State Legislative Update

The State Legislature is moving along well as we head into April and only 40 days left of the 2011 Legislative Session. However, the Joint Budget Committee still has no agreement on the State Budget for FY 2011-12 and therefore no ‘Long Bill’ has yet been released. CFB staff will be watching the Long Bill for any unexpected amendments.

This week the House of Representatives passed HB 1289 – ‘State Historic Society Water Supply Structures’, sponsored by Rep. Sonnenberg and Sen. Hodge. The bill requires that the Historic Preservation society to provide notice to and obtain the consent of every person having a property interest, including an interest in water, in a water supply structure prior to nominating the structure for inclusion in either the state or the national register. If, within 120 days after receiving the notice, such a person objects to the inclusion, the society is prohibited from proceeding with the nomination. The bill also requires the society to obtain the approval of the state engineer in the division of water resources before requesting approval from the keeper of a document describing the historical significance of a water supply structure.  The reason this bill is coming forward is due to a recent State ditch document that the Historical Preservation Society released with pictures and information on water structures. There is much concern with the ‘fear’ of any such structures being designated as historical preservation with little to no input from the ditch owners or water users. If someone needed to upgrade or make changes to a water supply structure that was registered with the historic preservation society that would be extremely difficult amount of paperwork in order to do that and in some cases impossible to accomplish. This is a PRO-ACTIVE bill. No water supply structures have been deemed as historic preservation at this point.

Colorado Farm Bureau supports HB 1289 because it is first and foremost a protection of our property rights. It is no secret to anyone that water is the lifeblood of this state’s economy and the key to the success of the agriculture industry. As we often say “Food grows where water flows.” With the vast majority of water rights in this state owned and used by farmers and ranchers it is imperative to protect their operations, including their use of water structures. This measure is a positive step forward in protecting those property rights from the historic preservation registry.  We believe this bill creates a necessary exception for the historic properties registry process when acting with regard to water supply structures. The notification and ability to object is very critical for us. Water supply structures are a part of our everyday life and a part of our business operation. It is only appropriate for the society to provide notice and obtain the consent of those having a property interest when it comes to water structures.  Farm Bureau believes this to be a fundamental property right.

The Senate Ag Committee passed SB 208 – ‘DOW and Parks Division Merger Bill’ unanimously on Thursday, March 31st. The bill is currently on the Senate Floor. This bill consolidates the wildlife entities with parks and outdoor recreation entities into one division under DNR with one combined Board. CFB is in support of this bill.

Below you can read Hugh Sanburg’s, CFB State Board Member, testimony which he gave on behalf of Farm Bureau in the committee hearing:

Good afternoon committee members and Chairwoman Schwartz, I am Hugh Sanburg, Colorado Farm Bureau State Board member from Delta County.

I come before you today on behalf of Colorado Farm Bureau the state’s largest general agriculture organization. It is my honor to represent the nearly 23,000 members from across the state in asking for your support of SB 208.

Farm Bureau has long standing policy which states:  “We recommend all government agencies with areas of overlapping responsibilities or management be restructured to eliminate duplication.” We believe it to be important for government agencies and departments to coordinate with each other and become more efficient where appropriate.  SB 208 accomplishes this and that is why we are in support.

There is a strong tie between private land and the abundant wildlife that reside in this State.  Wildlife issues and the management of lands controlled by the Department of Natural Resources often have direct impacts on private land owners.

In Colorado, 75% of the state’s wildlife resides on private land at some point during the year.  It is very important to Farm Bureau for the new Parks and Wildlife Board to continue to have at least two seats that are held by agricultural representatives.  Again, our policy is supportive of this makeup and SB 208 continues this tradition.  As this merger moves forward we would ask that you continue to protect the agricultural members on the new Parks and Wildlife Board.

We greatly appreciate Director Mike King’s work on moving this merger forward and again I’d like to reinforce our support for SB 208.


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