Colorado Senate doesn’t approve tire bill
EAGLE COUNTY — The Colorado Senate Transportation Committee killed Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush’s tire bill, 3-2, on Thursday after it passed in the House of Representatives in February, 46-18.
The bill states that all motorists must travel prepared for winter weather, including having adequate tires or chains, or alternate traction devices, on their vehicles while traveling the Interstate 70 mountain corridor from Oct. 1 to May 15 between Dotsero and Morrison.
“This bill has had incredible support and a desire for it to be implemented for two years now,” said Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, who supported the bill. “When a bill dies with broad support and no opposition on the record — I’m at a loss as to why the three Republican members of the Senate Transportation Committee voted against the bill.”
Opposition to the bill included Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey; Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction; and Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley.
“Tire tread standards already are set in law, as are fines for violations of tread depth and failure to use traction devices in certain circumstances,” Baumgardner said in a statement sent to the Vail Daily in late February. “I just don’t believe in passing new laws when a problem can be addressed by the consistent enforcement of existing laws, which is the case here.”
Votes against revolved around the lack of need for the bill, “which is utterly fascinating because last year (in opposing a similar bill), the same three senators basically said that the bill was punitive, took away people’s rights and created new fines. This year: ‘The bill does nothing,’” Mitsch Bush said.
Donovan and Mitsch Bush are struggling to understand why the bill got shot down with so much support.
“Of course, during the committee hearing, both Colorado State Patrol and Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger had testified in person as to the importance of this bill for enabling them to enforce more effectively,” Mitsch Bush said.
The bill received 13 votes in the House from Republicans, and was supported broadly by the I-70 Coalition, Vail Resorts, Vail Valley Partnership, governments, hotel associations, businesses and police departments. The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol also supported the bill.
Testimony to the House and Senate told the story of a critically ill patient trying to be transported to a Denver hospital. A snowstorm eliminated the option to fly, and the trip took six hours due to an accident, Mitsch Bush said.
‘CONTINUE TO WORK’
In 2010, a similar law was implemented for truck drivers, requiring them to carry proper equipment and be prepared for variable road conditions. Since then, truck accidents have “decreased fairly dramatically,” Mitsch Bush said.
“This would level the playing field and make the same rules for everyone who travels the I-70 corridor,” Donovan said. “You’ve got to obey the traction law, and you also have to be prepared.”
With the vote, 3-2, the bill is not allowed to be brought back this year, which is “disappointing,” Donovan said.
“I’m going to continue to work, as I have since July of 2014, with all of the stakeholders to try and craft a bill that will protect public safety,” Mitsch Bush said. “My goal is to protect public safety and reduce closures on I-70.”