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Having completed my second full week of this legislative session, I am continually impressed with the discussion of issues and information that has come before my committees.
Although all bills require final passage in the House and Senate and signature by the governor before they become law, the committee hearing room is where all legislation is discussed, amended and either passed on to another committee or the house floor, or it meets its demise.
On the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, we continue to receive SMART Government reports from the various division heads of the Department of Natural Resources, of which Mike King is the director. This week, we heard from the State Engineer’s Office, The Colorado Water Conservation Board and The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where I questioned whether the bonding requirement for reclamation of completed wells, currently at $20,000, was sufficient. I learned that almost $500,000 was necessary to supplement the shortfall created when the bonding amount is not sufficient, and I will continue to look into this issue.
We also received reports from the Division of Parks and Wildlife, the State Land Board and the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. Of particular interest to Western Slope residents is a bill to retain the Avalanche Institute as a part of the Department of Natural Resources and not with the Colorado School of Mines. I support this bill and it will become law when it is signed by the governor.
In the Judiciary Committee, we approved new district judges for the 5th and 9th Judicial Districts, where the increasing caseload has justified this expansion. We also passed onto the House some statutory provisions, as well as a bill addressing uninsured motorist requirements. Because I strongly support the enforcement of our insurance laws, I fought and maintained the fine level of $500.
Veterans Appreciation Day was Jan. 25 and the House and Senate honored military veterans and families. We passed resolutions recognizing military veterans and MIA POWs, concerning the return of the USS Pueblo from North Korea, designating the Leopard Creek Bridge as the Private Paul L Haining Memorial Bridge, honoring the 60th anniversary of the ending of the Korean War and requesting that National Guard and Reserves be fully recognized as veterans. Our final resolution was to recognize military personnel from Colorado and to honor those who died while serving their country in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Because I had made a prior commitment to speak with Club 20, also at the Capitol, I was excused from the House when this resolution vote was called. As a Vietnam Veteran, I do not want this to go unnoticed, because the official record of the House will show that I was excused only because of the recorded vote requirement. I want everyone to know, in the 59th district and in the State of Colorado, that by meeting these other legislative requirements, I intended no disrespect and would have fully supported this resolution had I been present. As a veteran whose father was a World War II hero, whose brother served in the USMC and whose sister served in the Air Force, these resolutions have my absolute support.