Guest column

Bipartisan efforts key this session


The 2014 legislative session has just begun and as the scaffolding begins to come down around the refurbished dome, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight what my colleagues and I will be prioritizing over the coming months.
In 2013, Colorado endured the most destructive wildfires and floods in state history. The first bills we introduced in the House this year will assist those affected by these natural disasters and increase our ability to mitigate them in the future. The work of countless national, state and local organizations and the remarkable efforts and community spirit of Coloradans across the state have all made our ongoing recovery possible. But there is still much work to be done to make sure our battered, but not beaten, communities recover fully and thrive again. I look forward to working on the bipartisan bills we have crafted to speed and assist our recovery efforts.
We will also be focusing much of our time and energy this session on improving our education system. Education funding, especially funding for higher education, was particularly hard hit by the budget cuts we had to make during the recession. While we have not fully emerged from that recession, our economy is nevertheless recovering and state revenues are increasing; this means we can finally begin to restore funding for education at all levels.
I am also encouraged by constructive bipartisan talks about key pieces of our education package from last year, especially ongoing discussions about ensuring our schools get the reforms and resources necessary to succeed.
Increased access to quality education and making higher education more affordable are essential to ensuring future generations’ economic security. I will personally be focusing this session on enhancing our economic security and fostering a healthy growing economy. As our economy continues to change at a dizzying pace, we need to make sure that our workforce is prepared for the jobs of the 21st century, because what is rewarded today is very different from what was rewarded in decades past.
I have always been a champion of equipping Coloradans with the skills that will be in demand in the future. During my previous term, I passed the Skills for Jobs Act and I will continue that effort by sponsoring, with Rep. John Buckner (D-Aurora), a bill that will give the Office of Economic Development access to data about the strengths and weaknesses of Colorado’s workforce. This will allow our state to more effectively market our strengths to prospective businesses and provide more adequate training in areas where skills gaps exist.
Another priority of mine is to improve the climate for small businesses in Colorado by simplifying our sales tax regime. Although Colorado is consistently ranked among the top five states in which to do business, we fall short when comparing our hideously complex sales tax system to that of other states. My Sales Tax Simplification bill, a bipartisan co-operative effort with Rep. Kathleen Conti (R-Littleton), business groups, and local governments will make it easier for entrepreneurs to expand, hire more people, and achieve their dreams.
I am honored to serve in the Capitol and am committed to continuing to move Colorado forward together this session. I will continue to serve as chair of the Judiciary Committee and as a member of the Finance and Legal Services Committees. I always benefit from hearing from constituents, so please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 303-866-2921 or


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