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South Metro Denver Chamber-led clean-energy bill gets slapped

After feuding all session over business issues, Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado Legislature finally teamed up together Monday - to kill a resolution that was brought forward by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. Senate Joint Resolution 15, sponsored by Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, encouraged Colorado employers to add a publicly traded renewable-energy company to the 401(k) retirement plans that they offer employees.

After feuding all session over business issues, Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado Legislature finally teamed up together Monday - to kill a resolution that was brought forward by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

Senate Joint Resolution 15, sponsored by Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, encouraged Colorado employers to add a publicly traded renewable-energy company to the 401(k) retirement plans that they offer employees. The idea, as presented to her by the South Metro Chamber's renewable-energy task force, was to allow workers to invest in the increasingly popular New Energy Economy while giving a boost to Colorado companies in the field, she said.

Senate Republicans complained that renewable energy is a bad investment because it must be subsidized heavily by the government and that any resolution should focus on clean energy that includes nuclear and natural gas as well. Still, the measure passed on a largely party-line 22-13 vote.

But things took an interesting turn in the House.

Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, a retired investment adviser, said Colorado could open itself to lawsuits from... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

After feuding all session over business issues, Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado Legislature finally teamed up together Monday - to kill a resolution that was brought forward by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

Senate Joint Resolution 15, sponsored by Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, encouraged Colorado employers to add a publicly traded renewable-energy company to the 401(k) retirement plans that they offer employees. The idea, as presented to her by the South Metro Chamber's renewable-energy task force, was to allow workers to invest in the increasingly popular New Energy Economy while giving a boost to Colorado companies in the field, she said.

Senate Republicans complained that renewable energy is a bad investment because it must be subsidized heavily by the government and that any resolution should focus on clean energy that includes nuclear and natural gas as well. Still, the measure passed on a largely party-line 22-13 vote.

But things took an interesting turn in the House.

Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, a retired investment adviser, said Colorado could open itself to lawsuits from investors who put money behind renewable-energy companies, feeling they had the state's seal of approval, if the funds tanked. Many of these companies have very limited financial track records and would be considered highly risky purchases in the financial world, he argued.

Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, said Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish wind-turbine manufacturer with a Windsor plant, was trading at $130 a share 18 months ago but $59 a share at the start of today. Had the state passed this resolution 18 months ago and local companies invested in Vestas, their employees would be the ones hurt, she said.

Sponsoring Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, was surprised at the opposition to the proposal, especially since it was brought forward by a business group whose members acted in a non-partisan fashion.

He argued back that the state passes resolutions all the time encouraging everything from going skiing to getting mammograms and that no one would run out and dump all of their money into a questionable fund just because of SJR 15.

But what really surprised Rice was the margin by which the resolution died: 42-21.

Sixteen House Democrats teamed up with every Republican present to kill the measure. Even Rep. Max Tyler, D-Golden, who sponsored a bill to increase to 30 percent the amount of energy that utility companies must produce from renewable sources, voted "no."

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said that he joined with opposing Dems because he was uncomfortable telling people to invest in a particular industry or fund.

But Rice, who is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in this year's election, said he believed politics were at work.

On the Republican side, he felt the underlying message was the same as the Senate's: The promotion of renewable energy, one of the hallmarks of the Democrat-led Legislature over the past four years, is not a great thing.

And he was told by a number of Democrats, especially those who had fought hardest to remove 12 tax exemptions to help balance the budget over business-group objections this year: "If chambers (of commerce) are for it, I'm against it."

In the end, Rice, who opposed some of the tax-exemption eliminations, said he was frustrated most for the South Metro Chamber members who had worked for the past six months to come up with the resolution.

"Is it the end of the world? No. But I really do think it's a slap in the face to the chamber," he said. "When you have people across the political spectrum who come together and ask the state to take a look at this, I think it's a slap in the face."


Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/...

FEB 22 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24744-south-metro-denver-chamber-led-clean-energy-bill-gets-slapped
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