NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13TH

MEXICAN NATIONALS MAY BE BROUGHT TO CRAIG FOR CINCO DE MAYO

Moffat County Tourism Association Director Melody Villard says the MCTA will NOT be paying for lodging and transportation for over 20 Mexican Nationals to dance in Craig during a Cinco De Mayo celebration.  A presentation given to the commissioners yesterday, was intended to gain a letter of support for the project.  The presenter said while the Mexican government would pay for the group’s visas and transportation from Mexico to Denver and back, the MCTA had agreed to pay for tranportation to and from Denver and for lodging while in Craig.  At one point Comissioner Tom mathers asked to clarify that it was MCTA that would be paying for those arrangements, and the presenter again said yes.  However, Villard responded this morning by saying they have agreed only to send a letter of support to the city, WITHOUT any monetary contribution.  Villard says, instead, those trying to bring the group in will ask area businesses for that sort of support.  The invitation must come from the City of Craig, and council members required the support letters before making the invitation.  The Cinco De Mayo celebration will take place in the Centennial Mall May 4th, at which the dancers will give several performances.

 

CLUB 20 POISED TO HOLD SPRING MEETINGS

Club 20 is getting ready to host its Spring Meetings.  The quarterly meeting will be highlighted by visits from both U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton, and Governor John Hickenlooper.  Day one of the meetings will be strictly for conducting business, as the group will meet to discuss new policies presented by the policy committees.  That night there will also be a banquet and awards ceremony, where seven outstanding members will be recognized for their contributions to the Western Slope.  The following day, attendees will hear from Tipton and Hickenlooper.  They’ll also hear reports on the Colorado River Basin, fracking, emergency preparedness, and public lands management, among other topics.  The event is March 22nd and 23rd in Grand Junction, and is open to the public, but you must register.  You can do that by clicking here.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROPOSE MARIJUANA RULES MEETS FRIDAY

Lawmakers in charge of putting together rules and regulations for commercial marijuana establishments get to work later this week, pouring through recommendations made by the governor’s task force.  The task force made recommendations on blood alcohol limits, taxing, and other issues surrounding the now legal drug.  They release their final report today.  It is now up to a joint committee to decide on those rules and present them to the legislature to be voted on.  The state must have it’s regulations in place by July 1st, or the responsibility falls on individual counties.  Many counties and cities, such as Craig and Moffat County, have enacted moratoriums banning commercial operations, so that if the state fails to come up with it’s rules on time, they aren’t inundated with unregulated business.

 

FRACKING DEBATE PITS STATE OVER LOCAL CONTROL

The debate over regulation of oil and gas drilling is highlighting concerns over local control.  State officials insist they alone have the right to regulate how and where the industry does its drilling. State officials are fighting local governments that try to impose their own rules and Governor John Hickenlooper has threatened to file a lawsuit against cities that defy state rule.  The Colorado Constitution gives residents of home-rule cities, where voters have approved special charters, the right to govern themselves in local matters.  Courts have decided, however, that state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules pre-empt local rules when a state interest is at stake in drilling disputes.

 

CIVIL UNIONS BILL ON ITS WAY TO GOVERNOR’S DESK

A civil unions bill has made it to Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk, and the Democratic governor is expected to sign it.  Just seven years ago, Colorado voters banned gay marriage in the state’s constitution.  But democrats insisted voters’ feelings had changed since then, and took it upon themselves to push through legislation that some republicans feel could pave the way for gay marriage.  The bill passed the House yesterday on a 39-26 vote.  It’s not clear when the governor will sign it, but the law will become effective May 1st.

 

FIRE SEASON EXPECTED TO BE BUSY AGAIN THIS YEAR

Despite the slowest start to a wildfire season in a decade, the head of the U.S. Forest Service says his agency is preparing for another busy year, but with fewer firefighters.  Chief Tom Tidwell says that late winter storms have helped, but the South and Southwestern U.S. are expected to dry out heading into May and June.  That will give way to a season much like last year, when more than 14,500 square miles were charred. That’s an area bigger than the state of Maryland.  A dozen lives were lost last year, and more than 2,200 homes and businesses were destroyed.  Tidwell says the agency’s preparedness budget has been trimmed by 5 percent this year, meaning there will be about 500 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer engines.

 

STATE ASKS PHARMACIES TO SECURE LETHAL INJECTION DRUG

The Colorado Department of Corrections has asked pharmacies across the state for help securing a lethal injection drug so it will be prepared for what could be the state’s first execution in 15 years.  DOC Director Tom Clements sent a letter to 97 compounding pharmacies yesterday asking if they could acquire sodium thiopental or other equally or more effective drugs. The letter was prompted after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals by Colorado’s longest serving death-row inmate, Nathan Dunlap.  Dunlap, who killed four people at a Colorado Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993, could become the first inmate executed in the state since 1995.  Corrections officials have said they never stockpiled sodium thiopental because the state would’ve had to spend money to replenish the drugs each time they expire.

 

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