House votes to remake gas commission

DENVER – Two more gas and oil people would join the state board that regulates the industry under a bill the House passed Thursday.

Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, blamed former Gov. Bill Ritter for chasing the gas and oil industry out of the state when he remade the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The group used to have seven members, with five from the industry. Ritter created a nine-person panel, with three from the industry and others to protect the environment and surface owners.

“This bill came from 30,000 people that lost their jobs in the oil and gas industry because we had an oil and gas commission that did not understand the industry,” Scott said.

Democrats presented charts that showed Colorado’s gas industry fared no worse than neighboring states during the recession.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association had sued the state because of environmental rules the new commission passed, but it dropped its lawsuit this year and now says it can work with the new commission.

Scott’s bill has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Also Thursday:

b In a bipartisan, 58-6 vote, the House repealed the so-called Amazon tax that Democrats labored to pass in 2010.

Only six Democrats voted against HB 1318, which takes away the state’s power to subpoena corporate records in an effort to force retailers to collect sales taxes.

Under the new bill, Internet companies will have to email their customers a link to the state Revenue Department website with instructions about how to pay use taxes.

Democrats decided to support HB 1318 because a federal judge temporarily blocked the current Amazon tax. The bill now goes to the Senate.

b An attempt to allow payday lenders to collect more fees failed in a Senate committee.

HB 1290 would have allowed the lenders of the high-interest loans to keep more of their fees. The Legislature last year cracked down on the industry by reducing its fees and lengthening the term of loans to six months, instead of the typical two weeks.

The Senate Local Government Committee killed the bill on a 3-2 vote.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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