In October 2013, I received the tremendous honor of being elected Senate Majority Leader for the upcoming legislative session. Sen. Morgan Carroll (pictured at left) was elected the new President-elect of the Senate on the same day. I look forward to working with Pres. Carroll on the many issues we will face in 2014, and hopefully for the next several years to come.
My responsibilities in the Senate have changed as a result of accepting the new leadership position. The Majority Leader is responsible for tasks such as determining the numbers of senators on each committee of reference, assigning members from the majority party to the most appropriate committees, making Senate bill and calendar management decisions, approving certain expenses and more. This year, I will not serve on the topical committees I have served on in the past, such as Education or Transportation, and I will not carry nearly as many bills as I have during each of my last five sessions.
The other Senate Majority leadership positions will stay the same in 2014 as they were in 2013. Sen. Lucia Guzman will remain Senate President Pro Tempore, Sen. Irene Aguilar will remain Assistant Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Jeanne Nicholson will remain Senate Majority Caucus Chair, and Sen. Gail Schwartz will remain Senate Majority Whip. I believe we have assembled a tremendous leadership team with a wide range of skill sets, and we will do our best for the people of Colorado in the upcoming session.
As we all know, large areas of Colorado, including but by no means limited to Boulder County, have suffered extreme damage as a result of our recent torrential rains. This event has been both tragic and heartbreaking on personal levels, with property and infrastructure damage reaching levels unheard of in Colorado. Please accept my heartfelt best wishes if you are among the people who have been impacted.
Below, please find a list of Web sites and phone numbers for sources of information and organizations that can provide assistance.
* www.disasterassistance.gov - Visit this FEMA Web site to apply for federal disaster assistance, or call (800) 621-3362
* www.fema.gov/disaster/4145 - Specific FEMA information about this natural disaster.
* www.boulderoem.com - Localized information from Boulder's Office of Emergency Management, or call (303) 413-7730 for the Emergency Operations Center.
* www.COemergency.com - Colorado Office of Emergency Management.
* Disaster Assistance Centers have opened in Boulder at 5495 Arapahoe Avenue, and in Longmont at the Twin Peaks Mall, 1250 South Hover Road.
* (303) 441-1880 - City of Boulder Planning and Development Services Center, for questions related to building repair and rebuilding.
* (303) 441-3930 - Boulder County information on building repair and rebuilding.
* www,HelpColoradoNow.org - A one-stop site for information on how best to help people who have suffered, including via donations or volunteer assistance.
* www.boulderfloodinfo.net - Localized information about the flood, and a place to sign up to receive regular updates.
* 911 - Of course, call 911 in case of emergency.
Thanks in advance for anything you can do to help out, and please stay safe!
The 2013 legislative session ended May 8, but Gov. John Hickenlooper had until June 7 to sign or veto bills that passed the House and Senate. Now that the Governor's deadline has passed, I'm proud to report that 22 of the bills I sponsored during the session have been signed into law, and roughly 440 total bills were signed this year.
We had a very productive session, but the number of bills signed is secondary to the scope and quality of the legislation when it comes to judging productivity. The picture above is from the bill signing ceremony for one bill of tremendous scope and quality, Senate Bill 13-213, which would result in a major revamp of the state's School Finance structure if voters approve a ballot measure to fund the improvements.
To learn more about my involvement in the session, I'd highly recommend clicking this link to download my end-of-session newsletter. Or, visit the "Rollie's Bills" section of this Web site. Also, all bills introduced during the session can be read in full on the Colorado General Assembly Web site, www.leg.state.co.us.
As always, thanks for your involvement and interest in our system of government. Now that this session is over, preparation for the next session begins. Please feel free to pass along your thoughts and ideas for creating a better Colorado, and I hope you have a wonderful summer!
It's hard to believe, but we're down to our last three working days of the 2013 legislative session. Over the past few weeks, three of the bills I sponsored have been signed into law, and I'm hoping to be at many more ceremonies before Governor John Hickenlooper's deadline to sign or veto bills.
On April 19, Gov. Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 13-192 into law (pictured above, at left). The bill allows governmental entities to extend the amount of time needed to act on the results of criminal background checks, especially in the case of unforseen delays or backlogs. Rep. Max Tyler, pictured to the right of the Governor, was the House sponsor of this bill. I was pleased to have Tom Roberts, a Fairview High School student who was "shadowing" me for the day, join us for the ceremony. Tom is pictured at the left.
On April 26, the Governor signed SB-157 into law (pictured above, at right). This bill extends the Colorado Work Share Program indefinitely, which was important since the program was to have ended on July 1, 2013. The Work Share Program allows employees who might be in danger of being completely laid off to accept partial work and partial unemployment benefits. I sponsored SB 10-028 in 2010 to put the program into motion, and the fiscal note for SB 13-157 notes that the program has saved our unemployment trust fun just less than $650,000 since being created. Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, pictured to the left of Gov. Hickenlooper, was the House sponsor of SB 13-157.
We held a town hall meeting at the Boulder Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, April 20, and I was pleased to see more than 50 people in attendance. Holding a meeting devoted to issues surrounding jobs and the economy also gave me a chance to tell my story about economic issues we've tackled during my five sessions as a senator.
However, it takes more than economic legislation to foster a healthy economy. I have long been a strong education supporter, partially because it takes educated and skilled people to run a successful established or innovative business. Also, I am the chair of this year's Senate Transportation committee. Transportation is obviously important to the economy in a number of ways. It's how we move hard goods, tourists, employees and customers. It is also a major job provider and source of economic activity when we are able to do construction projects, and we handed out literature at Saturday's meeting from CDOT regarding summer and ongoing projects. This year, about 50 projects in the metro area and along I-70 will account for about $940 million worth of new construction.
During Saturday's meeting, at least 20 attendees took the opportunity to ask questions or offer comments. Topics included fracking, water conservation, new marijuana laws, election reform, TABOR, health care, FasTracks, mental health and more. We had a lively discussion on some very important issues, and as always the people of Senate District 18 demonstrated how informed and engaged they are when it comes to civic affairs.