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Legislative Update: April 10

Posted by Michele White on April 5, 2017 in Action Center, Layout Items

Submitted by

Jen Boulton, Boulton Environmental Policy Advocates

and

David Nickum, Executive Director Colorado Trout Unlimited

After a whirlwind agenda last week, which culminated in the defeat of the sea planes bill and introduction of the long awaited financial CPW Financial Sustainability bill, there plenty of new work to follow up on. With 31 days left, we are entering the realm of long days and longer nights at the state capitol.
This week, the House will conclude its work on the budget and the Joint Budget Committee will meet to iron out the differences in the House and Senate versions. We will also see committee action in the House on a bill which seeks to create a new, optional method of administrative calculation for historic consumptive use of water, which water rights users may choose in certain circumstances.
Additionally, we will see action on the oil/gas tampering bill and on a resolution asking for notification of the legislature when changes are made to regulation of Phosphorus and Nitrogen pollution (nutrients).
In the Senate we will see floor action on the Lease/Fallow bill, the protection of water rights for conservation programs bill, and the gray water bill. We will also oversee committee action on bills, which we aren’t working on but may be of interest, for example –  to prohibit the practice of “Coal Rolling,”  to improve testing for lead in schools’ drinking water, and to strengthen oil/gas facility setbacks from schools.

Beyond the actions in committees and on the floor, we will be working on amendments to a bill allowing storage of water at alternate locations without undergoing a change of use. As written, this bill decreases transparency and could allow damage to streams. We will also be working on a bill allowing “dedications” of water for in-stream uses without undergoing change cases. Additional tools to keep water in streams are always useful, but this bill would apply in a very narrow range of circumstances. It’s important to make sure that that fact remains clear so as not to undermine other tools we’ve worked hard to create.

Finally we will be working to improve, or at least preclude further weakening of the CPW financial bill. Much of the bill is as expected but there are a few problem spots. The most significant aspect is section 4, which prohibits the use of any “new” money raised by the increase in fees under the bill for fee title acquisitions of land or water. While we may have to accept some form of limitation on expenditure of increases revenue for fee title purchases, given the makeup of the legislature, an outright ban is a little heavy handed.

A bumpy road is to be expected..

 

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