Panel OKs measure for seniors parks pass

Colorado seniors would be able to get a lifetime pass to all Colorado parks under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado Senate on Monday.

Seniors 64 and older would be offered a Colorado Aspen Leaf Pass for $150, five times the annual $30 fee they pay now.

Senate Majority Leader John Morse, who introduced the measure, said it’s similar to a pass the federal government offers those 62 and older, except a lot more expensive.

“Certainly lots of seniors would take advantage of this,” the Colorado Springs Democrat said. “It makes sense to give our seniors some incentive to be active in our parks.”

That federal senior pass, which doesn’t include all national parks, costs only $10. That pass, however, is limited to entrance fees. It does allow seniors to qualify for discounts on additional fees for such things as camping and boat launching.

But not everyone in the Legislature liked the idea.

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said seniors already get a substantial discount, and giving them more would end up costing the state needed revenue in the long run.

“The reason the state hasn’t done this in the past is because we do something different. We give them access to the parks for half price ... forever,” he said. “The state parks system is going to find they’re selling a lot fewer passes on an annual basis and they’re going to be wanting us (the Legislature) to approve more money for them. This is going a step too far.”

Currently, seniors get a 50 percent discount on the $60 annual park pass.

The measure is expected to earn the state about $400,000 a year in lifetime pass sales, but it isn’t known how much it might cost the state over time.

Morse said the pass only would be offered for three years. During that time, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources will evaluate whether it is costing the state too much to continue. Those who buy it in that time would continue to be able to use it, Morse said.

Senate Bill 71 requires a final vote in the Senate, which could come as early as today,  before it can head to the House for more debate.


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