From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):
Rep. Sal Pace’s HB1159 was killed on second reading, with 23 members in support and 36 opposed. Two members were absent, and Pace said they may have voted on his side, but wouldn’t have affected the outcome…
Pace hurried the bill along this week. He wanted it to move quickly because he said he was losing votes with each passing day as metropolitan water interests lobbied lawmakers against it. “I think about 10 (representatives) understood the bill,” Pace said. “(Denver legislators) acted like they were deeply concerned for (what the bill would do to) their districts, but they couldn’t say why.”[…]
Pace said the bill would have extended the same consideration to mitigation statewide that presently exists only in transfers that come from the Western Slope to the Front Range and Eastern Plains under the 1937 Conservancy District Act. Opponents said sufficient mechanisms are in place to address mitigation through the roundtables established by legislation five years ago. Pace countered that the roundtables would continue, and only be enhanced by his proposal…
With overwhelming opposition from metro lawmakers in the Legislature, Pace said he believes a ballot initiative, though challenging from a standpoint of expense, might be the most likely way to affect change in the way water transfers impact communities in the state. He cited a poll that shows state residents are more receptive to such changes than the Legislature is.
More coverage from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):
…that was because Denver Water lobbied hard against the bill and managed to turn some lawmakers to its side, said Rep. Sal Pace, who introduced House Bill 1159…
The issue is not a new one for the Legislature, but each time it comes up, urban lawmakers along the Front Range and even rural ones on the South Platte River Basin manage to find ways to kill it, Western Slope lawmakers said. “We on the Western Slope have seen how the water’s been taken and used, so we’re just trying to get some mitigation things going here,” said Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs. “We’re really concerned about the amount of water that leaves our districts and goes to other areas, and we’re just trying to protect those interests.”
Opponents of the measure said that’s all they’re trying to do, too. Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said the bill’s true intent was to end all transmountain water diversions in the state, which would put more pressure on smaller communities downstream of the Denver metropolitan area.
More coverage from The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):
[State Representative Sal Pace] got help from the strangest coalition the Legislature has seen this year. Supporters included local Republicans Ellen Roberts of Durango and Scott Tipton of Cortez, the other Republicans and Democrats on the Western Slope, and environmentalist Democrats from Boulder and Denver.
But a larger coalition opposed the bill, including many Denver Democrats plus Republicans from the suburbs and Eastern Plains. Major metro utilities like Denver Water and Aurora Water lobbied against the bill. The bill failed 40-21. Pace decided to ask for a vote Friday, even though he didn’t have commitments from the 33 lawmakers needed to pass a bill. “Every day, I was losing votes to Denver Water. It was better to do it quicker,” Pace said.
More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.