A sampling of bills

As I head into my final two years as House District 59 representative, I eagerly anticipate the work ahead.

Colorado law permits every legislator to present five bills in a committee each year. Unlike some states, Colorado wants to hear from each of its 100 elected legislators and the people they represent. Post-election, I have been working regularly with constituents, fellow members and stakeholders to craft bills helping fellow Coloradans.

Although nothing is certain yet, here is some legislation I am considering:

• Student math scores have dropped in Colorado, so I am proposing to create a train-the-trainer model to help math teachers assist other math teachers and parents to help our students. We must understand what both urban and rural schools require, and which math programs best meet every need. The Governor’s office is interested in helping with this bill.

• Lead has been proven to be toxic in any amount to humans and animals, so I have been working with the Sportsmen Caucus, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and health departments to create a bullet exchange program, where hunting rounds using lead bullets can be exchanged for rounds with non-lead bullets. It is voluntary, but will prevent lead from contaminating game animals, water and soil.

• Water is the lifeblood of Western Colorado, so another bill will study how to use our mountains to store the snowpack, extending its use into the dryer parts of the year. This bill came out of my work with the bipartisan Water Resources Review interim committee.

• Another bill  in the interim committee would design a water literacy curriculum for K-12 students to teach them about the value of water and how to save and store it. The courses are voluntary, and we hope the next generation learns about how vital water is in Colorado.

• Though La Plata County closed the Bayfield landfill years ago, following all the laws at that time, regulations have changed, and now the county may be out of compliance, an issue found throughout Colorado. Together, we are working on legislation to remediate contaminated landfills while not charging counties excessive fines.

• In many areas, police will not arrest anyone disobeying a “stop arm” on a school bus unless they witness the act. This bill will add cameras to the arms, aiming to save children’s lives while stretching a police department’s limited resources.

• In rural Colorado, school administrators can be in short supply, and those who have retired with PERA benefits cannot return to the job while also being paid for all their hours of work. Last year, we gave rural teachers and other support staff permission to return to work to address the employee shortage and also receive full PERA benefits. We are investigating adding administrators to that permissive list as well.

• In statute, Colorado college professors can take sabbaticals and still receive at least partial pay from the schools. This bill will allow the same privilege for the staff who head specific student-related divisions, like environmental, counseling, diversity and food-security programs. The schools decide if the sabbatical offer will be expanded.

Legislators have also formed discussion groups concerning special issues, such as affordable housing, school finance, health care, gun safety and drug-abuse prevention, where we will generate more legislation.

We have many issues to address this year. Together, we will find the resources to do what needs to be done.

– Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango