Local lawmakers preview Colorado legislative session | VailDaily.com

Local lawmakers preview Colorado legislative session

Wildlife issues, gun safety among topics that could spur legislation

The Colorado General Assembly convened Wednesday for a three-day session. The group will reconvene in February for the remainder of its 120-day session.

Sen. Kerry Donovan

In a Tuesday afternoon preview, Sen. Kerry Donovan and Rep Dylan Roberts, who represent Eagle County, hosted a Zoom “town hall” along with Rep. Julie McCluskie, whose district includes Summit and Lake counties, and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, who represents several counties in southwest Colorado. All are Democrats.

The first session was scheduled to run Wednesday through Friday of this week, just long enough to be sworn in and consider seven bills, all of which are technical fixes or changes to existing legislation. The entire body is expected to reconvene in mid-February for a full session.

The quick fixes this week include a bill to allow remote participation in legislative hearings.

Rep. Dylan Roberts

When the full session begins in February, Donovan said she expects legislators to work on several topics that can affect Western Slope residents.

McCluskie said she expects action on new wildlife corridors similar to one now in Summit County. McCluskie also serves on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, and said lawmakers are looking at new spending — “investments” in legislative parlance — in infrastructure and transportation.

Donovan said there’s been increased attention in Denver for wildlife protection. Donovan noted that studies show increased trail and other backcountry use correlates with declines in wildlife populations. And, she added, state officials are having “landscape-level” conversations, including with other states.

The town hall was open to questions. Seth Levy of Gypsum asked the lawmakers about the prospect of further gun control — “gun safety” in legislator-speak — measures.

Roberts, a deputy prosecutor in the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s office, said he expects to see bills this session on waiting periods for gun purchases, as well as requirements for safe gun storage and a requirement to report firearm thefts.

Roberts said he expects those proposals will prompt “lively conversation” among legislators, acknowledging that “responsible gun ownership” is part of the culture in Western Colorado.

While Democrats hold solid majorities in both the House and Senate in Denver, Donovan noted that the job of Western Slope legislators is to work across party lines in the interest of this part of the state. Donovan said roughly two-thirds of the bills passed in the 2019 session passed with “huge bipartisan support.”

That bipartisan work is crucial for the Western Slope, McLachlan said.

“Together we’ve formed a really strong voice,” McLachlan said of working with Western Slope Republicans. “We talk a lot about rural economic development… everything we think is really important.”

Noting that the Front Range has far greater representation in Denver, McLachlan said it’s essential for Western Slope legislators to work together.

“Between us, we’re really strong,” she said.

Our representatives

House District 26: Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat, represents Eagle and Routt counties.

Senate District 5: Kerry Donovan, an Eagle County Democrat, represents Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin counties.

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