Legislature Save Eagles, Attacks Beetles

Arguably the most anticipated action to emerge from the Colorado legislature's previous term -- the emancipation of the state's liquor stores -- will bear fruit on Sunday, July 6. But for those who can't wait until then, lawmakers passed a handful of measures that go into effect today, and judging by a recent press release, the House of Representatives' Democratic majority is mighty proud of them. From helping crime victims receive quicker access to mental-health counseling to continuing their commitment to protect bald eagles in Colorado (a divisive issue if ever there was one), the Dems are definitely taking the tough political risks that have defined their relatively recent reign in the legislature.

"July 1 will be a great day for Colorado's families -- and a bad day for bark beetles," House speaker Andrew Romanoff says in the release. "These new laws will bring much-needed protection to consumers, major improvements to our environment, and a welcome boost to the economy."

Most of the legislation seems to deal with protecting someone or something from someone else -- eagles from hunters, vendors from people who would try to buy too many tickets, wildlife areas from ATVs, and local communities from bark beetles. This last effort seems especially futile. After all, the beetle infestation of lodgepole pines is a much-debated problem that many ecologists have already determined will run its course despite efforts to prevent it.

As long as we protect the eagles, though, I’m sure Colorado will continue on its current patriotic trajectory toward a bright future. The press release doesn’t pull punches on this front: "Just in time for Independence Day, HB 1304 ensures that our national symbol will be protected… Each violation carries a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, and up to one year imprisonment."

Strangely, though, apple pie remains vulnerable. But there's always next year. -- James Anthofer

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts