GOVERNOR RITTER HAILS PASSAGE OF
HALLMARK RENEWABLE ENERGY LEGISLATION
Gov. Bill Ritter today hailed the final passage of House Bill 1281, the legislative centerpiece of his 2007 renewable energy agenda for Colorado.
“I applaud lawmakers from both parties for their bipartisan cooperation and vision as they work to enact Colorado‘s New Energy Economy,” Ritter said. “In 2004, when Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 37, we became the first state in the country to set renewable energy standards by citizen initiative.
“We’re making history yet again with HB 1281 by expanding those standards and continuing to establish Colorado as the nation’s renewable energy leader.”
The governor congratulated lawmakers, investor-owned utilities, rural electric associations, environmental organizations, labor groups, consumer advocates and others for their collaborative efforts in shaping HB 1281.
“HB 1281 will help stimulate the rural areas at the heart of the New Energy Economy — regions like the Eastern Plains and San Luis Valley where wind, sun and agriculture are abundant,” Ritter said. “The bill will help us attract manufacturers of wind turbines and solar products. It also will stimulate research and development of emerging energy technologies.
“And by expanding our renewable energy production and consumption, we’ll reduce our reliance on foreign oil, which is good for our environment and our national security.
“I look forward to signing HB 1281 and the remainder of the New Energy Economy legislative package very soon,” the governor added.
Gov. Bill Ritter will sign Senate Bill 16 into law in Pueblo this afternoon. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Abel Tapia and Rep. Dorothy Butcher, lowers the minimum age of compulsory school attendance from 7 years old to 6.
WHEN: 4 p.m. today (Friday, March 16, 2007)
WHERE: Spann Elementary School,
2300 E. 10th St., Pueblo
This is the second bill-signing in Pueblo this week. The governor signed House Bill 1132, a water-quality measure co-sponsored by Rep. Buffie McFadyen and Sen. Gail Schwartz, at the El Pueblo Museum on Monday.
Executive order allows state workers to once again have union dues deducted
directly from paychecks and forwarded to employee associations
Gov. Bill Ritter today signed an executive order that once again will allow the state to deduct dues from employees’ paychecks and forward the money directly to employee associations. The dues check-off option was essentially banned in 2001 after nearly 70 years in existence.
“I am pleased to restore what had been a long-standing policy that benefited state employees and employee associations,” Gov. Ritter said. “This will once again give employees the option of assigning association dues directly from their paychecks to their organizations.”
The state’s 74,000 employees will be able to check off a payroll deduction box that allows organization dues to go directly to those organizations. Ritter said the convenience and efficiency of the check-off program is important to the state’s workforce.
“Those of us serving on the front lines want to work as partners with Gov. Ritter and his managers to make state government more responsive and effective,” said Audrey Newman, a 16-year state employee at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and a member of the Colorado Association of Public Employees/Service Employees International Union. With more than 4,000 members, CAPE/SEIU represents the largest number of state employees.
“We know what works and what doesn’t, so we value the right to support employee organizations that will speak with a cohesive voice on our behalf,” Newman said. “I appreciate the governor’s action today and the respect it shows for the important work we do for the people of Colorado.”
The governor’s executive order initiates a state rule-making process that involves a public notice and public comment period. The rule would take effect in August.
Gov. Bill Ritter signed four bills into law today – one dealing with notification of the availability of emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors, and three addressing the needs of public institutions of higher education.
Senate Bill 60 was co-sponsored by Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Anne McGihon, D-Denver. It directs that all licensed health-care facilities providing emergency care to sexual assault victims have protocols for informing a survivor, in a timely fashion, of the availability and use of emergency contraception. The measure provides exceptions for individual health care professionals on the basis of religious or moral beliefs.
“A lot of people spent a lot of time working very hard on this bill,” Gov. Ritter said. “Thank you to everyone who participated in this extremely collaborative process.”
“I truly believe this is a great day for women and a great day for women’s health,” Sen. Boyd said. “We will be assisting some of our most vulnerable citizens with this bill.”
SB 48 was co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins. It allows public institutions of higher education to enter into an unlimited number of employment contracts extending longer than five years, provided such contracts are for research to be performed in university settings. The goal is to make Colorado public institutions more competitive in recruiting and retaining research faculty and staff. This provides institutions of higher learning with a tool other than tenure to recruit and retain research faculty and staff.
SB 54 was co-sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Fischer. It lifts statutorily enforced capital bonding limits and replaces them with market-based limits established pursuant to prevailing market methods. The legislation lifts the statutorily enforced 6 percent bond limit, thereby permitting the University of Colorado and Colorado State University to issue debt in accordance with their Moody’s bond ratings.
House Bill 1026 was co-sponsored by Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. Bacon. It requires graduate students to purchase health insurance, with the intent of lowering health insurance premiums at Colorado State University. CSU enrolls hundreds of professional graduate students each year. If CSU could require health insurance coverage of its graduate students, the premiums of all students and employees would be expected to drop.
Gov. Bill Ritter today delivered the following testimony to the Senate State Affairs Committee in support of HB 1281, which would double Colorado‘s renewable energy portfolio to 20 percent by 2020. HB 1281 is the centerpiece of Gov. Ritter’s agenda for developing Colorado‘s New Energy Economy. This was Ritter’s first appearance as governor before a legislative committee:
“When Amendment 37 was passed in 2004, renewable resources provided less than 2 percent of the Xcel portfolio. By the end of this year, that percentage will be 10 percent.
“Colorado was the first and remains the only state in the union to pass an RPS (renewable portfolio standard) by initiative.
“The paradigm of renewable energy is changing – today, the very industries that opposed Amendment 37 are supporting doubling and expanding the standard.
“I want to congratulate the sponsors of this bill for bringing all stakeholders and interested parties to the table.
“Everyone may not get everything they want, but the bill represents a tremendous compromise on the part of all involved. That includes Tri-State, the Colorado Rural Electric Association, Xcel Energy, independent power producers, the renewable energy industry, Colorado Farmer’s Union, Environment Colorado, Western Resources Advocates and labor groups.
“The result is well-crafted policy for the people of Colorado.
“What we’re seeing is that the state’s commitment to a strong renewable portfolio can be a catalyst for the New Energy Economy. It’s already helping us attract interest from national and international renewable energy development companies:
· BP has announced it will build one of the largest wind farms in the country in Weld County. Florida Power and Light intends to develop a wind farm in Logan County. Sun Edison is developing a solar power plant in the San Luis Valley.
· We know this investment will pay back impressive dividends. A recent economic study shows that increasing the RPS to 20 percent would result a $1.9 billion increase inColorado‘s share of the gross domestic product by 2020.
“Colorado can lead the nation and the world. We have the intellectual resources, as evidenced by the new Collaboratory that brings the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Colorado andColorado State University together with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. We have the natural resources: we’re the 6th sunniest and 11th windiest state. And we have the agricultural resources to develop bio-fuels.
“This bill represents the first step of many, but an important step – in establishing Colorado as a leader through a policy commitment on the part of our state.”