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Republican lawmakers from Douglas County who gathered for the annual legislative kickoff at Sky Ridge Medical Center expressed optimism that much will be accomplished at the state level during the 2015 session.
Republicans now are the majority in the state Senate, but not the House. They believe the political shift to the right paves the way for some change, several of the legislators said during the Jan. 6 event organized by the Douglas County Business Alliance.
"I hope predictability and stability are qualities you can embrace in the state Legislature for the next 120 days," said Chris Holbert, a former state representative who was elected in November to the Senate seat previously held by term-limited Ted Harvey.
Holbert, Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, House Minority Whip Polly Lawrence, Rep. Patrick Neville, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle and Douglas County's three commissioners addressed about 65 people who attended the event. They shared their hopes for the session that begins Jan. 7.
Scheffel said he believes the newly elected legislators will provide moderation.
"You chose wisely in your representation," he said. "I think we'll see consensus around things that are good for business."
Scheffel said he'll be the co-sponsor of a bill aimed at mitigating the impacts of current state laws related to condominium construction defects. Developers wary of litigation resulting from current laws shy away from building condos, which leaves first-time homebuyers and others seeking smaller homes with limited options.
Lawrence said incoming House speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst may oppose a change to the existing law.
"I think we can educate her on that," Lawrence said. "We should be able to find common ground."
Lawrence also said she believes some lawmakers want to work toward creating economic equality.
"Those two words together kind of send a chill down my spine," she said. "There are members who think we need to cut interest rates on credit cards because people are carrying too much debt, (that) somehow government is going to solve all their problems. And we know that's not what government is there for. If we create more opportunity in the marketplace, a lot of these problems are going to be solved."
Neville said he hopes to push for more limited government and less regulation.
"I'm not just pro-free enterprise," he said. "I'm pro-liberty. I'm for all of you in this room using your God-given talents to grow and prosper."
Commissioner Jill Repella said county leaders will continue a business friendly approach, pointing to Douglas County's success in attracting new employers and jobs.
The county's seen such an increase in revenue, "We're looking at ways of kicking that back to the community."
That could mean a mill levy decrease, she said.
"We are certainly blessed here," she said, "but we're not blessed by chance."
The Douglas County Business Alliance is a coalition formed to influence regional, state and federal policy and legislation that could impact local business. It is a joint effort of the Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Lone Tree, Parker, Highlands Ranch and South Metro Denver chambers of commerce; the Castle Rock Economic Development Council; and the Northwest Douglas County Economic Development Commission.
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