by Jerry Sonnenberg
Representative Colorado District 65Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher born in the 1800’s, once said, “With the introduction of agriculture mankind entered upon a long period of meanness, misery and madness, from which they are only now being freed by the beneficent operation of the machine.”
The 70th General Assembly convened on Jan. 7 and with the swearing in of new members. The legislature is now split with the Democrats retaining control of the House and Republicans taking the reins on the Senate. Although the only machine involved was the voting machine, I trust rural Colorado will be freed from the meanness, misery and madness of politics we have seen over the last two years.
I plan to help lead this effort in the State Senate by actually governing. I was humbled when leadership chose to appoint this farm boy from the Colorado plains as chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. As the only farmer in the legislature, I look forward to being the statesmen who defends our rural way of life.
The two largest economic drivers are located in rural Colorado: Energy production and agriculture (including water). Both of these economic drivers fall under the supervision of the Senate Ag Committee. One can expect both industries will garner huge debate in this legislative session.
I expect we will see the usual anti-fracking and anti-oil and gas legislation return as well as bills in support of the industry. The difference from years past will be the Senate can now stop unreasonable attacks on rural Colorado and the energy industry. Rest assured there will be a reasonable expectation that we continue to produce this countries energy in an environmentally conscious and safe manner while helping make this great country energy independent.
There are also issues relating to water that will again come before the legislature. Issues trying to address the inability for us to keep Colorado’s water in Colorado because of a lack of storage (as water leaves this state over and above our compact as you read this); high groundwater areas such as Sterling and the Gilcrest/LaSalle area; as well as ways to try and keep ag water from leaving the farm and going to the cities.
Whatever the issue, agriculture’s voice will be heard without the meanness, madness and misery.