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Lifetime state-parks pass for seniors wins Senate approval
The Denver Post
Think of it as an early-bird special for the great outdoors.
The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that allows Coloradans 64 or older to purchase a lifetime pass to get into state parks, despite concerns from some lawmakers that not all seniors need a financial break.
Some lawmakers also are worried about abuse, with seniors letting their friends use the pass to get into parks for free.
Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, said the bill is "warm and fuzzy" but wrong.
"College students are often poor. Struggling young marrieds are often poor. Middle-age parents trying to put their kids through college are often poor," he said. "If you look at census data, seniors are better off on average than people who are younger."
Under Senate Bill 71, the price of the lifetime pass would be set by the Colorado State Parks Board but cannot exceed $150. The pass is a pilot program that would be revisited in three years.
The bill, by Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, passed 25-9. He said the parks board would set up rules, including guidelines to make sure the portable pass that would hang from a rearview mirror is not shared with friends and family.
Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver, who would be eligible for the pass, said breaks for seniors are common and aren't a problem.
"Movie theaters do it all the time. Many, many restaurants have early-bird specials for us too," she said.
Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, said she believes the bill will pay off in the long term if seniors visit more parks, bring their children and grandchildren, and interest them in the outdoors too.
Coloradans 64 and older already get a discount when they buy the annual pass that grants access to all state parks. The fee is $60 for most Coloradans but $30 for most seniors.
The bill now heads to the House for consideration.