Tipton to Club 20: Tell senators to back bill
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., urged Club 20 on Saturday to pressure the state’s two senators to back his measure that would recognize state primacy over water within state borders.
Tipton’s Water Rights Protection Act, H.R. 3189, passed the House this month and is awaiting action in the Senate, where a companion measure was introduced by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Colorado’s senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, ought to support the measure, Tipton said, calling his measure “not a Republican-Democrat issue, but a Western property-rights issue.”
Bennet and Udall have taken no position on the measure and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., an original cosponsor of the bill, bolted on the House floor. A dozen other western Democrats, however, did vote for the bill in the GOP-run House.
He is hoping the bill will appeal to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., as a westerner, Tipton said.
The measure was prompted by a requirement that Powderhorn Mountain Resort and other ski areas surrender water rights in order to obtain operating permits on U.S. Forest Service land.
Critics said it had become much more than a ski-area bill and supporters agreed, saying that the Forest Service and other agencies needed to be reined in and prevented from trying to override state water laws.
“Reach out to our senators, reach out to Harry Reid,” Tipton urged about 100 participants via teleconference at the Club 20 spring meeting in the Colorado Mesa University Center.
“I can assure you that’s going to happen,” Club 20 Chairman Les Mergelman said.
He also has been speaking with House leadership about ways to get a “viable guest-worker program” in place for summer and fall, Tipton said.
Efforts to pass an immigration overhaul have fallen short in Congress and Tipton said he hoped to muster support for measures aimed at improving guest-worker programs.