NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 2ND

COLORADO’S BENNET, TIPTON VOTED AGAINST FISCAL CLIFF DEAL

Colorado Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are speaking out against the new fiscal cliff deal.  Republican Scott Tipton and Democrat Michael Bennet have both issued statements explaining why they voted against the measure.  Both say their prime reason for voting against it, is that it does nothing to reduce the nations $16.3 trillion debt.  Tipton went on further to say that the measure raises taxes on families and businesses, and increases the size of the government.  According to the non-partisan Congressional budget Office, the bill increases tax revenues by $620 billion, while cutting only $15 billion in spending.  Both lawmakers say while conducting recent town hall meetings, the most popular concern of their constituents was the issue of the national debt.  The measure was passed early yesterday morning.

 

OIL AND GAS OFFICIALS DRAFT REGULATIONS FOR GROUNDWATER PROTECTION

After nearly a year of hearing public input, Colorado oil and gas officials have completed draft regulations aimed at protecting groundwater and reducing the impacts of drilling near homes.  The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission plans to consider the proposals next week.  The proposals would make Colorado the only state to require sampling of water wells near drilling sites both before and after drilling to ensure drinking water aquifers are protected.  Required distances between drilling and buildings would be increased to 500 feet, up from 150 feet in rural areas. A hearing before the oil and gas commission would be required before any drilling within 1,000 feet of schools or other high-occupancy buildings.  The state’s rules are being updated as drilling has moved into more populated areas.

 

COLORADO’S MINIMUM WAGE GOES UP 14 CENTS AN HOUR

Minimum-wage workers in Colorado just got a small raise. Colorado’s minimum wage rose to $7.78 yesterday.  That’s up 14 cents an hour from last year. 2013 is the third year in a row Colorado’s minimum wage has ticked up.  Colorado is one of eight states that link minimum wage to inflation. The federal minimum is $7.25.  Less than 100,000 workers in Colorado earn minimum wage.  Colorado’s new minimum wage for tipped employees is $4.76, also up 14 cents an hour.

 

BIG CHANGES IN HOW STATE WORKERS ARE PAID, HIRED, FIRED

Colorado has made its biggest revisions in four decades to how state employees are paid, hired and fired.  Governor John Hickenlooper announced yesterday that he certified the voter-approved reforms first suggested by his office almost a year ago. The changes include revised pay standards to be more like the private sector.  The changes required voter approval because Colorado is one of five states with employee protections in the state constitution.  The personnel changes were favored by members of both parties and didn’t spark opposition from the largest union of state employees.  Hickenlooper also certified a voter-approved measure to encourage Colorado’s congressional delegation to support a U.S. constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending.  Hickenlooper issued his proclamation on the best-known ballot measure, recreational marijuana legalization, three weeks ago.

 

WYOMING BRACING FOR IMPACT OF COLORADO’S MARIJUANA LAW

Wyoming is bracing for increased marijuana crimes because of Colorado’s new constitutional amendment allowing anyone over 21 to use the drug.  Police officers predict increased cannabis flow through Wyoming because of the Colorado pot law. The newspaper points out that no point in Wyoming is more than 180 miles from Colorado or Montana, which allows marijuana for people with certain medical conditions.  Under the current Wyoming state law, anyone arrested for possessing up to an ounce of the drug could face up to a year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine.  Wyoming lawmakers say they’re not expecting any change to state marijuana laws to be proposed in the upcoming legislative session.

 

ARCHERY CLASSES TO BEGIN IN STEAMBOAT

Steamboat Parks, Open Space & Recreation is taking registration for the WZ Teen Club’s Archery Session on a first-come first-serve basis. The program is for teens in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. The session is Wednesday from 3 to 5:30 for eight weeks from January 9th through March 6th. There is no session during Blues Break. Teen Programs staff will meet participants at Steamboat Middle School and transport them to the program at Soda Creek Elementary. Participants will learn competition shooting using compound bows. The registration fee is $100 and includes transportation, equipment, instruction and a snack. On-line registration is available by here.  You can also call Steamboat Parks and Rec with questions at 879-4300.  A Teen Programs Family record and a signed waiver are required before participating.