Three state representatives for part of Boulder County met with the public at council chambers on February 20, 2016 in the second of a series of town halls scheduled for this legislative session.
The budget especially related to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) continues to lead discussions that could result in legislative changes over the course of the session.
Representative KC Becker who represents state District 13, Senator Rollie Heath who represents District 18, and Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst of District 10 all expressed ongoing concerns with the limitations of the TABOR effects and how each is working to circumvent those restrictions in order to fund education as one example.
While pointing to the two school boards’ elections in Jefferson and Douglas Counties last round where out of state special interest groups poured money into school board elections, Representative Becker introduced a bill regarding school board elections that she hopes will have similar accountability to regular elections,
“School boards have kind of fallen in this largely unregulated area so the reporting timelines are different, how often they report, what they report is very different and in the last couple years. Not so much in Boulder County but in other parts of the state, we’ve seen very contentious elections, specifically in Douglas County and Jefferson County. So I’ve been working with a team of folks to come up with some ways where we can make sure that our election reporting for school boards is much more similar to what we do on the rest of our elections.”
Senator Heath talked about the challenges to passing bills when 35% of the state identifies as belonging to the Tea Party and how that affects SB70 and the Right to Work, a bill sponsored by Representative Tim Neville that makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to mandate that workers join a union or pay union dues,
“Senate Bill 70 will get out on an 18/17 vote. That’s why I wanted to give a little background on the Labor Peace Act which has worked well in this state so we’re going to do everything we can to maintain that. The irony is that we’ve got both business and labor supporting the Labor Peace Act. And it’s frankly one of those issues that we are just so philosophically separate on when you look at what the people who are very conservative-which by the way is 35 plus percent in this state identify themselves as Tea Party I mean this is a particular issue to them.”
Boulder County constituents are continuing the pressure for representatives to oppose the Transpacific Partnership including through a resolution. Speaker Hullinghorst said that while she does not support most resolutions in their own form, she also does not support the TPP,
“In terms of the TPP, I do not tend to be a fan of resolutions. I think they’re letters to Santa Claus in all kinds of ways. There’s nothing we as a state can do about that except exert pressure on our congressional delegation which I guarantee you I have personally in many different conversations. I do not support it.”
Becker also said she was answering the call of locals to protect against pesticides in the cannabis industry”
“I’m carrying a bill to have the Colorado Department of Agriculture create a program to certify organic cannabis. However you feel if that was a worthwhile amendment or not, there are those-and a lot of them in Boulder County-who might use cannabis and there’s a lot of concern about pesticide application and how cannabis is grown. Is it grown in a sustainable fashion or not? So were just creating a process because the federal process for certification of organics is not available for cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. That bill passed yesterday on a party line vote, 7/6. Every Republican was opposed to it. Partly they don’t believe in organic anything, they don’t believe that’s worthwhile, partly they may not believe that cannabis should be legal, and one of the other things is we don’t need to create another state bureaucracy because if you’re creating another state program for whatever it’s worth that is growing government and we don’t want to grow government. But I know it’s important to people in Boulder County because I’ve heard from them about it. So I’m continuing to work on that.”
Senator Heath invited constituents to become more involved and to even shadow him on the Senate floor, “We have interesting times in the State Senate . If you want to come down for a little fun and games just sit up in the gallery with me or shadow me and you can sit on the floor with me and you can experience this first hand. It’s quite an experience.”
Senator Rollie Heath will meet with constituents Thursday February 25th in Lyons with Representative Jonathan Singer when a forum will also take place among trustees vying for office who will present their platforms.