Legislative Report by Rep. Betty Nuovo: Busy session gets under way

This is a brief report of the beginning of the Legislative session and I thought you might like to get information on how the Legislature starts and what we do in committees.

The Legislature met and during the first week, we organized, meaning we took our oath of office, the state officers took their oath of office (secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and attorney general). We received our seats in the House, we were given our committee assignments, we voted for the governor and he took his oath of office. On Thursday we heard from the governor as to his issues, mostly on the environment. There was a little excitement at the end of his speech caused by protestors. The Capitol Police handled the matter very well. At the end of the first week we went to our committees, elected our committee clerks and got to know each other.

Week two we all got to work. Many of the committees had big changes in the makeup of the people in committees. In Judiciary we had eight new members, of which William Jewett from Ripton and I are two. I have been on Judiciary on two prior occasions — one was for eight years and during which time I became chair. I was two different times on Ways and Means, two times on Natural Resources and Energy and one term in Agriculture.

During our second week most committees, including mine, had overviews of different systems within our jurisdiction. In Judiciary we had an overview of Criminal Justice programs such as Crime Victims Services, Court Diversion, Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Attorney General, etc. In other areas we had people in to talk to us on public safety, state police, sheriffs and local police.

On Wednesday we had a three-hour presentation on bill S.9, relating to protecting children from abuse and neglect. This was the result of children who died or were injured while in the care of caregivers. The hearing was held in a large room, Room 11, with the House and Senate Judiciary committees, the House Human Service Committee and the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare and others.

We discussed delays, case managers, inadequate funding of child protection, crimes against children, bodily injury, illness and many other issues involved. The bill will have a new section on failing to protect children. This is only the start on this bill. It is a 40-page bill we all have to read and work on to ensure that we have all the right facts and figures and to help children under the protection of the state. We will be having more information together and in each committee. We will all work together. The bill is actually starting in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the House will also work on it.

This will be a busy legislative session dealing with important issues — chief among them are property taxes, schools and health care. I am confident in the leadership to develop creative solutions to these problems.

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