The first month of our 2014 legislative session has brought exciting changes for our state and to Southern Colorado. Representing Pueblo to my fullest, our state and region has seen great success as we are more than half way done with the legislative session!
To start off, I would like to briefly review some of the bills that have already passed this legislative session.
House Bill 1161 – commonly known as the “Southwest Chief” bill passed out of Local Government Committee 13-0. The committee also had a great turn out, we had residents from Pueblo and neighboring counties come to testify in support of the bill and hear about all the added benefits of a stop in Pueblo. The bill will have great benefits for Pueblo and the surrounding region by promoting tourism and creating jobs. The bill is making its way through the state house. It is scheduled for a hearing this Friday, March 14 in the Appropriations Committee.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has a regional facility in Pueblo. The office serves all of Southern Colorado, and much of the Southwest. In its current state, the building is not able to function at its highest ability. The building has significant structural defects including limited ingress and egress, poor ventilation systems, and insufficient working space for lab analysts. With a new Pueblo facility, HB 1170 will ensure that the CBI maintains key investigative and forensic analysis services for the Southern Colorado service area. Apart from these key benefits, the new facility will aide in keeping more jobs in Pueblo, allow space for technology solutions, and improve turnaround times without having to rely on Denver or Grand Junction responses. This deal has long term benefits, as the proposed new building will be state-of-the-art and sustainable. I’m pleased to announce that this bill has passed Finance Committee with strong bipartisan support on February 7.
I’m proud to announce that my first bill of the 2014 session was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper on Friday March 7 surrounded by members of our armed forces. My bill ensures that our men and women in uniform are buried with dignity. This bill gives our uniformed veterans their proper burial right of a traditional three-volley salute without the fear of being charged with disorderly conduct. When HB 14-1059 was heard for a final vote, it received overwhelming bipartisan support from both chambers. It passed both chambers unanimously.
State Fair Bill
This bill will make a one-time transfer of funds to the Colorado State Fair Authority Cash Fund. This transfer of funds will give support to our state’s 4-H clubs as well as the Colorado Association of the National Future Farmers of America Organization. The money will also renovate and upgrade facilities used for the Colorado State Fair. With this bill it will ensure that the Colorado State Fair will continue to be successful and remain an important part of Pueblo but also our state as a whole.
Main Street Revitalization Act
This bill begins the process of restoring, preserving, and enhancing certified historic structures across the state of Colorado. This will allow for owners of historic landmarks across Colorado to submit applications for tax credits. HB 1311 will help give the owners of these historic sites the support they need in order to keep these structures functioning. Preserving, restoring, and enhancing these historic sites is important for our Colorado history.
Visiting With Puebloans
I was honored to host students from the Corwin Magnet School when they visited the State Capitol. The students were very intelligent and asked me many questions. Investing in our student's future is important for building a group of future leaders.
Another group which visited me at the State Capitol was the members of Leadership Pueblo. These dedicated individuals are a voice for Southern Colorado. I enjoyed meeting with them and listening to their ideas.
Chairing the Committee of the Whole
On President’s Day, I had the privilege of Chairing the Committee of the Whole, commonly known as the “COW.” The Committee of the Whole is the body which debates bills which have passed out of first reading committee hearings. This is considered the second reading of the bill. All 65 members of the House are present during debate, and voting is done by voice where legislators declare “yay” or “nay.” Any and all members of this body can offer amendments and discuss the merits of the bill. Having other members from the body chair the COW is done to ensure that the Speaker of the House isn’t too powerful, only presiding on the third and final reading of the bill. As chair of the committee, I allowed a fair and vigorous debate.
A great event worth mentioning is the Legislative Breakfast being hosted by the Pueblo Greater Chamber. The breakfast will take place this Saturday on March 15 at the Pueblo Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. It is always great to meet face to face with you and talk about issues that are important to you.
Please continue to let me know your thoughts and ideas. Feel free to contact me via email (email@example.com), telephone (303.866.2968), and on my website www.leroygarcia.com with any questions or concerns.