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New bills: Carry ’em, don’t marry ’em

There’s nothing like a quick weekend at home, watching my 6-3 son and his friends compete in the annual Silverton skijoring event, to get some much-needed perspective and fresh air away from the state’s Capitol.

It was a day of Colorado’s flawlessly azure skies and sunburns from the snow’s bright reflections. Silverton was bustling with visitors and locals alike, rooting for horse, rider and attached trailing skier to make it down the snow-packed street, staying upright while scooping rings for points to the finish line.

I suspect I wasn’t the only mother praying for safety for all involved. It was great entertainment and just one of the many ways to enjoy life in the mountains.

Back in Denver, I’m looking at a very busy week with four pieces of legislation to be heard in committee. One bill would add a new judge to the 6th Judicial District, covering La Plata, San Juan and Archuleta counties. Another’s my bill to reduce or remove the bond requirement for Colorado tow truck operators.

Later in the week, making its way to the Senate Education Committee, is the Colorado Youth Advisory Council’s resolution raising awareness of the need for greater efforts to reduce teen suicide and, finally, my bill to encourage greater use of assisted living facilities will have its first hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

These bills cover a broad range of topics and that makes my job challenging to stay on top of them all in such a compressed time period. The bills have direct ties to my district, so there’s also a fair amount of personal investment in working for a positive outcome for each.

Politics is unpredictable, so I try to remember the advice often bandied about in the Legislature — “Carry ‘em, don’t marry ‘em.” This means that even a good bill, for one reason or another, may not survive to see another day, or at least not in that particular session. Some bills are retreads of prior unsuccessful efforts.

The four I have this week are all new this year. Because there are aspects to a bill that I might not have considered when drafting it, I need to be open to suggestions on how to amend a bill to improve it. Sometimes, though, the amendments added by other legislators don’t improve the bill, or, at least not in my opinion. In these cases, I’d rather see my bill die than see it so altered from its original purposes.

Being a state legislator, whether Representative or Senator, is a demanding assignment. One of the treats for me, though, is working with young people who are legislative aides and interns, getting experience in the world of representative democracy. My daughter worked with me during my first legislative session and, luckily, those following her as my aide have also been terrific.

This session, Ezra Riggs returned to work with me for a second year as he finishes as a senior at the University of Colorado’s Denver campus. Ezra grew up in the San Luis Valley and understands the challenges of rural Colorado. While the state pays for a legislative aide 20 hours a week during the session only, Ezra’s efficient and effective and makes great use of his time with me at the Capitol.

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