State Rep. Bob Rankin met with a small group of Moffat County residents this morning at The Memorial Hospital to discuss the upcoming legislative session that starts Wednesday.
The Craig Daily Press sponsored the event through its monthly Coffee and a Newspaper forum.
Rankin spoke about a number of bills he’ll be sponsoring and cosponsoring in 2014, focusing mainly on continuing to give rural Colorado a voice at the Colorado General Assembly.
“We’re really going to be pushing for rural Colorado,” he said, highlighting that Craig constituents and political leaders need to keep up the rhetoric in order to be heard by Denver politicians.
“The heart of Colorado may be in Denver, but the soul is out on the ranches,” Rankin said.
Legislative bills he’ll support this year include changing the strict renewable energy laws for electric co-ops. Last year, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 252, requiring co-ops to obtain 20 percent of their energy needs through renewable resources by 2020.
Rankin called SB 252 the worst bill of 2013. He hopes to decrease the mandate to 15 percent.
“We had other bills come out (last year) and everyone of them was a disaster,” Rankin said. “I don’t see that happening this year.”
Overall, he thinks the 2014 legislative session will be much more mild than last.
Other bills Rankin will support include changing Colorado’s education system. Specifically, he wants to change the way school districts’ tally student population through head count. Currently, Colorado public schools have one day that they count the number of students in each school, leaving room for error in regards to students who may be absent on that particular day.
He’d also like to see charter schools treated the same as public schools.
Rankin will be working on what he calls the “flawed” election law, helping the Joint Technology Committee work on the computer systems with the Colorado Elections Commission.
He foresees more gun laws being proposed in effort to reduce the magazine limits on guns, but he thinks that will probably fail.
City Councilman Ray Beck attended the forum, asking Rankin about a number of important topics including sage grouse.
“It’s really not about the bird, it’s about control,” Beck said.
Rankin responded by highlighting that he wants the Department of Local Affairs to coordinate the state and federal government on federal land decisions.
“I’m trying to get the politics out of those decisions… get the state to help us with the federal government,” he said, noting that the sage grouse issue is serious.
Additionally, Rankin highlighted his opinions on Hickenlooper's agenda with rural Colorado.
“My view is what he’d like to do is calm down the rhetoric,” Rankin said. “He’d like us to shut up, and I think we need to keep up the rhetoric.”
Rankin will again meet with the public tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the VFW Hall for a Town Hall meeting he set up with local constituents and Republicans.