Yes To Marijuana Tax, No To Jail, Justice Center

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

Saguache County voters weighed in at the polls yesterday November 8 on a variety of issues. Lining up with the national trend of solid voter turnout, approximately 2,700 ballots were cast countywide.

In local decisions, voters decided to pass Ballot issue 1A which will provide a sales tax on retail marijuana in the county. jointsThe official report filed with the Colorado secretary of State stated 1,427 votes were cast in favor of the measure and 1,224 were against. The excise tax of 5%, known informally as the marijuana tax, will allow Saguache County to collect revenue excised on the sale of marijuana. The application of the new revenue generated from the tax will be up to the discretion of the Saguache County Commissioners It has been discussed that the new revenue stream will be used toward such projects as youth services, Land Use code enforcement and various county infrastructures. The new tax will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

In other election news, voters decided to reject Ballot Issue 1B which would have provided revenue generated from a 1 % sales tax increase to be used in support of the Saguache County Sheriff’s Department including staff training, and the maintenance and construction of a new jail and justice center.

Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick addresses attendees at September's Chocolate Festival regarding Referendum 1B. Voters turned down the measure at the polls on November 8. Photo: Saguache Today/ Lynn Nowiskee.

Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick addresses attendees at September’s Chocolate Festival regarding Referendum 1B. Voters turned down the measure at the polls on November 8. Photo: Saguache Today/ Lynn Nowiskee.

There were 1,170 votes cast in favor but the measure was defeated with 1,486 voters declining their support of the initiative.

It was no surprise that both Democratic candidates for Saguache County Commissioners will retain their perspective seat on the Board of County Commissioners as both races were uncontested. Democrat Jason Anderson garnered 1,827 votes and Ken Anderson secured 1,830 votes at the booths yesterday

For complete Election 2016 results tallied from Saguache County, please visit the Colorado Secretary of State’s official website HERE.


Political Round-Up: The Last Rodeo for Rep. Ed Vigil

By Edward Vigil, State Representative, House District 62

Ed Vigil, State RepspacerEight years ago I started serving as State Representative and it has been quite the journey. I want to take a moment to thank all of you for supporting me throughout my tenure as a Colorado Legislator. It has been an honor to serve House District 62 with the assistance and encouragement from my constituents. These past eight years, I have been able to pass many pieces of successful legislation, always with rural Coloradans and the Valley’s best interests at heart. This may be my final rodeo, but this year is no different: fellow lawmakers and I have been able to get many bills to the Governor’s desk and accomplish numerous goals for 2016.

With the assistance of my fellow legislators: House Democrats, and members of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, I have been able to achieve many successes for Southern Colorado.

An Economy That Works for Everyone

Colorado continues to recover from the recession. Our statewide unemployment rate is 2.9 percent, ranking us third in the nation. However, the effects of the recovery still aren’t felt by everyone – and many hardworking Coloradans are still having a hard time making ends meet. This session we continued our work to strengthen our economy, and build a Colorado where everyone has a fair shot at success and access to good-paying jobs.

-Extend the ReHire Colorado program, which provides job training focused on veterans, seniors and non- custodial parents to secure long-term employment. (HB16-1290, headed to the Governor to be signed)

-Update content standards through the Department of Education to include tech skills and create a voluntary resource bank for schools and districts that want to start or expand computer science programs. (HB16-1291, postponed indefinitely in Senate Appropriations)

Students from Sierra Grande visit with State Rep Ed Vigil at the State Capitol

Students from Sierra Grande visit with State Rep Ed Vigil at the State Capitol

-Provide an income tax credit to qualified Colorado businesses that integrate quality apprenticeships into their workplaces. (HB16-1301, postponed indefinitely in Senate Finance)

-Create a pilot program where school districts receive a $1,000 bonus for each high school student who (1) earns an industry certification tied to an in-demand job, (2) finishes a rigorous workplace training program tied to key industry needs, or (3) successfully completes a Computer Science AP course. (HB16-1288, headed to the Governor to be signed)

-Engage business in the education system by creating a matching grant program within the Colorado Workforce Development Council to assist industry associations to define industry competencies and collaborate to facilitate training and education in the classroom and the workplace. (HB16-1288, headed to the Governor to be signed)

Passed Legislation I Have Sponsored in 2016:

HB 16-1255: Improve Forests to Improve Water Supply Conditions.
This bill provides legislation that will improve water supply conditions within Colorado, a topic that I have a particular interest in. The relationship between healthy forests and a resilient water supply are directly linked: by improving forest treatment around the state, an improvement in water supply will follow. This bill allows a local business to conduct pilot treatments within state forests to effectually care for the forests and, in doing so will: create a better environment for forests, restore watersheds, prevent wildfires, and mitigate harmful insects residing in forests. It is important to preserve the environment and I am proud to have sponsored this bill. This bill was passed in both chambers and signed by Governor John Hickenlooper on April 21st.

SB 16-008: Municipal State Highway Off-Highway Vehicles
Those operating off-highway vehicles are at a disadvantage at times due certain prohibitions around the state that concern crossing highways in non-highway vehicles. This bill allows for cities and towns to make a request in writing to the Department of Transportation that permits crossing highways in off-highway vehicles. This bill received bipartisan support and was signed by the Governor on March 16

SB 16-015: Rules for Allowed Marijuana Pesticide
Prior to SB 16-015, those interested in cultivating marijuana were only offered a compilation of banned pesticides. This bill will give the Governor the ability to designate a state agency to provide a list of acceptable pesticides. SB 16-015 was created to ease the process of growing cannabis around the state and make the product safer. The governor signed SB 16-015 on March 9th.

State Rep. Ed Vigil (right) and Senator Baumgardner (left) and Govenor Hickenlooper (center) signing SB 015, regulating allowed marijuana pesticides, into law.

State Rep. Ed Vigil (right) and Senator Baumgardner (left) and Govenor Hickenlooper (center) signing SB 015, regulating allowed marijuana pesticides, into law.

HB16-1011: Metro Districts Authority Promote Business Development
Current law says, a business district can only receive funds to aid in business development from its municipal board if it is valued at over $1.25 billion dollars. This high appraisal has denied access to many business districts around the state from receiving funds to stimulate growth and development This bill will omit the minimum valuation of a commercial property to receive funds from its municipal board and will hopefully encourage business expansion and progress around the state of Colorado. Economic growth is fundamental to securing jobs and furthering prosperity around our state and I happily sponsored this bill, which was signed by the Governor on April 15th.

SJR 16-016: Centennial Farms
Joint Resolution 16-016 gives recognition to the ‘Centennial Farmers’ around the state of Colorado in lieu of the 30 year anniversary of their initial designation. In 1986, the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Historical Society joined forces to create the Centennial Farms Program which gave recognition to the Colorado families who have dedicated over 100 years of service to maintaining farmland. Agriculture is one of Colorado’s most fruitful industries and is a vital component in the history of our state. This resolution was signed by the Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House in mid-March.

Bills I Have Supported This Year:

HB 16-1263: Racial Profiling Prohibition
This bill is meant to provide updates to a 2001 Colorado statute that bans members of law enforcement from unjustly profiling suspects. Biased profiling causes society to be mistrustful of police, perpetuates negative stereotypes and is unfair to citizens. This bill will further prohibition of law enforcement profiling to include race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, language religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability. This bill was sent to the Governor on May 05.

HB 16-1001: State Contractors Certify Compliance with Equal Pay Laws
HB 16-1001 would require businesses who are contracted by the state of Colorado to pay their employees according to equal pay laws set forth by the state. These contractors must submit proof that they are in compliance with these equal pay laws along with their submission for a contract bid. Contractors and subcontractors for the state will be required to compensate employees fairly regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or national origin. This bill was postponed indefinitely by the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs known in these parts as the “kill committee.”

HB 16-1017: Victim Impact Panel Appearance for DUI
This bill obliges those convicted of DUIs or other traffic violations that involve drugs or alcohol to make an in-person appearance to a court-mandated Victim Impact Panel. HB 16-1017 also raises the fee for attending a Victim Impact Panel from $25 to $50. This bill was signed by the Governor on March 22nd.

HB 16-1003L Middle Class College Savings Act
Despite efforts made by middle-class families to save for a college education, many folks are finding college to be unaffordable. If it had passed, this bill would have provided a tax credit for middle-class families who are investing money into college savings plan in hopes to ease the financial burdens that can often trail along with a higher education. This bill was postponed indefinitely by the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.

Bills I Have Worked On:

HB 16-1004: Measurable Goals Deadlines for Colorado Climate Action Plan
This bill was introduced to help determine measurable and attainable goals to combat climate change within the state of Colorado. This bill will further action to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand Colorado’s adaptability to a changing climate. Likewise, this bill would have the governor designate a committee to provide the Colorado General Assembly with yearly updates on the plan’s progress. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy postponed HB 16-1004 indefinitely.

This session is officially over, now I am returning to Alamosa to spend time with my family. I no longer will be commuting to the Capitol, but I will still continue my efforts to improve this great state during the Interim and into the future. Although I am finishing up my career with the Colorado House of Representatives, I encourage you all to remain engaged with the legislative process and to be a resource for the next person to take on the responsibilities of representing HD-62. Thank you all so very much for all the support you have lent me during these eight years. It has been quite the journey and I am honored to have served as State Representative for House District 62.


Saguache Votes Yes on Tax; Elects Mayor, Trustees

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

Saguache town residents voted in favor of a 1% sales tax measure to continue funding additional law enforcement presence within town limits. When the tally was complete, Saguache voters caste120 votes in favor, 65 against for the Saguache Sales Tax Increase. Official Report.

Saguache Town Election Judges (left to right) Alice Wardlow, Bill Hazard and Caroline Irwin helped residents cast their votes in the April 5 Election which appointed four Town Board Trustees and a Mayor for Saguache. Photo: Saguache Today.

Saguache Town Election Judges (left to right) Alice Wardlow, Bill Hazard and Caroline Irwin helped residents cast their votes in the April 5 Election which appointed four Town Board Trustees and a Mayor for Saguache. Photo: Saguache Today.

According to Saguache Town Clerk Rese Garcia, stated that the tax increase will go into effect on July 1, 2016.

Propelled by an increase in property-related crimes such as auto theft, local residents voted to make the long-term financial commitment for added patrols in town.

So what does that mean? Where do things go from here? According to Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell (more on that race’s results below), the Town of Saguache has committed to the additional patrols through 2016 and now voters have extended that coverage with today’s vote.

Resident Byron Smith cast his ballot in Saguache Today

Resident Byron Smith cast his ballot in Saguache Today

Residents may recall that the Town Board of Trustees budgeted $20,000 for law enforcement for 2016. Then, in a special session on January 21 the board voted unanimously to “dip into the reserves” for the additional $30,000 in order to come up with the $50,000 price tag Saguache County Sheriff Warwick presented as the cost for an additional officer. In February, Saguache Town officials inked the final contact with the county and additional patrols within the town limits began immediately.

“We’re looking to get law enforcement back on track,” stated Mayor Terrell referring to the financial commitment of added patrols. So residents will continue to see additional law enforcement presence and with the additional revenue, sustaining that during next fall’s budget discussions will make things a bit easier for the town board.

To that end, the following four candidates received the top votes for town board: LINK.

Amber Wilson_Saguache TodayAmber Wilson (137 votes ), the youngest of the Trustees is a county employee at the Land Use Office.

Loren Aldrich_Saguache TodayLoren Aldrich (104 votes) – Loren Aldrich is new to the community. Previously from the small town of Vanmeter Iowa, he brings previous board experience to the table. Loren served on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Council in Dallas County Iowa. spacer

Wyoma Hansen_Saguache Today

Wyoma Hansen (140 votes) has been a resident of Saguache for nearly 40 years. She served as Trustee for the Town of Saguache in from 1982 – 88. Hansen is a retired Forest Service employee.spacer

Susan Collins_Saguache Today

Susan Collins (141 votes) was born in Del Norte and raised on the family ranch, in the Cochetopa Valley in Saguache County. Her interests include horse shows, livestock judging and cooking.spacer

And finally Mayor Greg Terrell will keep his position as leader of this small, rural community for another four years as voters cast 104 votes in his favorite for re-election.

“Thanks to everyone who voted,” stated Terrell. The incumbent beat out three competitors with 104 votes, challengers had the following ballot counts: Janice Torrez (58 votes) , David Chavez (15 votes) and Dwayne Jett (5 votes).Greg Terrell_Saguache Today

On the horizon for Terrrell and the town board are continuing efforts to address the town’s antiquated infrastructure. He believes the most pressing issue facing Saguache Today is water. Mayor Terrell and the board are currently researching to find the best possible solution in terms of cost and implementation that will insure that Saguache’s water supply will be able to meet the needs and budget of the users and fulfill the requirements of the State of Colorado. Stay Tuned!

The newly elected Mayor and Town Board Trustees will be sworn in and take office at the next town meeting which will be held on April 19 at Town Hall located at 504 San Juan Avenue. Congratulations and Best of Luck to all!