A sense of optimism in difficult times

It’s that time again to pack up the car with boxes of clothes, kitchen supplies and papers and move to Denver for the 2009 legislative session.

Since this is now the third time for me to make the trek, it’s getting to be a more familiar routine, although I usually get homesick a couple of days before leaving. Once I get to Denver, though, there’s no time to dwell on where I am, but usually I’m trying to keep track of where I need to be next … the House floor, a committee hearing, a meeting with constituents or a lobbyist…there’s never a dull moment.

Fortunately, before heading into the chaos of the new session, I had a wonderful and restful break in December when my husband, Rick, and I went to Mexico for 10 days to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We were in the Puerto Vallarta area and, while I hate to rub it in, during the first serious snowstorm of the month, we were watching pelicans bobbing for fish and baby sea turtles head to the water.

Our 26th anniversary was on New Year’s Eve, so we had to get the trip in quickly to have it count as a silver anniversary treat. Rick’s been a great husband and a wonderful dad for our two grown children. He’s a strong support to me, especially now, and I want to publicly thank him for all of the sacrifices he’s made for me to pursue this fascinating, but very demanding, public service job.

The key to this legislative session, and addressing the many challenges we will face there, will be to work together and across party lines. The way I see it, it’s time for “all hands on deck.” We’ve got to keep and create jobs in Colorado to keep the economic wheels turning. We’re fortunate in this state to have a stronger economy than others and we need to keep jobs in all of our economic sectors in all areas of our state. That’ll be our biggest challenge.

People have told me they’re worried about the financial hits that’ll come from cutting the state budget for this year and next. But, there’s also a general recognition that, as we’re all doing in our individual lives, it’s time to tighten the state’s belt. Consider my suggestion box open for how we should accomplish this, and while this is a stressful time for all of us, please keep the four letter words to a minimum when sending in those suggestions.

If there’s a silver lining to these times, it’s that more people will see the wisdom in pulling together to put good policies above politics. Having been in the House for the past couple of years, I’ve worked side by side with the people who have been elected as the new Democratic leadership in our chamber. As the majority party, they will set the tone and direction of bills going through the House. I’m confident that these individuals will value ideas and solutions above a legislative member’s party affiliation.

We also have a number of new members in the House Republican caucus, including another southwestern Coloradan, Rep.-elect Scott Tipton from Cortez. These new legislators will bring enthusiasm, ideas and perspectives that’ll also help. The House Republican agenda focuses on working for a strong economy, finding common ground with the Democrats to fix Colorado’s roads and bridges, and encouraging responsible energy development to protect jobs while also protecting our environment.

Our work is cut out for us. But, I go into this new session with a sense of optimism despite the difficult times. I know my trip to Mexico helped with that. I hope you’ll get some time to go skiing or to just enjoy the thought of spring moisture in the mountain snow banks.