The other night I was visiting with one of my Republican friends and colleagues. We found ourselves reflecting on the national political climate, our time in the Capitol and what motivated us to serve in the Senate.
It was a great conversation. We don’t always agree on the bill at hand, but most of the time we do find a lot in common. We chat about our goals and our concerns. We make suggestions and accept changes. We approach our differences with respect to achieve bipartisan solutions for Colorado. This is how the State Capitol works. I don’t always think the constant churn of the 24-hour news machine likes to present this view because it certainly isn’t as catchy as conflict. Sometimes, elected leaders use their position to sow division and manufacture reasons for us to distrust one another. But without the division created by some, we get along and work together because that is the job we are tasked to do.
In a time when the national picture is one of disaccord and disfunction, here’s what we are doing at the Colorado State Capitol, together.
One of my first bills this year is bipartisan legislation with Sen. Coram, a Republican from Southwest Colorado, to address job creation in rural Colorado. The REDI program (SB20-002) has supported small business expansion across communities on the Western Slope and Upper Arkansas Valley. I wrote this bill to ensure the long-term success of the program and make sure it stays focused on creating new jobs in rural Colorado.
Another bill I am carrying is the Mobile Veterans Support Unit Grant Program (SB20-122). Veterans have served our country dutifully and this bill gives the state the responsibility to serve them in return. This bill will create a grant program for nonprofit organizations to build a mobile support unit to make it easier for veterans living in rural areas and veterans experiencing homelessness to access their benefits and support. This bill gained unanimous, bipartisan support in committee.
I am also carrying a bill with Sen. Rankin, a Republican from Garfield County, which will improve our Backcountry Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) program (SB20-130). This bill will study support for SAR volunteer teams that serve our communities. Backcountry search-and-rescue teams are volunteers that respond to emergencies and complete rescue missions in remote and precarious locations. Their work is paramount to our great state’s outdoor recreation and economy.
This work fuels my motivation to continue working on bipartisan bills in partnership with my Republican colleagues. During our conversation, my colleague and I both agreed that this time spent serving the state would a highlight of our lives. It is my distinct honor to represent the Western Slope and Upper Arkansas Valley. I am eager to keep fighting for the issues that matter most for my constituents and all Coloradans.
State Sen. Kerry Donovan represents District 5, which includes Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin counties.