There are only three weeks left in the 71st Colorado General Assembly, but the pace will certainly change. It is always a lot of hurry up and wait, but from now on, it will be hectic. I have had some days with four or five bills that I have been the prime sponsor on the same day. Hopefully, those days are behind me.
In the past, I have seen that a bill will be run four or five years before it finally passes. The longest I remember was a driving while under the influence of drugs bill. Sen. Steve King, a Republican from Mesa County, was persistent, and after many years, the bill finally got to the governor.
Steve and his office mate, Sen. Ellen Roberts from Durango, were an awesome team. I watched how Roberts and King approached the business of legislation. They were always prepared and respectful to those they worked with in the Legislature, and to those providing testimony.
They knew how much I respected them, but perhaps I never let their constituents know how much I respected them. Thank you, Ellen and Steve, for your hard work and being my friend.
My own three-year battle to protect farmers and ranchers in the appellate process for a change of use in groundwater rights is finally over. This bill was signed by the governor on April 18. I am glad that I stayed the course. This bill actually does not affect my district all that much, but to be a voice for agriculture, no matter what part of the state, has been my philosophy.
The “coal rolling” bill has cleared committee and will be on the floor of the Senate this week. This is the second round of this issue this year. I expect this to be on the governor’s desk soon. I received hundreds of emails and phone calls in support of this bill. I only received one email in opposition. His concern was that a diesel pickup may put out a small amount of smoke and may be subjected to a citation for this violation.
First of all, agricultural and commercial vehicles are exempt from this statute. The fact is they are not the ones causing the problem. Some will change the computer setting and exhaust systems to inject far more fuel that the engine can burn, causing a thick cloud of smoke from the pickup. This is done for intimidation and harassment only. Cities, counties, law enforcement and the Colorado carriers are in support of this bill. Google “coal rolling” if you care to see how harmful it can be.
It appears that Senate Bill 117 is guaranteeing that hemp production and its irrigation will be passing through the House next week. Hemp has the potential to be the most valuable cash crop available for a farming operation. Although it has been raised in Colorado for only three years, we are leading the nation in hemp production. The state of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Agriculture have been great allies in this exciting new venture.
I plan to introduce a new bill this week to greatly increase the availability and bandwidth of broadband in rural Colorado. I propose to begin to transition some of the funds from a fee now paid on your phone service from areas where it is no longer needed to expand service to all of Colorado, not just the metropolitan areas.
Hopefully, $20 million a year for five years will give communities the boost they need to get real service into their area.
The Hospital Provider Fee and transportation bonding will be the biggest issues facing the General Assembly in the next two weeks. I am looking forward to this debate.
These two issues cut a swath through health, education and transportation, just to name a few, because what happens with them affects so much.
Don Coram, R-Montrose, represents State Senate District 6. Contact Rep. Coram by phone at (303) 866-4884 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. During the legislative session, Sen. Coram and Rep. Barbara McLachlan share this column on alternate weeks.