Western Slope politicians make some headway

DENVER — Despite the number of bills that have been killed right out of the chute so far in the 2011 session, at least two local lawmakers had some success in getting their ideas passed.

Freshmen Reps. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, had bills signed into law so far this session.

For Coram, that was a measure to fix a poorly worded state law on how regional tourism boards are made up, which prevented multicounty boards from being unnecessarily too big, and another to add a judge to the Montrose County Courthouse.

For Scott, it was a bill to help spur the housing market by allowing homeowners to finance their own sales.

Although the two have seen some defeats, they are fast earning reputations among their colleagues as legislators who know what they’re doing.

“Both are very engaged, both are very intelligent, both just quite frankly get it,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, who works with both as chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, a panel Coram and Scott serve on. “Probably the biggest surprise about them is that there hasn’t been a huge learning curve. They both hit the ground running.”

The veteran lawmaker has been impressed with his new Republican colleagues, but he’s not so enamored with one local Democrat who also serves on his committee, Rep. Roger Wilson, D-Glenwood Springs.

“Roger does a good job of representing his district, and he asks good questions, but I was a little disappointed with his not showing respect to other members the first few days of the session,” Sonnenberg said. “He’s gotten past that.”

That may be why Wilson has seen all of the bills he’s introduced so far die, including a harmless measure to create a new license plate, said House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo.

Among the bills Wilson has seen killed include measures to boost the use of alternative fuels and to monitor possible environmental damage from oil and gas drilling.

“He’s got big ideas,” Pace said. “You can either be someone to pass department bills that come prepackaged, or you can be someone trying to make a difference, and Roger is that someone.”

Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, has seen his share of defeats and victories.

He had two bills signed by the governor, such as a bill to allow court documents to be transferred electronically, but his biggest ideas have died. Those were a proposed rainy-day fund and a bill to review all state laws to determine if they’re still needed.


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