Bill-signings Support Colorado’s Strong Agriculture Community, Preserve and Protect Colorado’s Pollinators & Night Skies – by Jan Wondra

On Friday during a bill-signing road trip, Governor Jared Polis signed legislation in Westminster, Pueblo, and Westcliffe. The cascade of bills signed into law are intended to ensure Colorado remains a safe home to our vast and diverse ecosystem of pollinator species, help veterans find meaningful careers and support our workforce, create pathways for students to spur innovation in transportation and infrastructure, protect our rural dark skies, and invest in the state fair as a key economic driver for fast-growing agriculture and livestock industries.

“The bills I’m signing into law today will make our rural communities even stronger and prepare students and workers for success. On the eve of our 150th State Fair in Pueblo, we are making our state fairgrounds an even more amazing place to support 4-H kids and farmers and ranchers from across the state,” said Governor Polis. “I want to thank our legislators for their leadership on these forward-looking bills that strengthen the Colorado we all know and love.”

At the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Polis signed SB22-199 Native Pollinating Insects Protection Study. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Kipp and Froelich and Senators Jaquez Lewis and Priola, creates a study within the Department of Natural Resources to gain a better understanding of Colorado’s pollinators that keep our ecosystems healthy and resilient.

Pollinators are a critical link in Colorado’s food supply chain, and legislation signed today helps ensure that the state continues doing its part to recognize the crucial role of pollinators and promote biodiversity.

Traveling to Pueblo, Polis signed HB22-1407 sponsored by Representatives Donald Valdez and Ortiz and Senator Hinrichsen allowing military veterans and national guard members to audit college courses for no credit, helping them build the skills they need to find meaningful careers and strengthening our workforce to meet the needs of our economy.

At CSU, Polis also signed HB22-1365 into law to create the Southern Colorado Institute of Transportation Technology to tackle the challenges of creating solutions for a sustainable transportation future in Colorado. This legislation, sponsored by Pueblo Representative and House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar and Senator Hinrichsen, builds on the historic transportation legislative package Polis signed last year to support a dynamic economy, improve air quality, and save Coloradans money through innovative transportation solutions.

“This legislation saves our veterans money, and is a small symbol of our appreciation for those who have given so much to our state and country,” said Governor Polis. “CSU-Pueblo’s Southern Colorado Institute of Transportation Technology will deliver a world-class education to build a 21st-century transportation system that’s built to last, connecting Coloradans to communities and services in more sustainable ways.”

Later that afternoon at the Pueblo County Court House, Polis signed SB22-230, sponsored by Representative Esgar and Senators Fenberg and Moreno to expand collective bargaining rights for more than 37,000 public service workers, ensuring workers have a voice in their working conditions. Two years ago, Gov. Polis signed landmark legislation to establish the state workforce collective bargaining partnership agreement with Colorado WINS to help the state remain a competitive employer and strengthen the rights of state employees.

Colorado State Fair courtesy image.

While in Pueblo, Polis visited the iconic Colorado State Fairgrounds ahead of the State Fair’s 150th anniversary to sign SB22-134 State Fair Master Plan Funding, sponsored by Representative Esgar and Senators Hinrichsen and Don Coram.

The bill allocates $4 million to the fund that supports a multi-decade initiative ensuring the state fair continues to be an economic driver for Southern Colorado and the entire state. Last year, the State Fair generated $55.5 million in economic impact in 2021 for Pueblo and the surrounding areas, including 506 total jobs and $14.9 million in total earnings in Pueblo County.

“The State Fair is an opportunity to showcase who we are as Coloradans and share the incredible talent and tradition that supports our agricultural community and the City and County of Pueblo itself,” said Gov. Police. “Over the years, we’ve continued to make the State Fair better, and this multi-decade effort will ensure the next 150 years of the state fair are even better than the first 150.”

Gov. Polis visited Westcliffe’s Smokey Jack Observatory late afternoon Friday to sign HB22-1382, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Marc Catlin and Senator Kerry Donovan to protect Colorado’s night skies by establishing Dark Sky Parks, and support communities to limit and decrease light pollution.

Polis was joined by members of the International Dark-Sky Association, Dark Skies of the West Mountain Valley Board, and other dark sky community supporters as he signs this legislation to promote sustainable tourism and allow Coloradans and visitors to enjoy dark skies for years to come .

“So much about what makes our state special is how Coloradans and visitors experience our great vast outdoors, our wildlife, and the existential power of a starlit sky,” said Polis. “It’s not only something to protect but is an economic driver for communities like Westcliffe and I’m excited that this bill will help promote responsible and sustainable tourism to enjoy the Milky Way and the wonders of the heavens.”

Featured image: Trout Creek with Milky Way in the sky. Photo by Eric S. Miller.

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