Rep Curry Takes Legislative Homework on the Road

Representative Kathleen Curry D-61, whose district includes Gunnison, Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley and eastern Garfield County, is in an enviable position: she has no general election challengers. “That gives me time to work on my five bills for the 2007 legislature and seek input,” Curry said at Monday’s Glenwood Springs meeting with constituents.

Curry admits she learned a lot during her second year with the failure of her surface rights bill. “If you can’t get through the front door, you try the back one,” she observed. Oil and gas issues will continue to be in her scope and there were several ideas tossed about at the meeting that could shape her legislation.First, Curry is looking at the make up of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), which now has five industry representatives serving on a seven-person board appointed by the governor. “Perhaps COGA needs more representation from water experts and local officials,” Curry added, “And it should take enforcement of Colorado oil and gas regulations more seriously.”

Curry noted that local county governments may have more manpower to enforce these laws, but they don’t have the authority-a change that may take legislative action. She also has concerns that the severance tax collected from energy development is not reaching the towns and counties impacted by drilling.

Another possible—and probably very controversial—bill she might propose would make developers secure and prove permanent water resources for their housing and business developments. “For instance, someone building a strip mall in Aurora should be accountable for the water resources needed to support it,” she said.

Curry has also offered to sponsor a bill to increase term limits from eight to twelve years for legislators. “It takes almost six years to really figure out the legislative process. We’ve lost some very good people in the legislature because of terms limits, ” she explained.

In addition, the $30,000 salary may limit most people from running for office. “You shouldn’t have to be independently wealthy to want to serve in the legislature,” Curry emphasized. “I feel so strongly about this, I am willing to sponsor a bill to increase our salary and office budgets although it may be unpopular with some voters.” Curry explained that she must pay for some of the expenses for constituent outreach meetings like room rent and hotel rooms. “$30,000 doesn’t go far, especially if you are traveling in a large mountain district like mine,” she lamented.

Curry thought that Ref. C solved many of the financial problems facing non-profit human services when actually, very little is trickling down to needed programs. “Perhaps we should look into directing some severance tax income into human services where the impact is the greatest,” she noted.

From the slate of propositions and ideas tossed around at the Glenwood Springs meeting, Curry’s major challenge in the 2007 legislative session may be how to condense all those suggestions into only five bills.