Club 20 honors Isgar; bills winding through process

It was an honor to attend the Club 20 awards and recognition banquet Friday night in Grand Junction and accept, on behalf of Sen. Jim Isgar, the prestigious Dan Noble Award. The award could not go to a more worthy recipient. Isgar was, and still is, a strong advocate for the Western Slope of Colorado.

He was the legislator most looked to in the General Assembly for expertise in agriculture and water-related issues. The award is named for Dan Noble, who also was well-respected and represented Southwest Colorado in the Senate for many years. Other notable recipients of this award are U.S. Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Wayne Allard; U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis; and Colorado Sens. Tilman Bishop, Al White and Jack Taylor. Isgar was unable to attend the ceremony because he is recovering from a bone-marrow transplant in Denver. I am happy to report that he is progressing very well and is on the road to recovery.

Club 20 was established 59 years ago and is a coalition of individuals, businesses, organizations, towns and 22 counties in western Colorado. It exists to advocate for the interests of the Western Slope at both the state and national level. I was very active in Club 20 when I was a county commissioner and have renewed my participation in the organization as a state legislator. Club 20ís spring meeting was held Friday and Saturday, and I learned immensely from the great lineup of speakers that included Reeves Brown, executive director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs; Phil Vaughan, businessman from Garfield County; Tim Wigley, executive director of the Western Energy Alliance; Daniel Jiron, the new regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region; and Steve ErkenBrack, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans. In addition, I was honored to serve on a panel of Western Slope legislators to give a legislative update.

Legislatively, I have been asked by Western State College in Gunnison to carry a bill to change its name to Western State Colorado University. There have been several higher education name changes in the last two years. The bill is House Bill 1331.

The biggest complaint that I have had as a legislator is the late fees on vehicle registrations. House Bill 1014 is working its way through the House and will reduce the late fees from $100 to $20.

The Joint Budget Committee came to a consensus Friday evening, and the budget will be introduced in the House today, where it will be debated. It is my understanding that severance taxes that have been used to shore up the budget for the last few years will be returned for use by local governments. Also, the Homestead exemption for senior citizens for property taxes will be reinstated, and the budgets for K-12 and higher education will be increased. I am disappointed that controlled maintenance for state infrastructure will not be fully funded. I continue to believe that it will cost us more in the long run if we donít keep up with maintenance.

J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Coloradoís General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Brown by phone at (303) 866-2914 or by email at jpaul.brown.house@state.co.us.