State legislatures set agenda for 2014
The legislative session has begun in Colorado, and Grand County’s elected officials for both the house and the senate have outlined some of their top priorities for 2014.
State Senator Randy Baumgardner, who represents Senate District 8 that encompasses Grand County, has placed getting additional funding for Colorado schools at the top of his to-do list, as well as restoring rural Colorado’s voice in the senate, he said.
“There were some things that passed last year that were detrimental to rural Colorado,” Baumgardner said. “We will be working to make sure our voice is heard this year.”
Baumgardner said he would attempt to repeal legislation that passed during last year’s legislative session that required rural electricity co-ops to supply 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. The bill doubled the renewable energy target for rural co-ops from the previous form of the bill.
Baumgardner outlined two different bills that he will sponsor during the 2014 legislative session that will attempt to ensure Colorado gets its fair share of revenue from state-owned lands run by the federal government as well as federal lands. These two bills would raise money for education, Baumgardner said.
According to Baumgardner, there is land in Colorado that the state was supposed to take charge of when Colorado became a state, though the land remained under federal control. If Colorado were to assume all responsibility for the land, it could raise revenue that would help fund the state’s educational system instead of imposing an increase in taxes to fund education.
“We actually have land in the State of Colorado that we can get revenue from to fund education but can’t because it is federally controlled,” he said.
A similar situation took place in New Mexico and that state was able to acquire control over lands.
Baumgardner is currently supporting a bill that would repeal the ban on high capacity magazines in Colorado that was passed last year and is also pursuing legislation that would help ramp up Colorado’s slow moving economy, he said.
The state senator is challenging U.S. Senator Mark Udall in 2014 to represent Colorado at the U.S. Senate and has been campaigning throughout the state in hopes of winning the November election.
KC Becker, a Democrat from Boulder, was elected as the representative for House District 13, which includes Grand County, on Nov. 4 after being selected by a 35-member vacancy committee made up of Democrats from House District 13 to replace Claire Levy as she vacated the position to assume a role as the executive director for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
Becker beat out Levy’s former campaign manager, Tad Kline, and George Clark, a retired consultant and engineer from Evergreen .
While a number of the bills Becker plans to sponsor are still being mulled by her party, she said she has legislation planned that would benefit the mountain communities she represents.
Becker sits on the Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee, which she sees as giving her a good foothold on issues that would be of interest in Grand County.
Becker said one of the issues in front of her during this year’s legislative session would be the Sunset Review of the Outfitters and Guides Act, which provides regulatory oversight of registered outfitters in the state. A Sunset Review is a periodic assessment of state boards and programs to determine whether the programs should be continued by the legislature.
Becker as well as the rest of the members of the Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee will review the act and make changes as they deem necessary as well as choose whether to continue the act and its enforcement.
One of the changes proposed is to not allow outfitters that have had their license revoked to apply for another license for two years, according to Becker.
Becker said she is excited and honored to assume the role as representative for House District 13 and encourages anyone in Grand County to reach out to her with concerns.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334
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The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed Colorado Highway 125 in Grand County with no estimated timetable for reopening.