Senate President Shaffer Tours S.E. Colorado

Colorado Senate President, Brandon Shaffer, made a series of meet and greet stops in southeast Colorado last week, spending time on Thursday at the Hickory House, the SOS Center and The Perk on West Elm Street.

 The majority of his hour at The Perk dealt with efforts by local landowners to settle their conservation easement disputes with the state.  Many easements have had second valuation assessments which negated the earlier price fixed to their property.  Landowners had tried to move their claims through the state court system in an effort to resolve the disputes in easement values, but have seen little progress in over ten years.

 Jillane Hixson, one of those landowners in Prowers County, and candidate for Prowers County Commissioner, was one of several voices heard Thursday afternoon, asking for some form of redress, or a means to expedite their cases.  Shaffer said he would attempt to have the landowners receive status reports of cases directly, instead of having to rely on attorney information.  Hixson said she had played numerous tape recordings of initial conservation easement committee hearings in the state legislature, and stated that some of the punitive regulations were tacked on after the initial agreements were authorized.  Shaffer told the gathering, “It feels like you’re not getting a fair shake in this process, so we need to find a way to help you make your case.”  Shaffer said he’d report any findings to Hixson who could share the information with other affected landowners.

Shaffer Meeting with Local Landowners in Prowers County

 Other topics covered in the afternoon session ranged from ethical practices in all levels of government, especially from national representatives, to finding a means of attaining working relationships on bi-partisan levels in congress.  Shaffer stated,”We need to stop getting distracted on some wedge issues, created to pit one party against the other.  It separates the representatives from common goals that will benefit all our citizens.  Those issues need to be put aside to the end of the day and then we can spend our time making some progress.” 

Lamar City Councilman, Skip Ruedeman, asked if just some common sense couldn’t be applied to issues that can filter down to the local level.  “We’ve got 50 or 60 buildings in town that are condemned and abandoned, but because they contain asbestos, the city would have to spend several thousand dollars in studies and fees just to bring one of them down,” he explained.  Ruedeman said it’s this type of red tape and costs that don’t allow us to make any economic progress locally.

 Almost every farmer in the group expressed some level of discontent with water issues.  “We’re not happy and have little confidence with our state water engineers,” was a general assessment from the group.  Some felt that Kansas was getting the better of the deals in Colorado water courts, from seep ditch regulations to storage concerns. 

Campaign contributions was also discussed, along with finance reform and transparency for mega-money contributions.  “The Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court allowed millions of dollars to flow into the contribution stream,” Shaffer said.  He said he could come to full circle on the issue if there was a way of making sure the donations went directly to the candidate who would have to be directly accountable for what was received.  “This would help eliminate third party groups that advertise and say whatever claim they want,” he explained. 

If elected to the 4th Congressional District, the Longmont Senator said he would want to serve on the committees that would most help Colorado residents. “I’d like to be on the agriculture and transportation committees,” he said, adding, “Those two contribute so much to the state’s economy.”  Shaffer said he would also want to serve on the education and VA committees as well.  “My wife is a teacher, so I know what obstacles she faces in her career, and I’m a veteran as well, and we need to honor our commitment to our men and women who serve our country.”

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCityCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEducationEmploymentFeaturedLamarPoliticsTransportation


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