Colorado’s rural lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, are forming their own minority caucus to ensure that the concerns of those who live outside the city centers stand a better chance of being represented.
Lawmakers from many rural counties felt short-changed during the last legislative session, especially over a bill requiring rural electricity cooperatives to produce 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020, a mandate expected to raise electric rates.
That new law spurred 10 counties to seek to secede from Colorado and led some to allege that Denver politicians were waging a war on rural values. Some counties toyed with trying to change the system by which lawmakers are elected in a bid to give rural counties more voices in the capitol.
This session, rural lawmakers will likely be faced with bills to increase regulation on the oil and gas industry, a major source of revenue in counties that are mostly agricultural. Lawmakers will also try to modify the renewable energy requirement to 15 percent from 20.
Republican Rep. Tim Dore and Democratic Rep. Mary Hodge are forming the Rural Caucus, according to the Denver Post.
“As the state representative with the largest House district in land area, I understand issues facing my district and rural Colorado,” Dore is quoted as saying. “Most state legislators reside in the Denver metro area and are not focused on rural issues. By creating a Rural Caucus, we will be uniting legislators across the state to stand together on issues unique to rural Colorado.”
“I’m thrilled that those constituents will have a place where their ideas, solutions, and thoughts can be discussed,” Hodge said in a statement.
The Post reports the caucus will have more than a dozen members.
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