This article ran in The Mountain Mail on March 25, 2019. You can find the article here.

Photo 1: State Sen. Kerry Donovan speaks to a large crowd Saturday at Soulcraft Brewing. Donovan discussed several bills the Colorado Legislature is working on at the town hall meeting. Photo 2: It was a standing-room-only crowd Saturday at Soulcraft Brewing. Donovan began the meeting by apologizing for misrepresenting a letter from Chaffee County’s commissioners and Sheriff John Spezze about the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order, also known as the “Red Flag” gun bill (Photo by Cody Olivas).

A crowd that could barely fit into Soulcraft Brewing showed up Saturday for state Sen. Kerry Donovan’s town hall meeting.

Donovan (D-Vail) represents Senate District 5, which includes Chaffee County.

Many of the audience members wanted to discuss the Extreme Risk Protection Order, also known as the “Red Flag” gun bill, which Donovan said she voted for on Friday.

The legislation would allow a Colorado judge to order the firearms of a person deemed a risk to themselves or others to be temporarily seized if a family member or law enforcement agent petitioned the court.

Donovan began the discussion by apologizing for mischaracterizing a letter sent to her from Chaffee County’s commissioners and Sheriff John Spezze the day before when the legislation was being discussed, saying erroneously that the county supported it.

She said the letter flagged several concerns but didn’t state a clear position.

Spezze said he’s opposed to the bill and would provide Donovan with a new position letter.

Commissioner Greg Felt apologized for not being clearer when he wrote the letter, saying he took a “nuanced” approach to an issue with a lot of nuance in it. He added that he opposes the bill since they found 14 flaws in it and asked if there was a way to slow it down.

Donovan said she expected the bill to pass and said the next move would be to approach Gov. Jared Polis and persuade him to veto it.

Donovan also discussed some of the other bills she’s working on.

She said she’s working on two broadband bills. One would require entities receiving money from the state to be net neutral, and the second bill would look for ways to build up redundancy, including using infrastructure already in place. She said she expects the net neutrality bill to pass while work is still being done on the other broadband bill.

Two other bills she said she’s working on deal with health care.

One bill would use reinsurance, which is basically insurance for insurance companies, which she said could drop rates by 23 percent. The second health care bill would create a state-backed public option, addressing the lack of competition in the exchange, but is likely two or three years away, she said.

She also said she’s writing a “fun bill” that would create a permanent display for the state constitution in the Capitol. The state constitution is currently at the Colorado History Museum.

She also said she’s looking into the changing job market and how to help people working at jobs that don’t have retirement plans.

Climate change has also been discussed a lot this session, Donovan said, and one bill just passed out of the first committee would have the Air Quality Control Commission use authority it already has to measure gases on a regular basis. Then, every five years, the commission would provide a forecast, helping the state increase its data on the issue.

Donovan also said she’s in favor of a national popular vote because Colorado is becoming less of a swing state in presidential elections, noting that President Trump hasn’t visited Colorado to try to win votes here. “I feel like individual votes would count more,” she said.

An audience member asked her about Senate Bill 19-181, which concerns energy development.

Donovan said she supported the bill and noted that there isn’t a lot of oil and gas development in Senate District No. 5, and the oil and gas industry had added five amendments to the bill.