As the effort to recall John Morse continues — and attracts big money on both sides — the El Paso County Democratic Party is holding an event where supporters of the Senate president can thank him and fellow local Democratic lawmakers for their "hard work and bravery."
Here are the details:
Morse, of course, has been a target since shepherding through a spate of gun-control measures during the 2013 legislative session. Signature-gatherers have until June 3 to collect 7,000-plus signatures in their effort to get a recall election OK'd.
For those Republicans who wonder why they are losing the battle of messaging, this might be instructive.
It would appear, from this post on her Facebook page, that she is insinuating that gay couples like to rape children, and that by allowing gay marriage to become a normal facet of our culture we're also opening the floodgates for such abuse.
Of course, this would just be a guess (as her post is so rich in snark as to be nearly indecipherable), if she hadn't made her point abundantly clear in a response to someone in the thread.
Armed only with snark and a single link to a story of alleged child abuse, Morin has declared that not only do gay couples enjoy raping children, but that one day, thanks undoubtedly to the liberals, society-at-large will learn to view this horrific perversion as an acceptable quirk.
Morin doesn't even attempt to use data to back up her first claim, because there is no unbiased, legitimate data to support it. And, as for her second claim, it is beyond reason to assume that people who support the marriage of homosexuals would eventually come to accept child abuse — it's simply a baffling leap of illogic.
The Facebook posts were brought to our attention by Elliot Fladen, a well-known conservative-libertarian activist.
"I criticized her in an attempt to have a more tolerant conservative movement," Fladen states. "My goal is to have a GOP/Conservative movement that is welcoming to groups like the Log Cabin Republicans."
We have asked Morin for a comment, and will post a response if we get one.
Now with another few hundred votes in — and, we would guess, only a few hundred more left to be counted — Helen Collins has opened up her lead over Deborah Hendrix in District 4 to almost exactly 300 votes (2,243 to 1,944). Andres Pico's lead over David Moore in District 6 has slimmed slightly, but still stands at more than 100 votes (3,767 to 3,652).
Assuming things stay as they are, your new Council looks like this:
District 1: Don Knight
District 2: Joel Miller
District 3: Keith King
District 4: Helen Collins
District 5: Jill Gaebler
District 6: Andres Pico
At-large: Merv Bennett
At-large: Jan Martin
At-large: Val Snider
——- ORIGINAL POST, 8:02 P.M. ——-
Current City Councilors Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan, Brandy Williams and Bernie Herpin are out; arch-conservative Helen Collins may have pulled a surprise in District 4; and District 6 is too close to call.
That's the way it looked as of 7:30 p.m., when the Colorado Springs City Clerk's Office released its first batch of unofficial results in the 2013 municipal election. Those numbers also indicate that there'll be no ballot-issue surprises, with TOPS reallocation a yes, and a Council pay increase a no.
The numbers aren't final, with City Clerk Sarah Johnson telling Indy reporter Pam Zubeck before 8 p.m. that some votes still are being counted. (Another set of numbers is due anytime.) But given that city spokesperson Cindy Aubrey was estimating a 38 percent turnout late this afternoon, and that the numbers below represent 35.84 percent, it would appear that Districts 1 through 3, and District 5, are pretty much decided.
Here are the results:
Council District 2
Angela Dougan . . . . . . . . . 4,435 (39.07%)
Joel Miller. . . . . . . . . . 5,936 (52.30%)
Bill Murray. . . . . . . . . . 979 (8.63%)
Council District 3
Tom Gallagher . . . . . . . . . 1,038 (7.66%)
Jim Bensberg . . . . . . . . . 2,222 (16.41%)
Bob Kinsey . . . . . . . . . . 491 (3.63%)
Brandy Williams . . . . . . . . 4,454 (32.89%)
Keith King . . . . . . . . . . 5,339 (39.42%)
Council District 4
Gary L. Flakes. . . . . . . . . 220 (4.11%)
Deborah Hendrix . . . . . . . . 1,865 (34.80%)
Dennis R. Moore . . . . . . . . 1,133 (21.14%)
Helen Collins . . . . . . . . . 2,141 (39.95%)
Council District 5
Bernie Herpin . . . . . . . . . 4,443 (31.65%)
Roger McCarville . . . . . . . . 3,420 (24.36%)
Jill Gaebler . . . . . . . . . 5,031 (35.84%)
Al Loma . . . . . . . . . . . 1,144 (8.15%)
Here are the numbers on Issue 1, the TOPS question (with "yes" indicating support for financial reallocation):
YES: 53,039 (71.65%)
NO: 20,983 (28.35%)
And Issue 2, Council pay (with "yes" indicating support for a raise from $6,250 per year to $48,000 per year):
YES: 14,879 (20.17%)
NO: 58,896 (79.83%)
King will probably get headlines for winning the most expensive Council race. Knight and Miller, both relative political neophytes, are noteworthy in how soundly they defeated Leigh and Dougan, respectively. But the biggest surprise may be Collins, who despite a failed Council run two years ago, lacks the name recognition of Hendrix, who's served as president of Harrison School District 2's board of education for years.
To keep up with the results yourself, refresh the clerk's page.
In case you haven't heard, there's this guy called God. He goes by a bunch of different names — Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Elohim, 'Elaha, Shangdi, Parvardigar, Nyam, Obong, The Light, King of Kings, Lord of Lords — but most people around here just call him the Lord.
Here's a picture of him dancing:
God has been an extremely busy individual, what with creating the Heavens and the Earth, being the Alpha and Omega and all that.
While people generally give him a lot of props for those efforts, there is one thing that God never seems to get enough credit for (because of the vast Liberal Media Conspiracy): He was incalculably important in the creation of these United States.
Until now! Thanks to a FREE DVD from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's LLC Learn Our History, God is finally getting his due.
Do your kids understand the importance of God’s role in American history? From the arrival of the pilgrims and the creation of our government, God has blessed America and made us a truly exceptional nation, one that is special and different from all others.
Learn Our History’s latest film, One Nation Under God, celebrates and explains the crucial role that God has played in America's founding and development - and helps children understand how all of our rights and freedom come directly from God, not the government. It’s a great way to help your children understand how God and the Holy Bible have influenced our world.
Here's the trailer:
Drake Task Force to Recommend Firm to Board
In today’s meeting, the Drake Task Force chose to recommend HDR Engineering Inc., to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Board as the firm to conduct a Study of Alternatives Related to the Potential Decommissioning of the Martin Drake Power Plant.
The Task Force received six proposals and created a short list of three firms to give oral presentations at today’s meeting.
HDR Engineering Inc. was selected based on the following criteria:
· Most Relevant Expertise
· Depth of Knowledge of Martin Drake Power Plant
· Understanding of Effort and Implementation
· Superior Risk Analysis
· Management and Staffing
Task Force co-leads, Brandy Williams and Val Snider, will present the recommendation to the CSU Board during the April 9 City Council meeting.
HDR Engineering Inc. is headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., with five offices in Colorado, including Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Springs office is on Briargate Parkway.
Two state senators are calling for the state of Colorado to create their own wildland firefighting fleet of planes to ensure timely response to blazes as they erupt in our tinder-dry forests.
Sens. Steve King and Cheri Jahn are to hold a news conference tomorrow, Thursday, to announce a bill that would create the fire fleet, according to King's aide, John Meeks.
How much such a fleet would cost the government isn't clear, but it might wind up saving more in assets than it costs, by a long shot.
In Colorado Springs alone, nearly 350 homes were destroyed in last year's Waldo Canyon Fire, which could have an aggregate value of more than $120 million. The fire burned 18,247 acres of the Pike National Forest and private land surrounding it.
Last year, the federal government spent $2,241,809 on air operations for the Waldo Canyon fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service's Narrative Summary, obtained by the Independent.
The air operations section of the report states that helicopters, air tankers and air attack aircraft flew 450 hours and dropped 153,258 gallons of retardant.
The report also suggests that cost was a chief concern in deployment of resources. Here's one passage:
Cost containment was achieved by the Air Branch through the following actions:
* Judicious use of retardant and water dropping aircraft during active fire behavior.
* Kept the Helibase staffing to essential minimums.
* Release of excess helicopter and personnel when fire activity no longer warranted their use.
* Utilization of exclusive use helicopters to the degree possible.
Here's another portion of the report indicating a shortage of resources:
Due to the high request on aircraft, GPS flights for mapping the fire perimeter were only completed on 7/2. Infrared imagery was requested each night but was incomplete for 7/2 to 7/6 due to a lack of aircraft, other priority fires and weather.
And then there's this notation, also suggesting problems mobilizing aircraft:
The primary Operational issue was incorporating the Military Aircraft into our Air Operation. At one point we were conferring with Air National Guard, Regular Army, and National Guard. Through a series of discussions involving Air Operations and Military personnel a positive relationship was established letting military aircraft contribute to the suppression effort.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall met with military officials in August to discuss the response, including air support, as we reported here.
We've also reported that people observed aircraft depart from the Waldo fire, and it's unclear why or how much of a factor that might have played.
Here's a look at the "Fire Wars" presentation given by Bill Scott, retired former flight test engineer and aviation journalist, which was part of an Economic Warfare Institute briefing to Congress on July 9, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The briefing reportedly was part of the inspiration for Colorado's proposal.
In the most recent campaign finance cycle from Feb. 24 through March 10, candidates for six City Council districts in Colorado Springs in the April 2 election brought in more than $91,000.
As of Monday afternoon, the day the reports were due, here's a rundown of who raised how much during the period. (These figures are not cumulative for the entire campaign.)
Joe Barrera — no report
Don Knight — $5,764
Tim Leigh — $6,875
Linda Mojer — 0
Julie Naye — no report
Angela Dougan — $5,575
Joel Miller — $2,824
Bill Murray — $0
Jim Bensberg — $3,701
Keith King — $9,875
Tom Gallagher — no report
Bob Kinsey — $40
Brandy Williams — $17,635 (includes $12,500 contribution from her mother)
Helen Collins — $25
Gary Flakes — $200
Deborah Hendrix — $5,225
Dennis Moore — $1,985
Jill Gaebler — $5,820
Bernie Herpin — $3,680
Al Loma — $2,300
Roger McCarville — $7,350 (includes $7,200 loan)
Ed Bircham — $3,000 (from the candidate)
David Moore — $6,285
Andres Pico — $2,800
In other election news, Joel Miller, candidate in District 2, is offering $2,500 for information that leads to the arrest of whoever keeps stealing his campaign signs. He says in a release:
"Some may accept sign theft in a political campaign, and I do, too, to a degree," Miller says. "But when signs are stolen in the number mine have been stolen-more than 150, with three of the signs valued at $25.00 each-it passes the 'acceptable' limit. The theft is a direct assault on First Amendment rights. It can't be tolerated."
Miller says the reward would be paid from his personal bank account, not his campaign account. And he stresses that the thefts have not soured him to the political process, nor the people he hopes to represent. "I appreciate the many good people who live in Colorado Springs who approach politics in a
thoughtful manner with integrity at the forefront of their decision-making process."
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact Miller at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Colorado Springs Police at 444-7000.
Meanwhile, to follow up on a blog post last week, Tom Gallagher did, indeed, throw his support to Keith King in District 3.
And to follow up on the complaint from Deborah Hendrix, candidate in District 4, about ballot wording of the Council pay issue, she can now take her gripe to City Attorney Chris Melcher, in light of this statement on behalf of City Council:
"There seems to be a lot of confusion re: who wrote the ballot language for Council Compensation. The City Attorney wrote the ballot language."
Finally, if you're interested in Colorado Springs Pride's voters guide, or who didn't fill out that questionnaire, go here.
The Center for Western Priorities took the pulse of residents of Western states on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's idea of selling federal land to pay down the deficit. Ryan's proposed 2014 budget points to proposals by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., who have previously endorsed selling public lands to generate revenue, the Center for Western Priorities reports.
The reality is, the agency notes, that people oppose that idea by a margin of more than 2 to 1, and Coloradans oppose it the most, according to results from the 2013 State of the Rockies report, which included a poll of 2,400 voters in Western states.
After failing to get federal money allocated to help prevent flooding following the disastrous 2012 fire season, Colorado's senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall haven't given up.
According to a news release, the two Democrats are continuing the fight by urging President Obama to allocate funds in his upcoming budget request for Fiscal Year 2014.
Last month, the House of Representatives removed Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funding from a disaster relief bill. The funding would have helped Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Greeley protect drinking water supplies and watershed infrastructure, the news release said.
Colorado Springs Utilities stores water in Rampart Reservoir. The Waldo Canyon Fire burned right up to the reservoir, and Utilities officials have said the cost of restoration around it will run into the millions. The fire destroyed 345 homes within Colorado Springs (and killed two people) where homeowners are facing potentially devastating floods should there be a break in the drought.
More from the release:
In the letter, the Senators call on the President to address the current backlog in funding for the federal EWP program. The program is designed to support efforts to restore eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. Communities in Colorado are at a significant risk of floods, road washouts, and compromised drinking water due to last year’s wildfires and the state currently faces a backlog of nearly $20 million for projects funded through this program.
“It is nearly impossible to fund the necessary projects to repair this damage until Congress makes funding available through the Emergency Watershed Protection fund,” the Senators wrote. “The House’s failure to provide the necessary funds last month exposed the urgent need for leadership from the executive branch…By including EWP in the coming budget request, you will help ensure that the federal government, through its ongoing work to assist states in recovering from major disasters, leaves neither Colorado nor any other state behind.”
In late December, Senators Bennet and Udall successfully secured EWP funding in a Hurricane Sandy aid package that passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote. However, the House chose not to vote on that bill before adjourning its session on January 2 and the bill expired. In the new 113th Congress, the House drafted a new bill, excluding EWP resources for Colorado and other states hit by disasters around the country. Last week, the two Senators introduced a bill to restore these resources that were stripped.
As a result of the historic High Park Fire in Northern Colorado, the area supplying drinking water to communities including Greeley and Fort Collins has a high risk of flooding, road washouts, and water quality degradation. Similarly, in Colorado Springs, utility infrastructure has been badly damaged in the wake of last year’s wildfire season. EWP resources would help these Colorado communities protect their critical infrastructure and prevent future catastrophic damage from fires and floods.
Full Text of the Letter:
February 14, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge your Administration to address the current Emergency Watershed Protection fund backlog in your upcoming budget request for Fiscal Year 2014.
As you know from having seen the damage in person, the summer 2012 wildfires were devastating for Coloradans. The Waldo Canyon and High Park fires, both Stafford disasters, destroyed hundreds of homes, caused millions of dollars of damage to critical infrastructure, and tragically resulted in the loss of several lives. Some of the most pernicious and longest lasting damage from the fires came to the watersheds adjacent to Colorado communities. This destruction dramatically increased the risks of future flooding and the contamination of drinking water supplies for a number of municipalities.
It is nearly impossible to fund the necessary projects to repair this damage until Congress makes funding available through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) fund. Colorado currently faces a backlog of nearly $20 million for projects funded through this important program. And it isn’t just Colorado; the latest data from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers the fund, shows that there are 51 other projects across 19 states that require EWP funding.
We worked together to ensure that the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill that passed the Senate last December with bipartisan support included sufficient EWP funding for Colorado and other backlogged states. But we were disappointed that the House chose to strip this funding out of the package, leaving resources only for the states directly affected by Sandy. As a result, the final bill left Colorado and many other states behind.
The House’s failure to provide the necessary funds last month exposed the urgent need for leadership from the executive branch. We ask your Administration to include $61.9 million for EWP in your upcoming budget request. Based on the latest data from the Department of Agriculture, this amount will be sufficient to cover all EWP-associated projects across the country in need of funding in the aftermath of recent Stafford-declared disasters.
By including EWP in your budget, you will help ensure that the federal government, through its ongoing work to assist states in recovering from major disasters, leaves neither Colorado nor any other state behind. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Michael F. Bennet Mark Udall
United States Senator United States Senator
Last year, Colorado voters were so supportive of a "personhood amendment" that Amendment 62, which would have mandated that "the term ‘person’ shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being," failed to even get enough support to make the November ballot.
Undaunted, Springs Republican Rep. Janak Joshi has sponsored HB 13-1032:
The bill provides that, if the commission of any crime codified in the criminal code or traffic code is the proximate cause of death or injury to an unborn member of the species homo sapiens, the prosecuting attorney, in charging the underlying offense, may also charge the homicide or assault offense that is appropriate to the death or injury.
On Monday, Personhood Colorado plans to hold a press conference at the Capitol in Denver to show their solidarity with Joshi.
From the press release:
In recent years, multiple cases of harm to women and their unborn babies have gone unrecognized and unprosecuted due to current loopholes in Colorado law. Heather Surovik, victim of a drunk driving accident who lost her son Brady as she was preparing for delivery, will be testifying and speaking at the press conference.
Colorado law currently disallows prosecution for crimes against children in the womb, allowing drunk drivers and perpetrators of violent crime against pregnant women to avoid criminal charges when found guilty of harming or killing children who have not yet been born. As seen in the recent malpractice case involving Catholic Health Initiatives, there is often no recourse for parents of unborn babies harmed or killed due to negligence or medical malpractice.
Haven't you heard? Hispanic voters are totally cool with the extreme right's anti-immigration platform, or so says former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Speaking Tuesday night at a Tea Party event (they still have those?), Colorado's premier anti-immigration stalwart stated that when you look at the election results from 2012 for the 10 states with the most Hispanic citizens, you will find that it was in Arizona that Mitt Romney carried the most Hispanic support.
The point, says Tancredo, is that in Arizona, the state with the most famously draconian anti-immigrant laws on the books — and Joe Arpaio — Hispanic voters turned out in droves for the Republican presidential candidate. So there is no reason for Republicans to back off or compromise on the immigration question.
The problem with Tancredo's argument, however, is in the data.
As the website Latino Rebels notes:
Tancredo has chosen to ignore some very basic facts:
According to ABC News, Romney got 22% of the Arizona Latino vote in the general election.
Trancedo [sic] might have been referring to the 38% of the Latino vote Romney got in the Arizona Republican primary. (Source: CNN)
There is a HUGE difference between 22% of the Latino vote in the general election and 38% of the Latino vote in a GOP primary. Tancredo once again is misrepresenting the facts to prove his case. Too bad the facts he cites are flat-out wrong.
The above video was provided by Elliot Fladen, a former employee in the Springs' City Attorney's office and immigrant-rights activist. Below, watch as Fladen presses Tancredo to defend his argument that Hispanics don't care about the immigration issue.
City Councilor Tim Leigh is an enigmatic creature of real estate, driven by mysteries hidden from man and beast alike.
Serving in the public sector for the first time, Leigh has fulfilled his sacred duties in a variety of ways, sometimes attempting to burn down local businessmen; sometimes saying that what the citizens of Colorado Springs think has no bearing on his decision making (about the budget); sometimes not-saying (but acting and voting like) Mayor Steve Bach could sneeze and Leigh would be first with a tissue and a blessing.
But whatever role he serves in city government, be it lord or lickspittle, Leigh does it full speed ahead, seemingly oblivious to the impression he creates. And there's no better example of this than the dear man's Twitter account. It reads like a combination of texts you send to your friend to make them uncomfortable, and ... actually, that's it.
In fact, I'm, like, 83-percent sure that Leigh either means to text almost everything that shows up, or he means to aim each message at a specific person. In reality, he does neither, instead offering the public quality insights into the democratic process like this, from Nov. 13: "I must be a panhandler because I'm addicted to sex, too." Or, from April: "I was wondering what cologne she was wearing."
He's even drawn the ultimate, uh, something — a parody Twitter account: @NotTimLeigh, who summed the councilor up pretty well today: "All these ballot issues on @CSUtilities! Hmm. Can't oppose ALL of them, or I'll look like @COSCityCouncil's Dr. No. @mayorstevebach help!"
But the saga continues. Some of Leigh's tweets are just question marks wrapped up in non-disclosure agreements. "Tru dat," he offered yesterday. "You are a bad boy," from a few weeks ago, then: "Where's Waldo? Where's Councilman Leigh? Both are good board games."
Board games. There you go. That's what you possibly get to vote for in the next election, Colorado Springs: A man with his finger squarely on the pulse of his own neck. As he gifted us in March: "I'm a gang of one. A self directed posse."
Of course, the mayor might disagree with that.
A coalition of public officials and others from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs is pushing Colorado's congressional delegation to secure funding for help with watershed protection and mitigation after wildfires in Colorado claimed more than 600 homes and 100,000 acres of forest land last year.
A letter dated today, Jan. 9, was sent by leaders in El Paso and Larimer counties, the cities of Colorado Springs and Greeley, Pikes Peak Council of Governments, Colorado Springs Utilties, Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, Colorado Municipal League, and Colorado Counties Inc.
The money would come from a bill for disaster help for Hurricane Sandy, which the House of Representatives failed to act on last week.
In the Pikes Peak region, the Waldo Canyon Fire ignited June 23 and destroyed 345 homes and charred more than 18,000 acres. The High Park fire, which started June 9 in Larimer County, claimed 259 homes and some 87,000 acres. The Waldo killed two people in the city, and the High Park, one.
Here's the letter:
We are writing to urge you to support the inclusion of $19.8 million for Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funding in the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance. The EWP program is a critically important tool in assisting our communities by implementing emergency recovery measures for restoring our watersheds, and protecting life safety and critical infrastructure damaged by this summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires. Both El Paso and Larimer counties believe that EWP is needed to allow the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to fund critical wildfire restoration and mitigation projects.
Waldo Canyon Projects
The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities need additional funding to reduce flooding, sedimentation and debris flow impacts on facilities critical to collecting, storing and conveying raw drinking water to approximately 70% of city residents.
El Paso County is working with private landowners, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), School District 14 and others to protect the City of Manitou Springs and Highway 24 West from significant erosion and flooding issues which also threaten lives and property in the Ute Pass areas of Chipita Park and Cascade. Additionally, the Navigators and Flying W Ranch need additional funds to protect public and private facilities, including significant historic structures such as Glen Eyrie Castle.
High Park Projects
High Park fire area water providers (City of Fort Collins, City of Greeley and the Tri- Districts) use the Cache La Poudre River to supply drinking water to over 300,000 residents as well as many water-dependent industries that support the economic viability of the region. Watershed restoration funding is critical to reducing sediment loads and infrastructure damage, and therefore maintaining a safe, economical drinking water supply in the region.
Over 200 miles of roads exist within the High Park fire burn area in Larimer County. This includes 42 miles of Larimer County roads, 25 miles of State Highway, 40 miles of US Forest Service Roads, and 98 miles of private roads. These roads provide customary and emergency access to the residential and traveling public, as well as access to fire fighters. Emergency watershed restoration funding would assist in protecting or restoring the integrity of these roads by reducing peak runoff flows and preventing debris hazards and damage.
You'll be shocked to learn that despite the $9.7 billion aid package aimed at post-Superstorm Sandy insurance claims passing the 100-member U.S. Senate unanimously, unlike 354 of their colleagues, 67 Republicans voted against it in the House of Representatives; and of course one of them is the esteemed representative from Colorado's 5th Congressional District: Congressman Doug Lamborn.
"In the House, all of the votes against the aid came from Republicans, who have objected that no cuts in other programs had been identified to pay for the measure despite the nation’s long-term deficit problem," reports the New York Times. "The 67 Republicans who voted against the measure included 17 freshman lawmakers, suggesting that the new class will provide support to the sizable group of anti-spending conservatives already in the House."
Possibly unrelated, possibly not — possibly just fist-clenchingly, stomach-churningly moronic — Lamborn issued a statement earlier in the day all about how he was going to help those down on their luck.
"In the new Congress, my Republican colleagues and I in the House will continue to pass bills to help grow the economy and create jobs," he says. "This will include promoting job expansion by simplifying the tax code, strengthening energy production, and letting the free market prevail over picking winners and losers. We will also need to make responsible cuts to some government programs and reform others to ensure we don’t pass on a job-killing debt to our children and grandchildren.”
Interestingly, as our Pam Zubeck reported, if things had gone another way, the bill Lamborn voted against might have contained $125 million for post-Waldo Canyon Fire efforts.
Devastating wildfires last year, including the Waldo Canyon Fire, have created a lot of headaches for property owners near federal forest lands, as well as for cities who rely on mountain reservoirs for water supplies.
That's why Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., promoted adding $125 million for emergency watershed protection to the disaster funding bill to support Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
That allocation was contained in the Senate bill, which expired on Tuesday when the House of Representatives adjourned for the year without acting on the bill.
The money now has to be included in the House version if the funding is to be made available, which won't happen until after the new Congress is sworn in later this month.
“In the West, we all know how precious water is — especially right now during the worst drought in years,” Bennet said in a news release. “That is why the Colorado delegation came together in a bipartisan and bicameral way to fight for these valuable resources at the end of the last Congress. The EWP program can help Colorado communities that are recovering from the devastating fires this summer, including damages that threaten water supplies and increase the risk of flooding. The Senate showed bipartisan support for Colorado and other states struck by disaster and I urge the House of Representatives to include these resources as well.”
Colorado Springs Utilities relies heavily on Rampart Range Reservoir, where fire crept to its shortline during the Waldo fire in June and July. Mitigation there will potentially cost millions of dollars in coming years.
In a statement on his website, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., joined Bennet in expressing concern about the House's inaction.
I am concerned that, despite weeks of bipartisan work on this critical disaster legislation, the House has declined to even consider this proposal to fund watershed remediation efforts in Colorado and across the West. Confronting the lasting effects of the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires is the fiscally responsible approach and could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the long term.
If the House does not finish its work, we will need to start over from scratch in the new session of Congress. Even if the House declines to provide this timely assistance, I remain committed to helping the communities whose critical water supplies continue to suffer because of last summer's devastating and record-breaking wildfires. I will work with my colleagues of both parties to ensure the Emergency Watershed Protection Program is not forgotten in the new year.
The EWP money would be used in part to repair watershed damage in El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties, Bennet's press release said.
Other lawmakers who supported the allocation include Reps. Lamborn, Jared Polis, and Cory Gardner.
The EWP program falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Natural Resources and Forestry, a subcommittee Bennet chairs.