DENVER – A measure that would have allowed Coloradans to collect rain water that falls on their roofs hardly went out with a splash. Supporters are now examining how to move forward, including possible talks this summer.
The bill died on the second-to-last day of the legislative session after it never received a Senate floor vote. Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, had worked for days to convince her fellow Republicans who control the Senate to give the bill a floor vote, where it would have passed with her support.
But that never happened.
Roberts said her best option might be to begin examining the issue in an interim committee that meets over the summer to discuss water resources; she chairs the committee.
“It will be on the agenda for the water interim committee and possibly in more than one location,” she said.
The bill died after several political maneuvers. Even though it had the votes to pass, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling – chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee – delayed a committee vote on the measure, leaving only hours left for it to receive a floor vote in enough time to pass the Legislature.
It was looking like the bill would stay afloat, but then Republican leaders again delayed a vote on the floor, effectively killing the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, who manages the calendar, pointed out that sponsors were working on a compromise amendment that would have studied the issue. But he felt there was not enough time to give adequate attention to the overall proposal.
“Given the importance of it, there just wasn’t going to be the time, and there was the possibility for it to become skewed,” Scheffel said. “It is an important topic, and it will be talked about. They agreed to continue the discussion in an environment that could be more thoughtful.”
Supporters of the bill point out that Colorado is the only state in the nation to prohibit collection of rain water. But critics say the issue goes to rights, potentially stealing downstream water.
“I felt like shutting it down in committee, particularly on a procedural vote, was unacceptable,” Roberts said. “This is less about the matter at hand and more about, are we going to have a fair process.”