Panel clears Bradford bill that would head off problems with mineral lease payments

DENVER — Bills sponsored by local lawmakers dealing with federal mineral lease districts, a Montrose associate judgeship and recycling of electronic waste all cleared various committees Wednesday in the Colorado Legislature.

Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, received unanimous approval for a measure that she and Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, introduced, which would repair potential problems with a new state law that allowed counties to create special federal mineral lease districts.

The law is designed to allow counties to maximize how much money they receive in royalties and payments in lieu of taxes from the federal government.

But officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior questioned whether the law made it clear there is a real distinction between the newly formed FML districts and county governments, Bradford told the House Local Government Committee.

Several federal mineral lease districts have been created in the state, including ones in Mesa and Garfield counties.

Gregg Rippy, president of the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District, said the measure clarifies the distinction between the counties and the districts, and it allows as much money as possible to be used to mitigate the impacts of mineral extraction such as coal mining and oil and gas drilling.

Rippy, a former state legislator from Glenwood Springs, also said current law only allows the districts to include the unincorporated parts of a county. He said the bill repairs that, too.

In an unrelated matter, the committee approved a measure introduced by Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, to prohibit landfills from taking specific electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers.

The ban, however, would not apply in counties that do not have at least two electronic-waste-recycling events in a year, and where commissioners approve an exemption “after making good-faith efforts” to have such recycling events.

In another matter, the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee made short work of a bill introduced by Coram and Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, to allow Montrose County’s associate judge to be a practicing attorney from anywhere in the county.

Under current law, that person must reside somewhere within the Southwest Colorado Conservation District boundaries.

The bill passed unanimously.



COMMENTS

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I’m still trying to figure out how giving all of the mineral lease money to CMU allows “as much money as possible to be used to mitigate the impacts of mineral extraction such as coal mining and oil and gas drilling.”

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