It’s election season, a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together and anticipate what’s ahead.
For six years, I have represented House District 59, proud to serve alongside my Republican and Democrat coworkers. Most bills I ran passed with bipartisan support; I represent all of District 59, not just the people who vote for me. I listen to various sides of an issue and especially to people outside my bubble of comfort.
My work in the Legislature is hard and intense; the issues we work on affect all our communities. I serve on three committees I believe are crucial to my constituents: the Education Committee I chair, and both the Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee, and the Water Interim Committee.
This year, I passed 30 bills.
I sponsored the School Finance Act, which made a record investment in public schools by increasing funding by more than $430 million for the upcoming school year – a $545 increase per student on average. This will reduce the Budget Stabilization Factor to the lowest point since 2009, putting more resources into reducing class sizes, increasing teacher pay and preparing our students for success.
I also passed legislation to address teacher recruitment and retention challenges in rural Colorado, help foster youth pay for college, make our teacher evaluation process more equitable, and add resources for school safety and youth mental health. In addition, students will now have easier access to crisis services and more work-based learning opportunities.
Addressing kitchen-table economics, my bills allow small businesses to keep more sales tax revenue to cover expenses, extend a successful small business recovery loans program and permit peace officers to live outside their district.
For our tribal neighbors, my bills started investigating the treatment of Indigenous people at Fort Lewis College boarding schools, allocated money for a tribal behavioral health facility and made it easier for tribes to access beneficial state programs.
To help agriculture, we supported local producers by incentivizing food banks to buy from them, and secured money for Colorado State University to produce more beefsticks for the student Backpacks Program and add to their AgNext program to enhance profitability of the supply chain.
For health care, my legislation provides more dementia training in nursing homes and adult day care, and, reacting to COVID-19, specifies that hospital patients may have at least one visitor.
My votes are always first for District 59, second for rural Colorado and third for my party.
I am proud to represent.
Barbara McLachlan has represented the state House District 59 for six years.