Cailey McDermott, Mail Staff Writer | Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012 9:35 am
Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) named the Local Foods, Local Jobs bill as her biggest highlight of the Colorado legislative session that closed Wednesday.
Schwartz spoke to The Mountain Mail about that bill and other legislation she helped pass during the regular session.
The bill, which became the Colorado Cottage Foods Act, created an opportunity for people to produce cottage foods in their home kitchens, Schwartz said.
She said the idea for the bill came from meeting with local growers in Chaffee County about wanting more produce and more local foods.
Another bill Schwartz sponsored that became law is the electronic waste bill banning disposal of electronic waste in Colorado landfills.
Schwartz sponsored a stalking bill, signed into law Friday, that enforces stricter laws regarding the offense.
It was introduced in response to the murder of a Leadville teacher, Vonnie Flores, who was shot by her neighbor after being stalked for five years, Schwartz said.
The bill requires automatic restraining orders and a court appearance before a stalking suspect can be released from jail.
“It was a good session. We focused on economy growth and building of jobs – and local government, too,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said another bill she worked “very hard” on was the rural broadband access bill.
She thanked Wendell Pryor, Chaffee County Economic Development Corp. director, for his help.
Connectivity in Chaffee County and Salida costs about $20,000 a month, Schwartz said.
Having one Internet line in and out of the county makes the county and the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center vulnerable if it’s cut off, she explained.
Schwartz said, unfortunately, the House ran out of time to vote on several important bills, including the rural broadband bill, before the end of the session at midnight Wednesday.
She said discussion on the civil union bill was lengthy, and the House ultimately took no action on that measure either.
A special session will start at 10 a.m. today to address a few of the important bills that weren’t voted on during the regular session, like a number of water-related projects and the rural broadband bill.
Schwartz said the first item slated for action is the “projects bill,” giving the ability to allocate water and monitor river flows and storage.
She said in the face of statewide snowpack at 16 percent of average, “we can’t risk any oversights regarding water.”