The Colorado Farm Bureau state board of directors has adopted legislative priorities for the 2001 legislative session. The priorities are growth, ballot initiative reform, wildlife and water.
"These are important issues to the diverse group of farmers and ranchers who make up Colorado Farm Bureau," said Roger Bill Mitchell, president of the organization. "They need to be addressed through our state legislative process and with government agencies. We need to effectively communicate our concerns with elected and non-elected officials, and the general public."
Farm Bureau will be deeply involved with the growth debate expected in the 2001 session. "During the No. 24 ballot initiative campaign we successfully argued that the complexities of growth management needs to be addressed through the legislative process rather than a one-size-fits-all measure put into our state's constitution," said Mitchell. "Now it is time to lay all the issues on the table and come up with a manageable proposal which will empower those who are directly affected by their decisions.
Farm Bureau will be paying particular attention to see that property rights and local control are protected." Farm Bureau will also be looking into various options to reform the ballot initiative process. One of the concerns stems from the fact that there is no geographic balance required in signature gathering. The trend has been to solicit the signatures in the Front Range area where they are easier to secure even on issues impacting citizens in remote parts of the state.
The second is to investigate having constitutional amendments required to be passed by a 2/3 majority as opposed to the current simple majority. Wildlife issues will continue to be a major area of focus. Specific issues of emphasis include funding for the Habitat Partnership Program, the level of authority granted to the state wildlife commission, the status of the Colorado Department of Wildlife as an enterprise zone, incentive-based programs to protect species and land acquisitions by the DOW. Farm Bureau will also be seeking legislative support on water issues to help the state meet current and future water demands stemming from the state's growing population.
"We have a very busy year ahead of us," said Mitchell. "None of these issues have clear-cut solutions. There will be a great deal of work done in finding solutions."