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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.

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Scott Harrison

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


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