Rep. Mitsch Bush has efficient 1st term representing House District 26

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Diane Mitsch Bush

— Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, batted a thousand during her first legislative session representing Routt and Eagle counties in House District 26.

Of the four bills she sponsored, all passed and were signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, prompting politics website Colorado Capitol Watch to name her among the most efficient legislators of the session.

“It felt good to be effective, to work hard, to get stuff done in a bipartisan way,” Mitsch Bush said Friday.

Her largest bipartisan victory was House Bill 1278, which set requirements for reporting oil spills.

The bill garnered five Republican votes in the state Senate, including Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, and three votes from across the aisle in the lower chamber.

“The reason it got bipartisan support in committee and on the floor is because I spent five weeks getting all the stakeholders together,” Mitsch Bush said about H.B. 1278.

She said she contacted oil companies, industry groups, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee and Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike King. She also met with environmental and water groups and made sure all parties were kept in the loop.

“By the time the bill was in front of the committee, it had great oversight,” Mitsch Bush said. “In committee, it was kind of a love fest, really. … I’m very proud.”

Mitsch Bush also sponsored the first bill of the session to be signed into law with H.B. 1057, which kept the Colorado Avalanche Information Center under the Department of Natural Resources.

Her other victories included co-sponsoring Senate Bill 223, which continues the state noxious weed advisory committee, and sponsoring H.B. 1132, which reformed vehicle weight limits to keep some federal highway funding.

But what might be one of the most enduring images of the freshman legislator’s time in the Capitol is the photo that anchored the front of The Denver Post at the close of the term under the headline “Session’s up in smoke” and alongside a story about successful marijuana bills.

“I wore a really loud jacket,” she said, acknowledging she’s heard some comments about the photo.

Contrary to the impression given by the headline, Mitsch Bush wasn’t celebrating the passage of marijuana bills but the close of her first year representing House District 26.

“I thought the session was really successful.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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