On February 3, 2015, recently re-elected Colorado State Senator Ray Scott, voted to kill SB 36 (pdf), a bill that would have provided economic help to rural Colorado communities that suffer devastating economic events like large-scale layoffs or plant closures.
Freshman Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail introduced SB 36 on January 7, 2015, in large part as a reaction to the devastating closure of the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset (Gunnison County) after a fire struck the mine on October 1, 2013. The fire resulted in 142 mine employees being laid off. The layoffs forced workers to leave the area to find more work, causing a downward economic spiral that put pressure on the area’s housing market and schools.
SB 36 would have provided one-time emergency grants to rural Colorado communities in the wake of such devastating economic events. The grants would have provided funding to help laid off workers get additional job training and help them with finding other employment in the area.
Republican Senate leadership assigned the bill to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee, chaired by Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), known as a “kill committee,” where Senate leadership sends bills they want struck down. Ray Scott dutifully voted against the bill, even though he has claimed to be concerned about area jobs and the bill would have provided much-needed help to rural western Colorado communities like Somerset that get hit with devastating economic events. The bill ultimately was killed in Scott’s committee, even though it had won bipartisan support and the backing of business-related groups.