Legislative News – January 2019

Happy New Year! At 10:00 a.m. on January 4, the First Regular Session of the 72nd General Assembly will convene welcoming newly elected Senators and Representatives, along with those who return following re-election and mid-term Senators who have two remaining years. Following Friday’s swearing-in and Opening Day speeches by leadership, legislators will join families and friends before the regular work begins on Monday, January 7.

In addition to newly-elected legislators, several will take on different roles as a result of vacancies in the legislative ranks. Senators John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) and Matt Jones (D-Louisville) won election to the Larimer and Boulder county boards of commissioners, resigning their Senate seats.  Vacancy committees selected Rep. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) and Rep. Mike Foote (D-Boulder county) to complete the unfinished Senate terms. Rep. Ginal’s House seat must now be filled, while Rep. Foote’s seat was won in November by Sonya Jaquez Lewis, a pharmacist from Boulder county.

On the Senate side, Senator Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills) resigned his seat effective January 11. The vacancy committee to fill that seat has not yet met. And, following the announced retirement of Sen. Randy Baumgardner effective January 21, Rep. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale) was selected by a vacancy committee to complete Baumgardner’s term. Rep. Rankin’s House seat is now up for a vacancy appointment. Senate District 8, which Rankin will represent following his swearing in, encompasses a large swath of mining area in Northwest Colorado including the counties of Rio Blanco, Routt, Garfield, Grand, Jackson and Mesa.

Legislative committees also will take on a new look. The former House Ag, Natural Resources and Livestock committee has been re-branded (no pun intended) as the Rural Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Dylan Roberts (D-Eagle county). That committee will meet simultaneously with the new House Energy & Environment Committee, chaired by Rep. Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora). Mining legislation will presumably go to the Rural Affairs committee; however, it is possible that oil/gas and some issues affecting mining could go to Energy & Environment. Assignment of legislative bills to committees of reference is made by the Majority Leader so the likely path for some bills is yet unclear. Senate Ag and Natural Resources has dropped “Energy” and will return to a five-member committee composed of three Democrats and two Republicans. Led by Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat rancher from the Walcott area, the fifth seat on the committee is vacant pending a reshuffling of appointments resulting from the resignation of Sen. Kefalas. Energy issues will now be covered in the Senate by Transportation & Energy headed up by Sen. Faith Winter. It should be a lively time at the Capitol!

We are still awaiting the announcement of Cabinet appointments for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Health and Environment. Those two positions remain open following an announcement earlier for most other Cabinet and high-level positions within the Polis Administration. CMA congratulates Wade Buchanan, who had served as Governor Hickenlooper’s Senior Policy Advisor on Aging, on his appointment as Policy Director for Governor-elect Polis. Buchanan is a familiar face in Colorado state government having served in a variety of positions including a stint as Acting Director of DNR during the Romer Administration.

And CMA also congratulates John Swartout, who had served as Governor Hickenlooper’s Senior Advisor for Rural Policy and Outreach, on his selection as the new Executive Director of Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI). At its December Board meeting CMA awarded John a plaque recognizing his work on behalf of rural Colorado communities. His experience in managing and facilitating complex issues affecting local governments will greatly benefit CCi’s members and CMA looks forward to working with him on common issues.