Under the Dome column: Feeling changes in the Legislature
Under the Dome
First order of business: Thank you all for allowing me to serve you for another term. Either for your vote or for not running against me (I ran unopposed).
So we return to your state Legislature with things the same but not so much. When the results came in early Wednesday, Republicans held the majority in the Senate by the same one vote margin as the last session, but my house Republican caucus lost three seats and is now down 37-28. With a divided Legislature we will probably kill each other’s “statement” bills, but I’m confident that we’ll get some good bipartisan work done. There are a lot of new faces around the Capitol, and they promised their voters a lot of action, so we’ll have some fun times getting to know each other.
With our loss of seats on the Republican side of the state house, the factions within our number shifted, and with it our elected leadership changed rather dramatically. I expected to lose my assignment on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC). In the end, the caucus surprised me. We had decided to vote on the JBC assignment and make it part of the core leadership team, and I was elected to maintain my position on the JBC. It’s significant that we have a Western Slope appointment to the JBC to protect our sometimes unique interests. It’s a good bit more work, but I do enjoy it. Thanks to my fellow legislators.
We’re starting to assess the impacts of a Trump presidency on Colorado issues. There are at least four possible significant areas to watch: Medicaid block grants and energy, immigration and education policies. I’ll write more about each in future columns as we know more. No use speculating too much now. The news media is doing enough of that.
The budget work will be no picnic this year since we find ourselves in need of $500 million dollars more than are forecast for next year’s spending. The governor presents his solution on Monday. We will confront again our dilemma of conflicting constitutional constraints growing health care costs, and the need for more education and transportation funding.
From my Budget Committee platform, while we confront the monster of budget planning, I can continue to work on my big three related issues: the cost of health insurance, severance tax declines, and K-12 school finance. Maybe we can wait to see what happens with the “Affordable Care Ace” (ACA) reform on the health insurance debacle. The Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC), under the outstanding leadership of Bonnie Peterson, held a work session in Rifle last Friday. Department heads from state government gave up a holiday and drove out from Denver to inform a large group of Western Slope elected officials and citizens about the impact of a massive decline in severance tax revenues from previous years. I’ll continue to work with a bipartisan group of legislators on funding and a vision for K12 education.
As I start a third term, I will renew my commitment to engage and inform my constituents as the session develops. Help me by letting me know your interests and concerns. I post regularly on facebook, and I answer emails.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his second term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
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Grand Junction man Bruce Holder, 55, faces up to life in prison and a $20 million fine after a jury convicted him on charges related to the overdose death of a Carbondale man.