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Colorado State Representatives preview the upcoming General Assembly

District 54 and 55 Representatives discuss what they have planned during this upcoming Jan. 12 session.
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 11:46 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 12:16 AM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Colorado General Assembly, otherwise known as the Colorado State Legislature, session convenes Jan. 12, composed of the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado State Senate.

Representative Matt Soper with District 54 covers Mesa and Delta counties. He plans on introducing five bills all relating directly to the Western Slope as well as a sixth with Representative Dylan Roberts of Eagle county.

”Being born and raised here I’m very excited to go to Denver and represent the folks from back home,” said Representative Soper. “And that excites me, its something that motivates me every day”

One bill Representative Soper will be introducing was fueled by the increase in the cost of food, and seeing farmers lose their ranches. He is introducing a bill that would reduce property taxes on farm structures to help the next generation of farmers invest in the future.

“When I look at Western Colorado and House District 54 it really is about agriculture,” sad Soper. “We have a lot of agriculture especially between Mesa, Montrose, and Delta counties this really is the breadbasket of western Colorado. So being able to deliver water efficiently to the farms is important and I believe the state has an active role in that. And then to encourage investment in agriculture.”

He goes on to say this could mean the investment in technology with the creation of more green houses and indoor growing year round to make better use of water.

“So that’s why lowering the property taxes for farm structures is important so that farmers are able to make the investment for the next generation,” said Soper.

Another one of the bills he plans on introducing will look at raising the threshold having to do with the increase and creation of fees.

“Another bill would allow Coloradans to deduct out of pocket medical expenses from their state income taxes,” said Soper.

This would be beneficial for those who have had significant medical expenses like a surgery. He also plans to introduce a bill that would create access to view case logs online instead of just at a law library. Lastly, he plans on introducing a bill from the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District that would allow districts to loan money to land owners for the purpose of lining and piping ditches.

“This is something I believe would help with water efficiency,” said Soper.

The sixth bill Representative Soper has partnered on will give the department of regulatory affairs the authority to see that the business record and the shop floor match each other. Meaning, making sure the death certificate and the body in the casket match up. This comes after the Sunset Mesa scandal, which was the funeral home in Montrose that was selling body parts and giving family cement instead of cremated remains.

Representative Janice Rich with District 55 covers Mesa County. She plans to work on education by empowering parents and making sure funding goes to the students, not the system. She also believes in the importance of public safety by supporting our law enforcement. Lastly, she plans on working to make Colorado more affordable.

“If you look at some of what the economists are saying, the cost of living has risen over 100%,” said Representative Rich. “Just today when we got our electric bill it was more than $100 than it was a year ago. So we’re going to be looking at those types of things because when you think you’re helping people sometimes you’re hurting the most vulnerable. So those things are gonna be really important for the western slope especially. Cost of living here is high, wages are low.”

The second regular session of the 73rd General Assembly will convene Jan. 12th can be watched and listened to online here: https://leg.colorado.gov/watch-listen

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