Douglas County’s business community hosted its legislative representatives with a pre-session breakfast days before the start of the 2012 session. Congressional and senate leaders joined the Douglas County Business Alliance on Jan. 4 at the Sky Ridge Medical Center Auditorium, promising a quiet session with continued support of the business community from the county’s Republican leaders.
The alliance comprises a coalition of business organizations that includes chambers of commerce from Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Parker, Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree, the Castle Rock Economic Development Council and the Southeast Business Partnership. According to its website, the alliance was established to provide a single voice for the county’s business community, focusing on legislative issues surrounding transportation, water, business-friendly public policy, education, tax policy and sustainable development.
In keeping with its goal to lead and influence state and federal policy, legislation and regulation to enhance a positive business climate for the business community of Douglas County, the alliance hosted the breakfast to allow business leaders a chance to visit with state senators Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, and Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, and state representatives Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, Carol Murray, R-Castle Rock, and Chris Holbert, R-Parker.
Most in attendance heard a message of support from their representatives, who predict an uneventful session as they face a split legislature. McNulty anticipates observers will be surprised by a more quiet legislation.
“Everyone expects external factors in politics will cause a politically divisive session,” McNulty said. “Our goal is to accomplish what we set out to accomplish and let the politics take place on the campaign trail where they belong.”
While the campaign trail heats up with the Feb. 7 Republican caucus, representatives were poised to begin the session Jan. 11, with goals that ranged from education reform to continued efforts toward economic recovery.
Murray is watching years of efforts toward education reform come to fruition this year as school districts prepare for new evaluations of principals and teachers. The evaluations are the result of law passed in the last five years that could impact school performance across the nation, Murray said.
“This state has helped prepare evaluations that are fair to teachers that will help with kids’ progress,” she said. “People are holding their breath to see how (the new evaluations) affect the unacceptable dropout rate we have.”
Education performance was high on the list for business leaders in attendance, with school performance listed among the top draws for businesses seeking relocation options. Representatives added the elimination of business property taxes and streamlined regulations among that wish list.
“The number-one issue continues to be this economy and the fact that people are hurting and businesses are hurting,” Scheffel said. “We at the state need to make sure we are doing what we can to create an environment that permits economic recovery in Colorado. That’s why my bills will center on regulation and tax reform specifically around personal business property tax. It’s not flashy, but good, sound policy.”