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Donovan hopeful Public Lands Day bill will make it through Senate

April 25, 2016, 6:20 am
Hiking East Lake Creek trail near Edwards.

Hiking East Lake Creek trail near Edwards.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan told RealVail.com that she’s hopeful her Public Lands Day bill will finally cross the goal line after contentious House wrangling over its language was resolved last week.

A bill that’s largely symbolic but has been a political football this legislative session once again got booted back to the Colorado Senate on Friday after House Democrats successfully stripped out previous GOP amendments asserting greater state control over the one third of the state that’s owned and managed by the federal government.

Vail Democrat Donovan’s SB21 (pdf), which would establish a Public Lands Day to officially “celebrate all the ways that public lands contribute to Coloradans’ well-being,” passed on second reading (special order) with amendments in the House and now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

Democrats on Friday accepted a couple of Republican amendments but then had to block an attempt by Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Durango, to reinsert controversial amendments added by Republicans when the Senate first approved the bill. Brown is embroiled in a contentious re-election campaign in his Southwest Colorado district.

“Coloradans would be well-served by a reform and greater legislative oversight of the current federal regulatory process, wherein the diverse vital interests of Coloradans are too often not adequately represented in the adjudication and settlement of federal regulatory issues, resulting too often in ‘sweetheart’ consent decrees between plaintiffs and federal agencies,” the original Senate amendment read.

The Democratic majority on the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee stripped out the Senate amendments and substituted an endorsement of “cooperative and collaborative involvement of local governments in federal land management decision-making processes” – language taken from a previous bipartisan bill.

“Local governments routinely work in cooperation with the federal agencies,” said Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, the Steamboat Springs Democrat who sponsored the bill in the House and represents Eagle and Routt counties. “Let’s keep it that way and not get into a completely unnecessary and unwinnable argument over who’s in charge.”

Donovan is hopeful that with the more bipartisan language inserted by the Democrat-controlled House the bill will ultimately pass as amended when it heads back to the Republican-controlled Senate.

“It could get interesting [in the Senate] but there seems to be broad support for the establishment of the day,” Donovan said. “We’re just debating the language that describes the day. It’s an important discussion that happens because it does reveal different approaches to how the parties perceive public lands in some areas.

“But I’m still confident we’re going to get public lands day established, because that idea is something that everyone can stand behind and we’re just really debating the big language that surrounds the concept, so that shouldn’t kill the bill because it’s not the substance of the bill.”

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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