Parties worked together, county’s rep says
DENVER – It helped being part of the Democratic majority ruling the Colorado Legislature for the first time in decades, but freshman state Rep. Gary Lindstrom said he was still encouraged by the bipartisan spirit he saw in the recently ended session.”The session was pretty much what I expected in some ways, but I was also surprised that people don’t always necessarily follow their own party,” said Lindstrom, a Democrat whose district includes Eagle County. “But the fact is we didn’t have any money, so we couldn’t do much damage.”Of the four bills Lindstrom appeared on as primary sponsor, three were approved – not a bad record for a freshman, he said. Two had to do with public utilities commission rule changes while another concerned adding more of an international education component to Colorado public schools. Another, which would have added ID tags to beer kegs to try to limit underage alcohol consumption, was killed in the Senate.”All in all I felt good about the success rate,” Lindstrom said. For Eagle and Summit counties, Lindstrom said one important piece of legislation he was active in opposing was Senate Bill 62, which would have limited the creation of water parks in state rivers for use by rafters and kayakers.”The idea was that it would take water away from agricultural uses, which wasn’t true,” he said. “They also said it would limit growth, which is an argument that just – no pun intended – doesn’t hold water.”
Lindstrom said those in favor of the bill didn’t seem to understand that the amount of water and where it ended up wouldn’t be affected by water parks.”I was really amazed at people’s limited knowledge of water and water laws,” he said. “If you’re going to use water for kayak or water parks, you still have to let it flow; you can’t hold it, so there’s no consumptive use.”Lindstrom said the new bill was an attempt to modify a law passed four years ago creating a recreational use category in state water rules. He acknowledged that it may be time to take another stab at further defining such use, perhaps next session.”I think we need to have some kind of enabling legislation that says this is how diversions (for parks) could be placed,” he said. State Sen. Jim Isgar, a Democrat from southwestern Colorado, has proposed a rural issues committee that would discuss water and others topics. “We’d sit down with farmers, ranchers and kayakers and ask what they need, and how to define it,” Lindstrom said. The budget messLindstrom said one of the bigger successes to come out of the session was the bi-partisan agreement to ask voters next fall to repeal portions of the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights, also known by its acronym, TABOR. Viewed as one of the nation’s most stringent limits on government taxes and spending, the ballot measure would put $3.1 billion back into the state treasury over the next five years – funds that would otherwise be refunded to taxpayers under TABOR.”That was huge, and it took a lot of work to get it where it is now,” Lindstrom said of the bill he co-sponsored to put the question on the ballot. “It’s a major thing, a bipartisan effort, and it shows that when the State of Colorado gets in trouble, politicians, regardless of party, can come together.”
Lindstrom expressed optimism that the measure will pass in November, but noted that it’s not without its detractors.”The opposition already has these bumper stickers that say ‘No Refund For You,'” he said with a laugh. “I think it’s cute, and people are asking what refund they’re talking about, since there hasn’t been one in several years.”For next year, Lindstrom said he’s eyeing 20 or 30 different bills. After getting past the first year’s learning process, he said he’s optimistic about his chances of moving legislation in his second session.”I feel very good about being able to get things introduced and getting them passed,” he said.On the WebGary Lindstrom: garylindstrom.comState Legislature: http://www.leg.state.co.usAlex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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