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STATE CAPITOL UPDATE – May 2, 2011
By Representative Randy Fischer, Colorado House District 53


The end of the 120-day legislative session is just a few days away.  By law, the legislature must adjourn by midnight on May 11.  As in years past, I will offer one final opportunity for open discussion of legislative issues prior to the end of the session.  Information on my legislative wrap-up meeting is provided below.  

This edition of my newsletter also provides some better news about funding for K-12 education, as well as a summary of redistricting and reapportionment efforts.  I hope you find this information useful.  

YOU’RE INVITED:  TOWN HALL MEETING
END OF SESSION WRAP-UP


 I will hold my final town hall meeting of the 2011 legislative session on Saturday, May 7.  I hope you’ll take this opportunity to join Senator Bob Bacon, Representative John Kefalas, and me for a final update and summary of this year’s session.  Please bring your questions, comments, concerns, and suggestions!  

What: 
TOWN HALL MEETING
End of Session Wrap Up

When:
 
Saturday, May 7, 2011 
10:00 - 11:30 A.M.

Where: 
Harmony Library 
4616 Shields Street
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Wheelchair Accessible 

Who:  
Representative Randy Fischer (Fort Collins HD-53)
Representative John Kefalas (Fort Collins HD-52)
Senator Bob Bacon (Fort Collins SD-14)

SCHOOL FINANCE SUMMARY

The outlook for K-12 education funding improved by $90 million last week as House Democrats worked to add dollars through an amendment to the School Finance Act.  This amendment provided an immediate $22.5 million from the State Education Fund to address funding shortfalls in local school districts.  Pending a positive June revenue forecast, the amendment will also direct $67.5 million to the Public School Fund.  This money can be applied to the neediest school districts across the state for changes in enrollment, special needs students, and to reduce mid-year cuts. 

 As a legislator, I have few more important tasks than investing in our children’s education.  By ensuring the success of our students, we ensure the success of our state.   While this additional funding is good news, schools will still be facing a deep cut this year.  The pain is reduced somewhat, from $338 million to $160 million in cuts.  However, I consider a $160 million cut to education unacceptable.  Please be assured that I will continue to fight for every dollar for our schools.  

This last minute addition of $90 million in school funds would not have happened without strenuous negotiations between House Democrats and the Governor’s office.  I thank those of you who helped make this possible by attending my Budget Listening tour and letting me know about your budget priorities and values, including a strong public education system.

REDISTRICTING SUMMARY

Colorado's population has grown by 16.8 percent since 2000.  The U.S. Constitution requires state legislatures to redraw congressional boundaries every 10 years to account for this population growth and to ensure each Congressional district provides equal representation.  With only 8 days remaining in the session, the legislature’s 2010 redistricting efforts are coming down to the wire
 
This year, the General Assembly’s leadership created a the Joint Select Committee on Redistricting to help guide the process.  The Committee was tasked with soliciting feed-back from citizens around the state and making recommendations to the legislature. Hundreds of Coloradans testified at the Committee’s hearings to offer their thoughts on how our congressional districts should be drawn.  A consistent message was heard indicating that citizens prefer competitive districts in which every vote counts.  Above all, the Committee heard that the public opposes the creation of so-called “safe seats” and “congressmen for life.” 

The Committee agreed that the new congressional districts should incorporate the following principles:  

•    Ensure equal population among districts;
•    Uphold all federal and state voting rights laws;
•    Maintain communities of interest;
•    Preserve local subdivisions as much as possible;
•    Assure competitiveness.

The Committee completed its work in mid-April having developed 11 maps depicting the newly redrawn boundaries of our 7 congressional districts.   One map has been introduced as a bill in the legislature.  This is Senate Bill 11-268, Concerning the Congressional Redistricting of Colorado, by Senator Rollie Heath and Representative Dan Pabon.   

click here to see the bill



So far, no competing bill has been introduced in the House.  With only 8 working days left in the session, House leadership is running out of time to introduce their bill.  

CONNECTING WITH MY DISTRICT

Although the Colorado General Assembly meets for 120 days each year, I consider the responsibility of representing House District 53 a full-time job.  That’s why I strive to remain open and accessible to my constituents year round.   During the interim until next year’s legislative session, I continue to work on legislation, meet with constituents, help Fort Collins residents navigate state government, and participate in at least two interim committees.  

I hope you will feel free to contact me at any time with comments, issues, or concerns about state government.

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