Colorado’s status as a swing state is firmly in place after this year’s elections. In the Colorado Governor’s race, incumbent John Hickenlooper defeated former Congressman Bob Beauprez by 3%, or around 60,000 votes. In the legislative branch, the 2015 General Assembly will convene with a 34-31 Democratic Majority in the House, down from a 37-28 Democratic advantage. An 18 to 17 Republican Majority will hold the majority in the Senate, where the balance of power flipped from an 18 to 17 Democratic advantage. Well-crafted, bi-partisan legislation will be needed to pass both chambers and receive a signature by moderate Democratic Governor Hickenlooper.
In the US Senate Race, Congressman Cory Gardner defeated Senator Mark Udall by just over 2%, or around 43,000 votes. Colorado will be represented in the US Senate in the coming years by Michael Bennett (D) and Cory Gardner (R). Incumbents held their seats in the US Congressional races, with Diana DeGette (D) in Congressional District 1, Jared Polis (D) CD2, Scott Tipton (R) CD3, Doug Lamborn (R) CD5, Mike Coffman (R) CD6, and Ed Perlmutter (D) CD7 all returning to their seats with comfortable margins, and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R) replacing Gardner in CD4, covering the eastern plains and northern front range.
In the statewide constitutional races, CO Secretary of State (Wayne Williams), Attorney General (Cynthia Coffman), and Treasurer (Walker Stapleton) all remain in Republican Hands. Additionally, Amendments 67 (Personhood) and 68 (Expanded Gaming) and Proposition 105 (GMO-Labeling) all failed, while Proposition 104 (Sunshine in School Negotiations) passed.
In the weeks following the election, Department of Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar announced his plans to retire, resigning the position he had server in since 2011. Governor Hickenlooper praised his efforts in the positon. “His commitment and dedication to the farmers, ranchers and producers across the state is unparalleled and his successes will continue to benefit the agriculture community and all of the Colorado for years to come.” It is not uncommon for some turn over to occur among the governor-appointed department heads after a re-election campaign. A transition team is currently working to interview potential replacements, and expect to have someone in place in the coming months.
In other leadership news, the chairs of both the state Senate and House Ag Committee’s will be new in 2015, due to Representative Randy Fischer (D) Fort Collins and Senator Gail Schwartz (D) Snowmass reaching the end of their 8 year terms due to term limits. They will be replaced by Jerry Sonnenberg (R) Sterling in the Senate and Ed Vigil (D) Fort Garland. Both have been allies of CACD in the past and should provide solid leadership of these important committees of reference.
Preparations for 2015 Legislative Session
As a Producer Member of Ag Council and a voting member of Colorado Ag Water Alliance (CAWA), CACD continues to participate in those organizations to advance the mission of Colorado’s Conservation District. CACD was represented by myself and Executive Sharon Pattee at a November 25th meeting where CAWA provided feedback to former Ag Commissioner John Stulp and Colorado Water Conservation Board Staff regarding the Colorado Water Plan, preceding the delivery of the first draft to the governor in early December. You can learn more about the plan at http://coloradowaterplan.com . The plan is designed to be a working model, and we will continue to provide input as it is developed.
Sharon and I also attended Ag Council’s annual meeting on December 3rd, where the Ag community discussed a number of issues coming up in the next legislative session, including the sunset of the Pesticide Applicators act, potential legislation coming out of the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force, as well as other housekeeping items for the group. CACD has also been actively following the Oil and Gas Task Force, including my attendance and monitoring of the meetings, signing on to a coalition of surface owners and ag interests to make the voice of the private landowner heard, and a legislative brief for new and returning legislators. This process has the potential to yield legislation after the meeting concluded in the coming months, so we continue to monitor on behalf of the Districts.
Annual Meeting Yields Policy Updates
At the 2014 CACD Annual Meeting in Loveland, the various policy committees worked to streamline and perfect language for new policy coming out of the watersheds. As the winter’s first nasty storm raged outside, resolutions concerning renewable and nonrenewable energy production, relations with Natural Resources Conservation Board, and District funding levels were all discussed and several passed. These policy updates will guide CACD’s policy team and legislative strategy through the upcoming 2015 legislative schedule, and are crucial to our success.
-Brett Moore, CACD Lobbyist
Beginning his 4th year representing CACD, Brett is the principle of OnTheBallot, a Denver-based political consulting and lobbying firm.
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