Editor's note: "Under the Dome" is a new feature written by our newly elected state representative. This is his introductory column. It is slated to appear on the second Tuesday of the month starting Feb. 12.
I'd like to thank the Glenwood Springs Post Independent for agreeing to publish a monthly column about happenings at the state Capitol. I've agreed to keep it nonpartisan and avoid advocating a specific position on the many bills passing under the dome.
My hope is to inspire interest and engage the reader to follow the historic 69th Colorado General Assembly. I'm honored to serve as your representative and be able to communicate my experiences in government with you.
The 69th General Assembly opened on Jan. 9. The first order of business was the swearing in of 35 senators and 65 representatives.
There is a Democratic majority in both chambers, but all have promised to work together for the good of our diverse constituents.
Issues on the legislative agenda will include education, civil unions, mental health services, child protection, marijuana regulation, gun control, Medicaid expansion, the death penalty, tuition for undocumented students, oil and gas regulation, and mining.
We'll work hard to evaluate each issue and determine what the actual impact will be on the individual, families, small businesses, our districts and the state.
During the month of January, members of the General Assembly have been invited to bring in military photos and memorabilia of their family and friends for display on the third floor of the Capitol. Historical items on display include uniforms and documents dating back to the Civil War.
I was honored to contribute my father's photo, as well as mine. We both served in the army. Photos of my father-in-law and mother-law were also displayed for their service in the navy during World War II.
The House of Representatives meets every day at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. on Mondays).
We passed our first bill, concerning the management of avalanche warning centers, with a unanimous vote.
Daily sessions are short for now and adjourn quickly to committees, where we'll consider more than 500 bills before the session ends in May. Lobbyists and state departments host lunch meetings and evening seminars to try to educate legislators on upcoming issues. It's an intense but interesting and absorbing process.
The Colorado General Assembly website is www.leg.state.co.us. Information on bills that have been introduced is updated within 10 minutes of any change.
It is also possible to access live legislative proceedings as they occur. Archived sessions may be retrieved at your convenience, and teachers and children may find a wealth of topics for civic education.
Look at the site and learn to navigate your way around. I hope to receive input from you on upcoming issues.
"Under the Dome" appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his first term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.