SETTING THE STAGE

We held our first Boulder town hall meeting of the session Saturday, Jan. 22, and it was a valuable two-way conversation in which I spoke to my constituents and they spoke to me.

I started the morning by describing some of the key issues and concepts for 2011, including bipartisanship. The GOP took control of the state House in 2010, while Democrats held control of the Senate. Therefore, we will need at least some bipartisan support for any legislation to pass, and I let meeting attendees know that I intend to seek bipartisan sponsorship for the bills I will carry this year.

Also, I spoke about my recent appointment as co-chair of the state's bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting. Our team of five Ds and five Rs will attempt to craft new boundaries for Colorado's seven congressional districts before the end of the 2011 legislative session. We'll also hold at least one public meeting in each district, and we have tentatively scheduled a Boulder meeting for CD-2 on March 15 from 6-9 p.m., in Room 235 of the University Memorial Center (UMC) on the CU-Boulder campus.

Fiscal issues have always been of primary importance to me, and I spoke on Saturday about the impending release of Colorado's first comprehensive tax study in more than 50 years. The University of Denver tax study report should be out by mid-February, which will give citizens and legislators alike a great deal of information that could guide the potential ballot measures of coming years.

At the Meadows Branch Library in Boulder, January 22, 2011

I will once again chair the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee in 2011, and we discussed on Saturday a number of possibly contentious bills that our committee will review in the very near future.

For example, Senate Bill (SB) 11-054 would in part give law enforcement officers the right to arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is an "alien" who has not registered with the U.S. government, or has been indicted or convicted of aggravated felonies. SB-018 would require those registering to vote to provide proof of U.S. citizenship. SB-053 would eliminate the Governor's authority to limit sales or transport of firearms during a state of emergency, and SB-071 would roll back a number of clean energy provisions enacted since 2006.

I also had the chance to touch on several bills that I will carry in 2011. SB-037 would authorize new special license plates for veterans of World War II, hopefully correcting the oversight of Colorado not already having WWII plates. SB-047 would create an economic development funding mechanism for Colorado's bioscience and clean technology industries. SB-052 would create a new output-based incentive system for our public institutions of higher education.

There was a lot to cover Saturday, which meant there were lots of questions. More than half of the meeting attendees took the opportunity to ask questions or offer comments, and I was pleased to once again witness how informed and engaged the constituents of Senate District 18 are. Attendees spoke or asked about topics such as the state budget, education, state revenue and spending, social issues and clean energy. Thanks to everyone who took part, and I hope to see more of you at meetings in 2011!

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