don coram Archives - Colorado Politics
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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 23, 20183min50

The first bill in the legislative session from Democratic Rep. Barbara McLachlan of Durango won unanimous approval Monday from the House Finance Committee.

House Bill 1048 allows Fort Lewis College trustees to use the revenues derived from the Old Fort at Hesperus property, the original site of the college, without the additional step of seeking legislative approval.

The legislation is co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Don Coram of Montrose.

The property is now used for a variety of purposes, such as long-term cattle grazing and as part of the operations for the King coal mine. Cattle-grazing brings in between $12,000 and $24,000 per year; the mine brings in about $6,000 per year. The account, according to a fiscal analysis, now holds about $850,000.

The fund was originally supposed to be used to pay for Native American tuition waivers, although that has never happened and the account just continues to grow. Another state law, unaffected by HB 1048, requires the General Assembly to use general funds (income and sales taxes, for example) to pay for the tuition and the General Assembly has historically covered 100 percent of those costs.

The bill still allows the college to use those dollars for Native American tuition, if it chooses to do so.

Currently, there’s another step that the State Land Board, which manages the property, and the Fort Lewis trustees, have to go through, and that’s to get permission from the General Assembly every year to spend the money that goes into the Hesperus account.

HB 1048 takes the General Assembly out of the equation. McLachlan told the House Finance Committee Monday that the Hesperus property “is a wonderful part of Fort Lewis College.” She said the property provides hands-on education for the community, such as giving young people an opportunity to learn about farming and cattle.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 18, 20184min4460

In the week the pot pastor entered politics in Weld County, why not hop in the “Cannabis Car” for sing-along and a ride-along?

An Atlanta-based band people way cooler than me listen to, Aviva and the Flying Penguins, has a song Colorado should hear. It’s one of the most popular tracks on the band’s CD “Painted Truth,” Aviva Vuvuzela tells me.

Besides a catchy tune, it brings attention to hemp, a product of increasing prominence in Colorado.

Aviva is a cannabis activist (though she flirted with campaigning to change Columbus Day to Pocahontas Day in Atlanta . — think about it, Rep. Joe Salazar). She learned Henry Ford — this is actually true — created a prototype by cooking up hemp fibers in 1941, and he envisioned a fuel made of hemp, as well.

Seriously.

Ford’s recipe for the plant-based plastic included wheat straw and sisel, as well, but when World War II broke out, the project lost its momentum.

A couple years ago Aviva contacted by Bruce Dietzen, who built himself a cannabis sports car by following Ford’s lead. Dietzen, president of Renew Sports Cars, lives in Miami.

“I have been gigging in Colorado for a couple of years,” Aviva said in an email exchange.

You might have caught her and the Flying Penguins, “fine young chaps,” she said, at Bushwackers Saloon and High Times in Denver, or in Fort Collins at the Noco Hemp Fest and Avogadro’s Number.

“Now, as you know, hemp is growing all over the USA, but it’s not happening quick enough,” Aviva said.

People in Colorado know that’s no lie.

The legislature has passed a handful of bills to normalize hemp for all kinds uses, as well as incentives to invest in hemp industries. State Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, opened a hemp processing plant next on the Western Slope, and state Rep. Kimmi Lewis, R-Kim, told a town hall crowd last summer that her son is grows a patch of the non-intoxicating plant related to marijuana.

In December, the Colorado Department of Agriculture put a stamp of approval on four kinds of hemp seeds for industrial purposes. And last march the legislature also instructed the ag department to study the potential of hemp as livestock feed.

But getting back in tune here, if “Cannabis Car” isn’t your new favorite song, then “Colorado in July” could be. Sing another one for us, Aviva.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 11, 20182min2570

The Colorado Senate’s majority Republicans are pitching upgrades to the information superhighway — as well as to plain-old paved highways — as a boon to rural Colorado.

A press announcement touting the legislation said both proposals — the first two Senate bills introduced on opening day Wednesday — demonstrated a “commitment to assisting parts of rural Colorado that often feel left behind by the boom times enjoyed by the urbanized Front Range.”

The announcement said Senate Bill 1, “is a tax hike-free roadway modernization package that also could have broad economic benefits, if approved by voters next fall.”

Senate Bill 2’s provisions boosting rural broadband — a complicated measure Colorado Politics’s Marianne Goodland covers in greater depth — is intended to help bridge the digital divide.

SB 2 author Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, had this to say about both measures’ impact on farm-and-ranch-and-wide-open-spaces districts like his:

“In tandem, our first two bills of the session are meant to provide a double shot of economic assistance to rural parts of the state that often lag behind economically … It’s our way of helping to bridge the urban-rural divide so that every part of the state prospers.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 9, 201810min137
Although the Colorado General Assembly usually sees the most fervent action late in its sessions, state Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and state Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, are gearing up for opening day on Wednesday in Denver. The state Senate is divided 18-17, with Republicans holding a single-seat advantage, and the state House of Representatives is […]

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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandOctober 13, 20176min419
Colorado state Sen. Don Coram on Friday announced a crowdfunding campaign that will draw ordinary investors into the hemp market — the first of its kind in Colorado. The company, Paradox Pride, completed its first harvest of 10 acres of hemp just a few hours before the press conference. The plants will be processed into […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 12, 20174min703
If you want to be an investor in hemp, here’s your chance, courtesy of the legislature and a legislator. Friday afternoon Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, and representatives of the state Department of Agriculture will unveil a crowdfunding campaign for a start-up hemp production company called Paradox Ventures. Coram is a founder and […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 9, 201716min633
If you’re involved in Colorado politics and lean left, there’s a good chance you know Laura Chapin. If you lean right, there’s an even better chance you’ve felt her sting. Ask anyone who’s jousted with her on Twitter, where the Denver-based progressive Democratic strategist and opinion blogger for U.S. News has been known to scorch […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 2, 20174min437

All the news you need to know for greater Rangely can be found in the Rio Blanco Herald, and this weekend the reliable paper reported on local support for hemp in the context of "community, workforce and economic development." A local organization called Better City held a forum last week to talk about what would boost fortunes in the northwest Colorado town of about 2,100. A new grocery store topped the list, but the second highest need named by residents was "marijuana/hemp cultivation." What does Rangely need less than weed? Recreation equipment rentals, a brewpub and a car wash, according to the votes. Online directories suggest the nearest place to buy marijuana, if you live in Rangely, is Grand Junction, an hour and 45 minutes away on clear roads. Those at the Rangely meeting were asked to cite things they thought would help attract or expand commerce, the Rio Blanco Herald said. "County commissioner Jeff Rector emphasized the potential for hemp in the area," the paper reported. Small towns in Colorado and in other states that have legalized marijuana have reported at least a short-term windfall from taxes and economic activity around marijuana, which rang up about $4 billion in sales in Colorado last year. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported in May about how tiny Sedgwick had gone from ghost town to boom town since voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Hudson built its first school in 55 years with more than a quarter of the $15 million cost coming from pot taxes. Hemp is another matter. The non-intoxicating fiber from pot plants is of keen interest to state legislators.  Besides funding studies to find out the uses and economic benefits of hemp cultivation, some lawmakers are getting in on the ground level. State Sen. Don Coram is growing 10 acres on his farm on the Western Slope and state Rep. Kimmi Lewis said her son grows hemp on the Eastern Plains. The legislature passed four pieces of hemp legislation in the last session: Senate Bill 109 to create a feasibility study on using hemp as livestock feed bySen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins. House Bill 1148 to register industrial hemp cultivators with the Department of Agriculture, sponsored by Arndt and Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley. Senate Bill 90 to ensure industrial hemp doesn't exceed the the constitutional potency that might make it pot, sponsored by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs. Senate Bill 117 to allow a decreed water right to be used in industrial hemp cultivation, sponsored by Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Reps. Donald Valdez, D-La Jara, and Marc Catlin. R-Montrose.