Tipton returns to the state Capitol as new Congressman

The Colorado Statesman

It was like old home week at the state Capitol this week when Congressman Scott Tipton, who defeated three-term Democratic incumbent John Salazar in November, visited his old stomping ground.

State Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, Republican from Cortez, at the state Capitol Wednesday.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Alamosa, right, welcomes U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton back to the state Capitol. A former state representative, Tipton met with legislators from the southwestern part of the state. Earlier in the week he was in the San Luis Valley talking with county officials.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Gary Salapich, a member of the Las Animas County crops committee, and Karen Salapich, of the wildlife committee, pose for a photo with their new congressman.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Freshman state Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, chats with fellow Republican Scott Tipton, a freshman congressman from Cortez.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton chats with Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, during his first visit back to the state Capitol since being elected to Congress in November.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, finds it hard to believe that the soda cans are so small. He lets everyone know that his carbon footprint will be real tiny after consuming his Diet Coke.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Tipton, Republican from Cortez, was greeted with slaps on the back and well wishes from former colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including at least a couple Democratic lawmakers who have been mentioned as potential challengers to Tipton in 2012.

But House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, refrained from making any candidacy announcement during the lunch meeting in a Capitol committee room Wednesday, and instead asked a serious question or two of Tipton, who now represents him in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, was a little more transparent, specifically asking the freshman congressman to make sure his office notified her of future meetings in the district so she could join in on the dialogue. Tipton said he would of course keep her in the loop.

After the group discussion with the congressman ended, Schwartz insisted on having her photo taken with Tipton so she could show her constituents that there is bipartisan work being done in her legslative district, ten counties which overlap Tipton’s 3rd congressional District.

Tipton, who served one term in the state house, emphasized the importance of establishing a strong dialogue between his office and state officials.

The federal debt mandates that government stop growing and Tipton said he recognizes that many decisions made in the nation’s capitol affect what legislators do at the Colorado capitol.

Tipton also told lawmakers, most of them from his southwestern Colorado district, that the Army has no money currently for Army expansion in Piñon Canyon. Tipton said he opposes a permanent ban.

The freshman congressman also said he has heard mixed thoughts about low altitude training flights in the district and how they affect cattle on the ranches. Some ranchers thought the flights disturbed their stock, others didn’t, he said. Tipton said he’ll wait to hear the Air Force’s proposal before making his position on the issue known.

Earlier in the week Tipton heard from county commissioners in the San Luis Valley. The theme was similar: as commissioners, they too would be affected by actions in Washington and he wanted to keep an open dialogue going between everyone.

Tipton said cuts in funding and the uncertainty of future budget cuts makes it somewhat difficult to accurately plan for the future. Fiscal help to his home district would likely be limited, he said, because President Barack Obama has promised to veto future bills which contain earmarks, set asides usually for pet projects in congressional districts around the country.

Tipton stressed that bipartisan action is needed to deal with budget restraints and said that the $1.5 trillion deficit represents a major economic challenge in the country.

Last week Tipton was named chair of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade.

“As the co-founder of a successful family-owned small business with international sales, Scott Tipton will bring fresh insight to our work to help American entrepreneurs compete in the global marketplace,” said Chairman Sam Graves, R-MO.

“I’m honored to serve on the Small Business Committee and as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, which has oversight over programs that are important to Colorado’ third district,” Tipton said.

“I’m focused on cutting spending, curbing overregulation, and keeping taxes low so that small businesses can do what they do best — create jobs and get people back to work.”

Jody@coloradostatesman.com