State Rep. Al White is going places. Every morning he hops aboard his electric scooter and rides five blocks to work. It's an amusing combination of man and machine.
People who share the sidewalk with him in the morning can't help but chuckle at the sight of a guy in a suit zipping by on a child's toy.
White wouldn't have it any other way. The Winter Park Republican, now in his second term of office, has learned to find humor in stressful situations.
There's no shortage of stress in the Colorado General Assembly, as 100 lawmakers scramble to line up a state budget before the 2003 legislative session ends next month.
Just in case White momentarily forgets about the fiscal crisis, he's got plenty of people back home to remind him.
White represents Routt, Moffat, Garfield, Grand, Jackson and Rio Blanco counties in the state House.
His constituents' calls and e-mails ask for help in staving off cuts to their funding.
"Everyone's got a special program they want to save," he said, "and I've got sympathy for all of them."
But sympathy doesn't go too far when dollars are stretched.
All that money-crunching has played havoc with his proposed legislation.
White introduced a plan in January that called for reducing fees the state pays retailers for collecting sales taxes and applying the excess to marketing the state. It would have brought in between $18 million and $20 million for tourism promotion, he said. Since Colorado stopped aggressively marketing itself, its 2.7 percent share of the national tourism market has dropped to 1.8 percent.
Those are sorely missed dollars, White said.
And the state will continue to miss those dollars. White's bill died.
"All of the proposed tourism bills are dead," he said. The defeat of several plans that would have infused more cash into marketing the state is a sore point with White. "I'm absolutely frustrated," he said.
Now it appears another $2.5 million in annual tourism funding will disappear in the next fiscal year. White thinks the move is shortsighted and is working to put the money back into the 2003-2004 budget bill.
"I will be trying to recover that money," he said.
There have been some bright spots. White's bill to add cell phones to Colorado's telemarketer no-call list passed. Successfully adding wireless numbers was a continuation of his success with establishing the no-call list last May. White received an unusual token of appreciation for his efforts -- a pair of propped-up boxer shorts surrounded by bullet casings. The Bighorn Center for Public Policy, the think tank that created the concept of a no-call list, bestowed him the honor.
When opposition to his plan to create a no-call list for landlines intensified last year, someone commented that he must have been "wearing bulletproof underwear" when standing up to the opposition.
The observation stuck. And now White is stuck with a pair of boxers he can't use. The absurd tribute to his tenacity sits in his office.
White doesn't get too many opportunities to sit around the office lately.
His role as assistant House majority leader keeps him on his toes -- unless, of course he decides to travel by scooter.
To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4203 or