Any money the Legislature appropriates in the state’s 2017-18 budget for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office could not be spent on suing a local government “on behalf of a private corporation,” according to a budget footnote from Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette.
That footnote — the result of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s lawsuit challenging the legality of Boulder County’s soon-to-expire moratorium on accepting oil and gas development applications — got the Colorado House’s Friday approval during that chamber’s preliminary approval of the overall $26.8 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year.
Foote and other critics of Coffman’s lawsuit have charged that she filed it on behalf of the oil and gas industry. But she has said her office took the action because — she and her staff have alleged — Boulder County’s current moratorium is illegal in light of Colorado Supreme Court rulings about local fracking bans or moratoriums.
Foote’s amendment to the Senate-approved budget bill still has to clear a final vote of House approval of the proposed state spending package. Then, it would have to have support from a majority of senators in order to remain a part of the final compromise version of the budget bill that has to be approved by majorities in both the House and Senate.
Even if Foote’s budget amendment does stay in the budget bill, Gov. John Hickenlooper could veto that directive against the attorney general spending part of its appropriation on such lawsuits against counties and municipalities.
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