Local lawmakers tackled natural gas issue, closing of Cameo plant

Though they’re in the minority party, local lawmakers managed to get a measure or two through the Colorado Legislature during the 2010 session, which ended Wednesday.

Sen. Josh Penry. R-Grand Junction, hopes to boost natural gas development on the Western Slope by closing several aged coal-fired power plants on the Front Range in a bill Gov. Bill Ritter signed.

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, was able to clarify state laws to ensure that people who masturbate in public are placed on the state’s sexual offender registry, and not just charged with a lesser crime of public indecency.

And Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, saw her House Bill 1172 head off to the governor’s office to resolve problems with how mobile machinery is registered with the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The lawmakers also had their failures.

King, Penry and Bradford had trouble getting a measure through to extend the life of the Cameo power plant to save some jobs while a coal mine that feeds it searches for new markets.

Though that bill died, the lawmakers still are working with state officials to find a way to help those soon-to-be-displaced workers.

King had a meeting with officials of Xcel Energy and Gov. Bill Ritter’s office Friday. He said that while nothing can stop the plant from closing, a plan is being developed to help transition the workers, and he hopes to unveil it soon.

In other measures:

Bradford’s bill to make it a separate crime to harm an unborn child was defeated at its first stop in the Legislature early in the session.

Penry spent much of his time working on such measures as teacher tenure, boosting natural gas development and helping colleges get flexibility in how they operate, which all passed. But his SB29 to reduce the size of government was reduced itself, to nothing. It ultimately died on the Senate floor.

The governor signed King’s HB1054 requiring colleges and universities to have on-campus safety protocols, but he couldn’t get lawmakers to approve his bill to allow for two-year vehicle registrations.

Rep. Kathleen Curry, an unaffiliated legislator from Gunnison, had her biggest disappointment when she couldn’t get enough lawmakers to agree with her measure to allow rafters to float through private land.

She was, however, successful in getting a measure through that would help other independent candidates run for public office. Instead of having to be unaffiliated for 18 months before an election, HB1271 reduces that to 10 months.

Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, garnered the dubious distinction of drawing the session’s first, and so far only, governor’s veto. That was on HB1101 to lessen requirements and fees on how farm vehicles are registered. Gov. Bill Ritter said he vetoed it for fear fraud would occur.


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