Stella Who?

Stella Garza Hicks is the newest member of the Colorado House of Representatives, and, unlike many other freshmen legislators, the quiet Republican lawmaker hasn’t exactly shot out of the gate.

In an era of term limits, when lawmakers have a short window to make their mark, Garza Hicks is not sponsoring any of her own bills this year. And, she has signed on as a co-sponsor of only one piece of legislation, House Bill 1352, which would allow the sibling or grandparent of a fallen service member to use a fallen service member special license plate.

Garza Hicks, who was chosen to replace former state Rep. Mark Cloer early in January, says she has many areas of interest – including criminal justice and the military – but is unsure what bills she may bring next year.

“I have many different options,” she said this week.Unlike several of her fellow freshman Republican colleagues from El Paso County – they include Bob Gardner, Kent Lambert and Amy Stephens – Garza Hicks also hasn’t said much this year. She rarely approaches the microphone to address her colleagues, though earlier this week she took the floor briefly to express her opposition to Senate Bill 34, to require residents who want to carry concealed weapons in Colorado to have Colorado-issued permits. Describing it as a “bad bill,” Garza Hicks said she had received many e-mails from constituents who opposed the measure.

Garza Hicks’ style is noticeably different than that of Cloer, an outspoken Republican whose opposition to school vouchers at times put him at odds with members of his own party.

Representing District 17, a largely working class area of southeastern Colorado Springs that is evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, Cloer handily won reelection to a fourth term last November. He resigned the day after Christmas, citing unspecified health issues involving his younger son. A Republican vacancy committee selected Garza Hicks, who previously served as Cloer’s aide, to serve out the full two-year term. (He has since taken a job as a caseworker and government liaison working in Congressman Doug Lamborn’s Colorado Springs office.)

Garza Hicks, meanwhile, was appointed to the Local Government and House Services committees, the latter of which meets infrequently.

This week Garza Hicks said she is planning to hold her first town hall meeting on April 14, three weeks before the end of the legislative session. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be at the Valley Hi Golf Course clubhouse in southeastern Colorado Springs.

In a Jan. 11 interview with the Colorado Springs Independent, Garza Hicks was vague about what her top issues may be.

From the news story:

Speaking generally, [Garza Hicks] says the military, police and small businesses need solid representation. She’s also concerned about the link between alcohol and drug dependence and the region’s crime.

“We need to look into programs to make it where it’s a lot easier for someone to come in off the street and say, “I need help. Can you help me?'” she says. “We need programs that will perhaps reduce crime.”

Illegal immigration is another concern.

“We welcome anyone and everyone from anywhere as long as they’re in the United States legally,” Garza Hicks says, “and that’s my view on immigration.”

Check out the following links for related stories about Colorado’s most and least successful lawmakers so far this legislative session:

Read the whole series to date:
Colorado’s Ten Most Successful Senators
Colorado’s Ten Least Successful Senators
Colorado’s Ten Most Successful Representatives
Colorado’s Ten Least Successful Representatives
Pass/Fail: A Mid-Term Report Card of Colorado’s State Legislators

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com.

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Cara Degette

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