From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Marianne Goodland):
The appropriations committee voted Friday morning to kill [HB 10-1006] (pdf), sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Curry, I-Gunnison. The bill would have moved funding from the Division of Wildlife, under the Department of Natural Resources, to fund four vacant water commissioner positions in the Division of Water Resources. HB 1006 came out of an interim committee last summer on water resources. It would have moved $409,000 from a severance tax fund in the Department of Natural Resources to fund 5.3 full-time equivalent employees in the Division of Water Resources. According to Curry, four of those positions would be field positions held by water commissioners who monitor water rights. The bill moved the Division of Wildlife into a different funding tier (Tier II), and moved the Division of Water Resources into Tier I, thereby freeing up the severance tax money. The House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee, however, previously amended the bill to put the DOW back into Tier I…
[State Representative Kathleen Curry] argued that the bill would cash fund the water commissioners and that the interim water committee had found another way to do it.
[State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg] argued for funding the positions. “The state engineer is charged with administering state waters,” he said. “When it comes to setting priorities we’ve found money for this priority. It’s important to have people watching the head gates, to make sure Denver gets the water it needs and farmers on the East and West slope get the water they’re entitled to.”
Without the water commissioners who monitor the head gates, Sonnenberg said, people will change the head gates and there will be no one to watch it. “This is law enforcement as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Meanwhile here’s the lowdown about HB 10-1327 from the same article:
Under [HB 10-1327] (pdf), which is sponsored by the Joint Budget Committee as part of its budget-balancing package, the CWCB would lose $19.6 million in its construction fund that gets money from federal mineral lease revenue. CWCB Director Jennifer Gimbel said this week anything that has already been approved and under contract would be okay. In 2009, the CWCB provided $1.494 million in loan funding for a pipeline project for the Fort Morgan Reservoir and Irrigation Company. The CWCB is scheduled in March and May to hear funding requests totaling $4 million for four projects, but that money is now gone, Gimbel said. The construction fund also covers other CWCB projects, such as maintaining a satellite monitoring system and funding a stream-gauging program to support more than 500 operated and maintained gauges through the state. According to a CWCB review of the projects, the gauges “are critical for administering thousands of water rights for municipal, industrial, agriculture, domestic, recreation and environmental uses,” as well as vital for state compact administration, dam safety, and flood monitoring and warning. Losing the funding for the gauges, about $250,000, would “cripple state and local efforts to utilize the state’s water resources,” and hamper collection of data used for assessment of climate change and to address future water shortage.
HB 1327 is scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee.
I have to say that I have been enjoying Ms. Goodland’s legislative analyses since things got rolling on Capitol Hill.
More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.