Under the Dome column: It’s worth keeping an eye on the state Legislature
Under the Dome
Thank you for taking time to read “Under The Dome” again. In now my third year, I’m even more committed to the idea of keeping you informed and encouraging you to get more involved in Colorado government. If you can tear yourself away from 24 hours a day of cable TV coverage of the presidential primary, I think you’ll find that the Colorado Legislature is not only interesting but can mess with your life and business in ways that you might only imagine. Your opinions, comments and feedback are appreciated (even if you disagree with me).
Joyce and I were home over the holidays and enjoyed seeing friends and some new neighbors. We are noticing, though, that with her new job, we’re so focused on education and budgets that we’re losing contact with our friends at home. Don’t let us do that.
The legislative session starts on Wednesday and goes until mid May. It’s always a thrill, but I’m also starting to think of the formality and long speeches as a distraction, and I would just as soon be back across the street working on the budget. And speaking of the budget, we have to take about $160 million out of reserves to get through this year and then cut about $370 million from ongoing spending for the next budget year. We get a final revenue forecast in March to which we have to balance next year’s spending. It’s quite a puzzle to work through the constitutional, legislative and political constraints in a year of declining revenue.
We launched this year’s “Intern in The Field” program last week. I won’t say more here but I hope you saw the article. What great students and teachers we have in our high schools.
It looks like the Hospital Provider Fee conversion to an enterprise fund has to go to a ballot vote based on a recently revealed legal opinion.
I’m working with other mountain area legislators to find some relief from the outrageous insurance rates in our area.
I’ll be jointly introducing a bill again this year to redo our K-12 school finance distribution formula. Its current structure is unfair to rural and poor school districts.
I’ll try again with my co prime to get an I-70 traction “be prepared” bill passed. It’s an Interim Transportation Committee bill this year, and that should help.
I’ll also carry a number of Joint Budget Committee bills and some department requested cleanup bills.
I continue to focus on public lands issues but I don’t have a bill this year. I’m looking at severance tax protection from “sweep” to the general fund.
Expect a number of ballot issues to emerge for November including fracking bans and single payer health care. There will also be some attempts to revise TABOR and perhaps a funding mechanism for transportation.
Thanks to all our public health and medical professionals who are delivering health care to the 23 percent of Coloradans now on Medicaid. The Joint Budget Committee is faced with recommended cuts to an already stressed system.
As usual, please email your concerns. We do read them all and may surprise you with a response.
“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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