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A meaningful, challenging first month

The completion of the first month of the 69th session of the House of Representatives has been rewarding, meaningful and, at times, challenging.

We have discussed and passed many bills for second reading, but few bills have been enacted at this point. We have also passed numerous resolutions and in this regard, I was pleased that the Fallen Soldiers Resolution, which I was not able to vote on last week because I was presenting my perspective to Club 20, came back to the House for yet another vote. As a veteran, and because I fully support our military and their families, I was delighted that my voice and vote could be added to this resolution.

In the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, we continue to receive SMART Government reports and budget requests from the various departments. On Monday, I attended the Colorado Water Congress and met with former Sen. Bruce Whitehead. Later, in committee, we had a full discussion about the relationship between U.S. Forest Service attempts to link the ski area permit system to what some people consider an infringement on ski area water rights. One side of the debate wants to make this a full-fledged assault on all levels of the United States government. As a legislator who has a significant number of ski areas in his district, I listened earnestly to all the testimony and do understand that the ski area’s water rights should be protected from federal infringement. Because the bill as currently drafted is so broad and so sweeping, I cannot support the bill in its current form, but if it is narrowed to the U.S. Forest Service and our Colorado ski area water rights, I will support HB13-1013.

I was able to advance my first bill, HB13-1076, out of Judiciary Committee on a 9-2 vote. Essentially what the bill does is expand the opportunities for qualified directors and agents to advance through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation agency by making POST certification permissive and not mandatory. The bill was fully supported by Ronald Sloan, current CBI director, as well as the Colorado sheriffs, police and other members of the Colorado law enforcement community.

On Thursday, I was also privileged to attend and participate in a legislative panel at the Colorado Water Congress. As I told their membership, I continue to remain committed to bipartisanship and good government. I fully understand the responsibilities of a western slope legislator regarding the protection of our water rights, rivers and streams. It was good to see Sen. Roberts, Sen. Schwartz, John Porter, Steve Ferran, Barry Spear, Steve Harris, Bob Wolfe, Billy Nesbitt, Frank Kugel and John McClow. I will continue my dialogue with the Colorado Water Congress to ensure that the water rights of the 59th District are fully protected.

Among the most rewarding experiences this week was my attendance at the “Boots to Suits” program luncheon sponsored by the University of Colorado at Denver. This program provides employment services for returning veterans in partnership with supporting businesses. This is an extremely worthwhile program and one that I hope can be expanded to other higher education facilities. As soon as time allows, I intend to convey all that I learned to President Thomas of Fort Lewis College and President Hellman of Western State Colorado University.

This story was posted on February 7, 2013.