It can get a little wild and woolly under the Gold Dome at times. A little background is in order. Toward the beginning of this years session, Sen. Ellen Roberts told me about a bill that was passed hurriedly at the end of the session last year on a party-line vote, the Democrats being the majority. This bill removed the requirement for the courts, when deciding the boundaries of Congressional Districts, to consider communities of interest and specifically removed the wording Western Slope and Eastern Plains. Additionally, last years bill mandated that judges use voter registration records when deciding where to draw the Congressional lines. You may ask the question that I did: Why?
The one thing that I have learned at the Legislature is that nothing happens accidentally. Although the Democrats claim that they want competitive districts, I can only surmise that their ultimate plan is to carve up the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains. Several, including Club 20, have concerns about that. I believe that communities of interest should stay whole as much as possible while redistricting, and I further believe that the politics of using voter-affiliation registration lists politicizes the process and should not be part of the deliberations. I went to work and have introduced House Bill 11- 1276, which reinstates the previous law. Sen. Roberts is the Senate sponsor.
I wanted to bring the bill now and not wait until the end of the session, so that we can have an open and complete debate. Again, this bill addresses instructions to the courts and has nothing to do with the ongoing Joint Legislative Congressional Redistricting Committee and their hearings. My prayer is that we get beyond the politics and do what is right for Colorado.
Switching gears, one of the interesting and different things that the Legislature does is to pass Joint Resolutions. On Feb. 28, we passed Senate Joint Resolution 11-019 concerning the recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of Colorado as a United States Territory. The resolution contained the following information.
President James Buchanan signed an Act of Congress creating the Colorado Territory on Feb. 28, 1861, after a wave of settlement caused by the Pikes Peak Gold Rush beginning in 1858. Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln, William Gilpin was the first territorial governor and oversaw the first Territorial Assembly, the formation of Colorados original counties, and protected the territory during the early years of the Civil War.
The Territory of Colorado was made up of land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican Cession in 1848 and was reallocated from portions of Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, and New Mexico Territories. The boundaries of the Territory of Colorado are exactly the boundaries of todays State of Colorado. Colorado remained a territory until it was admitted to the Union as the 38th state on Aug. 1, 1876. Interestingly, my birthday is on Feb. 28. Colorados history is awesome and interesting and continues to unfold.
J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Colorados General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Rep. Brown at (303) 866-2914 or by e-mail at email@example.com.