Judge tosses lawsuit challenging Legislature on state’s budget
DENVER – In a ruling lawmakers said would prevent deeper cuts in higher education and prisons, a state judge has decided the Legislature did not break the law when it raided state funds for $442 million it used to balance the budget.Denver District Judge Michael Mullins said lawmakers were within their rights when they took fees paid for a wide range of services and instead used them to help shore up declining tax revenues.The ruling was handed down late Friday and made available Monday.Lawmakers had warned that a ruling against the state would have been devastating.”It would have eliminated all funding for higher education, and we probably would have had to close a prison,” Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Littleton, said.Lawmakers are already faced with the task of cutting up to $240 million from the budget.Denver attorney John Head filed the suit last year, accusing lawmakers of violating the state Constitution by going into debt without a popular vote because they intended to return some of the money to the funds. The suit also accused the Legislature of misusing the fees.Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of former Vail official’s murder convictionDENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by a former Vail town official convicted of first-degree murder in the 1994 death of his wife.Robert Mach, who resigned as Vail’s personnel manager shortly before the shooting death of his wife, Mimi, asked the Supreme Court to consider his case after the Colorado Court of Appeals in September turned down his request to overturn his conviction.EnCana, environmental groups argue over land leasesASPEN – A coalition of environmental groups alleges that EnCana Oil and Gas USA unlawfully acquired leases on 2,000 acres of public land popular with backcountry enthusiasts.The coalition contends the alleged violation should force the company to give up the land, but EnCana says the accusation is inaccurate.EnCana, one of the biggest gas development companies in Garfield County in western Colorado, has expressed interest in exploring in western Pitkin County. It acquired three parcels southwest of Carbondale in a federal auction last May.
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