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First, the lambing, then a tour

The first session of the 68th General Assembly of Colorado recessed late evening May 12, 2011.

I was home by the middle of the afternoon May 13 and immediately was in the lambing pens helping my son, Levi, wife Debbie, and our wonderful hard working hired men save the lives of baby lambs.

I tell folks that we make our living in 17 days in May. Let me explain. Our sheep begin having baby lambs in earnest on the 5th of May and by the 22nd of May 95 percent of approximately 1,600 ewes (mother sheep) have had their babies.

Through our crossbreeding program, we have developed a unique breed of sheep that have mostly twins and triplets. This is good for the Brown ranch bottom line in the fall when we sell our lambs, but it takes a lot of work at lambing to make sure those babies get on the ground alive and get their tummies full of milk. If we get that done then, for the most part, they will make it to payday in the fall.

Almost half of lambing was done by the time I got back home from the Legislature, and Levi did a wonderful job of managing which will keep us in business for another year.

Following lambing, on June 1, 2 and 3, the Capital Development Committee (CDC), on which I serve, had its first of three tours. This was a tour of some of the state facilities in Northeast Colorado. CDC is responsible for approving funding for both construction and major maintenance of these facilities. We toured Limon Port-of-Entry, Fort Morgan Port-of-Entry, North Sterling State Park and Reservoir, Andrick Ponds State Wildlife Area, Northeastern Junior College, Morgan Community College, Fort Lupton Readiness Center, Old Logan County Courthouse, Limon Correctional Facility, Sterling Correctional Facility, and Hudson Correctional Facility. CDC will tour Southeast Colorado in August and will be here in Southwest Colorado in October.

I do not have the room in this article to comment on the needs of all of these facilities in detail. Many of these facilities are in need of millions of dollars just to keep up replacement and maintenance. In the not too distant past, Colorado had a huge reserve built up specifically to take care of these needs. Our legislative predecessors were wise. However, that money has been robbed and not replaced. I have been told that in years past CDC prioritization of maintenance projects was a huge deal. This year we had $2 million to spend and $400 million in requests. This is a crisis that the current legislature cannot afford to ignore. We must set up a disciplinary system that will ensure that money is set aside for current and future maintenance needs. We must be very careful not to spend money on new projects or we will see continued raids on K-12 education and other critical needs.

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