WASHINGTON — A new study shows the lesser prairie chicken population has exploded by 20 percent prompting concern by western lawmakers that the Obama administration acted hastily when it listed the bird as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The aerial survey conducted last month by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies showed the grouse species numbers jumped from 18,747 to 22,415.
That study plus the Agriculture Department’s tardiness in reporting conservation efforts to Congress as required by law prompted a letter from lawmakers including Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton demanding the report.
“We request that your department provide this report immediately to appropriate committees as required by the law, so that millions of private landowners, states and other stakeholders that are investing significant resources for conservation of this species can ensure that the cost and effectiveness of federal programs are being properly accounted for, and to provide Congress information it requested prior to the listing,” the lawmakers said. Read more »
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle killed the Sportsmen’s Act Thursday in a protest vote aimed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who refused to allow amendments to the measure aimed at reelecting vulnerable Democrats.
The vote to break the filibuster required 60 supporters, but fell well short of its goal with 41 yes votes to 56 opposed. All 45 Republicans voted against the bill along with 11 Democrats.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, a bill co-sponsor, voted yes as did Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
The measure was also sponsored by Democrats facing tough reelection fights in North Carolina, Louisiana, and Alaska, prompting its nickname by Republicans as the “Red State Democrat Reelection Act.” Read more »
WASHINGTON – A politically charged sportsmen’s bill intended to benefit vulnerable Senate Democrats passed its first hurdle in the Senate Monday night but is expected to face fierce opposition from gun control advocates before the final vote is taken later this week.
The vote to avoid a filibuster and allow the bill to move forward was approved on a bipartisan vote of 82 to 12. It was opposed mostly by Democrats who criticized the Sportsmen’s Act for not making it harder for some hunters to buy guns.
The measure would allow greater access to federal land, public shooting ranges, and block the Environmental Protection Agency from banning lead in ammunition and fishing lures, language originally passed by House Republicans. Read more »
Sen. Mark Udall
WASHINGTON – The president’s decision to bypass Congress and enact sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system is supported by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall who says Barack Obama was forced to act alone.
The Republican-controlled House has refused to vote on the Senate’s immigration bill that included amnesty for more than 12 million illegal immigrants. Instead, House lawmakers are holding out for increase border protections against illegal crossings, strengthened interior enforcement, and reforming the bureaucratic immigration process.
“The House of Representatives should not abdicate its responsibility to reform our immigration laws to the president,” Udall said in a statement. Read more »
WASHINGTON — New polling shows the governor’s race is a dead heat between Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez with each drawing 44 percent.
However, Beauprez has a substantial lead over Hickenlooper among independent voters — 45 percent to the governor’s 37 percent.
The Rasmussen Reports poll comes just days after Beauprez won the Republican primary with 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field.
Among their own party, Hickenlooper carried 84 percent of Democratic support while Beauprez drew 83 percent of the support among Republicans.
The close polling numbers prompted Beauprez to issue a fundraising letter to supporters calling the results “extraordinary.” Read more »
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down the Obamacare mandate that some companies must pay for contraception coverage in an employee’s insurance plan, a decision hailed by many as a victory for religious freedom.
The court also ruled that it would be a First Amendment violation to force home healthcare workers to pay non-member fees to public employee unions. The decision was a setback for labor unions in Illinois, where hundreds of thousands of workers were forced to pay dues without a say in union business.
The 5 to 4 ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby means that women who want birth control pills or the so-called “morning after” abortion pills covered by their insurance carriers would have to pay for it, if their employers object to the practice based on religious convictions. Read more »
Obama administration officials were a no-show at a House hearing.
A secret groundwater grab plotted by the Forest Service for nearly a decade now aims to dictate private and state water usage and restrict access to public lands, angering Capitol Hill lawmakers who say they were blind-sided by the plan.
The federal agency says it would use executive fiat to proclaim management control over “surface and groundwater resources that are hydraulically interconnected and consider them interconnected in all planning and evaluation activities.”
Word of the plan prompted Rep. Tom McClintock who chairs the House Natural Resources subcommittee on water and power to summons Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to appear before a hearing this week.
However, the Obama administration official along with another top Interior Department bureaucrat refused to participate and explain these and other proposed water-related restrictions. Read more »
Sen. Mark Udall
WASHINGTON — A new poll conducted by National Public Radio that shows Republicans leading Democrats by three points in Colorado has prompted an urgent fundraising plea from the camp of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.
The June 19th poll of 12 battleground states at the center of the fight for control of the U.S. Senate including Colorado shows Republicans ahead of Democrats 46 to 43 percent.
Another recent poll conducted by the National Mining Association on June 12 shows Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner leading Udall 47 to 45 percent.
“This is good news for Congressman Gardner who will surely seize on these poll results to boost his fundraising for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) primary deadline tomorrow,” Udall’s Campaign Manager Adam Dunstone said in an email to Rachel Gordon, the campaign’s finance director.
Read more »
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers here Monday will press the nation’s top tax collector to explain how two years of emails disappeared from Lois Lerner’s computer – the time period in which conservative groups were targeted by her agency for increased scrutiny.
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen was defiant during the first day of questioning Friday as to why he remained silent about the computer malfunction for months after Congress began its investigation and demanded the documents be delivered to Capitol Hill.
Koskinen is expected to face tough questioning from Republicans when the hearing resumes at 7p.m. before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Read more »
Gunnison Sage-Grouse by Noppadol Paothong
WASHINGTON — The federal government’s decision to ban energy development across a wide swath of Colorado and eastern Utah to protect the Gunnison sage grouse habitat has raised concerns the action would inflict economic damage.
Although the Obama administration was not expected to make its decision as to whether the bird warrants the endangered listing until November, the Bureau of Land Management’s decision this week effectively puts an oil, gas and coal moratorium on 400,000 acres – roughly 90 acres per bird.
The final decision was “pushed back until after the election, because when people understand the impact on jobs, people get mad,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of the Western Energy Alliance.
“They know they’ve got a tight Senate race and they know that people in Colorado who are going to vote for the next senator are upset by actions that put jobs and economic growth off –limits,” Sgamma said. Read more »