Town Hall at Manitou Springs City Hall; This Saturday, April 30 at 9:30am

I hope to see you at my next town hall meeting for all of HD-18, this Saturday, April 30 at the Manitou Springs City Hall. Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder will join me.

I’ll be there to discuss any questions you still have about the state budget, your reactions to proposed congressional district maps affecting El Paso County, and your ideas for Colorado you’d like to see discussed as bills in 2012.

City Hall is at 606 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO 80829. From Colorado Springs, take US-24 W/Midland Expressway and exit onto US-24 BUS W/Manitou Ave; the building will be on your right.

El Paso County During 2011 Redistricting

An important issue facing Colorado’s Legislature in 2011 is the Constitutionally-mandated task of redrawing our U.S. Congressional District boundaries to balance population. Since 2000 Census, El Paso County has added more new residents than any other county in Colorado, which has lead to some significant proposed changes.

Each state has its own process for re-drawing the maps; in Colorado, there is a bipartisan committee consisting of 10 Legislators – 5 from each party – who have the responsibility. They held 10 public meetings around the state to obtain citizen input and have drawn some maps for discussion. The target is to have about 718,457 people in each of Colorado’s 7 districts.

The Joint Select Committee must also consider the following principles; no diluting of minority influence (established by the Voting Rights Act); recognizing communities of interest and preserving regions, geographical areas, water basins, transportation corridors, cities, towns and neighborhoods with similar needs in the same districts when possible; and maintaining competitiveness based on party affiliation, which means that we should favor creating “swing districts” with balanced number of Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters over “safe seats” where the same party always wins.

Some of the proposed maps split El Paso County into two Congressional Districts: Fort Carson, and its bedroom communities of Fountain, Widefield and Security, would go with the South and East rural parts of El Paso County in CD-3, a district that extends across the entirety of Southern Colorado. Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and Monument would continue to be the population center of CD-5, which would now extend northward to include Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch.

These are just a few of the options on the table, but I encourage you to read about the process and contact my office to tell me what you think.

Restorative Justice Passes the House

Moments ago my restorative justice bill passed the Colorado House. The vote was 65-0 and a long list of my colleagues signed up as co-sponsors from the floor.

HB11-1032 expands the Victim Rights Act and gives those impacted by crime new options by defining restorative justice, describing its processes in state law, and permitting it to be used in different types of criminal cases as well as in disciplinary cases in schools. Some victims could get the option to meet face-to-face with an offender to speak their minds and demand straight answers, which has been shown to have a life-changing positive effect on all involved when it’s done in the way the bill describes.

We worked hard to make sure HB11-1032 would become a law that victims groups, prosecutors, youth workers, educators, the department of corrections and others agree will benefit communities and victims. There is plenty of good research showing that the process reduces the likelihood an offender will return to crime, and it gives victims a sense of closure. Here you can learn more about Restorative Justice and the bill.

HB11-1032 will now go on to Colorado’s Senate, where Senator Linda Newell has agreed to introduce it. I am proud that all of my colleagues from both parties voted for the bill and I look forward to a positive outcome in the Senate.