KINKAID TESTIFIES FOR RAY SCOTT’S BILL
Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid says he was only given three minutes to testify in favor of Representative Ray Scott’s bill to reduce the rural electric mandate from 20% to 15%, and it didn’t do much good. In fact he says much of his time was used listening to Democratic Representative Randy Fisher argue that lawmakers DO pay attention to rural Colorado, and that there is no war on rural Colorado. The bill was the second of two bills that addressed the rural electric mandate. A bill by Republican Kathleen Conti of Littleton would have extended the deadline to meet the requirements from 2020 to 2025. That bill was voted down 8 to 5 in committee Wednesday. Scott’s bill was killed on an 8 to 5 vote as well, with Steamboat’s Dianne Mitsch-Bush voting against it. Pictured: John Kinkaid
MEEKER SCHOOL DISTRICT CANCELS SCHOOL TODAY
The Meeker School District has cancelled school for today. An email from the district says all buildings will be closed today due to hazardous conditions. It’s not clear whether they are referring to the weather or to an unrelated issue making it unsafe to attend. The district has been experiencing financial problems, and could go to a 4-day school week to help cut $1.2 million out of their budget.
MARK UDALL’S SON ARRESTED FOR HEROIN POSSESSION AND BREAKING INTO CARS
The son of State Senator Mark Udall is facing felony charges, after he was arrested for breaking into cars and being in possession of heroin. Jed Udall was arrested in Boulder County Wednesday night on charges of first degree criminal trespass and possession of a controlled substance. The younger Udall was also busted last month for stealing over the counter drugs from a King Soopers in Boulder. He was released on a $1500 bond Wednesday and is due in court February 20th. Mark Udall is up for reelection for his Senate seat. Pictured: Mark Udall
FOREST OFFICIALS RELEASE RESULTS OF BEETLE STUDIES
The US Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) yesterday released the results of the annual aerial forest health survey in Colorado, which indicates that the spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically, while the spruce beetle outbreak continues to expand. Each summer the agencies work together to aerially monitor insect and disease-caused tree mortality or damage across Colorado forestland. The mountain pine beetle epidemic slowed again in 2013, with the lowest acreage of active infestation observed in 15 years. Statewide, mountain pine beetle was active on 97,000 acres in 2013. This brings the total infestation to 3.4 million acres in Colorado since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996. The spruce beetle outbreak was active on 398,000 acres across the state, expanding by 216,000 new acres in 2013, compared to 183,000 new acres in 2012. The total area affected by this beetle since 1996 has reached more than 1.1 million acres. For more about the study and forest conditions, click here.
MULE DEER FOUNDATION APPLAUDS BILL TO OPEN INACCESSIBLE LANDS TO HUNTERS
The Mule Deer Foundation applauded Representative Steve Daines’ (R-MT) introduction of legislation that would help sportsmen to access landlocked federal lands. The Making Public Lands Public Act dedicates a small percentage of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to projects that create hunting and fishing opportunities on large tracts of existing federal property that are currently difficult or impossible to access. This approach has been a top priority for the Foundation and many other sportsmen’s groups including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International, Boone and Crockett Club and National Wild Turkey Federation. The vision behind Making Public Lands Public came as a response to hunter concerns that private lands were now closing off access to areas where they had traditionally hunted.
SCHOOL CHOICE EXPERTS SAY PARENTS SHOULD BE DOING RESEARCH NOW
If Colorado parents want to choose new schools for their children for the upcoming school year, they need to start researching the schooling options available to their children right away. That’s the message from organizers of National School Choice Week, which this week featured 165 events across the Centennial State and a history-making 5,500 events nationwide. School Choice Week focused attention on the importance of empowering parents with the freedom to choose the K-12 schools that best meet their children’s individual learning needs. The effort’s president, Andrew Campanella, said that the longer parents wait to exercise the options available to them, the less choices they’ll have. Campanella said that parents should start the school selection process by making a list of desired attributes that they hope to see in the ideal school for their child — such as student achievement in key subject areas, parental involvement at the school level, class sizes, the theme of a school, or the qualifications of school personnel — and then visit schools that match the criteria developed by the parent. For a list of the specific types of school choice programs and policies in Colorado, click here.
STATE HEALTH EXCHANGE OFFICIALS SAY PROGRAM WILL BE SELF SUSTAINING BY NEXT YEAR
Colorado’s state-run insurance exchange says it’s on track to be self-sustaining by next year. Exchange officials briefed lawmakers yesterday on enrollment at Connect For Health Colorado. That’s Colorado’s marketplace for buying health insurance that meets new federal mandates. Lawmakers voted 7-2 to approve the exchange’s 2014 financial and operations plans. Exchange officials say that almost 69,000 people have gotten insurance through the exchange. That’s a big uptick from the end of 2013. Uninsured folks must acquire insurance by the end of March to avoid federal tax penalties. Exchange CEO Patty Fontneau told lawmakers yesterday that Colorado’s exchange won’t need high fees on premiums to be self-supporting by 2015, when federal subsidies run out. She says the exchange also plans to trim staff to save money.
BILL ABSOLVES NON-VETERINARIANS FROM LIABILITY WHEN TREATING PETS IN EMERGENCIES
Those cute videos showing firefighters giving oxygen to dogs and cats after a fire? The firefighters could be liable if something goes wrong. A Colorado bill would protect emergency responders who try to give basic medical care to pets. The bill is headed to the full Senate after a committee gave it unanimous approval yesterday. Veterinarians are technically the only people besides owners who are legally permitted to provide medical care to an animal. Veterinarians and emergency responders both endorse the bill to protect responders from legal liability if they try to assist dogs or cats. The bill would not apply to large animals. And it would give emergency responders no obligation to treat pets.
IN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Moffat County beat Grand Valley and Basalt, and lost to Cedaredge.
Hayden goes to Rangely. The girls play at 5:30 and the boys at 7.
Meeker hosts Soroco. The girls play at 6 and the boys at 7:30.
Little Snake River Valley is home against HEM. The girls tip off at 4:30 and the boys at 6.
Moffat County’s games against Olathe have been postponed until Monday. The girls will still play at 6 and the boys at 7:30.
Rangely goes to a dual in Ignacio.
Steamboat is home against Palmer at 6:30.
Hayden hosts Meeker. The girls play at 2:30 and the boys at 4.
Little Snake River Valley heads to Encampment. The girls tip off at 1:30 and the boys at 3.
Rangely goes to Soroco. The girls play at 2:30 and the boys at 4.
Steamboat is home against Rifle. The girls play at 2 and the boys at 3:30.
Moffat County game in Gunnison have been postponed. They will be rescheduled for a later date.
Hayden goes to Center at 9.
Meeker travels to Grand Junction.
Rangely competes in a tournament at Ignacio.
Steamboat hosts Regis Jesuit at 3.
In Nordic skiing:
Steamboat goes to Vail for a meet at 10.
The Denver Broncos will play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII February 2nd at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Due to NFL restrictions, 55 Country will not be allowed to carry the game.