Chamber lobby crosses divide

Annual trip offers chance to talk up legislators

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The Craig Chamber of Commerce sends a small contingent of residents to Denver today to lobby and gather information on issues important to Craig and Moffat County.

"We have the opportunity to talk with some pretty big players and get information we wouldn't get by making a phone call," Chamber Board President Sue Graler said.

The Chamber requested its members to suggest issues about which they would like more information, but they didn't receive much feedback. Suggestions included the future of telecommunications infrastructure and oil and gas issues.

Chamber members had discussed taking a position on oil and gas issues, but ultimately they decided that would be premature. Instead, they'll focus on learning more about proposed legislation that could affect the oil and gas industry.

One bill that already has generated interest among Chamber members would force oil and gas companies to develop surface use agreements before the state approves their application to drill. Proponents of the bill say it would strengthen surface owner rights, but opponents say it will place an unnecessary and expensive burden on oil and gas companies.

Karl W. Hoffman will make the trip representing Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse, a grass-roots effort to fight drug problems in Craig.

The trip should provide a good opportunity to update legislators about what Craig is doing to battle drugs, Mayor Dave DeRose, a C.O.M.A. executive board member, said. Perhaps legislators could apply Craig's solutions to other communities.

"We don't want to fix just Craig, we want to fix the world," DeRose said.

DeRose and City Councilor Don Jones traveled to Steamboat Springs on Wednesday to update U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar about Craig's anti-meth efforts.

It's the fourth time the Chamber has made the trip to Denver. As usual, they'll travel by bus with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce.

"It's beneficial for legislators on the Front Range to see us come over," Graler said.

The increased numbers of the combined chambers remind Front Range legislators of the Western Slope's importance, Graler said.

Other issues Chamber members hope to address include health care and health insurance. They will meet with Gov. Bill Owens, Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Russell George and Tom Norton, director of the state department of Transportation.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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