRLS SOCCER TEAM

The Moffat County girls’ soccer team is heading to the state playoffs, and team supporters are encouraging residents to show their support by sending them off in style.  The Moffat County Booster Club suggests people make encouraging signs and display them at the send-off.  The girls will leave Moffat County High School at around 3:30 today.  Those who would like to help decorate the bus should be there early.  Those showing up to send the girls off can meet behind the high school at around 3:15.

 

EAGLE-NET NEEDS MORE MONEY TO FINISH PROJECT

An entity working to expand high-speed Internet service in Colorado is seeking an outside company to operate its broadband network under a revenue-sharing partnership – and to invest $8 million.  The intergovernmental Eagle-Net Alliance won a $100.6 million federal grant in 2010 to improve broadband service for schools.  With less than $8 million remaining from its grant, Eagle-Net has connected less than half of the 168 school districts that it aims to link to a broadband network.  The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has said Eagle-Net likely needs another year and up to $15 million in private financing to finish its work.  Eagle-Net’s grant was suspended from December to late April following questions of compliance with environmental and other issues.

 

HICKENLOOPER ORDERS REVIEW OF OIL AND GAS RULES

Governor John Hickenlooper is directing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to review its system of penalties and fines, to make sure public health, safety and the environment are protected.  Hickenlooper took action yesterday after the legislative session ended without passage of a bill that would have required minimum fines for substantial drilling and hydraulic fracturing violations.  He signed an executive order directing the commission to take steps including establishing minimum fine amounts for violations involving “especially egregious or aggravating” factors, as well as clarifying the process for determining when penalties for a violation start to accrue. The order also directs regulators to post online all violations and the basis for penalty assessments.  It asks the commission to report to the governor’s office by December 10th.

 

LEGISLATIVE SESSION CLOSES

Colorado lawmakers closed the 2013 session yesterday with the most contentious issues behind them. It was a fast-paced 120 days that saw an unusually heavy load of substantial legislation.  Democrats in control of the Legislature passed the strictest gun laws in Colorado’s history, including limits on the size of ammunition magazines and universal background checks.  They also approved same-sex civil unions and decreased tuition for immigrants in the country illegally who graduate from Colorado high schools.  In a normal year, those bills would’ve been enough to mark a landmark legislative session for Democrats. But they exerted their power to also pass an overhaul of elections law, including same-day voter registration.  Lawmakers reached agreement on marijuana policy, passing House Bill 1318, which would let voters adopt or reject two taxes on marijuana. Voters will see a question in November proposing an excise tax of 15 percent on pot, and a sales tax with a maximum of 15 percent. The sales tax will begin at 10 percent, allowing lawmakers room to adjust it up or down later.  The House also accepted the Senate’s changes to on an omnibus marijuana bill, which establishes laws regulating how the drug can be sold when legal retail stores are licensed next year.

 

USDA RESUMES FARM PAYMENTS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan Garcia announced yesterday that farm payments, which had been temporarily suspended due to sequestration, have resumed. This includes payments for the 2011 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.  On March 4th FSA began a temporary suspension of program payments in order to assess the impact of sequestration and determine the least-disruptive process possible for carrying out required cuts. The Department will use the Secretary’s limited authority to transfer funds to avoid reducing these program payments.  Producers should be advised that program sign-up periods currently underway have enrollment deadlines.

 

TIPTON QUESTIONS FEDS ABOUT REGULATION COSTS

Yesterday, during a House Small Business Committee hearing, Congressman Scott Tipton questioned federal agency officials on the influx of costly regulations that have been put forward under the Obama Administration.  In 2012 alone, the Administration added 14 major rules at a cost of as much as $19.5 billion, making it the most costly regulatory year on record according to the Office of Management and Budget.  Tipton says because small businesses have fewer resources and employees than larger corporations, federal regulations shoulder an increased burden as they struggle to stretch limited resources for compliance, rather than using those resources to expand, upgrade equipment, pay existing employees or create new jobs.  He says unfortunately, rather than improving the climate for small businesses, hundreds more regulations are on the way, many stemming from Dodd-Frank, and the Affordable Care Act.  Tipton stated “we will be hard-pressed to achieve real economic growth until the Administration stops piling regulation upon regulation on small businesses that are responsible for the creation of seven out of every 10 new jobs in this country.”

In high school sports:
Yesterday:

In boys lacrosse:
Steamboat beat Windsor in the first round of the playoffs (13-5).

Tomorrow:
In boys lacrosse:
Steamboat goes to Cheyenne Mountain for the second round of the playoffs.

In girls soccer:
Moffat County plays Manitou Springs at UNC in the 1st round of the playoffs.

In track:
Hayden, Meeker, Rangely, Steamboat, Moffat County and Soroco go to the Western Slope League championship in Grand Junction at 9.
Little Snake River Valley goes to Regionals in Lander.

In boys swimming:
Moffat County goes to the Western Slop[e League Championship at Colorado Mesa University at 4.