Bill targets regulations that don’t exist

DENVER — A centerpiece bill touted by House Speaker Frank McNulty and other Republicans as a way to keep government regulations from getting in the way of businesses creating jobs turns out to be nothing of the kind.

The bill, dubbed the Colorado Timber Act, was designed to reverse government regulations that banned the use of pine-beetle damaged wood in building construction.

McNulty learned about the alleged problem in a heavily touted “Colorado Jobs Tour” that included a trip to the Western Slope last fall.

On that tour, the Highlands Ranch Republican visited the Intermountain Resources sawmill in Montrose, and he later said the company was struggling under heavy government regulations and couldn’t create new jobs as a result. He mentioned it in his opening-day speech of this year’s legislative session.

In that speech, McNulty said the sawmill would be able to add 80 new jobs if local governments around the state didn’t ban use of the beetle-killed wood in housing construction.

He said the measure was a centerpiece legislation in a group of bills designed to show how too much government regulation can stifle job creation.

It turns out, though, no local governments have such a ban, the Colorado Municipal League says.

“As far as we know, municipalities do not have building codes in place that ban Englemann spruce and lodgepole pine as long as the wood meets a certain grade,” said Meghan Storrie, the Colorado Municipal League’s legislative and policy advocate.

Before the session started, McNulty asked Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, and Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, to introduce the bill.

Since then, Bradford has attempted to fix the measure, HB1004, but she isn’t sure it can be salvaged.

Until late Wednesday afternoon, the bill was scheduled to be reviewed by the House Economic & Business Development Committee later this month. Now, it has been taken off the calendar, and Bradford said she doesn’t know when it will be heard.

Under the Colorado Constitution, all bills require at least one vote before a legislative committee.

In a related matter, the House Finance Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved Bradford’s bill to continue the state’s tax credit program on wood products made from pine-beetle trees, and extend that credit to beetle-damaged spruce trees.

That measure, HB1045, heads to the House Appropriations Committee.


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