About Sen. Rollie Heath
Stratton Rollins (Rollie) Heath Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Heath family moved to Wisconsin when Rollie was nine years old. Perhaps as an indicator of things to come, Rollie was the president of his high school student council, as well as the editor of his school newspaper, the captain of the golf team and a member of the varsity basketball team. He graduated in 1955.
Rollie received an in-state tuition scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. He earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 1959, then entered law school and finished in two years to earn a Juris Doctor degree. He was active in student political life as a Badger, and was appointed to the student Senate.
While in Madison, Rollie served as a House Fellow in the dormitories, which offered the benefits of free room and board, tuition and books. He met and fell in love with a young woman named Josie Ward who was also a House Fellow, and the two were married in Forest Grove, Oregon in 1961. Rollie and Josie raised two sons - Stratton and Joel - and a daughter, Kristin (Heath) Colon. They also have six grandchildren.
Rollie joined the military in 1961, after having been commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 1959. He entered active duty as a First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He served in the Army for 23 years, with nine years of active duty and 14 years of reserve service.
The Heaths moved to West Germany in 1964, where Rollie worked, among other positions, as a legal liaison officer to the German government for the U.S. Army, while Josie taught English as a Second Language.
PRIVATE SECTOR CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
After his active tour of duty with the Army, Rollie began a career in private sector business affairs, and he eventually helped Colorado become a more significant part of the international business community.
Early in his private sector career, Rollie served as vice president for a division of Armco Steel, and was responsible for contract negotiations in Japan and Taiwan. He held a variety of executive positions with the multinational Johns Manville Corporation from 1973 to 1990, eventually serving as president of both its international and domestic companies. Rollie was responsible for more than $1 billion in sales and managing more than 10,000 employees with Johns Manville. In 1990, he co-founded Ponderosa Industries, a successful small business engaged in metal parts manufacturing.
Extensive exposure to other countries helped Rollie become a true leader in Colorado's international business pursuits. For example, Johns Manville and the government of Iceland were involved in a joint business venture. Rollie was the general manager of the firm's filtration and minerals division, and he co-chaired the business venture's board with the Prime Minister of Iceland.
Rollie became the founder and first chair of the Rocky Mountain World Trade Center in 1988. In recognition of his guidance as the WTC's first chair, he received the Colorado Governor's Award for Excellence in Exporting in 1997.
Speaking about HB 09-1001 in front of the Denver World Trade Center, May 4, 2009
He also had a broad vision of how building a new airport to replace Stapleton International Airport could improve a then-faltering Colorado economy, and became an important player in the development of Denver International Airport (DIA). Rollie was twice elected chairman of the Gateway Committee, a group that worked on educating the region about the economic significance of DIA and on convincing foreign airlines to fly directly to and from Denver. DIA opened for business in 1995.
Rollie served on economic and educational/workforce development committees for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), and contributed to CACI's forward-looking "Blueprint for Colorado" strategic planning efforts. He was also a member of the Colorado Forum, a statewide CEO and professional strategic and policy organization, until his recent election to the Senate.
He was one of the founders of The NorthStone Group, a consulting firm that works with for-profit and nonprofit companies on issues such as leadership development and decision making. NorthStone forged a partnership with the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business, and Rollie taught a course called "Humanizing the Negotiating Process" at CU-Boulder.
Rollie's commitment to Colorado was recognized when he was awarded the prestigious Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce's Del Hock Lifetime Award in September 2000. The Chamber spotlighted his key role in the development of DIA, and his co-founding and co-chairing of the Career Coach Program at Denver's Manual High School. Rollie's contributions to the Denver Chamber include more than 15 years in leadership on almost every Chamber council and committee, as well as serving for six years as a director.
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Rollie developed an interest in sponsoring education and workforce development programs, which grew from his awareness, as a seasoned executive, that better jobs require specialized education and training. He focused his efforts on building programs to help two different groups: young people needing help in preparing to join the workforce, and adults who were already in the workforce but needed additional skills.
Presenting the Boulder County Youth Corps Corpsmember of the Year award to Alex Rupucci in 2009
Rollie co-chaired, with the DPS superintendent, the Denver School-to-Career Partnership. This was a coalition of business and community-based organizations committed to improving students' chances of success in college or training programs. As an outgrowth of that program, Rollie co-founded and co-chaired the Career Coach Program at Manual.
He developed a friendship with the then-principal of Manual, Nancy Sutton, and asked her what he could do to best help her students. Sutton identified a major problem in that many students had relatively poor home life situations, including growing up in single-parent families, and said the students needed another adult in their lives. So, the Career Coach team recruited 250 adults to go into the school, sit down and talk with small groups of students, and help them understand what was possible in life - if they stayed in school and earned a diploma.
Rollie took his local experience and put it to work statewide as a board member of the Public Education and Business Coalition. PEBC is a partnership of leaders from education, business and community sectors that fosters continual improvement in K-12 public schools, to ensure a world-class work force and an educated citizenry.
He served with a PEBC group called the Coalition for a High-Performance Education System in the late 1990s, made up of members from chambers of commerce, school boards, the teachers' union and executives. PEBC named Rollie as one of its 25 Champions of Education in 2008, in honor of his volunteer work in schools and for his leadership of the Manual Career Coach Program.
Rollie also made time to devote attention to members of the workforce. He chaired the City of Denver's first Workforce Summit in 1998, and chaired the Denver Workforce Development Board for the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development. He also co-founded the Rocky Mountain Manufacturing Academy at the HEAT Center at Lowry after the closing of the Rocky Flats facility. The Academy received a grant to move $13 million worth of equipment from Rocky Flats to Lowry, and the Academy was set up to train people to use equipment and become skilled workers.
Rollie was also a trustee and past chair of the University of Colorado's nationally recognized Student Leadership Institute; a trustee of the University of Wisconsin Business School and of the University of Colorado-Denver Business School; and an adjunct professor in International Trade at the University of Denver.
POLITICAL AND CIVIC LIFE
Rollie gained valuable experience in the political arena through participation in his wife Josie Heath's campaigns for political office. She ran for the Colorado Senate in 1976; the U.S. Senate in 1990 and 1992; and was elected to serve as a Boulder County Commissioner from 1982 until 1990. Since then, Rollie has been involved in a number of political and civic activities.
Rollie's first bill signing, on March 24, 2009. Gov. Ritter signs HB-1052, with House sponsor Rep. Mark Waller and his children pictured at left.
He co-founded the Democratic Business Coalition in 1991, to increase the voice of the business community and to create a vehicle to discuss business issues within the Democratic Party. The Coalition still exists today.
While Rollie spent a great deal of time in the 1990s on family, business and education, he stayed connected to the political world as he and Josie hosted events at their home. He realized that the state was not serving the majority of young people well in terms of K-12 education, that the state was underfunding higher education, and that it was becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to provide health care for their employees - so he decided to take action.
Rollie announced his candidacy for Governor of Colorado in November 2001. Democrats Stan Matsunaka and Bob Hagedorn also launched early candidacies, but both dropped out and Rollie became the party's nominee. The incumbent Governor, Republican Bill Owens, won the 2002 general election, but Rollie treasured the experience. He debated Owens 11 times, gained an enhanced appreciation for the wonders of Colorado during his travels, and had the chance to discuss issues that were important to him.
And he didn't give up on politics. In 2004, Rollie chaired the Democratic Party's Platform Committee. The committee received input on the platform from every county in the state, then held several days of discussion, and presented a proposed platform at the state convention. He also became a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Republicans dominated Colorado's political landscape in the early part of the decade following the turn of the century. Rollie understood that part of the reason was because conservatives did a better job of organizing and presenting a unified political message. In response, he became the founding chair of the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network, currently known as ProgressNow.
Today, ProgressNow leads the way in making sure that the progressive voice is heard on issues such as health care, renewable energy, the environment and other topics. The organization's Web site is a virtual center that helps people find progressive groups in which to participate, or events to attend. ProgressNow also spreads the word via many forms of media - including Web sites and links, print, blogging, audio and video.
ROLLIE HEATH TAKES OFFICE
The former Senator from District 18, Ron Tupa, would be unable to run again in 2008 due to term limits. After talking to many people, Rollie launched a campaign for the Senate seat in November 2007. He realized that his run for Governor had given him tremendous familiarity with the state's major issues, and decided that it would be a waste to not put the knowledge to use.
He would face strong opposition for the Democratic Party's nomination in Cindy Carlisle, a then-member of the CU Board of Regents and a former Boulder City Council member. But Heath beat Carlisle in the August 12 primary election by about 56 to 44 percent, which in essence won him the Senate seat. No Republican or member of any other political party ran in the general election, and Rollie won his first four-year term.
Rollie was chosen as a freshman to serve on three Senate committees. In 2009, he was the vice-chair of the Business, Labor and Technology committee, and was a member of the Education and Finance committees. He was invited to serve on a new interim Joint Select Committee on Job Creation and Economic Growth, a committee that was formed to help Colorado weather the rough economic climate of 2008-09. Gov. Bill Ritter also appointed Rollie to a seat on the Colorado Municipal Bond Advisory Board in early 2009.
By June 5, 2009, Gov. Ritter had signed 17 bills that Rollie was the prime Senate sponsor of into law. Beyond his time during the 2009 session on the Senate floor and in committees, he met with countless Coloradans formally or informally, and he was at the center of peer discussions on constitutional, fiscal and educational reform.
After the 2009 session, Rollie won several awards honoring his work on economic improvement. The Economic Development Council of Colorado named him their Legislator of the Year; the Independent Bankers of Colorado honored him as a Champion for Small Business; and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation gave him their 2009 Chairs' Award.
During the 2009 session, Rollie was named as the chair of an interim (between sessions) Long-Term Fiscal Stability Commission. The 16-member FSC was charged with studying all matters relating to the fiscal stability of the state, along with developing a strategic plan for long-term stability. Democratic and Republican leadership selected a diverse set of FSC members, and the commission held 11 meetings between July and November of 2009.
The FSC recommended five pieces of legislation, and they were formally introduced to the General Assembly in 2010. Rollie sponsored a resolution that would have led to the formation of Constitutional Review Commissions, and its members would have studied broad areas of the Constitution and offered ballot measures to amend the Constitution. The FSC also approved legislation that would authorize a comprehensive state tax policy study; create a new mechanism for a state "rainy day" fund; authorize state public-private partnerships with nonprofits; and grant forms of operational flexibility to institutions of higher education. Three of the FSC recommendations passed - Rollie's tax study resolution (SCR-002), the public-private partnership bill (HB-1010) and the higher education flexibility bill (SB-003).
The 2010 session began on an interesting note. Gov. Ritter announced that he would not run for re-election about a week before the session was to begin. However, then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper announced on Jan. 12 that he would seek the Democratic Party's nomination.
For the 2010 session, Rollie was selected to chair the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee. He also once again served as a member of the Senate Education committee, and was named a member of the Senate Appropriations committee.
By June, Gov. Ritter had signed another 21 bills that Rollie sponsored in 2010 into law, while the General Assembly approved five of his sponsored resolutions. Key pieces of legislation included SB-028, which created a new WorkShare program designed to prevent certain Coloradans from being laid off; HBs 1189-1200, which suspended a small percentage of Colorado's tax credits or exemptions and will prevent some General Fund budget cuts; and SB-156, which created new rights for mobile home owners and new responsibilities for mobile home park owners.
Gov. Ritter signs SB 10-156 into law during a ceremony in Boulder. Standing with Sen. Heath are a number of Boulder-area residents who worked to get the bill passed.
The 2010 election and other events changed Colorado's political landscape to a certain extent. Rollie did not need to run since he was in the middle of his term, which helped give him the opportunity to help with candidate races and ballot initiative campaigns. Hickenlooper won the Governor's race and Democrats maintained a 20-15 majority in the Senate, but the Republicans captured the state House majority by a 33-32 margin.
In 2011, Rollie again chaired the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee, and served on the Education and Appropriations committees. With the new split legislature, it became more difficult for Democrats to pass bills, but Rollie was able to earn Gov. Hickenlooper's signature on several pieces of legislation. Notably, SB 11-047 identified a future funding stream for commercialization efforts in the bioscience and clean technology sectors, while SB 11-052 will make part of the future funding structure for public institutions of higher education based on fulfilling goals set in performance contracts.
Also, he was named the co-chair of the state's bipartisan Joint Select Committee on (congressional) Redistricting. Rollie and Committee members toured the state during the 2011 session, holding at least one public meeting in every congressional district, and took a great deal of testimony from Coloradans of all stripes. However, the Committee was unable to agree on a preferred map, and the congressional district boundaries for the next 10 years were once again decided in the courts.
In Feb. 2011, Rollie learned that a state budget proposal included significant cuts to both K-12 and higher education, which was unacceptable to him. He submitted several citizen initiatives that would have increased state income and sales/use tax rates to better fund public education, and supporters of his Initiative 25 got the measure on the 2011 ballot by collecting more than 142,000 petition signatures within about two and a half months.
After the Initiative 25 petition was deemed valid, the measure became known as Proposition 103. The campaign team for 103 spent the time leading up to the Nov. 1 election speaking or writing to voters about the importance of adequate education funding, and Rollie spoke to numerous groups while also appearing frequently in the media - TV, radio, print and digital sources. The measure was defeated by 63.5 to 36.4 percent, but the 103 campaign spread the message about the state's levels of education funding to many thousands of Coloradans.
In late Nov. 2011, Rollie announced that he would seek a second term in the Senate. In Dec. 2011, the courts announced approval of new state House and Senate districts for the next 10 years. Senate District 18 expanded geographically to include a large portion of western Boulder County. In short, it will include the City of Boulder, areas of unincorporated Boulder County to the east of Boulder and surrounding the City of Longmont, along with the towns of Lyons, Nederland, Jamestown, Niwot and Allenspark and unincorporated areas surrounding the towns.
Before the 2012 session opened, Rollie won the "Legislative Excellence Award" from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). When the session commenced, he was once again the chair of the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee, as well as a member of the Education and Appropriations committees. In March 2012, he won the "Nonprofit Impact Award" from the Colorado Nonprofit Association for his work on Proposition 103.
The legislature was once again split in 2012, but Rollie was able to carry six bills that became law. The highlights included SB 12-164, a bill designed to integrate data and oversight of Colorado's private institutions of higher education. The bill was eventually passed as part of HB 12-1155, and it established new procedures for authorization and revocations of institutions, along with new standards for record keeping and rules regarding what happens if an institution ceases operations. Also, Rollie's HB 12-1241 authorized a new task force to study Colorado's enterprise zone system and report findings to the General Assembly. Rollie continued to work collaboratively on bills he didn't carry, and his work on HB 12-1238, a K-3 literacy bill, helped produce an amended bill that was lauded by diverse stakeholders during a well-attended signing ceremony in May.
In 2012, Gov. Hickenlooper called for Colorado's first legislative special session since 2006. Just before the end of the 2012 regular session, House leadership reached an impasse regarding SB 12-002, which would have authorized civil unions in Colorado. The bill was not given a reading on the House floor by the deadline, despite having passed the Senate and three House committees, so it could not go forward to a vote of the entire House. Along with SB 12-002, nearly 30 other bills were also held up, so Gov. Hickenlooper launched a three-day special session in mid-May. The civil unions bill once again did not reach the House floor, but the General Assembly did pass three bills during the special session.
After the 2012 sessions ended, Rollie was able to focus on his re-election campaign, but also found time to meet with constituents, tour local businesses and attend ceremonies. He won the Boulder County Democratic Party's "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" award in August for his achievements with the Democratic Party, and was named a co-recipient with Sen. Bob Bacon of the "Friend of Higher Education" award by the American Association of University Professors, Colorado Conference, for his work on Proposition 103 and other higher education-related issues.
ROLLIE HEATH WINS A SECOND TERM
Rollie won his 2012 race for a second term in Senate District 18, defeating Republican Barry Thoma by roughly 78.3-21.7 percent. The 2012 election cycle was generally positive for the Democratic Party across the state, as Democrats maintained a 20-15 majority in the Senate and gained back the majority in the House, with a 37-28 edge going into the 2013 session. In December, Rollie was named the new chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and he was also named a member of the Senate Education, Senate Business, Labor and Technology, and Senate Appropriations committees. He also celebrated the birth of his seventh grandchild in December.