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Session is over — I’m coming home

I’m coming home to southwest Colorado.

The 2010 legislative session has ended. I look forward to spending time talking with you about what I accomplished in my first year as your state Senator and listening to any concerns you may want to discuss. I am extremely honored to serve as your representative in the Colorado Legislature. The experience was greatly rewarding but also challenging at times. We worked hard to close a billion-dollar gap in the state budget by cutting spending while maintaining the same level of services to citizens.

I carried some important bills this year that will help Colorado recover from a difficult recession, put people back to work and protect our environment. I sponsored House Bill 1001 along with Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) which increased the Renewable Energy Standard for investor-owned utilities to 30 percent by 2020. This bill will create thousands of high quality green jobs and attract new companies to our state. Raising the standard will diversify our energy portfolio and ensure that we are meeting our energy needs in a 21st century way.

In the interest of protecting our environment and creating jobs in the energy sector, I also sponsored House Bill 1365 the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act with Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction). This bill will repower, replace or retrofit some older coal fired power plants with cleaner burning natural gas. A move to natural gas will allow us to continue meeting our energy needs while reducing air pollution across the Front Range. A variety of interests came together to make this bill a success, including the environmental community, the natural gas industry, the public utilities commission and Xcel Energy. All of these partners recognized that it was necessary to implement our own Colorado-based solution for improving air quality around the state.

Senate Bill 198 is a bill I worked on to reduce fees for late registration of trailers to a flat fee of $10. Before the passage of this bill, folks could expect to pay as much as $100 in late fees on their trailers. The Legislature recognized this problem, but originally only planned on reducing late fees for trailers less than 2,000 pounds. After hearing your frustration with the late fees, I decided I would work on a bill that covers all trailers regardless of weight. This bill was driven by you and I appreciate that you contacted me and brought it to my attention. I hope this bill will provide some relief to cash-strapped trailer owners.

I sponsored numerous other pieces of legislation, including a bill that will make it easier for workers to continue their education or acquire additional training in their field. I also proposed an amendment to House Bill 1250 that authorizes the state to exercise its option for purchase of water from the Animas-La Plata project. All of my work was motivated by protecting the interests of our community. I would not have been successful without your input.

Anyone who contacted me probably spoke with Dominick Moreno or Ryan Hatton. These guys were a great help this year and I want to take a moment to tell you about them. Dominick is my legislative aide and a native Coloradan. He grew up in Commerce City, but his family comes from Silverton. After graduating from Georgetown University, Dominick came back to his hometown and was elected to city council in Commerce City last year. Ryan is an intern and also a native Coloradan. He attends Fort Lewis College in Durango where he is majoring in political science and Spanish. Ryan is a fellow musician and hopes to attend law school after graduating from Fort Lewis. Huge thanks to these guys for helping me complete a successful year at the Capitol.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for sticking with me this year and reading my columns each week. I’m excited to meet as many of you as possible and I look forward to continuing to serve you as your state Senator.