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A slow, painful end to the session

Last week brought about the end of the 120 day Colorado legislative session.

We went nearly up to the last possible hours of the last possible day allowed. Things ran so long this year as we had many late bills introduced in the last days of the session and had a backlog of contentious bills already in line to be worked through both chambers.

On a personal level, I had a few bills that didn’t make it this year, but I still was able to get seven bills passed out of the Legislature. I’ve enjoyed working on legislation that has to do with my district and is a result of constituent contact.

One of my chief goals this year was to see that Colorado passed legislation that improves access to hospice and palliative care. We’ve made good progress in that area this session and I’ll be monitoring the implementation of the various bills in the upcoming months.

My bill related to the certified nurse aide career ladder had to be put off for another session, but I plan to use the summer and fall to see if we can get greater support from the state agencies to help the bill survive the legislative process in the future.

Other bills of mine that made it into law include protecting water rights owners from illegal surface diversions, updating the advance medical directives statutes, allowing Xcel Energy to submit a plan to the state public utilities commission proposing a conversion of 900mw of its coal fired plants to natural gas, and if the governor signs the bill, in 2011, we’ll have the option of making a voluntary donation to support United Way’s statewide 2-1-1 call services to help those in need.

As soon as the signatures of the Senate president and Speaker of the House are added to the resolution, I’m glad to report that we are again able to offer our federal delegation concrete evidence of Colorado’s state Legislature’s support for southwest Colorado to have full access to Denver television channels.

I’m also pleased to report that I’ve been able to get Nielsen Company and the Colorado Broadcasters Association to come to Durango for an informational meeting on the Southwest Colorado/Denver television channels issue. The meeting will be on June 2, starting at 6:30 p.m., with the location to be determined. I’ll make sure that there are public notices out in time for you to attend if you’re interested or send me an email if you’re looking for that information.

I’ve invited the satellite and cable television providers to also attend the meeting, so that hopefully we will have the full cast of characters available to answer your questions and to hear your input. Please plan on attending if you’re one of the many people who have been in touch with me on this issue or if you just want to learn more.

I’ll also be holding legislative wrapup meetings in my district to provide interested constituents with a summary of the legislature’s work this year. The meeting in Pagosa Springs will take place May 26 at the Ross Aragon Community Center at 6:30pm.

The end of the session came slowly and painfully this year and I’m very happy to be home again. We had many serious policy disagreements at the state Capitol and things were made all the more contentious because of the election year shenanigans that went on. However, as it has been in the past, it is an honor and privilege to be serving you in the Colorado Legislature and I thank you for that opportunity.

Although the session is now over, my job is not, so please continue to keep in touch on those issues important to you and our area.