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The legislative session is becoming more intense each passing day as our daily agendas in the House and our various committees become busier. In the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, we passed HB14-1267, which encourages local governments to reintroduce black footed ferrets as an endangered species. Black footed ferrets served as a predator and population check on prairie dogs, but the number of ferrets has been diminished by a loss of habitat, predation and the efforts of unknowing ranchers and farmers who have deliberately poisoned them.
We also received a briefing on water quality issues from the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission. There are over $11 billion worth of pending water quality improvement projects across the state. The burdens on water quality in Colorado will only increase as our population grows. I will continue to support all legislative efforts to maintain and improve the quality of our water in Colorado.
We also passed SB14-142, which ends the duplication of inspection of pesticides, which will continue to be inspected by the Water Quality Control Commission, but no longer by the Department of Agriculture.
In the Judiciary Committee, we passed HB14-1280, which provides limited civil liability for those farmers and ranchers who engage in agritourism.
We had a robust discussion on HB14-1187, regarding damages for rental cars. Currently, a rental company can claim damages for the cost of repair, diminution of value and loss of use while the damaged vehicle is being repaired. We will continue our discussion regarding this bill, which remains in committee, before we make our final decision.
The committee also heard two bills that I consider to be especially important to the public. HB14-1133, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Severance), would have banned all abortions in Colorado. The committee defeated the measure on a vote of 9-2. Ultimately, the reason for this lopsided vote was that this statute was unconstitutional. As I have stated repeatedly, I will continue to support a woman’s right to choose, which is guaranteed by our constitution.
We also heard extensive testimony on HB14-1273, concerning human trafficking. Human trafficking occurs when either a young child or vulnerable adult is forced into prostitution, slavery or indentured servitude. This bill creates a task force which will address all legitimate legal means, both criminal and civil, to protect the victims of human trafficking.
We also approved SB14-093, which has generated more constituent contact than any other bill to date this session. It will reestablish the right of pipeline companies to exercise eminent domain of private property. I received many emails from opponents and proponents of this bill and I would like to assure everyone that having represented landowners in disputes with oil and gas and pipeline companies, I will work to ensure that their rights will be protected in the process. Likewise, I will ensure that local governments have a voice in the process, both regarding the placement of pipelines and the protection of the environment.