Local constituents present at state capitol


Many of the bills I am sponsoring this session have advanced in the legislature.

On Tuesday, the House unanimously approved HB14-1080 on third reading. I am proud to be a sponsor of this important piece of bipartisan legislation with Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose) and Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango). The bill clarifies the sales tax exemption for purchases by Ute Indians that are delivered to a reservation. It also exempts automobiles purchased by tribal members when registered to an address on the reservation. It has now been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

Last week the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed HB14-1119. This bill incentivizes farmers and food producers to donate a portion of their fresh produce to charitable organizations by providing them with a tax credit of up to $5,000. This will provide food banks in Colorado with a much needed supply of fresh food and help Colorado’s needy families. The bill will now be heard by the Finance Committee.

Last week, during testimony on HB14-1157, the Judiciary Committee heard that charter schools currently do not have the ability to contract with a school security officer to carry a concealed weapon. As I promised, I am now co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Severance) to give charter schools the same rights to contract for security guards that public schools enjoy.

The Transportation and Energy Committee approved HB14-1222, which I am sponsoring after I heard from many constituents that want to increase the use of renewable energy. Essentially, this bill reduces the minimum bond requirement and restructures repayment provisions to further incentivize rural renewable energy projects. I want to thank my constituent Jerry Smith of Pagosa Verde, LLC and Governor Hickenlooper’s Energy Office for bringing this issue to my attention and providing valuable testimony during the committee hearing.

As I have often said, each week I hear new information about critical issues facing Colorado. This week in the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, we received the 2013 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests. The continued drought, coupled with the rise in temperatures, has aggravated diseases in Colorado’s forests. In 2013 alone, over 900,000 acres of our forests either died or are dying due to insects and disease. We must continue to encourage forest management to reduce the threat of wildfire.

During the committee meeting, another local constituent, JR Ford of Pagosa Land Company, presented a brief summary of his biomass electrical generation project. Ford represents the best in healthy forest initiatives, which augment our renewable energy portfolio, provide jobs and assist in wise forest management.

I am supporting HB14-1144, which is an attempt to level the salaries paid to public defenders and rural deputy district attorneys. Public defenders statewide are paid by the state, while deputy DAs are paid by their respective counties. Consequently, many rural counties are unable to attract the same well qualified lawyers that an urban area can.

Thursday of this week was the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented Legislative Day. Each legislator had the honor of having a GT student “shadow” us all day. I was privileged to have Morgan Brown of Rifle as my GT student. I also briefly spoke to the students and told them that they are the future of Colorado and I will continue to support all measures of educational excellence.

I continue to be honored to be your state representative from District 59.