In part 1 of a two-part interview, state Rep. Tim Dore, R- Elizabeth, reflects on the 2015 legislative session. In part 2, coming next week, he will describe his priorities for 2016 and look at the political dynamics of the Legislature in an election year.
With the two chambers split for the first time during his tenure in office, Dore, who represents District 64, described his third year in the Legislature as much different from his experience during the first two years.
“We had a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democrat-controlled House, and even in the House, the numbers were tighter,” Dore said. “It was my third session. Compared to the first two, it was much less turbulent, much less contentious.”
Dore attributed the “better year” to neither party being able to ram through an agenda. Highly partisan bills were either moderated significantly or defeated in the chamber controlled by the opposing party.
“We didn’t see a lot of contentious legislation come through. I think the most contentious thing we had might have been around the school testing. The variables of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College) tests and Common Core issues came up.”
Dore voted in favor of the 47-page, PARCC compromise bill, which passed the Senate 30-5 and passed 55-8 in the House. Among other things, HB 1323 reduced testing in elementary school grades K-3, continued PARCC testing in English and math for ninth graders, and eliminated PARCC testing for 11th- and 12-graders, replacing it with the ACT or its equivalent.
One bill that Dore was disappointed to see fail was SB 15-091, reducing the statute of limitations on construction defects for architects, builders, and the like from eight years to four years. The bill passed the Senate on a party line vote, and was “postponed indefinitely” by the House Committee on State, Veterans & Military Affairs.
During the 2015 session, Dore sponsored 11 bills, three of which were signed into law. The bills Dore introduced ranged from reduced regulations on small businesses, a proposed 24-month registration interval for seasonal farm vehicles, to tax incentives for agritourism.
Dore also worked alongside Pueblo representatives Daneya Esgar, a Democrat, and Clarice Navarro, a Republican, to obtain approval for a $1 million allocation as part of a multi-state grant application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant. The TIGER grant was needed to repair tracks used by the Southwest Chief, a historic train that runs through southeastern Colorado, and will keep the line operating in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
“It’s a key part of our economic development, both in the freight train and the passenger load down through Lamar and across that southeastern corridor,” Dore said. “That was a pretty heavy lift that we’d been doing for a couple of years. We finally got Amtrak, the State, and the federal agencies to agree on how we handle that, including the BNSF Burlington Northern Santa Fe, because they own the line.”
Dore also cosponsored a bill to update and modernize the National Western Stock Show complex. Along with modernizing the facility, the bill also improves the surrounding infrastructure in a project involving both the State of Colorado and the City of Denver.
“It’s going to be a multiyear program that includes… keeping the tradition and keeping some of the really good parts that have been historic there at the National Western Stock Show complex,” he said.
The project coincides with a bond passed in Denver last November to Improve the I-70 corridor through the area. The improvements to the facility and surrounding area are expected to transform the National Western complex into a year-round facility.
“CSU is going to have an extension program there, which will be part of their veterinary and agricultural hands on teaching on that site. All that will be a bonus,” he said. “I was one of the cosponsors of that piece of legislation, so I was excited to see that get passed.”