- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Electric cars are welcome at the Colorado Capitol - but not the machines used to charge them.

A legislative committee failed to approve a proposal Thursday to allow charging stations in a parking lot on Capitol grounds, saying tax money shouldn’t be used if the devices are accessible only to the two lawmakers and one state staffer who now drive electric vehicles.

“I’m not willing to have the taxpayers pay for something that’s going to serve three cars,” said Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, who voted against allowing the stations.

The Capitol is ringed by parking spaces for 100 lawmakers and certain executive officers. Spaces are now used by two Nissan Leafs owned by Reps. Dianne Primavera and Max Tyler, plus a Chevy Volt owned by a staffer.

Supporters said the cost of chargers would have been minimal - possibly even free - if donations were pursued.

An estimate provided to the committee predicted a cost of about $30,000 for two dual chargers and infrastructure for a third. The devices would have required users to pay for the electricity they used.

“Putting electric vehicle charging facilities in the parking circle would send a message to citizens that the state of Colorado is serious about offering alternatives,” said Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, who led the effort.

The electric car vote was taken in the Capital Development Committee, a panel of six lawmakers who must approve any change to the Capitol grounds. The Committee’s 3-3 tie vote on electric car chargers means lawmakers didn’t give permission for their installation.

The committee was not asked to commit to buying the chargers, which would have been a separate discussion by others. Still, Jahn and the two Republicans who voted against the proposal said they didn’t know enough about the potential cost to sign off on allowing the chargers.

“They had no funding identified. Zero,” Jahn said. “I don’t know exactly who’s going to pay for this and exactly what is it going to cost.”


Kristen Wyatt can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt

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