It was an honor to attend the CLUB 20 Awards and Recognition Banquet on Friday night in Grand Junction and accept, on behalf of Sen. Jim Isgar, the prestigious Dan Noble Award.
The award could not go to a more worthy recipient.
Senator Isgar was, and still is, a strong advocate for the Western Slope of Colorado. He was the legislator most looked to in the General Assembly for expertise in agriculture and water issues.
The award is named for Dan Noble, who also was well respected and represented southwest Colorado in the Senate for many years. Other notable recipients of this award are United States Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Wayne Allard, Congressman Scott McInnis, and state Senators Tilman Bishop, Al White and Jack Taylor.
Jim was unable to attend the ceremony because he is recovering from a bone marrow transplant in Denver. I am happy to report that he is progressing very well and on the road to recovery.
CLUB 20 was established 59 years ago and is a coalition of individuals, businesses, organizations, and local governments from 22 counties in western Colorado. It exists to advocate for the interests of the Western Slope at both the state and national level.
I was very active in CLUB 20 when I was a county commissioner and have renewed my participation in the organization as a state legislator. CLUB 20’s spring meeting was held March 30 and 31. I learned much from the great lineup of speakers, which included Reeves Brown, executive director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs; Phil Vaughan, businessman from Garfield County; Tim Wigley, executive director of the Western Energy Alliance; Daniel Jiron, the new USFS regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region; and Steve ErkenBrack, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans. In addition, I was honored to serve on a panel of Western Slope legislators to give a legislative update.
I have been asked by Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison to carry a bill to change the school’s name to Western State Colorado University. There have been several higher education name changes in the past two years. The bill is HB 12-1331.
The biggest complaint that I have had as a legislator is the late fees on vehicles. HB 12-1014 is working its way through the House and will reduce the late fees from $100 to $20.
The Joint Budget Committee came to a consensus on Friday evening, and the budget will be introduced in the House April 2, where it will be debated.
It is my understanding that severance taxes that have been used to shore up the budget for the past few years will be returned for use by local governments. Also, the Homestead Exemption for senior citizens for property taxes will be reinstated, and the budgets for K-12 and higher education will be increased.
I am disappointed that controlled maintenance for state infrastructure will not be fully funded. I continue to believe that it will cost us more in the long run if we don’t keep up with maintenance.