Owens signs last bill from a regular session
DENVER – Term-limited GOP Gov. Bill Owens signed his last bill from a regular session on Wednesday, a package of bills to protect children that included a measure cracking down on sexual predators on the Internet.Other bills signed by Wednesday’s deadline include a bill that creates a fund for child abuse intervention, financed by surcharges on persons convicted of crimes against a child, and a bill that imposes tougher penalties on people who abuse children.”All of these bills I signed today combine to make sure that criminals feel the consequences of child abuse and exploitation. These steps are necessary. They’re common sense. And they send an instant message to sexual predators online: Tangle with children on the Web, and you’ll be weaving your way to prison,” Owens said.Owens also signed several bills supported by environmentalists, including a measure that requires environmental review of any proposed private toll road projects; a bill that protects private property owners from eminent domain condemnation for private development; a bill to allow for the development of a state-of-the-art coal project featuring lower pollution emissions, and the first-ever Colorado legislation aimed at combating global warming.Owens noted that they were his final bills as governor, unless he calls a special session, which isn’t likely.House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said the Republican governor deserved a passing grade for working with Democrats, who control the House and the Senate for the first time in 42 years.Of the 439 bills sent to the governor’s desk, Owens signed 386 and let nine become law without his signature. He vetoed 44 bills, three short of the record 47 vetoes he issued last year.”That means 90 percent of our agenda made its way through his office,” Romanoff said.Among bills the governor allowed to become law without his signature was a measure limiting gifts to public officials, eliminating so-called office accounts that allowed lawmakers to accept unlimited donations to handle work for constituents.Owens said it is the first step for improving a system susceptible to abuse, but it is unfair to rural legislators who have higher expenses and often have to drive great distances to communicate with voters.Owens said lawmakers need to find a better solution next year because “at some point, only the wealthy will be able to serve our rural districts.”Conservationists bemoaned earlier vetoes of several key proposals to protect air quality and open space, to require more efficient use of natural gas, and to encourage the use of alternative fuels like ethanol.”Governor Owens blocked the most significant proposals brought forward to improve our health, environment and quality of life, from increased protections for air quality, to requirements for increased energy efficiency and alternative fuels,” said Will Coyne of Environment Colorado. “It’s a shame that the Governor does not share Coloradans’ support for clean air, open space and affordable energy supplies.”One bill the governor vetoed would have given Colorado increased flexibility to protect air quality by allowing the state to keep high air standards even when the federal government weakens federal air rules, another would have required public energy utilities to use natural gas more efficiently; a third bill supported by environmentalists would have enabled counties to increase funding for conservation easements, and the fourth would have established an alternative fuels standard.
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