The 2013 Colorado Assembly session was anything but positive for the residents of Northwest Colorado. We have a single-party government in our state with Democrats controlling the House, Senate and the Governor’s Office. The agenda of the Legislature did not consider rural Colorado nor our House District 26, which includes Routt and Eagle counties. Sadly, the governor has not used his office to stand up for jobs in our area.
The two destructive anti-gun laws passed by the Colorado Assembly in 2013, HB 1224 and HB 1229, did not reflect the views or the values of stakeholders in House District 26 or the Western Slope. Out-of-state hunters are seriously considering a boycott of Colorado for next year’s hunting season because of the Legislature’s new anti-gun attitude. This hurts businesses large and small that employ our residents. Our citizens are not safer because of the new laws and are in fact less safe; there is much credible research to support this. Colorado lost precious jobs because of these ill-conceived laws as evidenced by the January announcement of the departure of gun-part manufacturer Magpul and their 200 employees. Worst yet, the laws were hastily crafted and poorly written.
I attended a public meeting in Craig last November where Gov. Hickenlooper spoke. I asked the governor to “stand up for coal” in his role as 2014 Chairman of the Western Governors Association. Coal is vitally important to our families in Routt and Moffat counties. He would not commit to fight for us.
Senate Bill 13 252 is another example of a new law that is costly to Coloradans. This bill will raise the electric bills of thousands of rural Coloradans including some as close as Rio Blanco County. This increased cost to family budgets comes at a time when the economy has not fully recovered from the latest deep recession. It makes common sense for rural Colorado representatives to stick together, especially considering the need for mutual support when faced with urban pressure on our vital water rights.
Nearly all Democrats in the Legislature supported Amendment 66, which called for a new, near billion dollar tax increase disguised as a way to finance improvement of our schools. Voters across the state overwhelmingly rejected this proposal, a proposal that was supported by our state representative.
Our school systems are also seeing the effect of the unfunded mandates that accompany the Common Core Standards. Steamboat Springs school district is now looking for $672,000 in additional funding to achieve a testing mandate. Eagle County schools will need up to $2 million to comply. The Common Core standards are costly and harmful to education. Our representative must stand up and fight for quality education and against these needless unfunded mandates.
The 2013 Colorado Assembly also passed significant changes to our voting laws with HB 13 1303. One part of this bill allowed for same-day registration for our elections. I do not believe the majority of our citizens favor this because of concerns about fraudulent voting. The Secretary of State’s Office is responsible for our elections. Input from his office was not considered in writing the bill, just as input from Colorado’s law enforcement professionals, our sheriffs, was not considered when writing the new anti-gun laws.
The promise of bipartisan cooperation was not kept in 2013. We saw the danger of single-party government and it was not good for us. Our representation in the Colorado Assembly followed Front Range party-line voting including support of bills that raised our taxes and fees. The values of voters in Northwest Colorado were not represented. The bottom line is not how many committees a representative serves on; it matters how that representative votes. We need representation that will fight for us.
Editor’s note: McConnell is a Republican candidate for House District 26.