Eminent-domain bill needs scrutiny through Colorado legislative process

With fewer than 50 days left in the session, our legislative agenda is accelerating.

Many bills passed the House this week, including: House Bill 1216 requiring certain markers for towers more than 50 feet high; HB 1131 making cyberbullying a crime; HB 1285 requiring disclosures to a client by a tax preparer; HB 1260, a Colorado version of “Jessica’s Law” setting mandatory sentencing for sex offenses involving a child; Senate Bill 62 sets forth conditions for reinstatement of the parent-child relationship after termination; HB 1180, a sunset review of the regulation of outfitters and HB 1227 establishes requirements for continuing dental education in Colorado.

In the Judiciary Committee, we heard several hours of testimony on SB 93, which would re-establish the right of pipeline companies to exercise eminent domain (condemnation) of private property to transport petroleum products across private property. We heard testimony in opposition to, and in support of, the bill. Those in opposition often cited concerns about pipeline companies having too much power during negotiations, as well as infringement of property rights. Those in support of the bill highlighted the importance of energy production in Colorado and pointed to the narrow use of eminent domain permitted under the law. I believe we need to ensure that if pipeline companies exercise eminent domain to install pipelines that their use of this measure is done fairly. While I voted for this bill in committee, I will scrutinize any proposed amendments to the bill before I decide whether I will support it on the House floor.

Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, and I are sponsoring HB 1291, which passed the House on Friday. Under current law, only school districts are permitted to hire armed security officers. This bill would permit charter schools to hire armed security officers who could carry a concealed weapon. I believe charter schools should have the same rights as public schools to contract armed-security officers, and we must ensure schools in Colorado have all of the appropriate resources necessary to keep our children safe.

This week, I am introducing an off-road highway vehicle bill. Although similar bills have died in the past, I am committed to increasing public safety by imposing licensing requirements and insurance for both operators and vehicles. I enjoyed hosting a large stakeholder meeting Wednesday and having advocates from Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers join me. We were able to bring together a wide variety of groups, including folks from all of the affected departments, law-enforcement officials from Colorado State Patrol, county sheriffs, county clerks, advocates for local control and representatives from the off-highway vehicle community. I am pleased with the progress that we made and am eager to continue working on this issue. I am proud to carry this bill, which I believe will protect public safety as well as the interests of the counties. Despite past setbacks, I remain optimistic we will be able to forge a compromise that will satisfy the majority of people involved.

The annual Youth Awards breakfast for Boys & Girls Club of Colorado was held last week. The purpose of this event is to recognize not only service to the Boys & Girls Club, but also to honor academic success, moral character and speaking ability. I was honored to sit with Will Baker who was a finalist for the award and is a Durango resident. Will is a talented leader within the community, president of the Keystone Leadership Club and a skilled student-athlete. He hopes to go to a trade school to be an auto mechanic and one day open his own shop. I know that his future is bright, and I wish him the best of luck.

Mike McLachlan represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses La Plata, Archuleta, San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties and part of Gunnison County. Call McLachlan at (303) 866-2914 or email mike.mclachlan.house@state.co.us.

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