The second round of the 73rd General Assembly is underway. We met for three days starting on Jan. 13, then recessed until Feb. 16. It is great to get back to something that slightly resembles normal, although “normal” may be a word that becomes obsolete.
After the speeches from the president and minority leader, we started our day – once again not a normal policy. Perhaps they thought we did not remember the ones 30 days prior. After bills were introduced, we adjourned for committee work. I am serving on the Agriculture Committee, as I have for my previous 10 years in office, and am back on the Transportation and Energy Committee after a four-year absence. Great to be back in my wheelhouse, using my life experiences.
The agenda was confirmation of the governor’s appointments to the Public Utilities Commission and Transportation Commission. Blame it on COVID-19, oversight or whatever reason, I did not receive any of the information on these appointments. I voiced my concerns to the chair that I was not comfortable voting on these appointments with such a short window to review applications. My gratitude to the chair for holding over these appointments to allow me (and perhaps others) time to research them.
The usual story of problems with unemployment and overcrowded jails has not gone away, nor do I see that changing much anytime soon. The governor gave his State of the State address to the joint session on Feb. 17. I was surprised by some of his statements today. The death of 5,655 residents of Colorado is alarming. I am never one to throw grenades, but the task of protecting our citizens is daunting.
I feel we can do better if we rely more on our local health professionals. I appreciate the fact that in the case of vaccines and rapid tests we have been able to secure more. My advice would be to send all vaccines to the county health departments rather than the state trying to deliver to hospitals and clinics. Our most vulnerable senior citizens—many of which do have access to transportation to get to a clinic or vaccination site – are going unprotected. Why would we not allow home health care workers to provide this service?
Under my new desk in the Senate chambers, I found a pair of red tennis shoes. I joked with my fellow senators that Gov. Polis, who wears his signature blue shoes, may be changing his party affiliation to Republican. I watched the address from the Senate chambers. His speech had a lot of typical red meat for his base, as expected. To my surprise he also talked about what have been traditionally Republican issues that in general many Democrats have not been so keen on. The elimination of business personal property tax has long been on the Republican wish list. Eliminating the state income tax on senior Social Security benefits was also a pleasant surprise. Finally, raising the tax credit for children was encouraging.
I did not see his shoes; one might have been red and one blue – but my guess is the blue is still on the left.
I am working on multiple bills at the present. Size limitation of this article will not allow a great detail of them. One bill in particular that has been very time consuming has been a bill to enhance civic education in our classrooms. My phone and emails have been inundated with requests of what I and other legislators must do. A vast number of voters either never had civics or education on what the individual branches of government have the ability to do. It is my hope that by creating the conversation about the role of government at the family dinner table, we will spark an interest so that Mom and Dad will encourage other family members to look at what our founding fathers provided us—and that social media may start spreading accurate information.