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Colorado Snow Tire Requirement Bill Gets No Traction This Season

DENVER (AP) — A final effort to resurrect a proposal requiring Colorado drivers to use snow tires on mountain passes failed Tuesday under a host of Republican concerns.

Supporters had hoped lawmakers in a special committee could negotiate a deal that would save the tire requirement after it failed last week in the Senate. The conference committee, however, couldn't agree on key provisions, killing the plan for good this session.

GOP skeptics have said the measure would create a difficult-to-enforce law that would bring unintended consequences. "There's a lot more to consider here than just getting up the mountain," Sen. Randy Baumgardner said.

That skepticism ultimately doomed a proposal that would have called for motorists without four-wheel drive vehicles to use snow tires or chains on mountainous stretches of Interstate 70 during winter.

The Democratic-led House voted in favor of the plan. But the GOP-controlled Senate turned it away, voting to study the proposal instead.

The conference committee came together Tuesday to see if the tire requirements could be revived, but the panel adjourned without an agreement.

The Colorado Department of Transportation already requires commercial drivers to use chains. For noncommercial drivers, the state can order snow tires after weather or traffic conditions warrant an emergency declaration.

The agency favored the bill to extend the requirement to all snowy months, allowing them to advertise the winter tire requirement drivers before accidents or storms hit.

Senate Republicans, however, said the requirement wasn't necessary because of CDOT's existing authority.

"It just seems like they're wanting us to do their job for them," Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said.

The tire requirement had the backing of Colorado's ski industry, which says improper tires cause accidents and costly traffic snarls.

(credit: CBS)

Commercial truckers also supported the chain requirement.

Baumgardner, the lead opponent, also said the proposal would be too hard to enforce and worried that visitors and others could be ticketed because they didn't know about the requirement.

"I don't want to be painted as the guy that hates the ski areas or doesn't want business to get through, produce to get ordered and delivered on time. I understand the importance of I-70," Baumgardner said.

Supporters could still agree with a Senate suggestion to study the tire matter further. The House is expected to vote in favor of the study plan, even though many members in that chamber consider it an unneeded step.

"It's not like we don't all understand the problem that we're trying to tackle here," said Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale and a supporter of the tire requirement.

By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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