Bipartisanship characterizes early session |

Bipartisanship characterizes early session

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado’s 2011 legislative season opened Wednesday, Jan. 12, with words of hope from the state’s leadership team.

“Right now everyone is talking bipartisanship and working together, said state Rep. Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulphur Springs). “We’ll see how that pans out.”

With a focus on jobs and the economy, legislators are sharpening their pencils and drafting up new laws to make the Colorado world a better place.

Baumgardner is entering his second term as state representative for the 57th District. This year he’s serving as vice-chair of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

He’s planning to introduce five pieces of legislation this session.

He has re-introduced the farm license plate bill that the governor vetoed last year. The special plate is intended for farm trucks or tractors, “not for your 2010 Maserati,” he said.

He is also introducing a bill to revoke the late fee penalty on the license plate registrations for all vehicles, reverting the late fee to its pre-Senate Bill 108 status of $10. The bill does not address the entire registration fee, he added, only the late fee.

Baumgardner said he is still working on some type of immigration legislation.

“It’s not Arizona’s 1070,” he said. It’s more about clarifying what the state has in its statute and making sure businesses play by the same rules.

“I don’t know exactly what finished bill will look like,” he said.

Another bill Baumgardner is introducing on behalf of Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) would set up special federal mineral use lease districts, he said. If a county chooses to join one of these special districts, they would get their PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) money right away rather than waiting, he said.

Baumgardner’s final bill looks to extend a tax credit that sunsets this year.

“We have a couple businesses looking into moving to Colorado and they would like to have that tax credit in place before they come,” he said. “The goal is to bring jobs and stimulate Colorado.”

Baumgardner said he’s also keeping his eye on proposed legislation that addresses health insurance, bringing it in line with the new federal standards; and he’s following legislation that promotes open carry of weapons instead on concealed carry.

Freshman state Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D-Gilpin County) had a busy first week at the Statehouse, lining up meetings with stakeholders and constituents to discuss several bills that she’s proposing.

Nicholson plans to introduce six bills this session.

Two bills deal child welfare, stemming directly from Nicholson’s days as a public health nurse.

The first one requires WIC program educators (Women, Infants and Children) to be mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. The other more clearly defines “failure to thrive” and when it’s appropriate for professionals to report it.

Nicholson is also introducing two forest health bills. One will standardize the

criteria for controlled and prescribed burns on private property and the other will aim to create a greater demand for forest products, particularly beetle kill. “I’m not sure where that will go,” she said.

Nicholson will also have a bill removing term limits for water and wastewater treatment facility operators certification board members.

“It’s hard to find people to serve on that board,” she said.

Her sixth bill is a fire safety bill requested by the Department of Public Safety and addressing fire safety associated with fireworks.

“I’m very excited about being in the state legislature,” said the former Gilpin County commissioner. “It’s an honor and responsibility I take seriously.”

Nicholson said she is paying close attention to all the financial issues the state is facing and, if any Arizona-style legislation is introduced, “I will be sitting straight up in my chair and voting no,” she said.

“A major priority of mine is children, education and the welfare of children,” she added. “I will fighting hard to say that should be our priority.”

Nicholson said she is also interested in a property tax forgiveness program for people who have been through a catastrophic fire like Four Mile Canyon. The program would temporarily value property differently, “until they build again.”

Nicholson will be serving on the Senate Education Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Judiciary and will be the vice-chair of the Senate Local Government and Energy Committee.

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