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Capitol Update: 2014 Water Legislation

March 3rd, 2014

Dear Friends, As you may have learned from my communication statewide this summer, the state is developing the Colorado Water Plan that focuses on how to address long-term water needs. In the headwaters region, stream flows and the environment are two critical elements that influence our economy. You can just ask our fishing, rafting, and…Read More »


Capitol Update: January 2014

February 25th, 2014

Dear Friends, The 2014 Legislative Session is now underway. It is hard to believe that we are already two weeks through this year’s process. Once again, I look forward to representing the citizens of District 5 as we work on legislation to improve the lives of all Coloradans. Stay in touch and follow the progress…Read More »


Holiday Greetings and Best Wishes for a Safe and Prosperous 2014

February 25th, 2014

      Our service men and women decorating the Capitol Christmas tree During this special time of year, my thoughts are filled with family, friends, the citizens of my district, and those who have faced significant tragedy or loss during 2013. This year,  floods, drought, fires, and violence have ravaged many Colorado communities, yet we…Read More »


July Update: Fire & Water

July 29th, 2013

July Update: Fire & Water Drought has been and will continue to be a perennial threat to Colorado that impacts not only our economy, but also public health and safety.  It has been a leading cause of the wildfires Colorado has experienced this summer as the moisture content in our air and forests is extremely…Read More »


Sine Die 2013

May 29th, 2013

Dear Friends, This year’s legislative session has come to a close, officially ending on May 8th. I would like to sincerely thank all of my constituents who took the time to participate in the democratic process by voicing their opinions. I truly value their input when deciding how to best serve SD5. While State Senators…Read More »


Capitol Update: April 2013 Newsletter

May 2nd, 2013

Dear Friends, April is child abuse prevention month, and it reminds me that our communities are next in line after families in protecting children and ensuring they have the best start in life.  The 2013 report called Kids Count in Colorado provides vital statistics regarding the well-being of our children.  This type of data is…Read More »


Capitol Update: March 2013

March 25th, 2013

Dear Friends, This past month, the Senate passed many of my bills focused on Colorado’s natural resources and our sportsmen’s heritage.  They are critical drivers for local economic development, attracting tourists, and enriching our families. Activities like hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking contribute significantly to Colorado’s economy through direct sales, associated jobs, and fees.…Read More »


Capitol Update: February 2013

February 14th, 2013

Dear Friends, We are hard at work as the General Assembly enters the second month of the 2013 regular session; already over 350 bills have been introduced. Among them are a number of high profile bills garnering attention. Many of you have already contacted my office to express your views on various pieces of legislation,…Read More »


Sine Die! 2012 Legislative Session Ends

May 23rd, 2012

Dear Friends, This year’s legislative session has come to an end…again! Although the last day of the 2012 session was May 9th, with the extra three days of the “special session” the legislatureofficially adjourned this past Wednesday, May 16th.  We all welcomed the end of session and the Senate Democrats were proud to look back on…Read More »


Sine Die! 2012 Legislative Session Ends

May 23rd, 2012

Dear Friends, This year’s legislative session has come to an end…again! Although the last day of the 2012 session was May 9th, with the extra three days of the “special session” the legislatureofficially adjourned this past Wednesday, May 16th.  We all welcomed the end of session and the Senate Democrats were proud to look back on…Read More »


Capitol Update: 2014 Water Legislation

Dear Friends,

As you may have learned from my communication statewide this summer, the state is developing the Colorado Water Plan that focuses on how to address long-term water needs. In the headwaters region, stream flows and the environment are two critical elements that influence our economy. You can just ask our fishing, rafting, and tourism industries what impact drought has on our economy when water temperature rises, our rivers run low, or sometimes even run dry. Over the interim the Water Resources Review Committee, we worked on legislation to help better utilize this precious resource, while protecting Colorado’s prior appropriation doctrine. I will be sponsoring the water legislation below.

HB14-1026 – Flexible Water Markets – Flexible Water Markets is a new concept developed from a state sponsored research study. It will create a more flexible change-in-use system for water rights by allowing a water right owner to apply for a “flexible use” designation when fallowing, reducing consumptive-use cropping, non-consumptive uses, water banking, or developing other alternatives to prevent the permanent dry-up of irrigated lands. The water right resulting from this change-in-use case can be flexibly applied to different uses based on the yearly conditions.

SB14-023 – Reduced diversions through water efficiency savings -This bill is a product of a several years of effort identifying incentives for agricultural water efficiency.  Last year, SB13-019 protected our headwaters by allowing water right owners to conserve by diverting less five out of every ten years without it impacting their historical consumptive use. After an extensive stakeholder process, this year I introduced a bill to incent irrigation efficiency and not penalize the water rights of those making irrigation infrastructure improvements.  It will allow the “saved” non-consumptive water from efficiency upgrades to be put back into the stream while protecting the water rights holders and downstream users.

HB14-1030 – Hydroelectric Generation Incentives – Small hydroelectric generation is an underdeveloped resource that can be a valuable asset to the irrigation community in particular. This bill aligns Colorado with the recent streamlining requirements for small hydro approvals by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). HB14-1030 will ensure that project applicants can simultaneously clear federal and state review as quickly as 60 days without weakening or undermining the safety of the environment and can add new jobs to Colorado’s Economy.

SB14-115 – Public Comment and General Assembly Approval of the Water Plan – SB14-115 establishes the state legislature’s role in developing Colorado’s new water plan, which will outline the future of our state’s most vital natural resource. When dealing with something as important as the Colorado Water Plan, it is necessary that as many voices are heard as possible, including elected officials involvement along with their constituents. This bill will broaden the scope of participation in this planning process. SB14-115 seeks more input and also affirms the countless hours of effort put into the plan by Basin Roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee and stakeholders at the grassroots level to reach out to all Coloradans. Everyone should have an opinion on this plan and I encourage you all to get involved.

Sincerely,

Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5

We are Listening
Health Care Resort Rates: Community meeting on health care rates in mountain communities
Earlier this month Representative Hamner and I hosted a meeting in El Jebel, Eagle County to discuss the resort rates and access to health care in mountain communities. Commissioner Marguerite Salazar and health care providers addressed local officials, business owners, and individuals, and community members offered many helpful concerns and solutions.  At the meeting many issues were identified including access to catastrophic plans for individuals over 30 years old.  We have since worked to assure that a catastrophic plan is now available and can be accessed through the  Connect for Health Colorado website.  I have follow up meetings scheduled with Commissioner Salazar, County Commissioners, and interested citizens so we can continue to find a solution to the high resort rates health care costs our workforce and community members are facing.  In the near future, we are planning another meeting in Summit County to address

Delta County: Community meeting on the mine idling and resulting job loss
On February 8th I helped organize a meeting with state resources in Paonia to discuss how the community can recover following the significant job losses resulting from the idling of the Elk Creek mine.  OEDIT hosted a follow-up meeting this week to further discuss the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Program to continue their efforts to support the community.

Stay Updated & Informed
  • State Water Plan
  • Update on Hemp in Colorado
    • Registration will be available March 1, 2014.
  • Judicial Learning Center – If you are planning a visit to the capitol, make sure to reserve a tour of the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Learning Center. It is a great way for students and adults to learn about our court system and tour this important new building.

Upcoming Dates:

  • March 7th – 5pm Town Hall @ CMC in Leadville
  • March 8th – Chafee County
  • March 15th – Pitkin County
  • March 22nd – Eagle County
  • March 23rd – Gunnison County

Committee Smart Act Hearings for the Department of Natural Resources


HB14-1021: Concerning violations on Independence Pass. Thanks for the support in committee from Commissioner Newman, Sherriff DiSalvo, and County Manager Jon Peacock


I’m honored to have received COSEIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I’ve sponsored over 30 energy bills over the past 8 years to diversify our energy portfolio.


Thank you to Girl Scout Troop 2518 for their testimony and research on HB14-1024 which designates the Claret Cup Cactus as Colorado’s official state cactus.

Stay in Touch!
(303) 866-4871   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |    visit my website

Capitol Update: January 2014

Dear Friends,

The 2014 Legislative Session is now underway. It is hard to believe that we are already two weeks through this year’s process. Once again, I look forward to representing the citizens of District 5 as we work on legislation to improve the lives of all Coloradans. Stay in touch and follow the progress of the General Assembly this session online!

 
Senate Floor, Day 1 of the 2014 Session

Economic Development & Jobs for Rural Colorado

Economic development in rural areas has always been a primary driver of my legislative effort. I want to highlight a few pieces of legislation aimed at rural economic development and job creation that will be presented in the upcoming session.

Connect Colorado with Broadband – In today’s world, adequate broadband access in our rural and mountain communities is a critical economic driver. High speed internet access allows new businesses to move into our communities, students to connect remotely to classrooms, and hospitals to care for us. We have been working on finding ways to fund critical broadband infrastructure in our hardest to reach areas for years, and this year I intend to address this issue.  In the 21st century, our communities cannot continue to sit and wait for connectivity. This winter,  we hosted community meetings in Fairplay and Limon with broadband stakeholders, County Commissioners, and citizens from all over the state to find points of agreement on funding rural broadband infrastructure, and create funding for a broadband grant program. Your Input and support is valuable for the success of this bill. We should be introducing a bill shortly.

Greening Schools and Communities – I am working on a bill to implement ideas from the Powering Up Conference in Carbondale last fall.  Energy efficiency is the most effective way to save money on your utility bills and uses new technology to save energy. Energy efficiency contractors in our communities are looking for tools to encourage municipalities and schools to become more energy efficient, while simultaneously creating local jobs. In order to continue economic growth in the district, a new bill would allow the current funding for renewable installations in schools to be extended to include efficiency upgrades and could allow communities to finance energy efficiency projects using affordable bond rates.

Sincerely,

Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5

    

Above(Left): Presenting in Carbondale to an Energy Efficiency Conference. Above(Right): Touring the Montrose Forest Products Mill

We Are Listening: Important Upcoming Dates & Events

Community meeting on health care in mountain communities

Please join us to discuss the rates and access to health care in mountain communities. Commissioner Marguerite Salazar and health care providers are coming to discuss options for our community and listen to your comments. Representatives Hamner, Mitsch Bush, and Rankin have also been invited.

  • February 1st
  • 4:00-5:30pm
  • Eagle County Community Center, 20 Eagle County Dr, El Jebel, CO ‎

Community meeting on the mine closure and resulting job loss

Please join us to discuss the community impacts resulting from the closure of the Elk Creek Mine on February 8th in Paonia. I will be joined by representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment, the Office of Economic Development, and the Department of Local Affairs to address what resources the state can provide to assist Delta County in these difficult times. Representatives Coram, Hamner and Wright have also been invited.

  • February 8th
  • 1:00-2:30pm
  • Delta-Montrose Technical College (Gymnasium) – EnergyTech, 4th Street, Paonia, CO

Upcoming Town Halls on the calendar

  • February 22nd – Gunnison County
  • March 7th – Lake County
  • March 8th – Pitkin County

Stay Updated & Informed with these links

General Assembly Website – Follow bills and stream audio & video

State Water Plan
Update on Hemp in Colorado

Judicial Learning Center – If you are planning a visit to the capitol, make sure to reserve a tour of the new Ralph L.Carr Colorado Judicial Learning Center, a great way for students and adults to learn about our courts.

  • 2 E 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
  • (720) 625-5000
Stay in Touch!
(303) 866-4871   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |    visit my website

Holiday Greetings and Best Wishes for a Safe and Prosperous 2014

     
Our service men and women decorating the Capitol Christmas tree

During this special time of year, my thoughts are filled with family, friends, the citizens of my district, and those who have faced significant tragedy or loss during 2013. This year,  floods, drought, fires, and violence have ravaged many Colorado communities, yet we all pulled together and did our best to support one another. Let us hope that 2014 will bring a gentler time and allow for our losses to heal.

As many of you know, this will be my final session in the Colorado Senate due to constitutional term limits. It has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Southern, Central and Western Colorado, representing Senate District 5 (SD5), over the past seven years. I look forward to finishing my service in 2014 in the same robust manner that has guided my work thus far, protecting our unique quality of life and fighting for opportunity for the residents of Colorado’s rural communities.

After a busy summer and fall spent meeting with citizens and local elected officials, and holding public meetings on issues including the new Colorado Water Plan, I am now preparing for what promises to be a productive 2014 legislative session. My bills will, in part, reflect the work of the interim committees on which I served, including the Capital Development Committee, the Joint Technology Committee, and the Water Resources Review Committee. They will address some of the critical infrastructure and economic development issues facing our state. As I have for the past seven years, I appreciated the opportunity this interim to travel throughout the seven counties of SD 5, and to listen and learn about the issues of greatest concern.

I would like to take this time to introduce my staff for this session, as they are fundamental to my ability to serve SD5.  Andrew Sand has been doing superb work as my legislative aide since late 2012 and will continue to oversee our office throughout this session.  He, along with interns Mary Miller, Courtney Pickus, and Nathan Adams will assist with legislation, field your perspectives on policies under consideration, and respond to requests to our office for assistance. I always appreciate your capitol visits, emails and calls on every issue before us; regular communication is the key to better serving you and advocating for the interests of SD 5. We look forward to serving you!

Sincerely,

Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5

Capitol Dome

“By the weekend, the gold of the Colorado Capitol should be glimmering once again, as crews slowly bring down the curtain that has shrouded the dome during the $17 million restoration begun in 2010.” Read more from the Denver Post: Update on the Capitol Dome Project

  

Prior to construction           The newly regilded dome


Atop the dome scaffolding!

General Assembly Home Page – Follow bills and stream audio & video

Upcoming Dates:

  • Come visit! January 8thopening day open house at the capitol
    • 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. in my office #332
  • February 8th – Delta County
  • February 22nd – Gunnison County
  • March 7th – Lake County
  • March 8th – Pitkin County
  • Chafee – TBD
  • Hinsdale – TBD
  • Eagle – TBD
Stay in Touch!
(303) 866-4871   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |    visit my website

July Update: Fire & Water

July Update: Fire & Water

Drought has been and will continue to be a perennial threat to Colorado that impacts not only our economy, but also public health and safety.  It has been a leading cause of the wildfires Colorado has experienced this summer as the moisture content in our air and forests is extremely low. While late spring rain and snow has helped thus far to insulate the central mountains from fire, the San Luis Valley and other areas of the state are grappling with the serious impacts of wildfires. The men and women fighting these fires and protecting our communities are working valiantly, and we thank them for their service and continue to pray for their safety. It is important to remember that physical fire damages are not the only costs affecting communities. This week I visited wildfire areas in Hinsdale, Rio Grande, and Mineral counties and saw first hand the significant decline in the regional tourism that those communities rely so heavily on each summer. The West Fork Fire Complex is over 110,000 acres making it the largest in recent history. Additionally, I observed and the serious residual threats of the fires to flooding and water quality in the watershed. National, state, and local entities are working together as a model for collaboration during a crisis.  For more information on  the Rio Grande Emergency Action Team (REACT) go to www.rweact.org

 

This year, I am proud that seven bills aimed at confronting our wildfire challenges became law. These bills allow the state to leverage greater resources toward fighting fires and work toward developing healthy forests. However, the large fires statewide this summer remind us these new tools are not enough. Identifying ways that the state can improve forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and promote long-term business solutions is critical, and I will continue to work on these issues this summer and fall. In the meantime, reduce your home’s fire risk by creating defensible space in your immediate surroundings. You can stay posted on active wildfire news through  INCIWEB:  http://inciweb.org/state/6/ andhttp://www.coemergency.com/. Also please assess your community’s risk through the Coloroado Forest Service’s new interactive portal http://www.coloradowildfirerisk.com/map

 

The forests and our watersheds are critical to our water supply on which our state and much of the western U.S. depend. Drought has increased fire danger to these resources, threatened storage facilities, and also diminished our reservoir levels. I intend to build on the progress we had in the 2013 session, promoting solutions to end the “buy and dry” crisis facing our agricultural community, addressing water storage and integrating the importance of forest health and management into the state water plan. Additionally, I intend to explore responsible tools that promote conservation and efficiency of our water resources without injuring existing water rights.

 

On May 14th, Governor Hickenlooper signed an executive order directing the state to develop the first State Water Plan by and for Coloradans. The General Assembly’s Water Resources Review Committee will work closely with the IBCC, Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and other state agencies directed by the executive order to address the critical water issues in our state.  Wednesday July 17 will be the first Water Resources Review Committee (WRRC) meeting in Gunnison, CO at WSCU. To follow or attend the WRRC events and potential legislation throughout the interim go tohttp://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CGA-LegislativeCouncil/CLC/1242218502184

 

As always, please continue to share your thoughts on these issues with my office by emailing me at gail.schwartz.senate@gmail.com.  Additionally, please join me at events throughout the summer seeking to address these critical issues like wildfire and drought. You can find a calendar of my public events at http://www.gailschwartz.org/

Sincerely,
Gail Schwartz

Sine Die 2013

Dear Friends,

This year’s legislative session has come to a close, officially ending on May 8th. I would like to sincerely thank all of my constituents who took the time to participate in the democratic process by voicing their opinions. I truly value their input when deciding how to best serve SD5.

While State Senators work all throughout the year, this brief session means that the window to pass significant legislation is small. That is why I’m excited to share how remarkably productive these past 120 days have been. Nearly all of my bills passed successfully! I continued my fight for rural economic development, natural resource conservation and protection of water rights. For more information, please click on the bill numbers listed below to read the bill.

Sincerely,


State Senator Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5

My 2013 Legislative Summary

Water Resources: Water is one of our most precious Colorado resources, which is why conservation and protection of water rights is a key legislative priority. The legislation I sponsored will authorize and fund projects for water quality, storage, and conservation.

  • SB13-019 - Promotion of Water Conservation Measures
  • SB13-181 – Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects
  • HJR-1007 - Water Projects Eligibility Lists
  • HB13-1044 - Authorization of Graywater Use
  • HB13-1168 - Recognize Unincorporated Acequia Ditches
  • HB13-1191 - Nutrient Grant Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • HB13-1248 - Irrigation Water Leasing Municipal Pilot Projects

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: While the balanced and responsible development of all energy resources is important, renewable energy creates good paying Colorado jobs and moves our state towards a clean energy future. We need to continue to develop local rural renewable resources and incentivize energy efficiency.

  • SJR13-18 - Colorado Renewable Energy Appreciation
  • SB13-070 - Purchase of State Vehicles that Operate on Alternative Fuels 
  • SB13-212 - CPACE (commercial property-assessed clean energy)
  • SB13-252 - Renewable Energy Standard
  • SB13-272 - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Jobs Act (revisit in 2014)
  • SB13-273 - Renewable Energy Forest Biomass Incentives
  • HB13-1105 - Architecture 2030: Energy Saving Mortgage Program
  • SJR13-038 - Increase Recycling Composting Pyrolysis

Wildlife and Habitat: It is important to protect Colorado’s wildlife and our natural landscapes. These resources are critical to support landowners and farmers, protect the herds sportsmen depend on, and drive tourist investment into local communities.

  • SB13-169 – Reintroduction of Black-footed Ferrets
  • SB13-175 – Wildlife Habitat Stamp Program
  • SB13-188 - Landowner Preference Wildlife Hunting License
  • HB13-1164 – Extension of Unwanted Horse Tax Checkoff
  • HB13-1283 – Species Conservation Trust Fund

Other Important Legislation: I have been proud to sponsor a variety of bills this session focusing on rural Colorado needs.

  • SB13-174 – Continuation of the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council
  • SB13-203 - Limitations on the Use of Public Land for Automotive Service Stations
  • SB13-214 – BEST Program Oversight and Funding
  • SB13-263 – Development of Capitol Complex Master Plan
  • SB13-241 – Industrial Hemp
  • HB13-1011 – Repeal Fee Veteran’s Identifier Driver’s License
  • HB13-1026 – WICHE Equipment and Renovation Fee Appropriation Requirement
  • HB13-1029 - Use of Authority Verbs in the Colorado Revised Statutes
  • HB13-1035 – Increase in the Number of Judges to the 5th and 9th Judicial Districts
  • HB13-1103 – PUC Oversight of Rail Fixed Guideway System Safety
  • HB13-1158 – Colorado Cottage Foods Act
  • HB13-1186 – Special District Meetings Notices & Transparency
  • HB13-1205 – Investment of State Moneys by the State Treasurer
  • HB13-1234 – Lease-Purchase Authority for Department of Agriculture Consolidation
  • HB13-1311 – Clarify Definition of Veterinary Premises

Balanced Budget– driving economic development: The legislature passed another balanced budget this year, as required by our state constitution, and targeted employment growth in industries like construction and tourism.

  • The budget funds capital construction and controlled maintenance projects at $194 million, which will help keep construction workers busy.
  • The budget gives the Department of Local Affairs an additional $3 million and one additional employee to establish a rural economic development program. The program will help rural areas that rely on one employer, like Fort Lyon.
  • The budget gives an additional $1 million to the Office of Film, Television, and Media to attract film projects to Colorado.
  • The budget gives The Office of Tourism an increase to $15 million, plus an additional $2 million for a state branding initiative. Tourism is a major economic driver in Colorado, putting $15.9 million into the economy in 2011 and employing 141,400 Coloradans.

Other Legislative Highlights:
HB 1303 - Voter Access and Modernized Elections

  • Under the bill, most elections are to be conducted as mail-in ballot elections. County clerks are required to mail a ballot to all active registered voters. Voters may then mail-in a ballot or drop it off at a service center. Voters still have the option to vote in-person at a service center, or vote on Election Day.
SB13-011 – Colorado Civil Union Act
  • The bill authorizes civil unions in Colorado and grants persons in civil unions the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities as spouses.
SB13-213 – Future School Finance
  • The bill reforms K-12 education and provides a new funding formula with three main goals: (1) improve the adequacy of our education system; (2) equitably distribute state funding; (3) achieve financial stability for K-12 education in Colorado.
SB13-033 – ASSET: In-state Tuition Classification for High School Graduates in Colorado
  • Provides in-states tuition rates to every student who graduates a Colorado high school, is admitted to a Colorado college within 1 year following graduation, and provides an affidavit stating that they have applied for lawful presence.
SB13-200 – Expanding Medicaid Eligibility
  • This bill expands Medicaid eligibility from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 133 percent, which is $31,322 for a family of four. This provides more than 160,000 uninsured Coloradans access to health care.
Gun Safety Legislation: 
  • HB13-1224 – Prohibits large-capacity magazines (more than 15 rounds)
  • HB13-1228 – Fees for funding gun background checks
  • HB13-1229 – Universal background checks for all gun sales
  • SB13-197 – Prevents domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms
  • SB13-195 – Requires in-person training for concealed carry permits
Forest Health:
  • SB13-082 – Wildfire Matters Review Committee
  • SB13-083 - Prescribed Burning Program Under the Division of Fire Prevention and Control
  • SB13-169 – Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant Program
  • SB13-270 – Wildfire Preparedness and Emergency Response Funds
  • SB13-273 – Renewable Energy Forest Biomass Incentives

Capitol Update: April 2013 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

April is child abuse prevention month, and it reminds me that our communities are next in line after families in protecting children and ensuring they have the best start in life.  The 2013 report called Kids Count in Colorado provides vital statistics regarding the well-being of our children.  This type of data is critical to shaping policy to create the most effective programs to best serve our communities.  We all agree that protecting children and investing in them at a young age will benefit them as they grow up to become successful, happy adults. This month, I am supporting a range of legislation aimed at helping the children of my district achieve their potential.

There has been a variety of bills this session that work to protect the well-being of children in Colorado.  For example, HB13-1271 will set up a statewide hotline to report child abuse and neglect.  Reporting and preventing abuse is critical because of the lifelong impacts abuse has on children.  Since 2007, more than 175 children have died as a result of abuse and neglect. Our current patchwork of reporting methods has resulted in too many vulnerable children not receiving critical resources.  If passed, the statewide hotline bill would ensure that family and neighbors would be able to call one number and reach a live person to report a child in danger, no matter where he or she is in the state.

Another bill, HB13-1117, seeks to align early childhood services to help keep kids and families from falling through the cracks.  Currently, many of the voluntary services that serve Colorado children and families are housed in several different state agencies.  By streamlining enrollment processes and program administration into one place — the Office of Early Childhood — our young children will have better access to the investments they need to grow up strong.

Two bills regarding the well-being of children in our state have already passed both the House of Representatives and Senate and are on their way to the governor’s desk. The first bill, SB13-163, continues the Colorado Infant Hearing Advisory Committee. The committee provides recommendations on guidelines for newborn hearing screenings and best practices for hospitals, audiologists, early interventionists, and physicians.  Second, Governor Hickenlooper recently signed SB13-008, which stabilizes taxpayer savings by eliminating the three-month waiting period for the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+).  This bipartisan reform provides continuity of health care coverage for Colorado kids and avoids gaps in coverage.  Nearly 19% of all Colorado children, and 28% of kids in Senate District 5, are not currently enrolled but are eligible for coverage either through CHP+ or Medicaid.

Currently 11.5% of children in our district lack any form of medical insurance. As a result, SB13-200 also seeks to expand Medicaid eligibility, and bring the state in alignment with new federal requirements. This bill would extend health insurance to more than 160,000 uninsured Colorado parents and adults.  Research shows that when parents are insured, they are more likely to have their kids insured too—and use that health coverage appropriately for preventive care like annual check-ups and immunizations.  By expanding coverage for adults, this would also be a big step forward for covering all kids in Colorado.

Protecting the welfare of Colorado’s children extends beyond the efforts of the legislature. With April designated as child abuse prevention month, this is a time to remember that we are all responsible for the well-being of the children in our communities, and one person can make a difference. If you have any concerns about a child, you can anonymously call the Child Protection Ombudsman at 303.864.5111 or visit http://www.protectcoloradochildren.org/.

 

 

Western Slope Renewable Energy Jobs

Renewable energy benefits rural Colorado as it creates local jobs and develops our local renewable resources. SB252 takes a critical step toward mitigating emissions, developing local resources, and delivering important long term rate stability to customers in Rural Electric Association (REA) territories.

The bill includes the important additions of Western Slope coal mine methane and synthetic gas from municipal solid waste as qualifying resources under the RES. While creating energy, the capture of methane is critically important for the environment. These technologies represent key additions to our renewable portfolio as an eligible resource, using local resources that will create important new jobs in our communities and support coal mine operations by giving economic value to waste methane.

Local renewable resources will help Tri-State meet the 15% renewable standard increase with the REA’s 1% distributive generation requirement. For example, biomass energy can help address our forest health crisis and helps limit the risk of wildfire to our communities and watersheds. Small wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power are also important to our agricultural and rural communities. Developing our own Western Slope renewables for our local energy helps create jobs and mitigate the long-term risk to residents and businesses associated with fluctuating fossil fuel prices. Most importantly, consumers will be limited to a 1% increase to their bills in order to meet the new standard.

 

Advanced Industries in Colorado

HB13-1001, the Advanced Industries Acceleration Act, created a grant program through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to promote seven key sectors. The bill, which passed both the House and Senate, seeks to foster a renewed level of collaboration and connectivity between the public research and development infrastructure and the advanced industries which include aerospace, advanced manufacturing, electronics, energy and natural resources, information and technology, bioscience, and infrastructure engineering. Currently, advanced industries account for 37% of Colorado’s exports and 31% of gross state product.
HB13-1001 is intended to:
• Create high paying, quality jobs
• Boost exports and enable Colorado to compete effectively
• Drive innovation and capital investment in Colorado

This bill allows for three types of grants.
• A technology transfer proof-of-concept grant, which has a maximum of $150,000 per grant
• An early stage capital and retention grant, which has a maximum of $250,000 per grant
• An infrastructure funding grant, with a maximum of $500,000 per grant.

For more information please go to http://www.advancecolorado.com/key-industries

Capitol Update: March 2013

Dear Friends,

This past month, the Senate passed many of my bills focused on Colorado’s natural resources and our sportsmen’s heritage.  They are critical drivers for local economic development, attracting tourists, and enriching our families. Activities like hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking contribute significantly to Colorado’s economy through direct sales, associated jobs, and fees.

Colorado’s quality of life and our landscape are inextricably linked.  I know SD5 constituents believe this to be true because they consistently communicate their support for preservation of our landscape.  Our gold metal streams and renowned big game population are a credit to the efforts sportsmen have made to support statewide conservation programs like the Habitat Stamp. I have kept very busy this month working on my natural resources legislation plus many other issues. Below is a description of some of the bills that have passed the Senate. Please continue to share your interest in these bills as they moved through the process in the House.

Sincerely,

My Wildlife, Habitat, and Water Legislation

SB13-175 Wildlife Habitat Stamp Renewal (Passed Senate)

· This bill renews one of the state’s most important conservation programs. The bill funds projects to preserve agricultural ranchland with public access for hunting, big game winter range for deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and sagebrush-related species.

· Habitat Stamp has helped:

· Conserve nearly 174,000 acres of key wildlife habitat

· Secured over 78,000 acres of new public access

· Opened more than 25 miles of new fishing access

· Protected over 100,000 acres of big game winter range and migration corridors.

· A few success stories from this program in SD5 include Chubb Park Ranch in Chaffee County, Miller Ranch in Gunnison County, and Moyer 45 Bar Ranch in Lake County.

SB13-188 Landowner Preference Wildlife Hunting License (Passed Senate)

· The Department of Natural Resources’ Landowner Preference program allocates big game hunting licenses to agricultural landowners through a system of transferable vouchers.

· The program encourages landowners to view wildlife as an asset through tangible benefits.

· The program leads to more permits by increasing landowner tolerance for big game.

· The higher populations mean more opportunities for public hunters on public and private lands.

SB13-169 Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program (Passed Senate)

· This legislation, supported by the Colorado Cattleman’s Association, creates a voluntary program on private lands to reintroduce the black-footed ferret in Colorado. By introducing the black-footed ferret, landowners can naturally manage the prairie dog population.

· Landowners are afforded the benefits of U.S. Fish and Wildlife safe harbor program which protects them from potential restrictions associated with the Endangered Species Act.

SB13-181 CWCB Projects Bill – Protecting Water Resources (Passed Senate)

· This bill, which passed the Senate unanimously, designates more than $70 million in water projects throughout Colorado without taking from the General Fund.

· These projects help to protect water rights, the environment and create new jobs.

· The funds come from the Construction Fund and the Severance Tax Trust Fund Perpetual Base Account, both of which include sustainable revolving loan programs.

SB13-19 Agricultural Water Efficiency (Passed Senate)

· Faced with drought, this bill protects Western Slope farmers’ and ranchers’ water rights when conserving water and leaving water for our streams to benefit the environment and communities.

 

Gun Responsibility Legislation

      

       I begin by thanking constituents from SD5 who wrote or called my office to weigh in on the gun responsibility bills considered this past month, and I appreciated those who made comments on specific legislation. This input helped frame the issues and informed my votes. I thoughtfully considered each bill to evaluate its merit, effectiveness, and any potential impact on our 2nd Amendment Rights.

       I said prior to my votes, and I reiterate now, that I support the 2nd Amendment as a foundational right given to us in the U.S. Constitution.  Yet, I also rely upon the Supreme Court’s rulings, time and time again, that there are reasonable limits to constitutional rights, including the 2nd Amendment. The bills I supported were common sense measures that do not infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens, but rather closed loop holes and make an effort to keep guns falling into the hands of those who intend to do harm.

       After an extensive debate in the General Assembly, filled with a wide range of opinions, I know there are constituents who disagree with my votes and believe these bills are overreaching. Although some people chose to communicate in a threatening and degrading manner, gratefully others expressed their honest and reasonable concerns. It is my belief that, despite claims to the contrary, no law abiding citizen will be denied their guns or ammunition for their protection or recreation as a result of these bills; nor will they result in any sustained loss in Colorado’s economic activity.

Ultimately, five of the seven bills passed the Senate. Below is a list of the bills introduced.

· HB13-1224 – Prohibiting Large-capacity Ammunition Magazines (Signed)
· HB13-1228 – Payment for Background Checks for Gun Transfers (Signed)
· HB13-1229 – Background Checks for Gun Transfers (Signed)
· SB13-195 – No Online Training for Concealed Handgun Permits (Passed)
· SB13-197 – No Firearms for Domestic Violence Offenders (Passed)

· SB13-196 – Assault Weapon Responsibility Act (Withdrawn)

· HB13-1226 – No Concealed Carry at Colleges (Withdrawn)

 

 

District News

· Mastodon Exhibit – When in Denver, visit!

· The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is displaying the Snowmass Mastodons. http://www.dmns.org/mammoths-and-mastodons/

· Colorado Rural Electric Association’s EnergyWise Project

· An information source for energy efficiency and an access point for rebates for homes, businesses, schools, government buildings. goo.gl/wMEu8

· Our Aspiring Restaurateurs

· High school students from Basalt compete in the Colorado ProStart Invitational and Sysco Denver Hospitality Cup.  goo.gl/7r6yQ

· Regional Tourism Act Program

· The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade are accepting applications for tourism projects. goo.gl/lm3lX

 

Amendment 64 Committee

        As the majority of Colorado citizens voted in support of recreational marijuana use, it is now time for the legislature to draft bills to implement the program based on the recommendations of the Governor’s A64 Taskforce.  I have been appointed to the Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of Amendment 64, and we are focused on developing the necessary regulatory mechanisms.  I intend to make sure any system ensures the safest production and access.

The excise tax revenue created under A64 protocols has been designated to fund the BEST rural school construction program that I helped create and SD5 has greatly benefited from the construction of 16 new schools as a result. This excise tax question will be put to the voters this fall.

I will also be introducing a bill on the production of industrial hemp, which can be developed as an agricultural crop that has many beneficial uses for production of food and fiber, and is a drought resistant crop.

Follow the select committee proceedings at goo.gl/pUXa8

 

 

Capitol Update: February 2013

Dear Friends,

We are hard at work as the General Assembly enters the second month of the 2013 regular session; already over 350 bills have been introduced. Among them are a number of high profile bills garnering attention. Many of you have already contacted my office to express your views on various pieces of legislation, and I thank you for your input and participation. Your notes, emails, and calls help to paint a picture of the collective response from Senate District 5 and the rest of Colorado.

I remain focused on the issues facing western Colorado and SD-5. Next month will mark an entire year in which 95% of our state has been in serious drought. In fact, since 2006 some part of the state has been classified as being under drought conditions.  After ending January with the eighth lowest snowpack level on record, the latest series of snowstorms were a welcome sign to our communities and the snowsports industry. However, the snowpack is still remains 25% below the level required to meet our most basic water storage needs.

With over 4 million acres of standing dead timber, I am grateful that last week Governor Hickenlooper issued two Executive Orders to protect our communities from wildfire and protect forest health. Stakeholders are working together to address the serious fire risk to our communities and watersheds while creating jobs and supporting our forest product industry. This significant step to improve forest health will help create value for dead and dying timber, protect our homesin forested areas, and improve the health of our forests. For the first time, a task force will be established to engage the insurance industry as we address how to best protect people, property, and the environment from wildfire. Another advisory committee will take lessons from previous fires and ensure the application of best practices for future wildfires. The Governor also announced a $10.3 millionspecial budget allocation to address these issues. I am also sponsoring legislation to address the serious threats of drought and wildfire while promoting agricultural water efficiency, forest health, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

I am thankful for the many visitors to the capitol this past month including Human Resource specialists from Eagle County, Live Well Colorado, students from Yampah Mountain High School, and the Colorado Youth Corps Association Corpsmember of the Year from the Southwest Conservation Corps, Michael Ricci. If you are in Denver, please feel welcome to visit my office.

Sincerely,
State Senator Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5


Governor Hickenlooper signs Forest Health Executive Orders.

My 2013 Legislation

  • Renewable Thermal Standard – Will create a rebate program to incentivize the use of heat generation including geothermal, biomass, and solar thermal.
  • Biomass – Supporting biomass creates a market for dead and dying trees threatening our communities while building a local energy economy.
  • Agricultural Water Efficiency (S.B. 19) – Is a bill that will encourage farmers and producers to take water efficiency measures or upgrade their irrigation technology.  This will leave more water in our rivers which is especially important during drought years.
  • Habitat Stamp Renewal – Purchases of state hunting and fishing licenses fund the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection Program through the Habitat Stamp. Renewing this program will continue the state’s efforts to protect the sensitive habitat sportsmen rely on for  Colorado’s world class hunting and fishing.
  • High Efficiency Homes (H.B.-1105) – Is modeled after New Mexico’s Architecture 2030 and creates an energy savings mortgage program to encourage residential energy efficiency.
  • Commercial PACE – This bill will allow commercial buildings to access greater financing options when energy efficiency measures are incorporated.

Delta County Update

BLM Defers Leases in North Fork Valley:
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced this week that it will defer the leasing of 20 parcels in the North Fork Valley that had been scheduled for the February 14, 2013 quarterly “lease sale.” I am encouraged that the BLM is willing to consider a broader range of issues before offering their quarterly leases. Oil and gas development is an important part of Colorado’s economy, but the location and scale of development must be carefully considered. The proximity of these parcels to vital water resources and sensitive agricultural lands are important factors to be considered during the review process because of the potential impacts the local economy, agritourism, and quality of life. I very much appreciate that the BLM State Director listened to the concerns raised in the comment period and is embracing the importance of continued dialogue with the local community. You can be assured that I will continue to work diligently to ensure that future oil and gas development throughout the state is done responsibly.

Congratulations to Vessels Coal Gas!
The Conservation Center is celebrating 35 years of working to protect the lands and waters of the North Fork Valley and Delta County.  Tom Vessels will be accepting the Conservation Achievement Award on behalf of North Fork Energy LLC in recognition of the nation’s first on-site coal mine methane capture facility at Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset.

Avalanche Control

The governor signed into law HB1057, sponsored by Senator Jeanne Nicholson and Representative Diane Mitsch-Bush.  HB1057 clarifies that the Colorado Avalanche Information Center be housed with the Department of Natural Resources, allowing the Center to continue regular operation.  The Avalanche Center is an important resource in researching and forecasting avalanche danger.  On average, six people are killed every year in Colorado by avalanches, accounting for approximately 1/3 of avalanche deaths in the U.S.  The Avalanche Information Center has helped to reduce the harm avalanches cause to recreation, tourism, commerce, industry, and the citizens of Colorado.

Gun Safety Legislation

In the wake of recent gun related tragedies that have occurred in Colorado and nationally, it is clear that we must engage in a public conversation about gun safety, violence, mental health, and school security.  As with any bills introduced into the Senate, I will consider the specifics for each piece of legislation, and carefully weigh all the options.  I remain committed to protecting the Second Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and am equally committed to implementing reasonable measures to protect the safety of our citizens.


Congratulations to Emma Farms Cattle Company and Tom Waldeck for an outstanding performance at the National Western Stock Show!


Sen. Schwartz and Sen. Kerr participate in an electronic recycling drive at the Capitol by Electronic Recyclers International.

Sine Die! 2012 Legislative Session Ends

Dear Friends,

This year’s legislative session has come to an end…again! Although the last day of the 2012 session was May 9th, with the extra three days of the “special session” the legislatureofficially adjourned this past Wednesday, May 16th.  We all welcomed the end of session and the Senate Democrats were proud to look back on our legislative accomplishments focused on Colorado’s economic recovery through a host of jobs bills in our ‘Colorado Works’ initiative.

Along with rural economic development, much of my legislation focused on resource management and environmental stewardship. Many of my jobs bills, such as the “Local Foods, Local Jobs Act,” the “Electronic Recycling Jobs Act,” and the “Forest Health Jobs Resolution” were passed with strong bipartisan support.  During the special session, we finally passed my Water Projects Bill, which allocates $61 million in reservoir projects and watershed protection, among other initiatives.  Senate District 5 is receiving important funding for local projects – $30M in funding will go toward the rehabilitation of the Rio Grande and Beaver Park Reservoirs.  I teamed up with Rep. Pace to pass theAgriculture Land Tax Credit bill, which will help preserve our rural ag. communities and, as the senate sponsor of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission bill, I worked to protect stakeholder interests and a create a balanced commission for stewardship of our state’s outdoor recreation and natural resources.

During the upcoming summer and fall interim, I will remain busy with interim committees, conferences, community events and town halls throughout Senate District 5. As always, please advise me of local events that I can add to my district tour this summer! Since my district is changing due to last year’s redistricting process, I’ll be touring the eleven counties of my current district along with Eagle County and Lake County, which both join SD5 in 2013. While it will be bittersweet to lose the San Luis Valley counties under the new SD5 map, I have many visits planned for this summer and plan to keep in touch long after the district changes are finalized!


Senator Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5

Sine Die! 2012 Legislative Session Ends


Dear Friends,

This year’s legislative session has come to an end…again! Although the last day of the 2012 session was May 9th, with the extra three days of the “special session” the legislatureofficially adjourned this past Wednesday, May 16th.  We all welcomed the end of session and the Senate Democrats were proud to look back on our legislative accomplishments focused on Colorado’s economic recovery through a host of jobs bills in our ‘Colorado Works’ initiative.

Along with rural economic development, much of my legislation focused on resource management and environmental stewardship. Many of my jobs bills, such as the “Local Foods, Local Jobs Act,” the “Electronic Recycling Jobs Act,” and the “Forest Health Jobs Resolution” were passed with strong bipartisan support.  During the special session, we finally passed my Water Projects Bill, which allocates $61 million in reservoir projects and watershed protection, among other initiatives.  Senate District 5 is receiving important funding for local projects – $30M in funding will go toward the rehabilitation of the Rio Grande and Beaver Park Reservoirs.  I teamed up with Rep. Pace to pass theAgriculture Land Tax Credit bill, which will help preserve our rural ag. communities and, as the senate sponsor of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission bill, I worked to protect stakeholder interests and a create a balanced commission for stewardship of our state’s outdoor recreation and natural resources.

During the upcoming summer and fall interim, I will remain busy with interim committees, conferences, community events and town halls throughout Senate District 5. As always, please advise me of local events that I can add to my district tour this summer! Since my district is changing due to last year’s redistricting process, I’ll be touring the eleven counties of my current district along with Eagle County and Lake County, which both join SD5 in 2013. While it will be bittersweet to lose the San Luis Valley counties under the new SD5 map, I have many visits planned for this summer and plan to keep in touch long after the district changes are finalized!


Senator Gail Schwartz
Senate District 5

Environment & Energy Updates

Drought Conditions

The most recent map of Colorado Snowpack show’s the state at a mere 9% of yearly average. As we prepare for summer  during severe drought conditions, it’s imperative that we stay vigilant about fire risk and prevention and protect our water resources. For updates on Colorado drought conditions, visit the drought monitor website:
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

BLM Defers Lease Parcels
The recent BLM decision to defer the sales of 30,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the North Fork Valley in Delta and Gunnison Counties is a testament to the value of the public process for resource management. I commend the substantive community involvement and communication surrounding the BLM proposed leases – the concerns articulated in letters, emails, calls, and op-eds were thoughtfully constructed. Since extending time for public comment in December and my role in the public hearing in Hotchkiss in January, it has been an honor to stay involved with stakeholders to ensure all opinions were taken seriously. I am grateful to the BLM for acknowledging public input and their work as responsible stewards of our state resources – the deferral of the sales was an appropriate outcome for this issue.

Governor Signs Bills in SD5
Governor Hickenlooper made a series of stops in SD5 for bill signing ceremonies, including HB-1080 “Adams State ‘University'” bill that I sponsored with Rep. Ed Vigil. Also on the signing tour was Poncha Springs for HB-1345, South Fork for SBs-2, my “Water Projects Bill,” which I co-sponsored with Sen. White. Everyone who turned out for these events was grateful to the Governor for his visit and attention to the importance of these issues.

My Interim Committees
Capital Development Committee, member
We’ll be touring the state assessing front range state facilities.
Transportation Legislation Review Committee, member
Legislative Legal Services Committee, member

Water Resources Review Committee, member: This committee was established to monitor the conservation and use of Colorado’s water resources, and it also responsible for keeping track of development and finances in this area so that they are better able to serve the state’s water needs. The committee is scheduled to meet throughout the interim period, and works with experts to review issues and develop legislation. Visit the General Assembly website at www.leg.state.co.us to access interim committee schedules: