No more BS & other good news 

From the BS Factor to impact fees for fire districts, from wolverines to perinatal health outcomes, I have sponsored a wide range of bills this year. It’s been an interesting one!

When I ran for this office in 2016, I was a recently retired teacher; one campaign promise was to work for educators and get rid of the onerous Budget Stabilization Factor. We did it, and the BS Factor will be paid off this year. It has been hanging over our heads since 1988 when we hit a nationwide budget crisis, and Colorado borrowed from the Education Fund to help balance the state’s budget. The state promised to pay it back. We finally did. 

I am honored to be on the School Finance Bill, SB24-188, that made it happen, but I am really honored to work with some amazing Joint Budget Committee members who, every year, kept this goal in mind. My part is small; theirs is huge. 

SB24-017 is one I ran for our fire protection districts. They are almost entirely dependent on property taxes for their budget, but with angst and uncertainty about the future of property taxes, these districts need to know they can financially protect people when needed. 

The bill gives permission to these districts, which has already been given to every other special district in Colorado, to ask for impact fees or sales taxes to cover extra expenses for new construction, though not the construction of affordable housing.  

The wolverine reintroduction bill, SB24-17, brings this native species back into Colorado. They disappeared a century ago because of increased trapping and hunting. Wolverines are large weasels, not wolves, who live in high, snowy mountains and are scavengers. They eat the dead animals that may attract wolves. Wolverines are solitary creatures are very shy, and are currently on the federally threatened list. They will help balance the state’s biodiversity.

The highest human infant mortality rates are among Native Americans, Blacks and rural residents, for a variety of reasons. SB24-175 helps babies and their mothers thrive, with help from the Perinatal Health Quality Improvement Engagement Program and doulas, strong support systems, focused collaboration with financial support and structured insurance programs. 

HB24-1444 extends a research study started two years ago concerning the effects Native American boarding schools have on past and future generations. The first study was a year long; this bill increases the next phase to four years, covering many more tribes with many more in-person consultations. Tribal members will also be specifically included in the decision-making.

Two bills came to me from Durango students:

• The Opiate Antagonist bill, HB24-1003, has been signed into law. It creates an optional program for schools to train students, educators, parents, coaches and bus drivers how to use Narcan to prevent drug overdoses. Students were concerned about other students dying needlessly and became the force behind this bill.

• SB24-014 creates a Seal of Climate Literacy for a graduate’s diploma, a program for students who want to learn more about how a changing climate affects their lives. The official seal is earned by taking at least two high school classes specifically addressing the issue and doing a project outside of class with a professional in the field on a subject of interest. Students asked for this bill because they want jobs in an industry that has piqued their curiosity, all while making a difference.

Several of my water-related bills have already been signed into law, saving water and money: SB24-005, SB24-031 and SB24-148. We think a lot about Colorado’s treasured water.

– Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango