2015 Colorado legislation: A look at the Boulder and Broomfield counties delegation

George Washington addresses the Continental Congress via Son of the South
George Washington addresses the Continental Congress via Son of the South

From the Longmont Times-Call (John Fryar):

When the Colorado Legislature’s 2015 session gets under way on Wednesday, Boulder County and Broomfield could once again benefit from being represented by several of the lawmakers holding key leadership positions and committee assignments.

That’s long been the case, several of those current and former leaders said in recent interviews, with current Boulder County and Broomfield legislators playing major parts in determining what bills become state laws, and which ones won’t, by the time the session concludes in May.

State Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Gunbarrel Democrat, will be Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, the first Boulder County lawmaker to hold that chamber’s No. 1 post in 121 years…

There now will be no senators representing parts of Boulder County or Broomfield who’ll hold top leadership positions in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Boulder’s Rollie Heath, who last year was Senate majority leader, will the Senate Democrats’ assistant minority leader this year.

Heath said, though, that trying to negotiate compromises while crafting legislative proposals “has always been my style,” regardless of whether his party was in the majority in one or both houses of the Legislature. He said he’ll continue that approach…

Heath said one of the underlying questions facing lawmakers from both parties as they introduce legislation this year is: “Do we really want to get things done, or do we just want to make a point?”

Said Heath: “In my mind, we’ve got to figure out where the public is, in terms of priorities.”[…]

Unlike many recent years, Boulder County won’t have any lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee, a powerful joint House and Senate panel that crafts annual state government spending recommendations for the full Legislature’s consideration. Levy served on that committee, as did former Reps. Todd Saliman, D-Boulder, Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, and Tom Plant, D-Nederland…

Hullinghorst has also appointed Becker vice chairwoman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. And the speaker has chosen Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, to be vice chairman of the House Finance Committee, and has reappointed Rep. Dianne Primavera, a Broomfield Democrat whose district extends into Boulder County, to chair the House Public Health and Human Services Committee. Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, will be vice chairman of that Health and Human Services panel.

While no Boulder County or Broomfield-residing Democratic lawmakers will chair GOP-majority Senate committees this year, the new Senate Republican leadership has named Vicki Marble to be chairwoman of the Senate Local Government Committee and vice chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. Marble, a Fort Collins-area Republican, represents a district that extends from southeast Larimer County through southwest Weld County into Broomfield.

From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus) via the Cortez Journal:

The GOP has lamented about an “over-reach” by majority Democrats in the last two sessions, during which controversial bills concerning gun control, elections reform and renewable energy, among other issues, enraged the right-leaning base.

Republicans picked up three seats this past November, slashing the Democrats’ majority to 34-31. Republicans also took control of the Senate.

“The reality is that stuff that is highly controversial, common sense tells us that that’s probably not going to pass,” said House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso of Loveland. “What it is going to bring is middle-of-the-road legislation that is basically supported by both sides of the aisle.”

House Republicans are aiming for an agenda that sticks to the basics: education, the economy, transportation and public safety…

Building the economy

On the economy, Republicans will continue to push for breaks for the business world, once again looking at the business personal-property tax. Last year, Republicans and Democrats came together by allowing small-business owners to claim a tax break up to the first $15,000 on equipment purchased. DelGrosso said Republicans will look to build on that.

Some GOP members are also looking at additional reforms to enterprise zone tax credits. They were outraged last year when Democrats limited the credits for business investment in rural counties, suggesting that the move would inhibit economic development.

“The prosperity on the Front Range has not reached rural Colorado, and by providing additional incentives in these depressed rural areas, we can give businesses more resources to create jobs, increase wages and bring more prosperity to these parts of our state,” said Rep.-elect Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction, who will carry the measure.

Also in the economic-development category, Republicans and Democrats are expected to again try a bipartisan effort to curb construction-defects lawsuits.

Funding transportation

Republicans are especially concerned about transportation, pointing out that general fund spending has not gone toward Colorado’s crumbling roads and highways.

DelGrosso said his caucus will push measures to guarantee multi-year funding for projects by the Department of Transportation. He also will introduce a bill to transfer $100 million in one-time funding from the general fund to rebuild roads and bridges across Colorado.

“The safety of our roads and bridges affects all Coloradans,” DelGrosso said.

My, my to hear them tell it, it was all Kumbaya for the recent session.

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