The Top Issues we Face in Colorado
With the new legislative session started, here's what the leg should focus on
Ok, so we have a strong Democratic majority in both houses of the legislature.
Time to turn the whole state into a replica of Boulder. Actually, what is needed is thoughtful legislation to address the hard problems we face. And for most (all?) of this, with good answers that have strong support from across the state.
So here they are in priority (granted, my priority is urban as water is #1 for the rural areas):
Homelessness - This has gotten so bad that it’s now common to have no go places in our communities. In some cases parks are no longer safe for kids. And when it gets this bad, voters will demand effective solutions or they’ll vote in someone else in the next election.
The two primary causes here are housing & mental health. We need to address both. And not just for the homeless, because what will the reaction be if the homeless get a lot of help, but those barely affording a dwelling and unable to afford therapy are then left to hang.
So we need to address the cost & availability of housing and therapy for everyone. And that will be expensive. But the problem has become obvious enough and problematic enough, there’s support for this.
Water - We’re not about to run out, we’re out of water. We have communities with astronomical water bills. We have farmers & ranchers who can’t get water or where the cost is prohibitive. Yet at the same time we’re growing and shipping out of state alfalfa, one of the most water intensive crops.
The good news on water is this is solvable by distributing water in a sensible manner (as opposed to the present Rube Goldberg system). The bad news is this will be very difficult politically. It’s going to be a giant fight. But, there’s no putting it off any longer.
Crime - I don’t know how much of this is a true increase vs. how much is news organizations finding it generates readers. Regardless, it’s a big issue and there is room for improvement, so the legislature needs to step up.
An obvious place to start is to add in mental health professionals, community workers, and others that are better trained to handle the police calls that don’t need a cop, but do need someone skilled in the issue they’re facing. And I’m guessing most cops would like that too so they can get back on what they’re good at - catching the criminals.
And yes, work on teaching the police to treat individuals with kindness & humanity and to see themselves as partners in the community.
Quicker approval for construction - At present we have so much in the permitting process, to make 100% certain that everything is checked, everything is evaluated, that the end result is it takes way too long to put in high density housing, new transmission lines, etc. And all the NIMBY efforts are very effective at throwing everything at a proposal to stop it.
This does not mean approve everything. What it means is come up with a process that is fast, effectively finds and answers big issues, and then approves what’s in the interest of the state as a whole.
Education - It’s a perennial. And we have a giant problem. The two years of COVID not only put kids years behind academically, but it had a serious negative impact on their socialization.And the schools are struggling with both issues. We need to figure out how to address the damage of the last couple of years.
Constitutional Convention - Back when I was last actively blogging (about 12 years ago) TABOR was a giant problem and people were looking at numerous different solutions, including a constitutional convention. It almost happened.
Now we’re at a point where we do not have any major emergency. The thing is, that’s the best time to rewrite the state constitution. When there’s an emergency, laws are written for that specific issue. With no emergency, it will give the delegates the opportunity to approach it big picture.
IRV - Bring the Alaska model plus IRV in the primary, starting in 2026. With all four state executive offices being open in 2026, we’ll have half the people in the state running for these offices. Getting IRV in place for this will gives us a much more diverse set of choices.
Placing a CHIPs act Regional Innovation Center in Grand Junction.
So there you go legislators - now make it happen.
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This is not the fault of the schools!