Reasonable agendas

Pragmatism can also be seen in our newly elected state officials.

State Rep.-elect J. Paul Brown mistepped in saying recently that he wants to introduce legislation to let the Division of Wildlife allow bear hunting earlier in the year. Coloradovoters outlawed bear hunting between March 1 and Sept. 1 in 1992, and there is no reason to think they have changed their minds.

Earlier bear hunting risks killing sows with cubs and is widely thought cruel. Plus, wildlife officials dispute the idea that the ban increased bear problems.

Moreover, as a sheep rancher, Brown left himself open to charges that he put his own interests before the wishes of the voters. That is not a perception to encourage.

Brown was on firmer ground in other parts of his legislative agenda. In his first bill, he would change elections to the Colorado State Conservation Board from every three years to every four years. In another, he would give tax credits to owners of propane-powered vehicles.

The desirability of either is, from here at least, unclear. But the point is that Brown is not trying to remake state government in his first month in office. Instead he is, in his words, planning to “get my feet wet so I understand the process.”

That is wise. It is a mistake for for freshmen lawmakers to take on too much or be seen as disrespectful toward the system or more senior members. In that, Brown’s off to a good start.

So, too, is Ellen Roberts. In her years in the state House, Roberts typically carried the maximum five bills and helped with Senate bills as well. (See her website for her legislative summary for the last three years. Printed, it runs to 13 pages.)

This year, though, Roberts will focus less on legislation and concentrate on the budget. That makes sense. The budget is the toughest task the Legislature faces.

She also wants to see gas and oil tax money go – as it is supposed to – to communities affected by drilling. The Legislature has been redirecting those funds to limit cuts to schools.

That is a hard choice, but Roberts is right. Local communities need and deserve that money. And they have schools, too.

All in all, the legislative session seems to be beginning on a level-headed note.