McLachlan reports on legislative session

As usual, the legislative session is flying by at breakneck speed. HB14-1119, which is a food donation tax credit bill I am cosponsoring with Tim Dore (R-Elizabeth), passed unanimously out of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. This bill is an incentive to our farmers and ranchers to donate their farm products to food banks. It is a rare moment in the legislature when we can enact a law that is mutually beneficial to our farmers and ranchers and hungry families. I am pleased to have worked with Senators Ellen Roberts and Mary Hodge and Dore on this bipartisan effort. Given that it is a bipartisan bill, I am confident it will become law.

The Judiciary Committee, which I serve on, passed HB14-1084 out of committee. This bill establishes the illegality of the sale of stolen vehicles or stolen vehicle parts. The Judiciary Committee also killed HB14-1157 after six and half hours of hearings. This bill would have allowed additional concealed weapons into Colorado’s public schools.

I voted against this bill because we already have an existing statute which allows a school district to hire a security officer who possesses a concealed weapons permit. Thus, I believe there is no justification for introducing additional concealed weapons into our classrooms. Last year we enacted SB13-138, the School Resource Act, which authorizes local school districts to hire school resource officers who are ordinarily uniformed and armed law enforcement officials. During the hearing we heard testimony that Colorado charter schools cannot currently employ a security officer, so I have agreed to co-sponsor a new bipartisan bill providing charter schools that opportunity.

The Joint Agriculture Committee heard from John McClow, a Gunnison water lawyer, regarding the interstate water compacts, which govern the allocation of the Colorado River. We also heard from John Stulp, director of the Interbasin Compact Committee, and James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation board. They emphasized that we must plan for the future to ensure that our periodic droughts do not translate into either a breach of the interstate compact or result in significant water shortages. Some outside pundits have claimed the statewide water plan will likely lead to conflict between the legislature and the governor’s office; I have publicly stated I will not participate in this type of turf war. It would only undermine the good work of the water basins, like the Gunnison and Southwest Colorado basins in my district. To be successful, the statewide water plan must be the result of a cooperative effort between the legislature, the governor’s office, the Colorado Water Conservation board, and the various water basins who have been formulating this plan since 2005.

I did vote in favor of HB14-1028, which limits the ability of the federal government to attach conditions to the use of permits on federal land. The House Agriculture Committee also approved HB14-1180, which requires the continued regulation of outdoor outfitters. I was pleased to see my constituent, Dick Ray, who testified in support of the continued regulation of hunting and fishing outfitters.

Due to committee work, I was unable to attend the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union Lunch, but was able to attend the Colorado Wheat Growers Lunch. The wheat farmers of Colorado continue to responsibly produce and export 80 percent of their products to citizens from outside Colorado and the United States. Colorado wheat farmers produce over half a billion dollars in products per year. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I will continue to support the people who produce food for Coloradans, the nation and international community.

I remain honored to be your State Representative from House District 59.