Jerry Kopel

Ever since Sen. Doug Lamborn (R) attempted to revise the state congressional lines at the end of the 2003 session, legislators, especially Democrats, give a serious look whenever he introduces a bill or resolution.

So Sen. Lamborn had some fun introducing Senate Joint Resolution 49 to move the title "Republican Mountain" from a Clear Creek County mountain to replace the title "Mt. Democrat" for a Park County mountain, giving Clear Creek County the "Mt. Democrat" replacement. Legislators and newspapers didn't recognize the spoofing.

Neither Lamborn nor his co-sponsor Rep. David Schultheis (R), nor the newspapers or columnists actually realized what the "change" would have meant.

From the front window of my Georgetown residence, I can see Republican Mountain to my left. Directly north of Republican Mountain as shown on my Geological Survey map is Democrat Mountain also in Clear Creek County. So Lamborn's resolution would have given me (and others) Mt. Democrat next to Democrat Mountain.

In a few instances same-name mountains are located in the same county, but it is unusual and certainly hard on tourists who would want to climb the mountain named for Democrats. You would have to ask "which one?"

Looking up "same-names" I found two Battle Mountains, three Copper Mountains, four Lookout Mountains, five Green Mountains, eight Red Mountains, 11 Bald Mountains and 13 Sheep Mountains. If I missed duplicates numbering six, seven, nine, ten, and 12, please help out.

SJR 49 died May 3d without going to a vote.

* * *

Three years ago, Gov. Bill Owens vetoed a bill allowing free tasting of alcohol beverages at retail liquor stores and liquor licensed drugstores. This year, he'll probably sign a bill allowing free tastings or let the bill become law without his signature.

Why? There isn't much choice if he wants millions in federal money for highway construction. The free liquor tastings were tacked on to HB 1021, a bill that lowers the crime of driving under the influence of alcohol for 0.10 grams of alcohol per hundred milliliters of blood to 0.08 grams.

The 0.08 grams language makes Colorado eligible to receive the highway construction funds. The free liquor tastings, according to HB 1021 sponsor, Rep. Bob Briggs (R), won backing for the bill from the distilled spirits industry.

Gov. Owens' veto in 2001 has this to say about free liquor tastings: "Both as a state legislator and now as governor, I have worked hard to reduce the incidence of driving while intoxicated and strengthen our road safety laws.

"However in 1999, 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in Colorado involved a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent or higher. While I appreciate the effort of the (free tasting) sponsors to address concerns about this bill, I nevertheless believe it establishes a poor precedent by weakening rather than strengthening the safety of our roads."

The governor did get one change in the free tastings law. The 2001 vetoed version required local government to "opt out" of the free tastings. HB 1021 requires local government to "opt in" and with the ability to enact greater free tasting restrictions than are set out in the bill.

The 0.08 grams requirement doesn't have to happen until 2007 when Owens will no longer be governor. However the yearly federal highway construction funding will be less until the measure becomes law. The governor will have 30 days after the session ended to make his decision.

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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