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Fitz-Gerald updates voters

by Reid Williams

FRISCO – The recent redistricting of state legislative districts moved Summit County from senate district 13 to 16, but Joan Fitz-Gerald hopes to continue representing Summit and will seek re-election in November.

The Front Range-based Democrat met with a handful of voters Saturday at Frisco’s town hall to discuss the current legislative session and issues with which she’s grappling. Fitz-Gerald chairs the Senate Committee on Business, Labor and Finance and sits on the Education Committee. The new district 16 for which she will seek election covers Summit, Grand, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties, and parts of Jefferson and Boulder counties.

Spurred by conversation with Buyer’s Resource agent Chris Eby about his testimony before a legislative committee on real estate-related bills, Fitz-Gerald urged the audience to get involved with possible laws that would affect them and explained how to get their voices heard by representatives. She also discussed her recent work at the capital:

n Chronic wasting disease: Fitz-Gerald said the neurological scourge forcing the culling of deer and elk herds is affecting many in her district and could possibly hurt tourism based on hunting. She used Saturday’s visit to spread the word about the disease. “If you hunt, send the head to Colorado State University for testing,” she said. “We need to educate people if we’re going to stop the spread.”

n The budget: Both houses of the Legislature passed the “long bill” earlier this week after much debate on what cuts to make in the face of a billion-dollar shortfall in state revenues. Fitz-Gerald said she defended funding for the arts, even at the expense of bills instating the DNA testing of imprisoned criminals. “Most of that funds programs for children – we had to make a lot of hard choices like that,” she said.

n Insurance regulation: Fitz-Gerald said she’s proud to have gotten reforms passed protecting people’s insurance coverage previously denied because injuries were associated with skiing and snowboarding. She’s also pushing another bill regulating insurance premium increases and creating a consumer advocate position in the state’s Office of Insurance. “We have too many people uninsured, and it’s time to start asking a lot of questions about this,” she said.

n Clergy abuse: Fitz-Gerald’s bill which would require clergy and lay ministers to report allegations of abuse and the name of the alleged victim would help get investigations started, she said. The proposed law would make not reporting abuse a misdemeanor and attach civil liability to the silence.

n Concealed weapons. “The concealed carry bill is not a compromise and it takes away local control,” Fitz-Gerald said. She said she sees value in having a statewide standard for granting permits to carry concealed weapons, but felt the proposed legislation didn’t include enough prohibitions for people with mental illness and there weren’t enough exemptions for places where concealed weapons weren’t allowed, such as schools.

n Growth. With just 13 days left in the session, Fitz-Gerald said she doubted any large growth-control bills would pass. The slumping economy took growth off many legislators agendas, she said, but she expected the topic to come up in next year’s session.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or rwilliams@summitdaily.com


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