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.
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)
· 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