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Rep. Romanoff Reporting
which, if any, will pass the Senate as well. Any change to the constitution requires a vote of the people, so you can expect to find a proposal from the legislature, a citizens’ group, or both on the November ballot. Second, we should put a priority on prevention. We can invest in early childhood education, drug and alcohol treatment, and juvenile diversion programs. Or, we can do nothing – and use our welfare rolls, our prison cells, and our foster homes to pick up the slack. The point is, we pay for these problems one way or the other. The tab topped $14 billion this year, and the meter’s still running. Rep. Andrew Romanoff leads the Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives. He represents House District 6, covering east Denver and Glendale. He can be reached at 303866-2967. Rep. Romanoff also distributes a weekly legislative update by e-mail. Subscribe by sending a message to

April 23, 2004

Colorado Wine Country

Someone once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” That’s a pretty good way to describe our state budget. The state legislature recently gave its blessing to this year’s budget. The total price tag: $14.2 billion. Much of that budget is off-limits, thanks to a combination of state and federal mandates. In fact, just three items account for three-quarters of our general fund – schools (whose funding is guaranteed by the state constitution); prisons (the product of our sentencing laws); and Medicaid (a federally required program of health care for the poor and disabled). At the rate we’re going, that’s literally all we’ll be to pay for. What’s going on here? Well, Colorado is facing its worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. Our population is booming, while our resources are shrinking. Last year, we slashed aid to colleges and universities. Now kindergarten is on the chopping block. Programs for senior citizens, prenatal care for at-risk women, and a host of other critical services have also suffered losses – $2 billion in all. It’s time to change course. Here’s how: First, we should reform our state constitution. Two constitutional amendments have proven particularly difficult to reconcile. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which voters passed in 1992, prevents state and local services from keeping pace with inflation and population growth. Amendment 23, approved in 2000, requires steady increases in school funding. Taken together, these amendments force Colorado to reduce revenues at the same time we are boosting expenditures. The math just doesn’t work. The House of Representatives recently approved three measures to tackle this crisis: House Concurrent Resolutions 1001, 1009 and 1010. (You can read them online at www. It is not yet clear


the perfect location for its wine indusThe French have a language of their own for it: vin du pays or local wine. try. Translated, it doesn’t quite do justice Winemaking began on Colorado’s to the wine and vineyards of Colorado, Western Slope more than a century most of them in and around Grand ago. With the advent of Prohibition, Junction, b e t t e r known as Colorado’s W i n e Country in the Grande Valley area along the Colorado River. T h e sight of miles of v i n e y a rd s is a bit startling the first time you see them, but there’s logic here once you A realize that The West Elks AV (Paonia, CO). Photo by: Cradurr Photography the location, combined with warm, sunny days and however, the early vineyards were cool nights, low humidity plus the uprooted and replaced with orchards. acid soil, make this part of Colorado Modern vineyards featuring the world’s classic wine-grape varieties have been reestablished in the area’s fertile climes, and once again the art of winemaking is flourishing in Colorado. Building on the tradition of these pioneer winemakers, thriving wineries are now found in all parts of the state. Colorado’s grape growing regions range in elevation from 4000 to 7000 feet and are thus among the highest vineyards in the world. The long warm daylight hours of intense high altitude sunlight mature the fruit completely and build the natural sugars. The cool evenings cause the grapes to retain the acids so vital to premium winemaking. However, the high altitude can also present a challenge to grape growers, in that the average frost free growing season ranges from 150 to 182 days. Like their counterparts in California

see COLORADO on page 16

Mayor John Hickenlooper announced at the City’s Earth Fair on Thursday that the City and County of Denver is going to begin using B20 biodiesel fuel in a pilot program that will begin next week and run through December 2004. The purpose of the pilot program is to evaluate biodiesel and its effects on vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions. “This is a giant step forward in terms of the City’s commitment to conservation, energy efficiency and environmental health,” said Mayor Hickenlooper, whose official car is a gas-electric hybrid vehicle from the City’s fleet. “I commend our Public Works and Fleet Management Departments for their innovation and look forward to the results of this pilot project. Biodiesel represents a tremendous opportunity – both environmentally and economically – for the region.” The City’s pilot program will involve approximately 60 vehicles at the Wastewater Management Building.

Denver does biodiesel