Getting things done

We are more than a third of the way through our legislative session, and the wave of bills is reaching tsunami proportions. All 100 General Assembly members can submit five bills, so we have quite a few starting through the process.

Here is a summary of some bills I am sponsoring:

• House Bill 23-1093 has passed through the House and is headed to the Senate. Fort Lewis College employees gave me the idea; higher education employees throughout Colorado support it. Professors, according to statute, may take sabbaticals, as long as they work on something that helps their students, departments and schools. And only with permission from the school. This bill gives that same right to staff members, defined as an employee in a management position, including a director up to a vice president. The bill is good for students, schools and staff retention.

• House Bill 23-1087 allows payments for charitable food organizations using state grant money to pay in advance when purchasing state agricultural products. Under statute, Colorado generally prohibits prepayment until the work is done, with some exceptions: advertising, construction permits, catering, IT, service agreements, etc. Prepayment is not a new, untested model. Instead, this will help our growers by giving them funding up front, and it will give the state a sense of what kind of food needs the state charitable programs have.

• House Bill 23-1036 focuses on avoiding the dangers of lead poisoning. Originally, this bill set up a process for hunters to voluntarily trade lead bullets for non-lead bullets and be educated as to the necessity. Hunters who eat their prey are subject to lead poisoning, as are their children, pregnant wives and the eagles who eat the small game and domestic pets who consume the food scraps. The fiscal note, which estimates a bill’s budget impacts, on the original version of the bill was large and included raising the cost of hunting licenses.

After a great deal of stake-holding with hunting, outdoor recreation and wildlife advocate groups, we amended the bill to become a pilot program in small sections of the state to gauge interest. Funding for the bullet vouchers and education will come from non-governmental agencies, for the most part, and the fiscal note was cut significantly. This bill passed through the Agriculture Committee and is now headed toward Appropriations.

• House Bill 23-1177 is designed to keep our students safe, preventing drivers from blasting through school bus stop signs. The bill will add cameras to the stop arms or bus sides to capture a license plate photo and fine the offender. This will only apply to school buses that transport students.

• House Bill 23-1194 is also a work in progress. It comes from the La Plata County commissioners concerning the Bayfield landfill and was supported by 100% of the Colorado Counties, Inc. membership. It requires the Department of Public Health to work with local governments on landfill issues before implementing fines and establish a process for resolving disputes. Many times, commissioners are struggling to find money to fix their landfills, but the fines they incur meanwhile prevent the remediation from happening.

Lots of work is happening under Colorado’s gold dome, with more to come.

– Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango