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Diane Mitsch Bush
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Vail Daily column: Making progress in Denver

Diane Bush

April greetings to everyone in House District 26 — all of Eagle County and all of Routt County!

Happy spring! The 2015 session of the Colorado General Assembly is more than halfway through our 120-day session. I am excited to continue to work across the aisle with my Republican colleagues and with my Democratic colleagues on practical, evidence-based solutions to make life better for all Coloradans. In the Colorado House, we continue to work on strengthening the middle class by expanding economic and educational opportunities for all, supporting small businesses and agriculture, helping rebuild and enhance transportation infrastructure, reducing unnecessary red tape and protecting Colorado's water, air quality and wildlife habitat for future generations.

The 2015-16 budget comes before us in early April. The Joint Budget Committee sent the 2015-16 budget, known annually as the Long Bill (no, it is not named after a person or a mountain — it is a very long bill, usually over 200 pages), to the Senate on Monday. The House will consider it in April. It is the most important bill that we vote on, and it must be balanced. I will keep you informed as we progress toward balancing the 2015-16 budget.

My bills are in various stages:

• HB15-1173, co-prime sponsored with Rep. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale), aims at improving safety and reducing closures and back-ups on the I-70 Mountain Corridor by clarifying the chain law for passenger vehicles. It passed out of the House on third reading on March 6 with a 43-21 bipartisan vote. It passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously, 5-0, on March 26. Full Senate consideration is the next step. This bill is the product of a seven-month stakeholder process. I believe in bringing together representatives of all the groups that will be affected by any issue that I'm working on. This is my stakeholder process, which enables us to find practical, evidence-based solutions that work for everyone.

• HB15-1228, co-prime sponsored with Republican Rep. Jon Becker, to fix an error in statute resulting in all propane sales being charged an excise tax meant only for propane used as a "special fuel" to power cars and trucks. It passed out of House Transportation Committee unanimously on March 4 and unanimously out of House Finance on March 25. The next step will be House Appropriations Committee.

• HB15-1234, a tax deduction to help beginning farmers and ranchers, passed 12-1 out of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee on March 9.

• HB 15-1224, to clarify funding and accounting rules and remove red tape for Colorado Mountain College, passed out of both the House Education Committee and the Appropriations Committee with a unanimous vote. This bipartisan bill with Republican co-sponsors passed 65-0 out of the full House on March 17. It passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee. The next step is the Senate consent calendar.

• HB1252, my bill to renew the Healthy Rivers voluntary tax check-off, passed unanimously out of House Finance Committee on March 25.

This session I serve on three House Committees. Committees are the first step a bill goes through in the House. We hold hearings with detailed witness testimony and questions for witnesses from committee members. Amendments may be added at this step.

• Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources: This committee hears bills concerning water supply/quantity, watersheds, wildlife, wildland fire, public lands, agriculture and mining.

• Transportation and Energy: I am honored to be the vice chair. We hear bills on transportation, energy efficiency, renewables, and air/water quality.

• Health, Insurance, and Environment: This is an additional committee for me in 2015. We hear all types of insurance bills, air quality and public health, health care, hospitals and all health care professions.

Recent and upcoming events

Thanks to everyone who joined me for coffee and conversation at Yeti's Grind in Eagle on Sunday morning, March 15! It was great to see you and listen to your issues, including water, 911 emergency dispatch, I-70 alternatives, local foods and sustainability.

Thanks to Rep. Millie Hamner and all our constituents in the Roaring Fork Valley who participated in our joint HD26-HD61 (Eagle, Pitkin) Town Hall at the Basalt Library on Sunday afternoon, March 15. We had a lively discussion on water quantity and quality, K-12 and higher education, fiscal issues, the state budget and sustainability.

Please do contact me with your ideas, concerns and issues at repdianehd26@gmail.com or at my Capitol office at 303-866-2923. My legislative aide, Sam DeWitt, or my intern, Kira Mazzola, will help you. I will get back to you as soon as possible. I look forward to working with you and for you and for everyone in our beautiful, headwaters district!

I am honored and humbled to represent you in the Colorado House of Representatives.

By working together, we can build a better future for all Coloradans.

Diane Mitsch Bush, of Steamboat Springs, represents District 26, Eagle and Routt counties, in the Colorado House of Representatives.

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