Editorial: Lawmaker asking for business input

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During state Rep. Pete Lee’s successful campaign for a second term in the Legislature, he emphasized the fact that he strongly supported the Colorado Springs business community and wanted to help local companies, large and small, in any way he could.

Despite facing a stern Republican challenge from Jennifer George in House District 18, Lee prevailed convincingly with 53 percent of the vote.

Now the Democratic lawmaker wants to make his point about local business in an even more public way.

With his party having taken control of the state House of Representatives by a 37-28 margin, Lee can plan for the upcoming session of the General Assembly with a much different approach from his first two years. Knowing the Democrats will have a majority in each committee that considers legislation, Lee can count on his bills having a better chance.

As a second-term representative, Lee will serve as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and says he’ll also be a member of the Transportation Committee. He adds that he requested to be put on the committee dealing with business, “but they meet at exactly the same times as the Judiciary Committee.” And since he’s a practicing attorney in the real world, the House leadership prefers to keep him involved with Judiciary, as he was the past two years.

That doesn’t mean Lee’s focus will be limited to those assignments, though he’s looking forward to the Transportation Committee. Along with overseeing the state Department of Transportation and the Public Utilities Commission, that panel deals with funding for the state’s roadways, an area where Colorado Springs and El Paso County have been shortchanged for decades.

Though the Legislature doesn’t convene until January, preparations already are in high gear. House members must turn in plans for their first three bills by Dec. 3, with others due Jan. 15.

Lee has some ideas, but he also wants to make sure he understands the priorities of local business owners and leaders. He already has asked the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and others such as the Middle Market Entrepreneurs for input, but he’s wondering if others also might have thoughts about potential bills. The sooner the better, but as long as Lee puts three proposed bills on the list by Dec. 3, he can make substitutions if a better suggestion comes along. Ideas don’t have to be in legislative form; even concepts are welcome.

“I really am hoping to get some response and hear some new ideas.” Lee says. “I would be interested in what anyone would have to say. We want to do what we can to help the business community create jobs.”

This isn’t about party politics, either. As Lee puts it, “The best policy is made in the middle. I’m not representing just the 53 percent who elected me. I’m representing the whole Colorado Springs area.”

How easy might it be to contact Pete Lee? His cell number is 460-2834 and his e-mail is reppete@gmail.com, and he insists, “Anyone should feel free to call me, whether they live in District 18 or not. I’m ready to listen.”

That’s an open invitation to the entire business community. Why not take advantage of it?