Lawmakers explain why bill bombed
Rep. Kathleen Curry’s bill that would have compensated landowners for surface disturbance from oil and gas development died in the state Senate earlier this month, but according to three legislators, success with such complex legislation takes time. Curry, D-Gunnison, flanked by Rep. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, explained to members of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Saturday afternoon in Glenwood Springs why they believe the bill bombed. “I was disappointed,” Taylor said. “There were things in (the bill) that needed to be done,” including bonding and surface use agreements. The bill met its death partly because Realtors and homebuilders became involved and “shattered” the bill because they and other interests were spreading disinformation to legislators to influence votes. But, Taylor said, “These things don’t happen overnight. You’re not going to get everything you want the first go anyhow.”Penry said he found it “unbelievable” that the House passed the bill, acknowledging that the bill wasn’t perfect. “It’s always some sort of evolutionary process,” he said. “That would have been the case in this instance.”Curry said she had hoped the bill would have improved upon a similar bill she submitted two years ago. “We were literally five words off,” she said of the bill’s demise. She said it was an accomplishment that the industry was willing to work with surface owners on the issue. She said the bill included a flawed provision concerning royalty owner notification. Realtors wanted the notification language in the bill, she said, because they thought mineral owners were coming forward after developers had begun planning a construction project. “They felt the operators were extorting money from the landowners,” Curry said, adding that Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, told the Realtors that such language in the bill will hurt them. “The Realtors are not happy yet,” Curry said. “They still feel they’re being poorly treated by the industry, especially in the Weld County area.”Curry apologized for not getting the issue “wrapped up,” and said she’s unsure she’ll be able to lead a similar bill through the Legislature next year because this year’s bill cost her much political capital. The trio also discussed whether they thought a future bill would include a requirement for gas companies to be more transparent in reporting revenues earned from their wells. Grand Junction attorney and discussion moderator William Frey said NARO has a proposal next year to request that the Legislature consider legislation to promote better transparency statewide. Frey cautioned royalty owners that in the meantime, “if you’re signing a lease, don’t count on this legislation being there.”However, Taylor cautioned: “Let’s not confuse this issue with the other issue.”Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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