It is 2018, and the state of Colorado is kicking off the second half of the 71st General Assembly.
I continue to be amazed at the rancor that remains following the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, that rancor is spilling over into the State Capitol, where we once again will be dealing with split chambers.
For the second year, the Senate is Republican by one vote (18-17) and the House is Democrat by a 37-28 margin.
No matter how contentious the discussions become, bills that are too far right will die in the House, and bills that are too far left will die in the Senate.
The challenge for lawmakers to play nice, will be compounded by the fact that 2018 is an election year. All 65 representatives and 17 of 35 senators will be on the ballot this fall. Redistricting will take place in 2020, so the stakes will continue to escalate.
Two big showdowns are already looming on the horizon – SB 17-267 (the reason for the unsuccessful special session last fall), and the new unexpected revenue coming into the state as a result of Federal action.
SB 17-267 will need to be amended without opponents blowing it up completely. The unanticipated revenue (around $300 million) will be caught up in a tug-of-war between the Republicans wanting it to go to roads and infrastructure, and the Democrats wanting it to go to new programs.
Stay tuned – this tug-of-war will create a lot of rope burns on both sides before the session ends.
I look forward to the 2018 session with a great deal of anticipation. Between personal bills, Interim Committee bills, and bills that my Democrat colleagues have requested that I co-sponsor, the total is upwards of 14 to date.
The 2017 session was personally productive as six of my House bills and three of my Senate bills made it into law.
It was an honor to have my work recognized by several organizations, including Bio-Tech Legislator of the Year and the Rural School Alliance’s Rural School Champion.
For this session, my personal pre-filed bill title list will include:
A Duty To Call 9-1-1 (will also be known as “Eric’s Law”).
A re-file of Tax Credits for Employers Who Provide Employee Housing (to help address the affordable housing “crisis” across the state).
A renewal of the K-12 Advanced Placement Bill to expand AP access in rural areas.
A re-file of an Incremental Increase In The Funding Of All-Day Kindergarten (to raise the per student rate another .08 from the current level of .58 per student).
Flexibility For Rural Administrators (to allow successful rural school districts more flexibility under the new federal ESSA education guidelines).
Other bills I will be carrying in conjunction with Interim Committees and Democrats will include: Child Care Contributions, Pharmacy Charges, Bio-Tech, Early Childhood and Opioid Abuse.
The list keeps growing almost daily, so it promises to be a busy 2018.
If you have any questions during the first weeks of the session or would like to schedule a visit to the Capitol, feel free to call my office in the Capitol at 303-866-2747 or send us an e-mail: email@example.com.Yours for HD 60, Representative Jim Wilson.