On January 10th our local law makers will head to Denver, roll up their sleeves and go to work on securing a better future for Western Colorado.
There are plenty of hot issues set to be tackled this legislative session. One thing Representative Bernie Buescher and Senator Elect Josh Penry will be working on is a Rainy Day Fund. Buescher says we need funds that can be used in an economic downturn and that he's come up with a couple of proposals he thinks he can get passed by both houses and enacted.
At least four bills are expected to be presented when it comes to dealing with severance taxes and mineral royalties. One that Penry is working on would take the surplus of federal mineral royalty dollars and invest it in a permanent education trust fund and open space initiatives and also give back some money to the communities. Buescher is working on one bill that would double the amount of direct distributions back to the cities, towns and countys effected by energy development.
527 groups spent millions of dollars on ads this past election cycle in an effort to sway voters. This legislative session, lawmakers plan to spend hours creating legislation to hold them more accountable. Buescher says we've got to rein in on the power of these groups and they should have to disclose where they're getting their money the way everyone else does. Penry and Representative elect Steve King agree saying the groups influence over voters must be limited.
Water of course is another issue that will undoubtedly come up at the legislative session. Buescher plans to sponsor a bill that will make sure Palisade's and Grand Junction's watershed ordinances are enforceable. King wants to find solutions when it comes to making water storage projects more time efficient.
Last session illegal immigration took center stage prompting the governor to even call a special session. Penry says he thinks there's more work to be done on the issue but whether the governor or legislature wants to go back and work on it remains to be seen.
With a democrat in the governor's mansion and the democrats controlling both the house and the senate; lawmakers say the agenda for this legislative session will be quite different than in years past. But one thing's the same, there's a lot of work to be done, and only 120 days to do it.