State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, calls on Chuck McConnell to ask a question Sunday during a town hall meeting. Mitsch Bush discussed her votes on recent legislation, including gun control measures.

Photo by Scott Franz

State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, calls on Chuck McConnell to ask a question Sunday during a town hall meeting. Mitsch Bush discussed her votes on recent legislation, including gun control measures.

At lively town hall in Steamboat Springs, state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush defends gun control measures


— At a lively town hall meeting in Steamboat Springs on Sunday afternoon, state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush defended her support of recent gun control laws to a group of Republican constituents who are critical of the measures.

During the two-hour meeting, which attracted a crowd of Democrats and Republicans, the Democratic freshman representative didn’t shy away from any political hot topics as she also discussed her positions on legislation ranging from the proposed overhaul of the state’s school finance formula to a renewable energy bill that is set for a final vote in the House on Monday.

But it was the recent passage of the gun laws that attracted the most questions and passion in Bud Werner Memorial Library.

“In your heart, do you think these gun laws that were just passed would have one positive effect on stopping incidents like Aurora, Columbine, Newtown, etc.?” Skip Moyer asked, referring to the mass shootings that have re-energized the national debate on gun control.

Mitsch Bush said the laws she and the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed this session have the potential to save lives while not infringing on Second Amendment rights.

The legislation specifically will limit ammunition magazines to 15 or fewer rounds and requires universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers.

“Law-abiding citizens already do background checks,” Mitsch Bush said. “What this will do, we hope, is stop the felon who buys his gun on the internet without a background check. If this law saves us having one felon with violent tendencies from getting a gun, we've done something.”

Chris Ricks asked Mitsch Bush why she voted for the bills when they were opposed by many sheriffs in the state, including Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins. Ricks also pointed out many local police chiefs are questioning the enforceability of the laws.

Mitsch Bush said out of the many phone calls, emails and comments she received from her constituents during the debate over the bills, most were supportive of the gun control measures. She said her votes came after many discussions with the law enforcement agencies in her districts.

“The police chiefs in Eagle County I spoke with said they support these bills. Chief (Joel) Rae said that he supported those bills on the phone,” she said. “There was a division between the law enforcement leaders in my district (on this legislation) just as there was statewide.”

She said she looked at the bills from both sides of the debate before concluding that they could save lives and increase public safety.

Mitsch Bush's town hall on Sunday took on a different tone than the first one she hosted in Steamboat earlier this year.

At Sunday's gathering, which attracted both supporters and critics, she talked about her growing voting record and what she has learned as a state legislator.

She also again spent time informing residents here how to engage their lawmakers as bills are being drafted.

Renewable energy debate

Mitsch Bush spent much of the meeting discussing a bill she plans to vote for Monday that will require, among others, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, operator of the Craig Station power plant, to increase the percentage of power it receives from renewable energy sources from the current mandate of 10 percent to 20 percent by 2020.

She said many energy providers in the state have benefited from increasing their percentage of renewable energy and that further increasing the percentages should be part of Colorado's “all of the above” energy plan.

For communities like Steamboat Springs, she said renewable energy also has the potential to attract tourists here who make travel plans based on the energy choices of the communities they visit.

“Composting, recycling, and green power can tip the scales in terms of bringing tourists here,” she said. “It can also tip the scale in terms of bringing other types of jobs here.”

Last week, Mitsch Bush expressed some concern about the bill's impact to rural communities.

But she said Sunday new amendments to the bill, one which she co-sponsored and another she introduced, have softened the bill's impact on rural electric providers.

The amendments decreased TriState's renewable energy quota from 25 percent to 20 percent, and also allowed rural electric cooperatives in the state that have less than 10,000 meters to increase their renewable energy quotas by 0.75 percent instead of the previously proposed 1 percent.

Last week, Mitsch Bush said she was torn on the bill because she didn't want the benefits of renewable energy to “come at the expense of working families.”

On Sunday, she addressed critics of the bill, including Republican Chuck McConnell, who lost his race for the statehouse against Mitsch Bush last fall.

McConnell said the bill will hurt Northwest Colorado by resulting in higher electric bills and detracting from coal.

“Routt County depends very heavily on revenues from coal, and as this renewable requirement goes up it'll decrease the amount of conventional power sources and it will hurt jobs and our economy,” McConnell told Mitsch Bush before he asked her to vote against the bill.

Mitsch Bush said she respectfully disagreed with McConnell’s analysis. She said it would not hurt coal production here, and the bill will cap any potential price increases for utility payers at 2 percent.

She estimated that would mean a household with a $60 electric bill would see an increase of no greater than $1.20.

Some constituents praised her for her support of the bill.

“This is a very important market that has not gotten started in this area,” green energy advocate Susan Holland said. “It doesn't have to be coal versus renewables. It shouldn't be a fight. We need to work together, and I appreciate Diane's effort to move this along another notch.”

The bill passed the state Senate on April 15 by a 18-17 vote.

State Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, told the Steamboat Today last week he was opposed to the legislation and was hoping it was amended so that the renewable requirements were reduced. Rankin represents Moffat, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

-Reporter Tom Ross contributed to this report


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago

I think reporter missed a key statement she made on guns. Which was that law enforcement supported the laws to be used in situations where there were other charges such as a domestic assault. That law enforcement wasn't expecting to attempt to enforce compliance in general.

She also said that Colorado voters after Columbine passed a law requiring background checks at gunshows and that a major objective of the new law was to require background checks of internet sales.

Also, I think the audience was probably overall her supporters or,50/59, and was not "mostly Republican constituents". But more of the Republican constituents wished to express their concerns. She was holding her own well enough and there was no need for her supporters to speak for her. People in the very front and further back were mostly her supporters. And the Republicans were generally more in the middle, where it is easier to ask a question.


mark hartless 3 years, 11 months ago

Well now, wait just a minute...

I thought the plan was to "stick it to the rich".

But if everybody uses electricity...

and if electricity rates are going up...

and if it is due to legislation allowing a "power cost adjustment"...

...then won't that mean EVERYBODY is paying more???... even those of us who voted to "stick it to the man"??


Anyone who thinks taxes/ costs are only going up on the rich is an absolute FOOL.

The funny thing is that, rather than having enough brains to reason this rather simple equation out, most of these dupes will blame these higher prices on "evil, greedy, corporations", and beg the Mitsch Bush's of the world to "DO SOMETHING"...


It'd be funny if I could stand outside the carnival and just watch, instead of being a hostage in this mess.

A nations standard of living is DIRECTLY proportional to it's per-capita energy use.

Reduced consumption is a net result of higher prices.

Unreliable and unproven and sporadic energy costs more.

These are basic economic FACTS.

Therefore, green (unreliable) energy WILL result in a lower living standard for ANY nation that embarks on that voyage.

"All Aboard" !!... suckers...


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago


"A nations standard of living is DIRECTLY proportional to it's per-capita energy use."

The relationship between standard of living is absolutely not "DIRECTLY proportional". There is a general correlation that higher living standards tends to result in higher energy usage. But wealthy countries have reduced energy use per capita via eliminating waste and at the same time improved living standards which directly contradicts the idea there is a direct correlation.

More generally, the difference in living standards between the USA and European countries is far less than the difference in energy consumption. They get more GDP per joule than the USA.

And green energy is not really less reliable than other forms of energy. It is more variable, but that variability is predictable (weather forecast can predict how much wind accurately for the day) and green energy tends to consist of many smaller sources. So one failure doesn't knock out a major source of power and threaten the entire grid. Utilities have not had undo problems managing the grid.

So your facts are simply wrong.

Renewable energy can work as a source of energy without skyrocketing electricity costs or causing failures of the grid. It does have to be managed properly and just because it is green does not always mean it is economically justified at every location at any cost.


mark hartless 3 years, 11 months ago

Now, Scott... how could my FACTS be wrong??? European living standards are not as high as Americans, but don't worry. At the rate we are going (downward) we will soon catch up with them... which is EXACTLY the plan. The powers that be think America is too prosperous, too free and uses too much of "Mother Earth's" resources.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago

The State negotiated with Xcel their renewable energy goal which allowed both sides to look at their existing generating plans, various sources of renewable energy and the ability to develop what when at what cost. And thus, Xcel could say what different goals would cost. In particular, Xcel had invested money in plans with an expected rate of returned overseen by the PUC. Normally Xcel would take a loss if they closed that plant early and so talking with Xcel allowing figuring out the costs of various energy goals. And the final law was a plan acceptable to Xcel that basically told the PUC that Xcel is a regulated utility that should be measured based upon their success in meeting these goals.

It troubles me that there were not similar negotiations with Tri-State. A 2020 date for Tri-State seems to be an awful early date when figuring in the lead time for power projects. So this law will become an argument between the PUC and Tri-State and their customers on what is limited to 2%.

And the locally generated provision is just silly. It encourages the utility to connect to off grid houses to increase their local production numbers which is otherwise completely unproductive spending. That provision promotes the myth that green energy can equally be produced in all locations. Simply put, this county is not good for wind because high altitude air is less dense and carries less power than lower altitudes. And we are further north and get less sun that other parts of Colorado. Makes no sense that a solar panel could end up with more incentives to be installed here than in Southern Colorado.


jerry carlton 3 years, 11 months ago

Did she know what a "clip" is and how it is used?


Mike Isaac 3 years, 11 months ago

How did Scott Franz know that all the people who disapprove of the Gun Grabber BUSH their were Republicans. Im sure that most of those there were Democrats. She must be in some hot water if she gets hammered at her town hall meeting. Maybe a pro Second Amendment DEM or a person who is pro freedom who could care less about the mindless 2 party system could run against her in the primary.

And does anyone know how much outside pressure was put on our people in Denver ??? Joe Biden was calling Front Range Reps to make sure they voted to grab the Guns. What I NEVER hear reported in the news or at least the STATE RUN MEDIA CNN MSNBC FOX CBS and NPR to name a few. IS WHY ARE THEY TELLING OUR REPS HOW TO VOTE. WHY IS SO MUCH EAST COAST MONEY BEING SPENT HERE IN COLORADO. AND WHY HAVE THEY SINGLED US OUT. It is also happening in Washington as well another state that in November seemed pro freedom by passing prop 502.

The more freedom we have the less power the Government has. I have heard there is some talk about getting rid of PROP 64. Well I will let the rest of you get on with your LEFT V RIGHT sandbox wars. And you just keep believing that the BOSTON BOMBING , SANDY HOOK 9-11 and the like happened like King Obama says they did. I need to get some real News from Alex Jones and Matt Drudge. have fun kids


Steve Lewis 3 years, 11 months ago

Mike, Alex Jone's website, Infowars, is junk. And you know it. Awhile back you posted this link based on a PoliceOne poll:

Infowars writes, "85 percent of law enforcement professionals said that in their opinion, a federal ban on assault weapons would have no effect on crime, and would likely have a negative effect on their safety."

Which led you to post, "85% of cops say gun control is useless."

Neither are true statements.

Again, here is the poll:

You know the poll does not support your or infowars' conclusion. Yet you continue to post links and laugh at superior news sources. You've found a "news" source that invents what you want to hear, and you are convinced everyone else needs to wake up?


Mike Isaac 3 years, 11 months ago

Infowars only deals in the truth unlike MSNBC, NPR, CNN, and a NeoCon favorite FOX NEWS. MSNBC and NPR get White House Funding from a outfit called Media Matters. FOX and CNN also take orders from DC both Amber Lyons and Judge Andrew Napolitano lost their jobs for telling the TRUTH. Alex Jones is hated because he is right and can always back up his story. Chris Mathews and that LEAN FORWARD lady Madoww can not see beyond LEFT and RIGHT that is another reason I trust Infowars since they are known for being Non Partisan. Alex knows you either have Freedom or Tyranny. BTW where do you get your news besides the pilot?


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago


I did some searching around and did not find the availability chart that you appear to be referencing. Can you provide a link?

I found this which is a 2008 paper. It notes that 10 year old wind farms are a small percentage of total number of wind farms. Wind farms have been doubling every 3 years.

I know at Altamont Pass which is still the nation's largest that around every 10 years they end up replacing the current turbines with new, more efficient models. The first generation didn't last 10 years. Next generation lasted, but weren't the best. Third generation did well, but they are being replaced with the new huge ones that are more efficient and expected to kill fewer birds. There would seem to be tax advantages to classify updating a wind farm to be "new installs" instead of "maintenance".

There is no inherent physical reason that wind farm production would be expected to fall dramatically over time and not be worth repairing. It is not like solar cells which continually lose effectiveness due to ongoing microscopic damage from the sun. The turbines are relatively inexpensive to replace if damaged and certainly would be a worthwhile investment if older equipment is causing an operational availability of 10% vs 30%. So I think it is other factors, not old turbines that is causing the difference in operational availability.

Also, Europe may be facing issues with older farms because some countries had crazy tax breaks that encouraged local installs even if the area isn't very windy. So some farms are not being maintained and being allowed to fall apart and close down.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago


I read through those sources and I see nothing saying that availability of wind turbines drops drastically.for older wind farms. From what I read, it stayed pretty consistent over time. And that generally, a wind turbine is available for power generation about 97% of the time.

The reports say that wind power can pretty easily be 30% of a system's capacity. And newer turbines can be controlled by have grid stabilization capability by generally fluffing off some wind power so it can quickly add power as needed. Netherlands is at 35% so they are dealing with resolving grid issues long before the USA which is at 2.9% wind generated.

I didn't see anything in those reports that wind turbines have severe or chronic maintenance issues.

The Sandia report tacks all error reports from the automated monitoring systems. That data notes an average time between faults of 11.2 days with an average outage of an hour an half. From the chart showing turbine status, it is clear that the outage time is much more likely to be when there is a lack of wind. That suggests to me that many of these "outages" are weekly maintenance checks that trigger the automated monitoring system. Especially, when the data says average downtime for a drivetrain issue is 24 minutes.

The turbine status chart is pretty cool because it shows that a typical turbine is generating 75% of the time, but most of that is less than full rated power. Full rated generation is 15% of the time, 51% moderate power, and 14% low power. Only 2% of the time is there wind to generate power and no power being generated.


Mike Isaac 3 years, 11 months ago

Scott and Harvey this is a interesting subject, wind power with its claim that it is sustainable, green, responsible, moral, ethical and above all a clean free energy source that is the "Answer My Friend" . However I don't understand why the Government is trying to dictate how much of and what type of we should be using.

First of all why is Wind Energy getting Corporate Welfare? Why are people like DM BUSH telling a power company to invest in lets say " General Electric " a corporation that makes these wind turbines. This Global Corporation also paid less that 2% income tax last year and they make a lot of their stuff in China and pay their workers Cr@p.

From what Harvey says these things are high maintenance and only provide power when the wind is blowing. Why would you as a business person invest in a piece of expensive equipment if it only worked between 11 and 50% of the time when you could make no changes to your power plant or grid and just keep the lights on. Or if these turbines are the " Answer My Friend " let GE build that plant here in Steamboat and let customers choose between Yampa Valley Electric / 20 mile Coal or The Global Monolith General Electric. Seems like once you pull back the green mask all you see is a give away to a greedy Corporation that pays little or no taxes and even forces smaller companies to buy their products.

I thinks its time to look into who these political hacks are really working for. Solindra a solar company out in California bilked $500 Million in tax money, went broke and no one went to jail. As long as these companies are getting a free ride from the Government we will never drive that full size 4x4 truck from here to Seattle without stopping for fuel or not worry about what that month of -40 degree mornings will do to you wallet.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago


Coal power plants receive a subsidy of not paying the costs of their air pollution. The subsidy for wind is modest. Home mortgages, agriculture receive subsidies and so does many economic activity. The tax breaks are not exclusively for GE, but for the installed operation of working wind turbines regardless of manufacturer. That GE pays a low tax rate is the result of many other tax laws.

The subsidy for wind is reasonable because the great bulk of costs for wind is up front and then the incremental cost of the electricity is very low. So the cost of wind power is higher initially than other power sources, but it's costs are basically fixed over time. Our sources of power such as nat gas are ongoing fuel costs and the cost of that power source could go much higher based upon the cost of that fuel.

The fact that wind generates power only part of the day is an easy engineering issue to deal with. Simplest solution is to install relatively cheap nat gas turbine plants, but they have higher than wind power incremental (fuel) costs. There are also solutions of using linked dams to store energy by pumping from lower to upper when excess power and then generating power by releasing water from upper.

Wind turbines have an availability of 97%. That is not the number of something with terrible reliability issues. The industry is making constant efforts with improved designs to increase that number and lower maintenance costs. One could look at the San Onorfe Nuclear power plant which has been able to operate 11 months over the past 4 years and now is asking to be allowed to run at 70% for a five month period to see if it's steam pipes can handle that. And their costs for these shutdowns is over $500M. Does that make the nuclear power industry too unreliable?


mark hartless 3 years, 11 months ago

Are you serious?

Like the radical green religious zealots are going to allow anyone to build ONE dam, much less TWO???

Hell, they won't even let us hold back water in the ones we have. Powell and Mead are going dry.

And some of these lunatics are actually ouy there advocating for them to be blown up and the water sent to the Gulf of California.


mark hartless 3 years, 11 months ago

You know, it occurred to me that Scott is not at all unique in his argumentative thought process, he is simply more vocal.

You see, I have become convinced that there are many, many people out there who are probably smart enough intellectually to "get it" but who NEVER, EVER will.


Because they would rather spend their entire life in denial, and making excuses, and listing reasons and arguments, rather than EVER admit they are SUCKERS.

Classic example: The Boston Bomber's family recieved over $100,000 in handouts from our beloved gubbamint, but will the big government crowd EVER admit to being a sucker?

No way, no how, never.

Many of them will just keep right on writing their checks to Uncle Scam every April 15th so that our retarded uncle, whom they so dearly cherish, can keep right on aiding and abbetting the very poeople who are trying to kill us all.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago

The linked dams are not like typical dams that are designed to hold vast amounts of water. They can be modest lakes that are basically reusing the same water going up and down depending upon load. A pair was built in the Sierra Nevada at the same time as Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant to store electricity being generated, but not otherwise used at night.

And to build these electricity storage reservoirs normally requires using one existing lake and building a small lake at a much different nearby altitude. The small lake just needs to be big enough to hold a few days of water before it gets transferred to the main lake.

Thus, the resulting environmental impact is minimal because no scenic canyon is being buried. Instead a lake is created among some rolling hills.


mark hartless 3 years, 11 months ago

Are you kidding me, Scott?

The resulting environmental impact of me building 48 townhomes on what used to be a cornfield is minimal too, but it took a freakin YEAR and many thousands of dollars to get the permits.

After it gets built, the water running off the property will be cleaner than it was before we developed the project because it must be "treated for quantity and quality" ON SITE.

So how am I rewarded for that??? I get to pay an annual RAIN TAX (no I am not kidding) to the Commonwealth of VA for doing them the favor of cleaning the runoff AT MY EXPENSE.

And, of course, I will pass that little priviledge on to my renters in the form of higher rent, so anyone who thinks such expenses stop with the "rich developers" is a total fool.

And anyone who believes that dealing with the imperial federal gubbamint, even in matters where you are making environmental improvements AND broadening the tax base to boot, as Scott W. makes it sound, is a complete SUCKER.


Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

hey Mike, btw, alex jones is a shill. think I'm pulling your chain? give it some thought.


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