Biomass law could help Vail Valley, rep says
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – A bill giving biomass incentives to businesses is one of the exciting accomplishments for Rep. Christine Scanlan – whose district includes the Vail Valley – in the latest Colorado General Assembly session, which ended Wednesday.
Scanlan, the Summit County Democrat who represents Eagle County, said the biomass incentives, along with several other bills passed through the Colorado legislature, should have positive effects for Eagle County.
The biomass bill will allow businesses that remove beetle kill trees for biomass to get special tax exemptions. Scanlan has worked on several pieces of pine beetle-related legislation during her time in the Colorado House of Representatives.
Scanlan went to Washington last month to testify before Congress in support of a Senate bill that Sen. Mark Udall is sponsoring.
“Estimates from the Forest Service show that we need $30 million to $50 million annually for the next three to five years (to fight the pine beetle epidemic),” Scanlan said. “We wanted to let our representatives in Washington know how important this is to Colorado.”
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who also represents the Vail Valley, is carrying a similar bill through the U.S. House of Representatives, Scanlan said. She’s hoping the legislation could bring more money to Colorado for the beetle problem that can at least match the $30 million the state received this year for its mitigation efforts – the most federal money the state has received for the problem to date.
Eagle County residents should also feel positive effects from the zipper lane bill that would add an extra lane to Interstate 70 during rush hour times to avoid bottle-necking. Scanlan said the Colorado Department of Transportation should have its feasibility study finished within a year that studies emergency vehicle access.
The zipper lanes would make Interstate 70 have three lanes in one direction and one lane in the other direction, depending on the time of day, to get traffic moving. It would help get skiers to and from Vail a lot easier during the winter, and allow residents here the same access in and out of the valley, Scanlan said.
“It’s not the long-term fix to Interstate 70 congestion issues, but it’s something we could do near-term that the state could afford,” Scanlan said.
Bills with effects reaching Eagle County also include the Colorado Kids Outdoors bill, which creates a grant fund for nonprofits and schools to draw from in order to promote outdoor activities with children. There’s more than $100,000 available in grants from that fund, with more donors hopefully contributing soon, Scanlan said.
The teacher effectiveness bill, which hasn’t yet been signed by Governor Bill Ritter, would also have statewide implications. Teachers and principals would be evaluated annually, and those with two years of ineffective ratings would lose their so-called tenure status, thus risking guaranteed employment.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.