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El Paso County commissioners elaborate on opposition to several proposed bills in Colorado Legislature

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With less than a month remaining in this year's session, state lawmakers aren't finding much support in their proposed new laws from El Paso County Commissioners.

Last week, we reported how strongly commissioners spoke against a bill that would help start the Front Range Passenger Rail system between Pueblo and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

During Tuesday's weekly meeting, Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan VanderWerf explained why the board also opposes proposed legislation on gun control and transportation funding.

VanderWerf said that gun control bills focus more on taking rights away from law-abiding gun owners and less on mental health issues affecting gun users or potential gun users.

As for transportation, he said that lawmakers want to generate funding through an "unbalanced" combination of tax increases, fees and the state budget.

"I think more should come from the budget," he said. "What I'm seeing now is a (transportation) funding gap of $130 million. I don't think it's unreasonable or impossible for the general fund to cover that amount. And some of the fee increases are more like tax increases. Voters want the Legislature to use tax revenue that's already in the general fund. Maybe we should take the issue to voters and let them decide."

Commissioners said that they doubt the current proposals will be changed enough to earn their approval, but other bills could still be proposed in the final weeks of the session.

In another matter, the county coroner's office reports seeing more evidence of opiod, marijuana and other drug connections in autopsies. With opiods specifically, the county found evidence of the painkilling drug 130 times in 2019, and 186 times in 2020.

"That's a very substantial increase," VanderWerf said. "We're not sure why. Maybe a lot of the increase is in transients. But whatever the case, want to respond to it and make sure we address it directly."

VanderWerf said that there could be funding available to help build partnerships that will reduce opioid use and addiction.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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3 Comments

  1. “Last week, we reported how strongly commissioners spoke against a bill that would help start the Front Range Passenger Rail system between Pueblo and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
    During Tuesday’s weekly meeting, Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan VanderWerf explained why the board also opposes proposed legislation on gun control and transportation funding.”
    Chairman VenderWerf added, Transportation funding, you mean losing road tax… nope won’t do that… I like money…
    “Voters want the Legislature to use tax revenue that’s already in the general fund. Maybe we should take the issue to voters and let them decide.”, You know, like we should do on every major decision and don’t. We’ll throw the constituents a bone so they can chew on this while we continue raking in back alley transactions with contractors and other corporations.
    The cringe-worthy phrase no one should ever want to hear come from one of the main persons in charge of our county, “”We’re not sure why. Maybe a lot of the increase is in transients. But whatever the case, want to respond to it and make sure we address it directly.” We’re not sure why? Ask the cities police departments and sheriff’s department. Perhaps because there is an inadequate amount of Law Enforcement line officers? Perhaps because Fentanyl is exploding like Methamphetamine did in the 90’s, cocaine in the 80’s, heroin in the 70’s…Perhaps because our state’s lawmakers made it a less severe crime in the 2010’s when they reclassified drug charges under a new range of penalty system that is more lenient, but the law enforcement agencies haven’t changes to adapt to what the State’s Legislature signaled a a change in directions? Perhaps because as the DOJ investigated the entire issue with opioids and big pharma, they found out that the most prolific drug pushers were certified MD’s, DR’s, and others that can write a prescription. Finding out that if DOJ looked deeper that they would find the pharmaceutical companies send representatives to Doctor’s offices to provide “free swag” to doctors that pushed their companies products onto us, the people. Perhaps because the federal government has already settled out with most big pharma corporations on this matter for pennies on the dollar considering how many lives were lost. Perhaps this class action lawsuit was settled this way to make themselves partially protected by double jeopardy as they continue the same practice they were doing before this epidemic / crisis / buzz word was started. Perhaps because the county’s leadership “Doesn’t know why and they appear to be great with this answer!”
    “VanderWerf said that there could be funding available to help build partnerships that will reduce opioid use and addiction.”
    Yet another perfect example of political speaking. “There could be”, this phrase is so ambiguous like it is deliberate. It is like saying, There could be funding, if the county’s pet projects don’t take it all.” or “There could be funding if we weren’t behind the 8-ball from our previous debacles.” or “There could be funding, if we allow the trickle-down economics splash off the toilet rim and you stand near by while this is occurring.”
    The best statement should have been made would have looked like something like this, “We do not know if there is funding that will be available to help build partnerships that will help reduce the opioid use and addiction. We don’t have all of the facts yet to make that determination. At this point the chances at this point look good / unchanged / bad. Here is why…”

  2. All new spending has to be opposed we are in no position to be taxing or feeing more money from people especially on things like new ways to attempt to ban guns and a front range rail system that only benefit the few who will profit from its building.
    As for the opiate and drug problems excluding MJ the problem is with our open border that Biden the demented fraud puppet and the radical Marxist Democrats who now control our government have created.
    The demented fraud and the radical Marxist Democrats have turned all of America into a sanctuary country letting in thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants whose background and motives we have no idea of, the drug cartels are making a killing both financially and literally.

    1. But these same County Commissioners were able to waste $45,000 of taxpayer money to fund an unnecessary election audit. Perhaps they’re also on whatever is bending your mind.

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