Under the Dome: With 2018 legislative session winding down, what’s next?
The 2018 legislative session is winding down. Only a few more late-night, long-winded, alternately boring and terrifying days are left. None will be left by the time you read this. Bills numbered more than 700 this year, and I’m afraid to add up the issues I won and the ones I lost. I might not like the outcome. But, I’m proud of my wins for the Western Slope, and I’ll hopefully be back next year to go after the ones that got delayed.
I’ll need to do more work with legislator allies and staff to introduce changes to school finance that will correct the funding inequities resulting from property tax differences. I, along with my bipartisan co-sponsors, also failed to pass a bill that would have lowered individual insurance rates in our area by 30 percent. I also want to do more work for early childhood issues, including allowing special districts. All are priorities for next year.
But meanwhile, I’m gearing up for the “off-season.” With my fellow representatives, I’ll be campaigning for another term, but I’ll also be very busy with two activities that could have profound impacts on our area and the state.
I continue to serve as co-chair of the Education Leadership Council, with the commissioner of education as the other co-chair. The council is comprised of 27 education leaders from business, parents and the community and the educational institutions. We have recently organized four subcommittees to focus another 80 contributors on critical issues synthesized from the inputs of 70 organizations and school districts. The work of the council spans the system of education, from early childhood to career and career transitions. We intend to articulate a vision and strategy to move Colorado from a ranking of average to a leadership position in the United States and the world. We are just now embarking on an aggressive campaign of outreach to stakeholders throughout the state, and I’ll be busy as a spokesman for the council.
My other self-inflicted burden for the future is to lead an effort to find, propose and carry forward an alternative approach to the Gallagher amendment. When implemented, in accordance with current constitutional language, the coming changes to property tax rates resulting from the amendment will have disastrous impacts on school and special districts and some counties. I was successful in obtaining the consent of the Legislative Executive Committee to convene an interim committee to study the issues and offer solutions. Forty-two other legislators endorsed my request. Five other legislators will be appointed to help me, and we will call on tax experts to provide input. We can offer bills for consideration in the next session, including measures to be referred to the voters.
So, in addition to those two exciting pastimes, I’m starting to plan for a busy summer of parades, local government meetings and town halls. If you have suggestions for times, places and topics, please email me. After six years, it’s still a pleasure to serve all of you who read this column.
State Rep. Bob Rankin represents Colorado House District 57. He writes the monthly column “Under the Dome,” hoping to inform and engage the constituents in his district. He serves on the Joint Budget Committee and represents Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. He will be running for his fourth and final term in the House in November.
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.