Long Days & Late Nights at the Capitol
As of this newsletter’s publication, there is less than a week remaining in the 2023 Colorado state legislative session, but the pace at the Capitol building has held steady, with sessions often going long into the night. The legislature is required to adjourn sine die no later than May 8, and so far, 675 bills have been introduced – 347 in the House and 302 in the Senate.
A Drought Task Force Bill in the Queue
Of note amidst the swath of legislation, Senate Bill 295 has been moving through the legislative process, a bill that would create a representative task force to address the great challenges Colorado is facing with water resources in the context of drought and interstate commitments on the Colorado River.
A broad-based and bipartisan effort, the bill is sponsored by State Sen. Dylan Roberts, Sen. Perry Will, Rep. Julie McCluskie, and Rep. Marc Catlin.
“That’s about as balanced as it gets,” Zane Kessler, the River District’s Director of Government Affairs, said to Aspen Journalism reporter Heather Sackett in a recent article. “We believe it provides an important seat at the table for agricultural producers, West Slope communities, and the conservation districts charged with protecting the Colorado River’s water resources, and for engaging and working with other interests across the state to navigate a complex and rapidly evolving water future.”
As currently drafted, the task force itself would also be a diverse representation of Colorado’s water world, with seats for the Department of Natural Resources, the Commissioner of Agriculture, agricultural producers and a statewide agricultural organization, industry, environmental groups, local governments, Front Range water providers and conservancy districts, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and West Slope conservation districts. The State Engineer’s Office will also act in an advisory, nonvoting capacity.
As of May 2, SB23-295 has passed through the State Senate with a unanimous vote and now awaits its review after being introduced in the House of Representatives.