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El Paso County Colorado District 49

House bills affect county – good and bad

In El Paso County, unfunded mandates and local control issues affect us daily. I have preached about the importance of local control and the battle against state and federal mandates by elected officials who do not necessarily understand the needs in El Paso County or care about the cost to our citizens.As the 2009 legislative session marches on in Denver, we watch closely for bills that will have detrimental effects in our county as well as bills that might restore local control.One of the first bills I will point out is SB09-108. The short title of this bill is Transportation System Planning and Funding. It sounds great. We must address our transportation systems in the state and county. However, one quickly discovers that by next year, this bill would raise the registration cost of every vehicle in the state by $41. We need to pay for our infrastructure and make sure our bridges are safe and roads are passable, and we could certainly use the funds. Shouldn’t we ask the state to prioritize transportation within their budget, incorporating existing revenue, before asking our citizens to fork over a large fee increase without a vote of the people?Also buried in this 77-page bill is the definition of “highways.” As defined in the bill, a highway is a road and related improvements and services. Several lines define such highways in a rather standard way, but then go on to say “including easements, rights-of-way, open space, and other interests therein, relating to the financing, construction, operation, or maintenance of the highway.”Open space and “other interests therein,” paid for with registration fees we are being told are needed to repair our roads and bridges? Something doesn’t smell right.Here are a few more examples of bills that impact El Paso County. Colorado Counties Incorporated (CCI) provided the summaries, for the most part. HB09-1015, Conduct of Primary Elections (Murray, Hodge):Allows counties to cancel a primary if only one candidate is listed for the office. Currently, county clerks must run primaries for solitary candidates. These primaries cost county taxpayers significant money and when there is only one candidate, it makes sense to allow counties the authority to cancel the election.HB09-1200, Fiscal Impact of Legislation on Counties (Stephens, Scheffel):This bill requires the Office of Legislative Legal Services to prepare local government fiscal notes in the same manner as state fiscal notes are prepared. Fiscal note staff would send fiscal note requests to CCI to determine whether or not the bill has a significant fiscal impact on counties. If so, CCI could query specific counties to collect accurate fiscal note information. Precautions are being taken to ensure the bill does not mandate a county’s participation in the program, allowing those counties to provide solid fiscal impact information to their legislators.SB09-104, Concerning the Provision of Verifiable Documents to Youth Leaving Foster Care (Sandoval, Gagliardi):This bill would direct that each county is responsible for providing an emancipating youth with verifiable documents. The documents are defined in the bill as a certified birth certificate and a social security card. The bill requires the county to assist the youth in receiving these documents and clarifies that the youth is not responsible for the cost. Certain amendments make it clear that the bill did not intend that youth who leave foster care to return to their family, especially young children, were to be provided with verifiable documents anytime they return to their family, as opposed to being on their own as legal adults.Find the entirety of bills and track their progress by going to and click on their respective bill numbers. You can listen to committee hearings on the bills, contact your representatives to weigh in with your views, and even attend a hearing and speak in front a committee to let your voice be heard. Remember, this is a representative republic! You are the People, and it is the government officials who must listen to you, not the other way around. This distinction is important for all of us to remember.Amy LathenEl Paso County Commissioner, District 2

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