Polis signs 14 bills Monday affecting water, law enforcement and the economy
DILLON — Gov. Jared Polis held five bill-signing ceremonies Monday, June 29, across Colorado for 14 bills. Topics ranged from employee benefits to education to grants, but several stuck out as directed at rural and mountain communities like Summit County.
The Peace Officers Standards and Training Board Scholarship Rural and Small Law Enforcement bill is meant to assist rural law enforcement agencies with tuition costs of approved training academies for peace officer candidates.
The Colorado Legislature summarizes the bill as authorizing the Peace Officers Standards and Training board “to establish a scholarship program for law enforcement agencies in rural and smaller jurisdictions with limited resources due to their size or location.”
“We want to make sure that we can have the very best law enforcement officials across our entire state,” Polis said in a press conference. “… By making sure that we have the right benefits and training in place, we can (create) greater trust between the officers and the communities that they serve.”
The Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program, is more wide-reaching. The Colorado Legislature site says the grants would be for projects that create new jobs, specifically for “projects that create diversity and resiliency in the local economies of rural communities.” These jobs can be created through a new employer or the expansion of an existing employer, including local governments and organizations or individuals working in partnership with a local government.
“The Rural Economic Development Initiative is critical to helping rural communities with less than 20,000 people plan and invest in local projects to create jobs and economic opportunity,” Polis said at the press conference.
Sen. Bob Rankin — who represents Senate District 8, including Summit County — explained that the bill was in place before COVID-19 and is now being extended.
“This is good,” Rankin said. “I like this economic development. It’s likely to affect our area because most of our businesses are small. Whether or not they’re a fly-fishing business or a restaurant or just some other recreational entity, they tend to be smaller businesses. … So I think it’s a great program for rural Coloradans.”
Rankin explained that the program is usually used for planning grants and that the local government just has to be the administrator of a project. He said that for a community, the program is about trying to focus on what the strengths of the community are, what the communities goals are and to provide resources to help the community achieve those goals.
Polis also signed conservation bills Monday, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board Construction Fund Project. The bill provides funding for certain projects, such as the Colorado water loss control initiative or the watershed restoration program.
Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier described the bill as “complicated but collaborative” and focused on a lot of big-picture projects. She added that some of these projects will impact Summit County, including one piece of the bill that designates funds to snowmaking.
Now that the money is allocated, Stiegelmeier said there are lots of “projects on the ground” that could receive funding. She said the county has applied for funding through its Open Space & Trails department before and that the Blue River Integrated Management Plan and the Swan River Reclamation Project have received funding.
Polis signed the following bills Monday, June 29:
- House bill 20-1119: State Government Regulation of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
- Senate bill 20-026: Workers’ Compensation for Audible Psychological Trauma
- SB20-057: Fire Prevention and Control Employee Benefits
- HB20-1184: Sunset Colorado Seed Act
- SB20-002: Rural Economic Development Initiative Grant Program
- SB20-030: Consumer Protections for Utility Customers
- HB20-1229: Peace Officers Standards and Training Board Scholarship Rural and Small Law Enforcement
- SB20-003: State Parks Improvement Appropriation
- HB20-1403: Colorado Water Conservation Board Construction Fund Project
- SB20-201: Species Conservation Trust Fund Projects
- HB20-1366: Higher Education Funding Model
- HB20-1109: Tax Credit Employer Contributions to Employee 529s
- SB20-095: Middle School Students Concurrent Enrollment Information
- HB20-1424: Social Equity Licensees in Regulated Marijuana
Read more about these bills at Leg.Colorado.gov/bills.
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