Congress will hold more hearings on legalized marijuana use in Colorado.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney for Colorado on Tuesday told a House panel that legalization of marijuana for recreational use has fueled fears that it would lead to more traffic accidents and fatalities.
Attorney John Walsh said that federal law enforcement officials have no plans to target casual marijuana users in Colorado, however the prevention of drugged driving associated with marijuana use would be a top priority for the Justice Department.
Thomas M. Harrigan, deputy administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), also told the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government operations that 28 percent of drivers killed in car accidents tested positive for marijuana.
“I would note — and I believe the DEA has the same concern — that we are highly concerned about the increase in the rate of drugged driving and in Colorado, it’s an issue we’re facing right now,” Walsh said. Read more »
When Congress banned welfare cards at strip bars and casino ATMs, they neglected pot shops.
WASHINGTON – Reports that welfare debit cards are being used to withdraw cash at pot shop ATMs has prompted some Colorado Republicans to draft legislation to prevent misuse of the food stamp funds.
The bill set for introduction here Monday is called the “Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act,” and its authors include Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton.
“It’s time to close this ‘pot shop loophole’ before it gets any bigger,” the lawmakers said in a letter circulating Thursday among House lawmakers.
Congress passed legislation in 2012 to prohibit access to welfare benefits at ATMS located in strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos.
But with the recent advent of legalized pot sales in states including Colorado, lawmakers say the law needs to be updated and pot shops added to the list. Read more »
Supreme Court ruling in Kelo vs. the City of New London prompted House bill.
WASHINGTON – States and localities that abuse eminent domain powers would be denied federal economic development funds for two years under legislation approved Wednesday by House lawmakers.
The bill easily passed the Republican-controlled House on a vote of 353-65 with 127 Democrats voting yes.
Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette was the lone member of the Colorado delegation to vote against the measure; voting yes were Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, and Democratic Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis.
The Private Property Protection Act was based on the most infamous case of eminent domain to reach the Supreme Court — Kelo vs. the City of New London — that upheld local government’s decision to take private property under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause so that Pfizer could construct a plant in Connecticut.
Despite the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in 2005, the project that cost taxpayers $80 million never got off the ground and the condemned property is now a barren fields overrun by weeds, said Republican supporters of the bill. Read more »
Former Republican chairman Jim Nicholson says the key to winning the convention is funding.
WASHINGTON — Colorado Republicans are hoping to say farewell to President Barack Obama in the same manner that Democrats celebrated his nomination in 2008, on a Denver stage during a national party convention.
Only this time there would be no glowing Greek columns in a staged imitation of an ancient temple — or a Democrat in the spotlight.
Republicans led by Bob Beauprez are making a bid to bring the National Republican Convention to Denver in 2016, which some say is a fitting bookend to signal the conclusion of the rocky Obama era.
The key to scoring a Denver convention, which is expected to provide a $250 million economic bonanza to the winning city, is a financial commitment from Colorado to pay the party’s estimated $60 million price tag – Greek columns not included. Read more »
Scott Gessler intervenes in disputed election lawsuit.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has asked the Broomfield District Court to allow Secretary of State Scott Gessler to participate in a lawsuit challenging a contentious local election to ban fracking.
Suthers argues that Gessler should be allowed to question witnesses who will be called to testify at the trial beginning Feb. 20 in an “amicus plus” position.
In addition to that power, Suthers said the state’s election chief should also be permitted to engage in certain oral arguments, as well as taking on the traditional amicus role of filing briefs and motions before the court.
Thomas E. Cave and the Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition (BBEC) filed the legal challenge in December against election manager Michael Susek and Broomfield County Clerk Jim F. Candelarie.
The lawsuit seeks to overturn the disputed outcome of Question 300, a ballot measure that sought to prohibit hydraulic fracturing within the city and county of Broomfield for five years. Read more »
House Speaker John Boehner gave Obama another debt ceiling increase.
WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders relied heavily on Democrats Tuesday to pass a contentious measure to raise the debt ceiling and give President Obama more borrowing power after rank-and-file Republicans failed to win numerous demands.
The bill passed 221 to 201, with 193 Democrats and 28 Republicans voting yes, and 199 Republicans and two Democrats voting no. The Colorado delegation voted along party lines with Democratic Reps. Diane DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter voting yes, and Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton voting no.
Republicans wanted the debt increase offset by spending cuts, language that fixed problems with Obamacare, Medicare and military pensions, and approval for the XL Keystone pipeline.
When Republicans walked away from the negotiating table empty-handed and took their votes with them, Boehner turned to Democrats for support.
“It’s the president driving up the debt and the president wanting to do nothing about the debt that’s occurring,” Boehner said.
“He will not engage in our long-term spending problem, and so let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants,” Boehner said. Read more »
House bill prevents lead ban in fishing gear and ammo.
WASHINGTON — A sportsmen and recreation bill approved this week by the House would allow greater access for hunting and fishing on federal lands and block the Environmental Protection Agency from banning the use of lead in ammunition and tackle gear.
The measure passed on a bipartisan vote of 268 to 154, and although 41 Democrats sided with Republicans the bill is expected to face tough opposition in the Senate.
Rep. Doc Hastings, Washington state Republican and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the legislation is needed to protect long-standing American traditions from “bureaucratic threats.
“This legislation ensures that Americans’ ability to fish and hunt will not be arbitrarily subject to limitation by the whim of federal bureaucrats,” Hastings said.
“It also makes clear that public lands are open-until-closed to such recreational activities, and it absolutely makes clear that President Obama’s activist EPA does not have the authority to regulate ammunition and fishing tackle,” Hastings said. Read more »
Ken Salazar has endorsed the Keystone pipeline.
WASHINGTON — Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has endorsed the XL Keystone pipeline as a “win-win” project for U.S. energy bucking the Obama administration that has delayed the project for more than five years.
The Democrat and former Colorado Senator threw his support behind the project during an appearance at an energy conference in Houston, Texas on Wednesday and also sanctioned fracking as a safe method to free oil and natural gas.
“We know that from everything we’ve seen, there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone,” Salazar told the Associated Press. “We need to make sure that story is told.”
Salazar was nominated to the top Interior post by President Barack Obama and served in the position from 2009 until April, during which time he refrained from endorsing the project.
Salazar’s backing comes on the heels of another endorsement from former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who said on Monday that the pipeline controversy was political and not scientific. Read more »
Unique DC deal would give Snowmobilers continued access to national forests.
WASHINGTON – The Denver Bronco’s loss on the football field Super Bowl Sunday turned into a win for snowmobile enthusiasts during a unique exchange of bipartisan cooperation among House lawmakers here Tuesday.
Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis offered the amendment to a sportsman’s bill that would maintain access for snowmobilers to national forests until a winter travel management rule is finalized by the federal government.
It usually takes a bit of arm-twisting for Democrats to amend a Republican bill in the GOP-controlled House.
But Rep. Doc Hastings, Washington Republican, Seattle Seahawks fan, and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee surprised colleagues when he offered to accept the language in exchange for a little humility on the House floor. Read more »
Colorado ski country expected to pay highest premiums nationwide under Obamacare (Foter image).
Colorado’s ski resorts top the list of regions that are expected to pay some of the highest premiums for Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report Monday from Kaiser Heath News.
While locals in Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield Counties are estimated to pay $483 in monthly premiums based on the lowest prices, or silver plan, Summit County residents would fork over an expected $462, the report said. Read more »