(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Yesterday alleged "rural champions" Senators Scott and Sonnenberg conspired to kill a bill carefully tailored to benefit rural Colorado. Charles Ashby is reporting in the Daily Sentinel:
DENVER — For all their recent protestations about Democrats allegedly waging a war on rural Colorado, Senate Republicans shot down a bill Tuesday aimed squarely at helping less populated regions of the state still trying to recover from bad economic times, a Western Slope senator said.
The Senate panel, chaired by proud fossil fuel aficionado Grand Junction Senator Ray Scott, offered no explanation for its decision to kill SB36 Rural Economic Emergency Assistance Grant Program which would have created a $2 million grant program for rural communities in the state facing large scale lay-offs. Like in Delta County, where I live, SB36 would have brought help for the hundreds of coal miners let go over the past year from two of three mines in the North Fork (due to a canceled TVA contract and a coal mine fire).
SB36 had the support of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (formerly led by now Mesa County commissioner Scott McInnis and currently run by Bonnie Peterson, formally head of Club 20), the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (run by another former Club 20 director, Reeves Brown), Colorado Counties Inc. and the Colorado Municipal League.
…representatives of which all testified before the committee saying virtually the same thing: This bill will help rural Colorado.
As Ashby notes in his thorough and lengthy article, also reporting that the legislation had explicit support from the Boards of County Commissioners in Delta, Gunnison, Lake and Pitkin counties and even support from Tri-State, which operates the coal-fired power plant and coal mine in Craig.
The only explanation, such as there is any worth noting, is that the bill was sponsored by Kerry Donovan, the lone Senate Democrat from rural western Colorado, and victor in a bitter race that pitted fossil fuel interests against conservationists.
The Sentinel article notes:
Donovan won a hotly contested race last fall for her Senate district, which includes Delta County.
In an interview after the hearing, Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction and chairman of the five-member panel, said it would cost too much, but then said it didn’t go far enough in helping more of rural Colorado.
He then couldn’t explain how expanding the bill would make it better without costing even more, but denied that politics was involved.
Gotcha! That's apparently the message from Senator Scott exercising his new authority on the Senate kill panel. Well, good for him, I suppose, throwing his weight around–and bad for his district and for Colorado. And for that he and Jerry Sonnenberg ought to be ashamed.