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The Legislature: eventful, challenging

This year's session has been quite eventful! We have faced challenges never seen before in the history of the Colorado Legislature. The Democrats are in control of all three branches and are determined to push through a liberal agenda that is out of touch with the people of Colorado. The House has debated many issues ranging from early childhood sex education, cow tail docking, what the Democrats call "gun control," to in-state tuition for undocumented students.

In the next 60+ days, we'll continue to debate controversial issues such as civil unions and a moratorium on fracking and energy development. Unfortunately, the Democrats will run legislation for the special interest groups that helped them get elected, rather than support bills that will serve the people of Colorado. When the urban liberal legislators get their way, rural Colorado suffers.

Even though we face great challenges, we as Republicans are working hard to address the real priorities of the people such as supporting small businesses, economic development, education, and protecting our Constitutional rights.

GUN BILLS

Thank you for the hundreds of emails, phone calls and letters I received regarding the proposed "gun control" bills that were introduced. Tragically, the hours of testimony from Colorado citizens, the rallies on the front steps of the Capitol, and the thousands of phone calls and emails fell on deaf ears with the majority party. The majority of Democrats did exactly what Joe "shotgun" Biden asked them to do; vote for increased gun-control.

I was very proud to stand with my fellow rural legislator Ed Vigil, a Democrat from the San Luis Valley, and all of the Republicans in the House and vote NO on ALL of the bills. Unfortunately, the folks that I lost in my district because of reapportionment in Delta and Ouray Counties did not have the same representation. Rep. Mike McLachlan and Rep. Millie Hamner voted in favor of ALL of the legislation proposed by urban liberal Denver legislators. The House Democrats should be listening to the people, not selling out to a radical liberal and progressive agenda.

LEGISLATION

Sen. Baumgardner and I were very happy to introduce a bill concerning methane gas captured from active and inactive coal mines. If passed, the bill would have created a renewable energy tax credit. This would have benefitted the coal mines and rural electric coops, and would have allowed the creation of a new industry of methane processing. Sadly, this bill died in a Senate committee on a party line vote.

Another bill of interest is HB13-1018, which would set standards for produced water from evaporation ponds that could be used on roads for the purpose of dust suppression. It's a simple bill with a simple purpose yet the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have caused a stir by trying to apply drinking water standards to this produced water. We are still in negotiations; I hope to see progress on this bill later in session.

House Joint Resolution 13-1009, co-sponsored with Senator Ellen Roberts, designated the Leopard Creek Bridge in Placerville as the PFC Paul L. Haining Memorial Bridge. PFC Haining was a 20-year-old enlisted Army soldier from Miguel who died in a landmine explosion in Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam in 1970. I was proud to work with Brian Ahern of the Telluride American Legion, and San Miguel Sheriff Bill Masters to get this accomplished

TOWN HALL MEETINGS

In January, I hosted a town hall meeting at the new John Deere dealership in Montrose. The main topic was on "Industrial Hemp Bill" I am sponsoring that will be introduced soon in the legislature. We addressed gun-control legislation, water issues, and many other concerns my constituents have here in Southwest Colorado.

My next Town Hall will be on Saturday, March 16, at the Four States Ag Expo at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds in Cortez with State Senator Ellen Roberts.

Elections have consequences. As discouraging as this session has been for all of us, we must stand strong on our values and remain united in purpose. The best way to stand up to the arrogance and overreach of the Democrats in leadership is to fire them come election season. In 2014, we will have the opportunity to elect responsible, trustworthy representatives and senators across the state.

The House and Senate Republicans are doing what we can to preserve our great state and our Western way of life but I ask that you continue to stay involved and keep all politicians accountable.

Thanks for taking the time to read this update and if you ever have a concern please feel free to contact me or my office.

State Rep. Don Coram represents Colorado's 58th District, which includes all of Montezuma and Dolores counties. Contact him by phoning (303) 866-2955 or emailing Don@DonCoram.com.

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