EDWARDS - Congressman Jared Polis has simple two goals for our federal government:
1. Spend only what it gets.
2. Stick to the subject at hand.
Polis, D-Boulder, stopped by a town hall meeting hosted by Colorado State Sen. Gail Schwartz in Edwards last week. He said he supports a constitutional amendment forcing the federal government to balance its budget every year.
"You can sustain a small deficit, but nothing close to the deficits we've had," Polis said.
Polis and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Durango, are also still pushing a single-subject rule. It would limit bills to a single subject, eliminating unrelated amendments and items cobbled together.
"You're lucky to have Gail Schwartz. She has a strong regional awareness. She's a tireless fighter," Polis told the crowd gathered at Colorado Mountain College.
After last year's redistricting, Eagle County is now in Colorado's 5th state Senate district, represented by Schwartz. In the United States House of Representatives, Eagle County is split between Colorado's 2nd and 3rd congressional districts, represented by Polis and Tipton respectively.
Polis and Tipton are working together on several issues, including their single subject rule, Polis said. It's similar to a rule that governs both Colorado's House and Senate.
In Colorado, legislation contains nothing that's not included in the bill's title, and even the titles can have only one subject, Schwartz said.
The Colorado legislature gets its work done in a straightforward and transparent way thanks to the single-subject rule, which requires each bill have a single legislative intent that is clearly described in its title, Schwartz said.
In the United States Congress, however, it's a different story.
"Almost every bill is a crazy Christmas tree bill and can include everything from credit card regulations to gun legislation," Polis said. "I have to weigh it. Maybe it has six good things and four bad things."
It would put an end to omnibus bills piled with pork projects that would otherwise get some congressional and media scrutiny.
"It's time to apply some Colorado common sense to Washington, D.C.," Polis said.
Most people's hot button issues are immigration and the federal deficit, Polis said.
The Boles Simpson commission, congress's self-inflicted fiscal cliff upheaval - it all boils down to the budget, Polis said, and progress is a bi-partisan project.
"That has been elusive," Polis said.
Each chamber is run by the majority party - Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate. That can make it tough to get things through, Polis said.
The volunteer firefighters in Sugar Loaf understand this all too well.
The Sugar Loaf fire district in the foothills above Boulder had a mobile home on five acres of federal land. That was their firehouse.
They wanted to swap it for five acres of private land, then build a more permanent structure, perhaps something with a bathroom.
"It took Mark Udall and I three years to get the bill through so the Sugar Loaf Fire District could build a bathroom," Polis said.
Then there's the Farm Bill.
Among other things, the Farm Bill ties up money for fighting forest fires, which, if Colorado's drought continues, makes it personal, not political. Schwartz couldn't agree more.
"We have 7 million acres of dead forest in Colorado. We're talking about lives, safety," Schwartz said.
House Speaker John Boehner doesn't want to bring it to the floor for a vote because many Republicans won't support it, Polis said.
"He's the leader of the House and also the leader of the Republicans in the House. He won't bring a bill to the floor if all the Republicans don't support it," Polis said. "It's frustrating. It's a delivery problem. We can't get it onto the House floor where it would pass."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.