Senator Larry Crowder
ALAMOSA — Larry Crowder, freshman legislator from the newly created Senate District 35, is not wasting any time at the state capitol.
Disproving the notion of a lengthy learning curve, Crowder familiarized himself with his new role right after the election last November and has introduced several pieces of legislation since being sworn into office last month.
Crowder is a Republican, San Luis Valley resident, cattle rancher and military veteran who worked as a veterans service officer in the Valley before taking office in January.
“I get along with everybody,” he said in a Monday interview before returning to the capitol for the week. “I can reach across the aisle without a problem.”
He said the motivation driving him in Denver is doing what is best for the people he represents in Senate District 35, which includes the six San Luis Valley counties plus 10 other southern Colorado counties.
He also believes in accentuating his strengths.
“My strengths are veterans or farming and cattle. It’s not in anybody’s best interests to go out of your strengths.”
The pieces of legislation he has introduced illustrate that point.
His first piece of legislation last month was to expand the cemetery at the Colorado State Veterans Center, Homelake. The legislation is now going through appropriations, and if it passes that hurdle, Crowder believes it has an excellent shot at approval.
“We are in pretty good shape,” he said.
Only three gravesites are currently available at Homelake, and Crowder’s legislation would add 80 more.
“The community stepped up to the plate and did $235,000 worth of land leveling and paving. We are getting closer,” Crowder said.
He said former long-time state legislator Lewis Entz has been a big help in moving this legislation forward.
While the Homelake legislation promotes expansion, another bill proposed by Crowder would halt expansion — of the military in Pinon Canyon, Las Animas County.
“There’s a threat of expansion, and I am trying to eliminate that threat,” he said. “The bill I have crafted on that if we cannot get this expansion ceased, we will attempt to purchase it back.”
The bill would create a revenue stream the governor and attorney general could use to negotiate a purchase with the U.S. Army, “but hopefully we can get it to the point where we can cease the expansion threat.”
Crowder said as a veteran he is pro military, but this is an issue of personal property rights.
A veteran-related bill Crowder has not yet brought forth but is working on would assist spouses of veterans after they have passed away. Crowder said a veteran might not have been able to afford life insurance and the spouse might not qualify for a pension, so when the veteran passes away, the spouse is left with virtually nothing. Crowder would like to expend the benefits of the Homestead Act to spouses of veterans for three years after the veteran dies.
In a fourth bill Crowder would reintroduce the black-footed ferret, the natural enemy of prairie dogs and gophers that have become a huge problem in farming and ranching communities in Crowder’s senate district. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association requested Crowder’s assistance with this legislation.
Crowder is also co-sponsoring legislation that would promote hemp development in Colorado as an agricultural product. The low-water-use hemp would be raised, harvested and baled much like alfalfa and shipped out for processing. It would be suitable for growing in the San Luis Valley and other parts of Crowder’s senate district.
“I think there’s a future for it.”
Crowder has also weighed in on gun control, civil unions and healthcare issues.
“I am very pro Second Amendment,” Crowder said. He said he would oppose gun control measures.
“I am not comfortable infringing on anybody’s rights with gun restrictions.”
He said the hundreds of people killed in the 9/11 attacks were killed without a shot fired.
“The evil exists, but the weapon itself is inert matter.”
Regarding civil union legislation, Crowder said he had no problem with what was in the legislation but was concerned about what was left out. He said he opposed it for that reason. He said he believed everyone should have equal rights. He was concerned that churches were not afforded enough protection in the legislation to follow their core beliefs, nor were adoption agencies where parents might have specified their children would be adopted to heterosexual couples.
“I believe in being very transparent,” Crowder said.
He added, “I am for the veterans and military community and health and human services.”
He supports Medicaid expansion from 100 to 133 percent of federal poverty level.
“I think it would help a lot of people in this region.”
Crowder said although he is a strong Republican and believes in limiting government, he believes as an elected senator he must represent everyone in his district.
“You can’t say ‘I am just here to represent the Republicans.’ You have got to represent everybody, and you’ve got to represent everybody equally and do what is best for the district.”
He and State Representative Ed Vigil, a Democrat who represents the house district encompassing the San Luis Valley, are working together on issues affecting their region and will co-host a town hall meeting in the Valley in March.