Thoughts on Referendum O, partisanship

I write this while flying home from Denver, which seems to be something I do a lot of lately.

In looking over my calendar book, I see that since we got out of session, I’ve been in Denver for meetings at least twice a month, usually for a stay of at least a couple of days or more. This part-time job of citizen legislator is anything but part-time.

This latest trip was to attend legislative hearings for the committee on legislative legal services. On this committee, we mostly review state agency rules to make sure that the regulations are consistent with a law’s intent and stay within the agency’s authority. It’s not usually exciting stuff, but it’s necessary for the legislative and executive branches to work together effectively.

The lack of excitement in the rules review is more than made up for by the swirl of campaign season now in full swing. The Capitol is buzzing with speculation about what might be after Election Day.

This is the first time that I will witness the changing of the guard in House members and it’s challenging to answer constituents’ questions (and mine) about what directions and priorities will be identified at the legislature when we start again in January. Still, we know where we left off last year, from both sides of the political aisle, and I’m guessing that’s roughly where we’ll start from next year.

The ridiculous partisanship that I’ve seen from Washington, especially since the economic meltdown on Wall Street, is such a poor reflection on elected officials that I’m disgusted by it.

I can tell you that Sen. Isgar and I, though from different parties, don’t do that when representing our corner of the state. We have our policy differences at times, but if you spot us at a table in a local coffee shop talking and shuffling our papers, chances are we’re trying to figure out together what needs to happen in state government that will make your lives better here.

We work on constituent issues together when both of us are needed and divide them up when that works. We work out of coffee shops or our cars because we don’t have offices or staff to turn to. If we’re slower to respond than you’d like, please understand the constraints we’re under. Some day, Colorado may realize that it takes more resources to cover the legislative districts, especially the large rural districts, but we’re not there yet.

I’m incredibly pleased with the way the group “Colorado’s Future” has taken the lead in the campaign for Referendum O. I’ve been a part of a dedicated group known as Citizens for Constitutional Common Sense, meeting weekly since May, to see that, with the limited dollars we have for the campaign, Ref O has the best chance possible to pass this November. See www.oyescolorado.org for more information on Ref O. This is your chance to change how our state’s Constitution gets amended by special interest initiatives so frequently and on issues that many feel don’t belong in the Constitution.

The Colorado Youth Advisory Council is getting off the ground with the help of the El Pomar Foundation and the Civic Canopy of Denver. We’re having our first council meeting at the end of October. We’ll get the youth and legislator members together for the first time to set the direction for the council’s efforts next session. I’m really excited about the potential of the council and am looking forward to meeting the students from across the state who’ll set the course for this new venture into state policy making for Colorado’s youth.

Looking at the beautiful fall scenery outside my plane’s window with all of the golden aspen on the mountainsides, it reminds me to take a break from the turmoil of constant politics, news coverage and anxiety to get outside and enjoy our surroundings.

I hope you’ll take that opportunity, too.