McLachlan named vice-chair of House Transportation Committee

Author: Marianne Goodland - January 10, 2018 - Updated: January 10, 2018

Barbara McLachlanBarbara McLachlan

With the 2018 legislative session now underway, a few lawmakers are taking on new responsibilities. That includes Rep. Barbara McLachlan, a Durango Democrat.

McLachlan this week was named vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee. She replaces fellow Democrat Rep. Faith Winter of Westminster, who is now the committee’s chair. Winter replaced Democratic Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs, who resigned her House seat to run for the Third Congressional District seat currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez.

According to a Wednesday statement from Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver, committee leadership positions are rarely awarded to first-term lawmakers. McLachlan is starting her second year in the state House.

“It’s an honor to be selected,” McLachlan said. “Transportation and energy are critically important issues in my district, and as vice-chair of the Transportation & Energy Committee I will work to ensure that rural areas of Colorado are not overlooked.”

Duran and Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City both identified transportation as top priorities for the 2018 session. The top priority bill of the Senate Republicans, known as Senate Bill 18-001, intends to ask voters for permission use existing state dollars to obtain bonds for a portion of the state’s $20 billion transportation wishlist. The bonds would use about $300 million per year in state revenues.

Grantham told the Colorado Senate during his opening day speech Wednesday that “there isn’t a Republican or Democrat way to fill a pothole, but I’d argue there is a Colorado way, and that’s if we do it together.” However, Senate Bill 1 is sponsored solely by Republicans, which could spell trouble if and when the measure heads over to the Democratic-controlled House.

Last month, the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting revealed the state would have surplus revenue heading into the 2018-19 fiscal year. The initial bump is expected to be about $200 million more in individual income taxes, a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Tipton supported. Shortly thereafter, Gov. John Hickenlooper revised his 2018-19 budget request to devote $148 million of that surplus to transportation funding.

Hickenlooper is expected to address transportation funding during his State of the State address on Thursday.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.