Legislative session kicks off

The official start of the 69th session of the Colorado Assembly began with the Jan. 9 swearing-in by Chief Justice Michael Bender. My wife, Barbara, was with me in the House Chamber as I took the oath of office, and other family members observed from the gallery.

On Jan. 10, we were visited by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who delivered an admirable State of the State address. While I am a firm supporter of the Second Amendment, I agree with the governor that public safety can only be improved by background checks to ensure that all weapons are only held by law-abiding citizens, who are free of all mental issues. Overall, the governor’s message was that the Colorado economy is making a good recovery and our governmental operations and schools have a better future than at any time since 2008.

On Jan. 11, we received the entire Colorado Supreme Court and Chief Justice Michael Bender at the House Chambers where he gave the “State of the Judiciary” address. We should all take pride in the demonstrable improvement in our Colorado court system. Later, we visited the new Ralph L. Carr Justice Center for ribbon-cutting and dedication of the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Adjacent offices now provide space for Attorney General John Suthers and the Department of Law, which includes all lawyers and staff members for the state’s largest legal department.

During the last week, we received reports from Bender, Suthers and Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar. These reports are required by the SMART Government Act, which stands for “State Measurements for Accountable Responsive & Transparent.” It is commendable that each of these departments either met or exceeded most of their goals.

In addition to our legislative duties, we are invited to a variety of receptions and social functions. Since opening day, I have attended receptions sponsored by the Colorado Mining Congress, Colorado Counties Incorporated, Colorado Cattlemen, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Colorado Petroleum Association. I’ve also met with the Colorado Water Congress where former state Sen. Bruce Whitehead is a board member.

Not everybody I see in Denver is a stranger. At the CCI, I was pleased to see these county commissioners; Lynn Padgett from Ouray, Jonathan Houck from Gunnison County, Gwen Lachelt and Julie Westendorff from La Plata County and Scott Fetchenhier of San Juan County.

In addition to Whitehead, I have had conversations with Scott Sholes, EMS chief of Durango Fire & Rescue Authority as well as Julie Levy of BP. At the Cattleman’s Luncheon, I spoke with Brice Lee, Tom Compton and Salazar. It is good to see these people from the 59th District. I have encouraged them to contact my office.

I had my first experience as a bill sponsor for the review of Municipal Court fines. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and we presented two witnesses to support an increase from $1,000 to $5,000. After hearing some of the objections, we requested the bill be “laid over” for two weeks to allow us to assess and evaluate the objector’s concerns. We will report back on the status of that bill.

Thank you again for allowing me to be of service to the residents of the 59th District.

Mike McLachlan represents the newly reconstituted House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district now encompasses La Plata, Archuleta, San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties and part of Gunnison County. Call McLachlan at (303) 866-2914 or email mike.mclachlan.house@state.