Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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January 2, 2013
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New legislators plan bills for 2013 session

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Both state legislators elected to represent Garfield County say they plan to drop bills early in the 2013 legislative session.

State Sen.-elect Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, said he'll reintroduce two bills that failed in 2012 and a new bill governing marijuana grow facilities.

State Rep.-elect Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, said he is fine-tuning one bill regarding federal land-use policies, and leaving the rest of his five-bill limit open to assignments later in the session.

The 69th General Assembly convenes on Wednesday, Jan. 9, under the golden dome of the state Capitol building In Denver. Gov. John Hickenlooper is slated to deliver the State of the State address on Jan. 10.

Baumgardner, 56 and a rancher with holdings in Jackson and Grand counties, represented the old House District 57, which included western Garfield County, for two terms. In the 2012 elections he ran for the state Senate, first winning a primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Jean White and then winning a general election race over Democrat Emily Tracy of Breckenridge.

"I've already moved," Baumgardner said in a telephone interview on Dec. 28 from his ranch. "I cleaned out my office in the House three weeks ago, and I already moved over to my new office in the Senate.

"I've also been trying to familiarize myself on the difference in the rules between the House and the Senate. It will just take some getting used to," he said.

Senate District 8 takes in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand and Summit counties.

Shifting from the old House District 57 to the new Senate District 8, after the boundaries were redrawn through redistricting, isn't going to be much different, he said.

"I lost Eagle County and gained Summit County. My old house district was five and a half of the seven counties that I have now," he said.

He is already familiar with much of eastern Garfield County from traveling through to reach western Garfield County and attending meetings in Glenwood Springs. Summit County is new territory, he said.

"I've been trying to spend as much time in Summit County as I can, doing some meet and greets," he said.

Baumgardner has been named to sit on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Business, Labor and Technology Committee. He had sought the transportation appointment, but was also hoping for the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

But with the majority party shift from Republicans to Democrats in the 2012 election, fewer committee seats were available. The two Republican senators already on the Agriculture Committee, Greg Brophy and Ted Harvey, took the only available seats.

Baumgardner has three bills ready to drop:

• Coal mine methane capture tax credit. The bill offers a tax incentive for companies that capture methane and burn it to make electricity, offering benefits to the environment and creating new jobs. This bill passed in the House in 2012 but died in the Senate.

• Reduce the vehicle license late fee. The $100 fee is applied to businesses that let vehicles and other equipment licenses lapse during slow times and then reinstate when business picks up. Baumgardner's bill would lower the fee to $25. This bill died in 2011 and 2012, but Baumgardner said he believes it's a necessary break for business.

• Annual fire inspections for marijuana grow facilities. The Oak Creek Fire Department approached Baumgardner with the idea after responding to a fire at a grow facility in an old house. Firefighters found out-of-compliance duct work that quickly spread the blaze.

Rankin, 69, lives on Missouri Heights and is a retired engineer, business executive and small business owner. After an unsuccessful challenge against state Sen. Gail Schwartz in 2010, Rankin won the open House District 57 seat in a race with Jo Ann Baxter, a Craig Democrat.

He's been named to the House Agriculture Committee and Local Government Committee.

"Those were exactly the ones I wanted," said Rankin during a visit to the Post Independent's office on Dec. 27. He noted that the Agriculture Committee will likely see many bills associated with oil and gas and other energy development.

What he didn't expect was for the Republicans to become the minority party in the Legislature, putting the GOP agenda at a disadvantage.

He initially felt pessimistic about the party shift, but he has been meeting in the intervening weeks with Republican caucus members and with Democratic legislators.

"There's not a single person who didn't work hard to get there," he said of the Legislature, "and they all want to do what's best for Colorado.

"I don't feel negative anymore. It's going to be a great experience. And my job doesn't change. I'll be protecting my Western Slope constituents from the Front Range majority, and that overrides partisanship," he said.

Rankin said he's been to Denver for new-legislator training and attended a three-day seminar on health care.

"Even our spouses had a two-day session on protocol," he said.

Rankin has one bill in the works, and is planning for a second:

• Economic analysis of federal land decisions. The bill would give city and county governments a stronger voice in stating the economic impacts of proposed land use policies for federal lands.

• Repeal of one or more state commissions. Rankin sees this idea as a symbolic move to reduce the size of government and knock down a barrier that inhibits small business start-ups. State government has scores of commissions that license and regulate various aspects of business; Rankin hopes to eliminate three or four, but said he hasn't found the right ones yet.

Rankin said he expects the 2013 session to be heavily focused on health care as Colorado creates the infrastructure to enact the federal Affordable Care Act.

He also expects to see a wide range of bills dealing with energy development, including hydraulic fracturing, well setbacks, water and air monitoring and local government regulatory authority.

He also expects to be involved in discussions about overhauling school finance and revising TABOR, the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, which imposes strict limits on raising tax revenue.


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 2, 2013 01:12AM Published Jan 2, 2013 01:08AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.