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Dome to Home: Sine Die
Another legislative session has flown by and sine die has come and gone. I want to thank everyone who reached out with your input and your interest. Without you this process and institution cannot function.
Hospital Provider Fee
Some are calling this the “do nothing session” and to that I say, “That might not be the worst thing” given government's propensity to overreach and overspend. On the other hand, many pieces of vital legislation were killed by House Democrats…such as bonds for road infrastructure and transportation, unlimited military retirement benefit tax deduction, gun right protections, tax credits for non-public education, photo ID for voting, and perhaps most importantly, construction defects reform. Conversely, the Republican controlled Senate was able to stop many unfunded mandates, failed program expansions, taxpayer money grabs, and other bills which would have further eroded our personal liberties that were sent to us from the House. Namely, the Hospital Provider Fee “fix” (read: Bed Tax) that they say is needed in the budget (which the JBC already balanced), needed for spending (even though this year’s record setting budget was $27 billion dollars), and is needed to circumvent TABOR (which Coloradans voted for and want to keep). So where does that leave us? With Democrats manufacturing a budget crisis when they want more money to spend on what they want, even though this session saw the largest budget in state history. A budget which would fund transportation and education to a level they need if it weren’t for expanded entitlement programs and the massive increase in Medicaid spending. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this state does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. When $27 billion in a state budget isn’t enough I have to ask, “Just how much taxpayer money will ever be enough?”
Guantanamo Bay Detainees in Colorado
Back in March, Representative Jim Wilson and I sponsored a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 16-011) discouraging the lease of the Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City to the Federal Government for the purpose of transferring terrorist detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. This Joint Resolution passed the Senate 28-7 with ten Democratic Senators voting to pass it. Unfortunately, after weeks of sitting on the House calendar, the bill was killed by the House Democrats “kill committee” despite the bill’s bipartisanship in the Senate. Fortunately, Representative Wilson and I have composed a letter signed by Governor Hickenlooper, Senate President Cadman, and House Speaker Hullinghorst that will be sent to President Obama and the members of the U.S. Congress. This letter implores the Federal Government to consult with me and Representative Wilson, Governor Hickenlooper, and the Colorado General Assembly before making any decisions regarding Gitmo detainee transfers into Colorado as well as reiterates our opposition to such a transfer. Although the threat of Executive Action from the President still looms, I am happy with this letter as it sends a bipartisan message from leadership about our stance on Gitmo detainee transfers to Colorado. You can read the letter for yourself here.
Presidential Primary Bills
Both the House and Senate bills converting Colorado’s presidential nomination process into a primary failed to pass this session. My concern this year was rushing through such an important bill in overreaction to national politics, a misconception of the current caucus process, and the undermining of grassroots involvement if there is a primary. We have three years to see if there is a viable solution more people can get on board with. There is now sufficient time to come up with proper, well thought out solutions, if necessary, and to really discuss this issue. This is why Senators Woods, Sonnenberg, Lundberg, Scott and I created the Colorado Elections Study Group to continue the dialogue. The first meeting will be held Saturday, June 11th from 1pm-3pm in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the Colorado Capitol in Denver where we encourage input from all interested parties.
HB16-1383: Child Welfare Predictive Analytic Pilot Program
I have received a lot of feedback on this bill and I want to thank all of you for your involvement. This was a good bipartisan bill that would have used existing child welfare data and private sector ingenuity to help prioritize caseload management and save kids without jeopardizing data privacy and security. In lieu of throwing more money and staff at a government agency, this bill sought to make the government activity of collecting data on children most at risk more efficient because the government has failed to use it effectively. Unfortunately there are those out there that believe this bill is a way to punish parents who have done nothing wrong and would be used as a way to mass collect data on everyone in a supposed effort to preempt suspected malfeasance. I would never lend my name to a bill like that. My concern for data privacy and personal privacy has not changed. But there are some out there with their own agenda who falsely attributed evil intentions to this bill. As Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” The bill passed the House but then, unfortunately, failed to pass the Senate. Perhaps it was ahead of its time and can be looked at again in the near future.
Session is officially over now so it is the interim until January. As such, our aides and interns leave us and we legislators go back to our civilian lives, to some extent. There is always something going on at the Capitol such as stake holder meetings, press conferences, interim committees, constituent needs, etc. I will still have JBC meetings during the interim as well.
I encourage you to contact me with your opinions or any issues that you may have. I will do my best to help in any way I can and as quickly as I can. Remember, although we are in the interim I am still your representative in the Colorado Senate and feel privileged to be able to serve you as such.
Thank you all again for a wonderful session!
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