Under the Dome column: Gearing up for the ‘off-season’
Under the Dome
The 2018 legislative session is winding down. Only a few more late night, long-winded, alternately boring and terrifying days left. None by the time you read this. Bills numbered more than 700 this year. I’m afraid to add up the issues that I won and the ones I lost. I might not like the outcome. But I’m proud of my wins for the Western Slope, and I’ll hopefully be back next year to go after the ones that got delayed.
I’ll need to do more work with legislator allies and staff to introduce changes to school finance that will correct the funding inequities resulting from property tax differences. I also failed to pass a bill along with my bipartisan co-sponsors that would have lowered individual insurance rates in our area by 30 percent. And I want to do more work for early childhood issues including allowing special districts. All are priorities for next year.
But meanwhile, I’m gearing up for the “off-season.” Along with all of my fellow representatives, I’ll be campaigning for another term. But I’ll also be very busy with two activities that can have profound impacts on our area and the state.
I continue to serve as the co-chair of the Education Leadership Council with the commissioner of education as the other co-chair. The council is made up of 27 education leaders from business, parents and the community, and the educational institutions. We have recently organized four subcommittees to focus another 80 contributors on critical issues synthesized from the inputs of 70 organizations and school districts. The work of the council spans the “system” of education from early childhood to career and career transitions. We intend to articulate a vision and a strategy to move Colorado from a ranking of “average” to a leadership position in the United States and the world. We are just now embarking on an aggressive campaign of outreach to stakeholders throughout the state. I’ll be busy as a spokesman for the council.
My other self-inflicted burden for the future is to lead an effort to find, propose and carry forward an alternative approach to the Gallagher amendment. When implemented in accordance with current constitutional language, the coming changes to property tax rates resulting from the amendment will have disastrous impacts on school and special districts and some counties. I was successful in obtaining the consent of the Legislative Executive Committee to convene an interim committee to study the issues and offer solutions. Forty-two other legislators endorsed my request. Five other legislators will be appointed to help me, and we will call on tax experts to provide input. We can offer bills for consideration in the next session including measures to be referred to the voters.
So in addition to those two exciting pastimes, I’m starting to plan for a busy summer of parades, local government meetings and town halls. If you have suggestions for times, places and topics, please email me. After six years, it’s still a pleasure to serve all of you who read this column.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his third term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
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A coalition of northwest Colorado local governments want more say-so in the plan to reintroduce wolves in the state, especially as it relates to the Western Slope.