Lawmakers recap their work for Vail
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Pine beetles, chain laws and state budget challenges were among the topics discussed Wednesday in Vail by state legislators Al White, Dan Gibbs and Christine Scanlan .
Sens. White and Gibb and Rep. Scanlan attended the weekly meeting at Manor Vail in Vail. Scanlan and White both now represent Eagle County at the State Capitol.
Scanlan began her remarks by giving a summary of her involvement in sponsoring at least 11 bills over the past year and a half that focused on range of issues including education reform, Interstate 70 and bark beetle infestation. She then talked extensively about regional efforts to curb bark beetle infestation and decrease wildfire danger in the area, citing the West Vail area as an example of the progress that is being made on a local level.
She said the each community is required to submit plans for wildfire control, saying “some plans are three pages long while others are over 100 pages.”
Scanlan and Gibbs co-chair the committee that reviews these plans.
White discussed the state’s complex budget challenges, likening them to a three-act Shakespearean tragedy.
“Act One sets the scene,” White said. “The 2008-2009 budget was Act One.”
He then went on to say that we are now in Act Two, with “villains appearing” as the state faces troubling circumstances with the 2009-2010 budget. Finally, like “Hamlet’s” Act 3, the 2010-11 budget is shaping up to end “with Hamlet slitting his own throat.”
This last comment drew laughs from the other senators and the assembled audience. White said that while the Legislature – which is required by law to balance the budget – has been able to make cuts through transfers and revoking tax exemptions such as the cigarette tax to balance this year’s budget, next year those options will not be on the table.
Gibbs, who is a Vail Rotary Club member, charted his path to his current position as state senator from Senate District 16 from legislative assistant to Mark Udall to his term as Scanlan’s predecessor as the House representative from the 56th District, which includes Eagle, Lake and Summit counties.
He detailed his involvement with creating tougher chain laws for truckers traveling the I-70 corridor. Gibbs stated that a study commissioned showed that for every hour I-70 was closed, the estimated loss was $1 million. He talked of his experience of canvassing his colleagues about the proposed bill, which included four to six points on truckers’ licenses and fines of up $2,000, winning their support and then being hit with a backlash by the trucking lobby, which resulted in the law passing with no points penalty and maximum of $1,000 fine.
In the spirit of Rotary International’s guiding principle of “service above self,” Scanlan, White and Gibbs stressed the importance of working together with other legislators along with the public to find solutions to current and future problems facing Colorado.
Graham Danzoll is a member of the Vail Rotary Club.
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