Business briefs: Mountain town reps push tread-and-chain bill to combat I-70 winter driving woes
In the midst of a record-setting season for skier visits at Colorado resorts, a bill from Colorado Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush to reduce the number of wintertime traffic tie-ups on the mountain portions of Interstate 70 won the House’s voice-vote approval on Feb. 26.
The bipartisan bill, HB15-1173, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale, would clarify the current chain law. As it stands, if a passenger vehicle causes an accident or closes the highway when the chain law is in effect, the violating driver can face fines ranging from $100 to $500.
But the current law has several gaps, including a vague definition of when and whether passenger vehicles must comply.
The new bill specifies that from Nov. 1 to May 15, along the I-70 corridor from Morrrison to Dotsero — a stretch of nearly 130 miles — passenger vehicles must have adequate tread depth on their tires or carry chains or other traction devices. The requirements are similar to those that apply to commercial vehicles.
The bill would not create checkpoints or new fines. Drivers will face fines only if their vehicle is pulled over for other traffic violations.
“This bill is not just a public safety measure,” Mitsch Bush said. “It will reduce economic losses that cost our state an estimated $143 million in 2014.”
After a recorded vote in March the bill will go to the Senate.
FRISCO CALLS ON LOCAL BUSINESSES FOR ROMP TO STOMP ‘PINK PARTY’ TRUNK SHOW
To build excitement for the Romp to Stomp snowshoe race and fundraiser on March 7, the town of Frisco is hosting a pink-themed kickoff party on March 6 and wants local businesses to get in on the act.
The “Pink Party” kickoff event takes place at the Frisco Holiday Inn from 5 to 8 p.m.
Local businesses can participate by registering a vendor tent or donating food, sweets or other goods for “Pink Party” prize raffle. All registered businesses will be part of a trunk-show-style open house during the party.
To register your business or donate goods, contact event organizer Tasha Mills at email@example.com.
Romp to Stomp organizers are also still searching for volunteers to help during the race. Volunteers can help at every stage of the race, including goody-bag packing, event setup and take-down, participant check-in, and on-course water and cheer support. The race runs from 8 a.m. to noon and takes place at the Frisco Nordic Center.
To register as a volunteer, contact recreation manager Linsey Kach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRECK HOSTS MONTHLY COFFEE TALK ON MARCH 20 AT COOL RIVER COFFEE HOUSE
The town of Breckenridge invites residents to join assistant town manager Rick Holman and Mayor John Warner at Cool River Coffee House on March 20 for an informal opportunity to speak one-on-one with town officials.
Held every month, the popular coffee talk sessions offer a chance to discuss town issues, provide input on happenings in the community and clarify information on contested issues, including fluoridation and the joint summer activity proposals from Breckenridge and the U.S. Forest Service.
As usual, town council members have been invited to attend the meeting. There may be three or more council members in attendance.
The March coffee talk will be held from 8 to 9 a.m. at Cool River Coffee House at 325 S. Main St. in Breckenridge.
BUSINESS LEADERS GATHER AT STATE CAPITOL TO OPPOSE ‘RIGHT-TO-DISCRIMINATE’ BILLS
On March 9, the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado House of Representatives will consider House Bills 1161 and 1171, two bills a Colorado group terms “right-to-discriminate” laws. The bills will let individuals and businesses claim their religious beliefs allow them to refuse to follow certain laws, including domestic violence, public safety and nondiscrimination laws.
In response, a coalition of business owners, faith leaders and community groups will gather for a news conference before the hearing at 12:30 p.m. in the West Foyer of the Capitol.
According to a release from One Colorado, a statewide advocacy group for workplace equality, speakers will urge members of the committee to oppose both bills, sending a clear message that religious freedom is important, it’s already protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and businesses shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose which laws they want to follow.
Due to the sweeping nature of bills like these, which the coalition says are ripe for abuse and have already led to lawsuits across the country, a number of community groups and individuals have announced their opposition. Those opponents include the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Anti-Defamation League (Mountain States Region), Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association and former Deputy District Attorney Michael Carrigan.
LOW OIL PRICES PUT HOME VALUES IN PRECARIOUS POSITION
Colorado is on a shortlist of states facing a more elevated risk of home price declines, a sharp contrast to the recent trend of home price gains, according to a Feb. 27 article from the Denver Post.
Colorado and several other oil-patch states now dominate the top 10 ranking of those most at risk for home price declines over the next two years, according to an updated report from Arch Mortgage Insurance Co. released Thursday.
“While no one knows if current oil price levels will be sustained long-term, we view the dramatic decline in the price of oil as having a real and meaningful impact on the potential for home price declines in these regions,” Ralph DeFranco, Arch MI’s senior director of risk analytics and pricing, said in a report quoted by Denver Post reporter Aldo Svaldi.
The odds of home price declines nationally are pegged at only 8 percent, according to Arch MI, a California-based provider of private mortgage insurance.
Colorado’s odds of a decline are now at 17 percent, still considered low based on Arch’s proprietary measures.
But Colorado now ties with Wyoming for the seventh-highest risk score among states.
North Dakota and Louisiana are the states most at risk, with the odds of a price drop at 37 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska and New Mexico are other states with the highest odds of home price declines in the months ahead.
As recently as November, Arch MI had none of those states in the top 10 for home price declines.
SCHOOL OF MINES WELCOMES ZIPCAR NETWORK TO CAMPUS
Colorado School of Mines in Golden has launched a new partnership with Zipcar, a leading car-sharing network, to offer a program on campus.
The School of Mines will initially offer two vehicles, a Ford Focus and a Toyota Prius, with dedicated parking lots spread across campus. Zipcars are available on demand and can be easily reserved and accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cars are available to students who are at least 18 years old, along with Golden residents who are at least 21 years old.
School of Mines members can join for $25, with rates for Zipcar vehicles on campus starting as low as $7.50 per hour and $69 per day. After the first year, members will pay an annual membership fee of $35.
Gas, insurance and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included in Zipcar rates, and cars can be reserved for as little as an hour or for multiple days.
“We are thrilled to have Zipcar as a part of our campus community,” says Jenn Mazzotta, the university’s director of student activities. “The students are excited to have access to a car when they need one, without the hassles of ownership.”
Participating members with smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, can download the Zipcar mobile application to make reservations, lock and unlock the vehicles, and honk the horn to help locate the vehicle.
Reservations can also be made over the phone or through Zipcar’s website.
Zipcar’s university program also has a philanthropy bent. Student organizations can participate in the “Students with Drive” grant program sponsored by Zipcar and Ford Motor Co., which provides students with Zipcar membership and driving credit to support student organizations on campus.
Through the Students with Drive grant program, Ford and Zipcar will provide $200,000 in grants to be awarded to student organizations at Mines and other eligible institutions. The program is running now through April 2015 and will culminate with a grand prize worth $38,000 in scholarships, cash and Zipcar driving.
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