Republican Rep. Marc Catlin, of Montrose, has been elected to represent the 58th District House of Representative seat in the Colorado Legislature.
Districtwide, he got 62.97 percent of the vote to challenger Seth Cagin’s 37.03 percent.
In Montezuma County, Catlin received 61.53 percent, compared with Cagin’s 38.47 percent. The district includes Montezuma, Dolores, San Miguel and Montrose counties.
Catlin has served nearly two years in the Legislature after being appointed when Don Coram became a state senator.
Catlin has supported successful legislation supporting rural broadband and rural hospitals, and carried a hemp water bill that protects farmers who rely on water stored in federal facilities.
“It took some of the worry away for hemp farmers, and put the federal government on notice that they can’t overreach into Colorado water rights,” he said.
At the urging of Montezuma County Sheriff Steven Nowlin, Catlin sponsored a successful bill that protects law enforcement horses by increasing penalties for their abuse.
“Police canines have those extra protections, so should police horses,” Catlin said.
He also participates in a committee for young and beginner farmers that would provide stipends for agricultural internships and apprenticeships through the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
“We need to replace our farmers when they retire, and right now we don’t have a very deep bench. So giving young and beginning farmers support is critical,” he said.
Catlin was successful in passing House Bill 1099, a law that deals with internet providers’ right of first refusal, an issue that drew attention in Southwest Colorado last year when Elevate, run by the nonprofit Delta-Montrose Electric Association co-op, bid to provide local high-speed fiber-optic service.
But CenturyLink had the right of refusal and took over the grant. In Ridgway, it then installed slower copper lines.
“They should have to match the speed and price of the company that won the bid,” Catlin said.
To keep water from being diverted to the Front Range, Catlin sponsored a bill that would allow Front Range communities to store water in Eastern Plains aquifers, then pump it out as needed.
The Front Range pulls 600,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Western Slope’s Colorado River Basin through transmountain diversion. Catlin said allowing the Front Range to store the water in aquifers will put less demand on Western Slope water in the future.
Regarding the drought, Catlin said pressure should be put on the Front Range to use water more efficiently such as recycling it and increasing regulations for smaller lawns. Catlin is a native of Montrose with a farming and water management background. He serves on the Colorado River District Board of Directors and had a 17-year career with the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association.
“I’ve got good momentum, and will continue to focus on bills that have an positive impact on this district,” he said.