• Colorado’s Republican Senate candidates debate energy, immigration policy – Denver Business Journal

    Two of Colorado’s Republican candidates for U.S. Senate called at a debate late Wednesday for a mandatory E-Verify-style system for all employers to validate the legal immigration status of new employers Wednesday, while a third said he hopes to strengthen the existing work-visa program used by a number of companies.

    The five men seeking the GOP nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet gathered at the Denver Petroleum Club event largely to talk oil and gas issues. They’ll face off in Colorado’s June 28 primary election.

    Colorado US Senate candidate debate






    Ryan Frazier (second from left) speaks during a U.S. Senate debate put on by the Denver Petroleum Club on Wednesday, while fellow Republican candidates (L to R) Robert Blaha, Darryl Glenn, Jack Graham and Jon Keyser listen.

    Ed Sealover | Denver Business Journal

    Several tried to leap over each other on the question of how much they would seek to restrain the Environmental Protection Agency from making rules that effect energy companies, and most expressed support for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that provides for both traditional and renewable sources but does not tilt the playing field with undue subsidies for wind and solar.

    But while the quintet marked slightly separate territory on how they would help the state’s energy industry from Washington D.C. if elected, they differentiated themselves more when answering a question on how they would handle illegal immigration — especially when it comes to the business implications of their policies.

    Former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier and former state Rep. Jon Keyser both said that after securing the borders more effectively — a tact espoused by all of the candidates — they would cut down on the incentives given to illegal border crossers by making employers verify their work status before they hire them.

    Neither specifically mentioned E-Verify — the voluntary federal system that has been plagued at times by errors — but implied it would be a universal program for all companies.

    Former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham, meanwhile, was the only one of the candidates to address the existing work-visa system employed especially by the agriculture and hospitality industries that allows employers to bring foreign workers into the country during times of high demand if they provide transportation and housing for them.
    Though some have criticized the system as offering a way for companies to hire foreign labor over Americans, Graham said the federal government needs to make the system more effective by undertaking deeper background checks, mandating that the guest workers purchase some sort of health care during their stay and attaching end dates to the visa.

    “Our economy needs those people to support our economy,” Graham said.

    The two other candidates — businessman Robert Blaha and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn — focused their immigration comments on security, rather than business, matters.

    Over the course of several questions, the candidates in the June 28 primary also described ways in which they would seek to limit what they called the overreach of the EPA, which has implemented or attempted to implement environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emission from power plants.

    Frazier said that he will defend the local industry against regulatory attacks by “being in the office of the EPA administrator … every time they do something that hurts energy development out here.”

    Graham, who previously told the DBJ he wants a moratorium on proposed federal energy regulations that haven’t yet been put into law, went further on Wednesday and said he would take steps to remove rule-making authority from the hands of federal agencies and return that power solely to Congress.

    And Blaha said he would plan to “attack” agencies that put up obstacles to America achieving its energy independence.

    “That doesn’t mean we’d kill every regulation, but we’d kill a lot of them,” he said.

    Ed Sealover covers government, health care, tourism, airlines, hospitality and restaurants for the Denver Business Journal and writes for the “Capitol Business” blog. Phone: 303-803-9229.


    Posted by Dana West @ 9:40 am for Adams County Politics, Candidates, Colorado politics, Denver area politics, Economy, Elections, Energy, Immigration, Issues, National politics, Terrorism |

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