Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
June / July 1998


Capitol Report
by Sandra Eid, Legislative Coordinator

The Will of the Legislature

Be it resolved "that the United States Congress place a moratorium on any further funding to the BLM for the purposes of carrying out...roadless or wilderness reinventories..." (HJR 98-1039, Smith, Ament)

Be it resolved "that we, the members of the Colorado General Assembly, hereby request that no rivers in Colorado be designated as 'Heritage Rivers' under the American Heritage Rivers Initiative." (HJR 98-1023, Musgrave, Ament)

Be it resolved "that we, the members of the General Assembly, strongly urge the President of the United States not to sign the Kyoto Protocol to the FCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention on Global Climate Change)." (SJR 98-023, Ament, Entz)

Be it resolved "that we, the members of the Colorado General Assembly, hereby request the Congress of the United States to take actions necessary, including federal legislation, to ensure that Colorado can carry out its (self) audit law without interference from the EPA." (SJR 98-007, Norton, Adkins)

The quotations above have been taken from four of the nearly eighty House and Senate Joint Resolutions adopted by the Colorado legislature during its '98 session. Unlike bills, joint resolutions do not become part of the laws of the state. They may or may not be heard by committees of reference before they appear on the House or Senate floor, where they are voted on only once (no second and third readings). That procedure is then repeated in the opposite chamber. Joint resolutions express the will or sentiment of both the House and the Senate. Copies of the type of resolutions cited above are generally sent to the President of the United States, the President of the US Senate, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and to each member of Colorado's delegation in Congress. Joint resolutions cannot be vetoed by the governor.

Legislators often use measures like this to pay tribute to their constituents, or to memorialize persons or events. Examples include: the Colorado State Rams Football Team, Coors Brewing Company's 125th Anniversary, the Jack Swigert Memorial, and Holocaust Awareness Week. However, (as evidenced above) legislators also use joint resolutions to express their displeasure, and no activities in Colorado generate as much legislative displeasure as those involved with protecting our environment. In addition to the issues previously identified (two of which merited one HJR and one SJR--apparently to make certain that Congress really got the message) the '98 General Assembly adopted measures urging automatic review or expiration of all EPA rules, and endorsing Animas-LaPlata Lite.

Be it resolved "that we, the members of the Colorado General Assembly, hereby request the Congress of the United States to adopt statutes...providing for automatic legislative review of all regulations newly adopted or amended by the EPA for the purpose of determining whether they are within the scope of the EPA's legislative authority and whether they accomplish their policy objectives in a cost-effective manner and further providing for the automatic expiration, within a time certain, of all such regulations not affirmatively extended by act of Congress." (SJR 98-003, Mutzebaugh, Paschall)

Be it resolved that "the General Assembly endorses the modified Animas-LaPlata Project proposed by the two Colorado Ute Tribes and their non-Indian neighbors." (HJR 98-1031, Dyer, Alexander)

The next issue of Peak & Prairie will include scorecards for the '98 session tabulating the votes on a number of important environmental bills. Few of the joint resolutions will be used because they lack the importance of measures intended to become law, and the environmental community has insufficient resources to fight every battle at the Capitol. However, especially in an election year, voters should be aware that so many anti-environmental resolutions were adopted. And, at public forums in their communities, candidates should be held accountable for their votes on these measures.

Perhaps the overriding question should be: Does the will of the Colorado legislature reflect the will of the Colorado people?