The next time you visit Denver, why not stop by the Capitol, take a guided tour, and watch your legislators at work? But don't expect to see much of the famous dome. Most of it is covered up while a massive two-year renovation project is under way. Rumor has it that the dome would have collapsed long ago, but for the hot air holding it up. Under the dome, there's a lot to see, hear and stir our passions. If the regulation of marijuana, the debate over gun control, the expansion of Medicaid, or the funding and reforming of our education system isn't enough for you, there are a few other controversies I can recommend you look into.
Some of the other questions that come up often and affect our district include:
• Who needs water more - East Slope urban growth or Colorado's farmers and ranchers?
• How do we regulate or incentivize telecommunications companies to expand Internet broadband services to rural areas?
• How can the state support local counties and towns in dealing with federal government land decisions?
• What's the role of government in economic development?
• How do we preserve and extend the Colorado tradition of local control at the county and municipal level?
If you have an interest in politics - and you should - this is a good year to follow state issues. Colorado is a test bed and is getting national press on big issues. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, check out the Colorado General Assembly website at www.leg.state.co.us to follow the bills and see how your legislators voted.
Big issues inspire public opinion. I'm getting tons of mail, mostly regarding the debate on gun control. We will have at least eight different bills on this issue alone. I hope some will address the relation of mental health and its relation to violent crime. I try to answer all of my mail and state my position, but I can report that the outcomes of votes on these bills are by no means predetermined.
Two more issues that are important for our citizens to watch are proposals for a new school finance formula and the addition of about 160,000 new people to the Medicaid roles of the state. Approximately one in five Coloradans will be covered by Medicaid. The result of these changes will require future tax increases, elsewise paying for both education and health care will not be possible.
We had a great Tourism Day at the Capitol with representatives from many areas of industry. Last Friday the Capitol was ablaze with red jackets and clothes honoring the American Heart Association.
You can make a difference. Stay informed and keep those cards, letters and emails coming.
"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.