GJ chamber to lobby only on business topics

In stark contrast to last year, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce plans to focus its lobbying efforts this year only on business-related matters.

“The board really wants to focus in on the bills that have a direct effect on business,” Diane Schwenke, president of the chamber, told the organization’s government affairs committee Tuesday.

The chamber’s position on endorsements stands in stark contrast to its position last year, when the pro-business lobby got behind 49 bills.

Six of the 17 bills the chamber supported last year were signed into law; 19 of the 32 bills the chamber opposed last year did not become law.

As a result of the chamber’s 2008 numerous endorsements — which covered a wide swath of topics, from education to water to health care — Mesa State College President Tim

Foster said he heard that the chamber had become a “laughingstock” for opting to lobby on so many bills.

The organization’s endorsement policy came into focus this week after the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce revoked its endorsement of a wildfire-protection bill, House Bill 1031.

Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said he had asked the chamber to get behind the bill, requiring the state to match local government contributions to the state emergency wildfire fund, because of how it could affect local governments.

Acquafresca said the county was perplexed by the chamber’s actions in light of its broad swath of legislative endorsements last year.

“I’m seeing some inconsistency here,” he said.

“The focus truly needs to be on business legislation,” Schwenke replied.


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