March Greetings to Everyone in Eagle County and Routt County!

 

Happy Spring! Down here in Denver, there is still some snow on north facing aspects, with daffodils and crocuses on south facing areas. Like you, I am so thankful for the March powder in Eagle County and Routt County for locals and tourists. Plus, it will help our water supply.

At the Capitol, we are in high gear. Many bills are moving through the process, and starting on March 28 we will consider, balance, and adopt a Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget for the State of Colorado.

 

My Bills are in Various Stages:

 

HB1018 with Rep. Teri Carver (R- Colorado Springs) improves communication between the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee ( STAC) and the Colorado Transportation Commission. The governor signed this bipartisan bill on March 2nd 2016.

 

 

 

 

HB1039 with Rep. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale) will help to reduce road closures and delays on the I-70 mountain corridor by requiring passenger vehicles to have adequate tires or chains or alternate traction devices on their vehicles from Oct. 1 - May 15 between Dotsero and Morrison. It passed the House 46-18 with strong support from the I-70 Coalition, CDOT, Colorado State Patrol, truckers, Club 20, and many businesses and business groups from all over the state. Police chiefs and paramedics emphasized how this bill would increase public safety for all drivers and for peace officers and first responders on the I-70 Mountain Corridor. It will be heard in the Senate Transportation Committee, Chaired by Senator Baumgardner, on March 24.

 

HB1067 sought to extend the ability of Regional Transportation Authorities, such as the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, to go to their voters from 2019 to 2029 for a Mill Levy to fund additional transportation projects within the RTA. It would have provided stability for RTA’s as they pay off debts and pay  for improvement projects such as bus replacements and capital investments. The bill passed out of the House but was defeated in the Senate Transportation Committee, Chaired by Senator Baumgardner March 8, on a party-line vote.

 

HB1194 with Rep. Jon Becker (R-Ft. Morgan) helps to remove financial obstacles for beginning farmers and ranchers by providing a short-term tax deduction to those that lease out agricultural assets, such as land and equipment, to farmers and ranchers entering the industry. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Agriculture Committee on February 22nd and  with 1 no vote in House Finance Committee On Wednesday March 16.

 

HB1259 with Rep. Jim Wilson (R-Salida) addresses four issues identified by Colorado Mountain College and Aims Community College: Removing references to “Junior college” in statute, permitting their Boards of Directors to expand from 5 or 7 members to 9 or 11 members, allowing electronic action to be taken by the board while still complying with the State’s Open Meetings and Sunshine Laws, and clarifications to tax law regarding adding to the college’s taxing district. HB 1259 passed out of House Education Committee on Monday, March 14.

 

SJM 001 with Rep. Don Coram (R-Montose) to urge the US Congress to pass the long- languishing Good Samaritan legislation to allow third parties with expertise and funding to clean up continuously leaking abandoned  hard rock mining sites without fear of lawsuits. This resolution specifically adds that any such remediation must follow strict environmental guidelines. SJM 001 passed the House unanimously.

 

HB 1354 HB 1354 the Debt Free Schools Act with Rep. Jon Becker (R-Ft. Morgan) passed 10-1 out of House Education Committee on March 21. It allows school districts to go to their voters to ask for a property tax mill levy to set up a capital fund that could accrue interest and build value indefinitely so that a district could "pay as they go" and not have the burden of large debt service payments.

 

HB 1336 with Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and Rep. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale) will be heard in House Health Insurance, and Environment on March 24. It would direct the Colorado Commissioner of Insurance to study cost impacts on health insurance premium rates if Colorado had one geographic rating area instead of several. I have worked with the Insurance  Commissioner since fall 2013 to try to solve the problem of our extremely high health insurance premiums (the highest in the nation) in the rating region comprised of our mountain counties. In January, 2016 a group of Mountain County Commissioners, led by Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs and Eagle County Commissioners Jill Ryan and Kathy Chandler-Henry, joined by Routt County Commissioners Doug Monger and Tim Corrigan met via phone with me, Rep. Hamner, and Rep. Rankin. Then in beginning in February, Commissioner Gibbs, Rep. Hamner, Rep. Rankin, and I met with our bill drafter and worked on the draft until it was introduced. We asked Senator Donovan (D-Wolcott) to be the Senate sponsor.

 

SB021 I am the House sponsor for Senator Donovan's bill to establish a day to recognize our public lands for the contributions they make for our wildlife, recreation and the economy. This bill passed the senate and will be heard in the House State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in the coming weeks.

 

I have cosponsored bills to expand the availability of child care assistance for working families to cushion the "Cliff Effect", a JBC budget bill true-up for this current fiscal year FY15-16 to lessen the "negative factor" and increase per pupil expenditures, and a bill to allow residential rainwater collection.

 

I voted no on SB011 that would have eliminated $15 million in funding for public transit, thereby ending both the Bustang service and critical funding for all our local transit agencies throughout the state, and other bills that would have eroded the integrity of our state agencies. The bill died in House Transportation Committee, of which I am Vice Chair.

 

We will consider the 2016 Long Bill, the budget for FY16-17 the week of March 28. Even with some positive news in the March 18 Economic Forecast, balancing this budget will be very difficult. There will be significant cuts. The forecast showed an unexpected deficit of $111 million in last year's budget that we must, by law, repay.

 

Thanks to everyone who came to our February 26 Brews and News Legislative update at Butcherknife Brewery in Steamboat Springs with questions and discussion issues. It was a wonderful discussion. Huge thanks to Mark Fitzgerald for hosting us!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to all our Roaring Fork Valley constituents who attended our March 12 Basalt Legislative Update/ Town Hall at Heathers. We had a great discussion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please do contact me with your ideas, concerns, and issues at repdianehd26@gmail.com or at my Capitol office at 303-866-2923. My Legislative Aide, Kira Mazzola, or my intern, Ryan Patrick will help you. I will get back to you as soon as possible. I look forward to working with you and for you and everyone in our beautiful, headwaters district!

 

I am honored and humbled to represent you in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Yours for a just, equitable, sustainable, and prosperous Colorado for all.

 

 

Diane Mitsch Bush

Representative

Colorado State House of Representatives,

District 26-Eagle County and Routt County

P.O. Box 770535

Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

Paid for by Citizens to Elect Diane Mitsch Bush for Colorado HD 26  •  Tessa Kirchner, Treasurer  •  ©2012-2017 Diane For Colorado