The second session of the 72nd General Assembly is in the books. A little after 5 p.m. on June 15, it was “Turn out the lights – the party’s over” on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives. After a testy and historic 84 day session, the House adjourned sine die (from the Latin “without day”) on Monday and sent 65 Representatives home until Jan. 13, 2021 when another 120-day session (unless COVID-19 rears its ugly head again) will begin. The session was disrupted by a recess in mid-March, reconvened May 26 and adjourned 36 days short of a normal session. Hopefully, the Governor will not call a special session over the summer and we can get back to “nearly normal.”
Sine Die 2020 was bittersweet for me – it marked my eighth and final year of serving in the Colorado House. This marks the end of these “Takin’ It To The House” columns (unless something noteworthy comes up between now and the first of the year). I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank some folks. Thank you:
to Kristi and my family for allowing me to serve – that lost time can never be recovered.
to my constituents who supported me for eight years – it was an honor to serve you for four terms.
to my four county newspapers who so graciously printed my weekly columns.
to all my friends in the House for putting up with me – I will miss them all, admittedly some more than others.
to the Good Lord for walking with me on this incredible journey we call life – from a poor, barefoot farm kid on the southern border of Kansas to the Statehouse in Colorado. As I often say, “Who would ever have thought?” I have been so blessed.
Finally, thanks to all of you for being a special part of my life. Ironically, I never had any desire to be a politician – I always tried to be a statesman. I hope I was successful in that quest.
These past eight years have flown by so rapidly – 2013 does not seem that far in the past. I was so excited to get my first two bills signed into law. After that initial year, my opportunities and obligations grew by leaps and bounds. I had the honor of serving as the Ranking Republican on the Education Committee as well as serving on the Appropriations, Finance, Health/Insurance/Environment, Public Health Care/Human Services and Transportation/Local Government Committees.
After those first two bills, I was able to successfully carry a myriad of bills that included:
Assisting Community Colleges in general and CMC in particular
Expanding Child Care and promoting Early Childhood Educators
Enabling the Use of Drones and supporting Rural Telecommunications
Lowering the cost of Prescription Drugs and protecting Assisted Living Contracts
Promoting Rural Housing opportunities and codifying Short Term Lodging guidelines
Expanding Concurrent Enrollment and Advanced Placement opportunities for students
Opening the door for all Non-Profits to access tax checkoffs
Realigning Colorado Parks and Wildlife budgets
Utilizing the vacant CSP II facility to house inmates
Overhauling the Conservation Easement Program
This list is far from complete, but it points out that I was not just an “Education Legislator.”
However, I would be remiss if I did not mention my most gratifying achievement – finally getting the Legislature to meet its obligation to fully fund kindergarten. After carrying kindergarten bills for five straight years, the sixth year was the charm. HB 19-1262 passed both chambers 89-10. (I told those 10 they would eventually see the light.) Governor Polis issued a proclamation declaring June 3 “Full Day Kindergarten Day” in Colorado forevermore.
In my last act to help education in the closing days of the session, I placed an amendment on HB 20-1427 (an initiative to raise the tax on tobacco). Since the bill was going to pass anyway, I figured why not claim some of the dollars for schools? My amendment would provide a total of $90 million to rural schools over three years (provided the voters approve the initiative) to help ease the pain of the cuts to education budgets. All of my school districts in HD 60 would benefit from the dollars.
I will still be your State Representative until January 13, 2021 so over the interim, feel free to call my office in the Capitol at 303-866-2747 or send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Please understand, since we will not be in session at the Capitol, responses to e-mails and calls may take longer – Thanks.
I will leave you with these words from a well-known chorus:
Now I’ve had the time of my life – no, I’ve never felt like this before
Yes, I swear it’s the truth – and I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life – and I owe it all to you …