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Longmont City Council, State Legislators Talk Politics, Proposed Bills

January 17, 2019
Longmont Times-Call

Legislative positions

Longmont City Council’s policy positions about pending state and national legislation, along with a link to the bills the city is monitoring during the Colorado General Assembly’s 2019 session, can be viewed at tinyurl.com/yazc28on

The state legislative delegation that represents Longmont and its residents stands a better chance this year of seeing more of its bills become law than was the case in the prior four years — particularly when those proposed laws involve such issues as whether to increase local control over oil and gas operations.

That was one of the messages Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, and Reps. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, and Soya Jaquez Lewis, D-rural Longmont, had for Longmont City Council members during a Wednesday night dinner meeting.

With Democrats now holding majorities in both the state Senate and House of Representatives — as well now having Democrats in every statewide office in the executive branch of government — “everybody knows that the dynamics at the capitol are different this year,” Foote told the council members and city staff attending the meeting at the Longmont Museum..

Unlike past years in which there was a political party split of control of the two houses of the Legislature — with Republicans holding a majority of Senate seats and Democrats a majority of House seats — there is a better chance in 2019 of enacting more of “a very ambitious agenda,” Foote said.

However, Mayor Brian Bagley cautioned state lawmakers at Wednesday night’s meeting not to be too optimistic about what they can accomplish and how long those laws might remain on the books if partisan political control changes in future elections..

“Heads up,” said Bagley, a onetime Republican who is now unaffiliated with any political party. “If you think it’s going to be easy, you’re nuts.”

Bagley suggested that Colorado history indicates that at some future point, “the political pendulum” could shift again.

(Several council members have indicated they want to take a more aggressive role in declaring the council’s support for, or opposition to, specific bills and that they will be declaring those positions throughout the four-month-long state legislative session that began on Jan. 4.

On Wednesday, Assistant City Manager Sandi Seader distributed summaries of six bills she said she’ll be suggesting council support.

One, Senate Bill 51, would significantly increase state transportation funding during the 2019-2020 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Current law would require the state treasurer on July 1 to transfer $150 million from the state budget’s general fund to help pay for state and local transportation needs. Senate Bill 51 would hike that to $340 million.

That bill would assist in providing “much needed funding for capital improvements to local infrastructure,” Seader wrote in her summary.

“Transportation is a major focus throughout the City Council Work Plan as an important need in Longmont, and this bill would fund further improvements statewide,” she said.

Another of the measures Seader said city staff is suggesting council support is House Bill 1005, which would provide a state income tax credit to early childhood educators who have a family child care home or are employed with an early childhood education program.

“This bill supports living expenses for early childhood educators and supports the City Council Work Plan,” which includes a goal of providing “high quality pre-K learning opportunities for all our children so that they have a good start in life,” she said.

A third proposed law Longmont staff has suggested council support, Senate Bill 34, would allow local governments to set standards for retail food establishments’ use of ready-to-eat food containers that can be discarded through recycling or composting.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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