Wildlife, pets both benefit from bills signed into law Wednesday

Wildlife will be safer on some state highways, and pets soon will benefit from some license plates under two bills Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law Wednesday.

The first measure requires the Colorado Department of Transportation to identify up to 100 miles of state highway where the most wild animals are killed by traffic. The second would create a specialty Adopt-a-Shelter-Pet license plate, proceeds from which would go toward spay and neuter programs at animal shelters around the state.

“The high rate of collisions with wildlife is costing Colorado lives and dollars,” said Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, who introduced House Bill 1238 with Rep. Kathleen Curry, an unaffiliated legislator from Gunnison.

“Certain times of the year, on specific sections of roads, we know wild animals are likely to cross,” Schwartz said. “Now, we will mark with better signs and adjust speeds to protect drivers and wildlife and avoid these dangerous collisions.”

Once those new wildlife crossing zones are identified, the bill calls for the department to erect signs warning motorists about the new zones, and speed limits will be lowered in them. Depending on the zone, those new speed limits may apply during certain times of the day. The measure also doubles fines for speeding through the zones.

The second measure, HB1214, which Schwartz also introduced, is intended to promote the adoption of shelter pets. Like other specialty plates the state offers, this plate costs a one-time fee of $50 on top of normal vehicle registration fees, which vary depending on a vehicle’s weight.

Motorists who get it, however, would have to pay an additional $30 to get it, plus $25 to renew it each year thereafter. That revenue, about $132,000 in the first two years, is to go into a new Adopt a Shelter Pet Account in the state’s Pet Overpopulation Fund.

The bill also extends the pet overpopulation tax check-off that appears on the Colorado tax return forms, and it adds a Western Slope representative to the board of the directors of the Pet Overpopulation Authority, which uses money from the fund for education programs on the need to spay and neuter pets.

Ritter also signed several other measures Wednesday, including SB162, which would require businesses to get preapproved to receive tax credits for locating inside an enterprise zone, and SB28, which allows full-time workers to claim unemployment benefits if their employers reduce them to part-time status.


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