Ballots are in the mail! |

Ballots are in the mail!

Rep. Bob Rankin
Staff Photo |

After the most divisive session in the history of the Colorado Legislature in 2013, two recalls and a resignation, a 2014 session in which every major controversy was delayed and referred to a study (see below), and TV ad saturation, we now have ballots in the mail to every registered voter. I’ve kept partisan politics out of this column, but everyone who reads it regularly knows that I believe state politics and elections are important. Don’t let anyone fill out your mail ballot for you, vote just once, study the issues and candidates and vote your principles.

Settlement of the Roan Plateau oil and gas development issue seems to be near. We (local and state government) haven’t seen the final details of the agreement between the BLM and the owners of the leases, but we believe it strikes a balance between protection of areas that environmental groups want preserved and development of natural gas production. While some parties may disagree with the outcome of the settlement, I see some positive results of the process itself. The state government has gotten very involved, assuring the local governments that the state budget will hold the local governments harmless for refund of the original lease payments. And the federal government has grown very sensitive to local concerns. Our regional county and municipal officials have done a great job of advocating for our interests. Let’s continue the momentum to work through other similar issues including the Thompson Divide. I’ll run my bill again this year to institutionalize the state’s role in our dealings with the federal government land managers.

Good news on our regional insurance rates that were recently the highest in the nation. While not all of the rates dropped by the same percentages, the silver plan is now 46 percent lower. Thanks to commissioner Jankovsky for leadership on this one.

Economic development in Western Slope counties remains high on the priority list for all of your western Colorado legislators. I’m advocating a partnership between Front Range industry, our higher education institutions and the providers of Internet broadband service. This will allow the West Slope to share Front Range growth and prosperity by creating a virtual Colorado whereby employees can work from home and enjoy the small town lifestyle that we love.

As I mentioned above, the Legislature referred a number of important questions to study groups, and the governor created the Oil and Gas Task Force. Watch for the results of:

• The Oil and Gas Task Force will recommend action to the Legislature in March.

• The State Water plan will take shape mid 2015.

• A higher education pay-for-performance formula is due in December.

• A health care cost commission will work for three years.

• A task force is studying K-12 assessment and testing.

• The Interim Water Resources Review Committee and the Capital Development Committee are also hard at work and will bring back proposed legislation.

• And my own Joint Budget Committee will take up the budget in November.

As I start my new duties with the Joint Budget committee, I look forward to the work and the ability to represent western Colorado, but it means less time in House District 57. I’ll need more help to stay in touch with local issues, so I’m counting on everyone to keep me informed.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you for another two years.

“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.

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