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Lawmakers OK health, methane-study bills

May 4, 2007
| Herald Denver Bureau

DENVER - State lawmakers passed two bills of interest to La Plata County in the waning days of the Legislature's session.

Under the first bill, the state will kick in $4.5 million in the next three years to study the methane seep in La Plata and Archuleta counties. The second bill makes it easier for proponents of special health-care districts to jump through the legal hoops.

The House approved the methane-seep bill 62-2 on Wednesday, and the Senate gave its final blessings Thursday on a 28-6 vote. The bill, Senate Bill 198, was sponsored by Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, and Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango.

The money will come from a tax on oil and gas production. The study will try to determine what effect, if any, drilling has on the underground seep of methane near the Fruitland outcrop. Many gas companies are participating in the study as well.

Roberts also sponsored House Bill 1219, which sets up an easier process for elections to create a health-care district. Roberts carried the bill after last year's failed attempt to create a health-care district in La Plata County. Under the law at the time, the backers of that election had to take their idea to the county planning department.

The new law would likely be in effect if health-district supporters decide to try again. Also, Roberts' bill allows health districts to be funded with either sales taxes or property taxes.

The House gave its final approval to the bill Tuesday and sent it to the governor for his signature.

Lawmakers are trying to wrap up their work as soon as today, although the session might not end until Monday.

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