Mitsch Bush provides state legislative update
EAGLE — Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and the rest of the House of Representatives wrapped up the 70th general assembly on Wednesday, and she hosted a legislative update and community conversation at the Eagle County Building on Thursday.
Mitsch Bush, who represents Eagle and Routt counties, said she is proud of her accomplishments this session despite a split chamber and budgetary constraints.
“When we worked together, putting aside petty partisan politics, we passed legislation to enhance economic and educational opportunities for all, strengthen our communities and safeguard our environment,” Mitsch Bush wrote in her wrap-up.
The state’s budget was first presented with $370 million in cuts, Mitsch Bush said, and the Joint Budget Committee worked for months to present a balanced budget.
The committee ultimately passed a budget that increases K-12 per-pupil average spending by $112 to $7,425; averts a possible $20 million cut to higher education; sets $150 million in transfers to the highway fund; maintains the statutory 6.5 percent budget reserve; and avoids cuts to payment rates for medical providers.
Mitsch Bush said she is proud of the cooperation involved to pass the budget, which also included a compromise to make a moderate cut of $111,652 to the Air Pollution Control Division instead of the originally proposed $8 million. It also adopted a Senate amendment for suicide prevention funding.
I’M JUST A BILL
Mitsch Bush said she never had a proposed bill die in the house, although a few were shut down in the Senate.
Several of her bills either signed into law or awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature include:
HB1194: Provides opportunities for beginner farmers and ranchers by creating a tax deduction to those who lease to young ranchers. Mitsch Bush worked with Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) on this bill, among others.
HB1259: Cuts red tape for local district colleges, including Colorado Mountain College, saving them time and money. Mitsch Bush worked with Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida.
HB1354: Allows a new tool for school districts to ask voters to approve a mill levy increase to allow them to essentially implement a pay-as-you-go system. Mitsch Bush worked with Becker.
SB145: Clarifies statute for the Colorado River District in an effort to make the creation of sub districts less bureaucratic. Mitsch Bush worked with Rep. Yeulin Willet, R-Mesa County.
SB21: Creates an annual Colorado Public Lands Day and was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail.
“That’s what I do,” Mitsch Bush said, “I work across the aisle.”
Mitsch Bush also co-sponsored bills HB1336, which will study pooling the state as a whole for health insurance purposes, and HB1109, which clarifies Colorado Water Law permits in federally managed lands. Both bills passed this year.
A few bills passed with wide support in the House but were killed in the Senate.
HB1039 was a “real head scratcher,” Mitsch Bush. Known as the Tire Bill, it would have reduced road closures and delays on Interstate 70 by requiring passenger vehicles to have adequate tires, chains or alternate traction devices. The bill failed last year, too.
“We’ll just keep trying,” she said.
Michael Cacioppo, R-Eagle County, will be running against Mitsch Bush in November.
The first session of the 71st general assembly convenes Jan. 11.
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and email@example.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.