NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS AND SPORTS FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27TH

SEQUESTRATION COULD IMPACT FIREFIGHTING ABILITIES IN NORTHWEST COLORADO

The potential federal sequestration could cause major problems in Moffat County, especially when it comes to fire suppression.  Members of the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig reported to the Moffat County Commissioners yesterday their plans if the sequestration takes place.  The Interior Department is telling it’s agencies to prepare for a 5% cut across the board.  In response, the BLM has instituted a hiring freeze, which includes seasonal workers.  May of those seasonal workers are firefighters, meaning there could be fewer bodies and resources to fight wildfires this summer.  Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz expressed concern over the dilemma, but said when conditions were drastic last year, Moffat County residents showed excellent responsibility, and he expects that will be the case again this year.  He says his primary concern is lightning sparked fires, especially late in the summer, when federal and state firefighting money is leanest.  Other issues that could be affected by the sequestration due to the loss of resources and man power include grazing permits, subactivities, and employee pay.  If the sequestration goes into effect, BLM officials expect their employees will have to take 22 furlough days for the year.  It’s not clear how those furlough days will be implemented.

 

ENVIRONMENTALISTS WANT MORE AIR QUALITY CONTROL AT CRAIG’S TRI-STATE PLANT

An environmental group is asking a federal appeals court to review part of Colorado’s plan for cutting air pollution and haze.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year approved Colorado’s strategy, which included plans to retire some coal-fired power plants and switch others to run on natural gas.  WildEarth Guardians said yesterday it is objecting to a section that it says requires Tri-State Generation and Transmission Inc. to install updated pollution controls on just one unit at its plant in Craig. It wants the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review whether the plan violates the Clean Air Act.  Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey counters that the plan includes alternate measures with stronger emissions requirements. Boughey also says Colorado’s haze plan had support from other environmental groups.

 

BENNET SENDS STAFF TO HEAR ROUTT COUNTY CONCERNS

Staff for Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet will hear from constituents in Routt County next week.  The staff says they will also help those needing assistance with a federal agency.  Again, Benet himself will skip the trip.  Bennet’s Central Mountains Regional Representative Noah Koerper will be in the Small Meeting Room at the Bud Werner Memorial Library at various hours Tuesday, meeting one-on-one with members of the public who would like to communicate information to Bennet or who are experiencing difficulty with a federal agency.  Appointments are required. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call (970) 433-1361 or e-mail noah_koerper@bennet.senate.gov.

 

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE APPROVES MARIJUANA DRIVING LIMITS

Marijuana driving limits have won unanimous approval in a Colorado legislative committee, with lawmakers of both parties saying voters who wanted pot to be treated like alcohol should accept new blood limits for drivers.  The stoned-driving bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee 11-0 after more than five hours of debate yesterday. Lawmakers debated the best way to tell whether a driver is too stoned to be behind the wheel. After testimony from law enforcement and a toxicologist, House members agreed drivers are too stoned if their blood contains more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  After one more committee vote in the House, the marijuana driving bill heads to the full chamber. The House has already agreed to driving limits, leaving the bigger test in the Senate, where stoned-driving bills have failed in the past.

 

SENATE PRESIDENT TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION AGAINST GUN MAKERS

The president of the Colorado Senate says he’ll introduce his bill making the manufacturers and sellers of assault-style weapons legally liable for damage inflicted with such firearms today.  The proposal by Senator John Morse of Colorado Springs is part of a package of gun bills introduced by Democrats this month after mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut last year.  Republicans have denounced Morse’s liability proposal, and some Democrats viewed it with skepticism. He said at the time he was still drafting it and seeking input.  Critics say Senator Morse is proposing a full employment act for trial lawyers in an attempt to sue firearms dealers and manufacturers out of existence. They also say the law will jeopardize law abiding firearms owners as they can be sued into bankruptcy if they have ever owned a firearm that later causes harm or damage under the possession of someone else.

 

TIPTON INTRODUCES VETERAN RELATED BILLS

Colorado U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton has co-sponsored two pieces of legislation that would improve access to health care for veterans, as well as protect the integrity of military awards and medals.  The Healthy Vets Act would enable local hospitals and physicians to contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide local health care for veterans, rather than requiring that they receive care exclusively at VA medical facilities, which can be geographically limited.  The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 is identical to the version that passed the House in the previous Congress with bipartisan support.  In United States v. Alvarez, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment because it “sought to control and suppress all false statements on this one subject, without regard as to whether the lie was made for the purpose of material gain.”  The new bill seeks to address the Court’s concerns and specifically states: “whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

 

LAWMAKERS ACT ON BILL LIMITING YOUTH TANNING

Lawmakers gave initial approval to a Democrat’s proposal to restrict teenagers’ use of tanning beds by requiring them to have permission from parents and doctors.  A House committee voted 6-5 yesterday to advance the measure.  The bill sponsored by Westminster Representative Cherylin Peniston would prohibit the use of tanning beds for teens under 15, unless they have a doctor’s prescription. Older teens who are under 18 would need a parental permission slip or a doctor’s prescription to use tanning beds.  Colorado is one of the few states that doesn’t limit youth tanning bed use.  The full House still needs to approve the bill.

 

EAGLE-NET WAITING FOR MORE FEDERAL FUNDING

An intergovernmental entity that’s working to expand high-speed Internet service in Colorado is hoping its federal funding resumes soon.  Funds for Eagle-Net Alliance were suspended in December because of questions over compliance with environmental and other issues.  Chip White of Eagle-Net Alliance told state lawmakers yesterday that Eagle-Net is hoping the suspension will be lifted within 30 days.  Eagle-Net has a $100.6 million federal grant to expand broadband. Officials say Eagle-Net has committed about $96 million of that so far. It aims to connect more than 220 educational institutions, libraries and school districts but is only serving about 55 right now.  Eagle-Net is slated to be mentioned in a U.S. House subcommittee hearing today on whether federal stimulus funding for broadband expansion is working.

In high school sports:
Yesterday:

In basketball:
The Steamboat girls beat Green Mountain in round one of the 4-A state tournament (32-30).

In the 2-A District tournament:
The Meeker girls defeated West Grand (82-21),
The Rangely girls topped Soroco (48-42).
The Hayden girls fell to Hotchkiss (67-28).
The Meeker boys beat Soroco (64-53).
The Rangely boys lost to West Grand (60-47).
The Hayden boys game with Vail Mountain was canceled, with Vail Mountain forfeiting the game.

Today:
In basketball:
The Steamboat boys head to Golden at 7:30 for the 1st round of the 4-A state playoffs.

Tomorrow:
In basketball:
At the Wyoming 1-A State tournament in Casper:

The Little Snake River Valley girls play Arvada-Clearmont at 10:30.  The boys play Upton at 7:30.

In Colorado 3-A:
The Moffat County girls host Basalt in the first round of the district tournament.  The boys host Gunnison.  You can catch all the action live on 93.7  102.3 KRAI with the pre-game at 5:15.  The girls tip off at 5:30 and the boys at 7.  You can also listen online at krai.com.