The horror of the Newtown shooting, arriving on the heels of the mass shootings in Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Tucson, has appropriately reignited a national debate over gun violence. Sadly, this week even a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, drafted by two conservative U.S. senators - Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia - failed to pass the U.S. Senate, despite being supported by 90 percent of Americans and over 70 percent of NRA members.
I have long held the view that we need a balanced approach to securing our energy future -a strategy that includes renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass alongside traditional sources, like natural gas and coal. I believe renewable energy sources have and will continue to create thousands of new, good-paying jobs throughout Colorado and reverse the harmful effects of climate change in the process. With our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, Colorado can be a model for the nation and lead the way toward energy independence.
Nearly 8,500 Coloradans shared their stories with me about how the sequestration harms them and their families. From job losses to pay cuts to an inability to make tuition payments, these realities underline why these automatic budget cuts are neither the smartest nor the most strategic way to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Over the past several weeks, my colleagues in Congress and I have received daily warnings that if we do not act soon to reduce the federal budget deficit in a balanced and comprehensive way, a series of automatic budget cuts - commonly called sequestration - will severely hurt our military readiness and domestic discretionary programs.
At the start of last year, I wrote to Coloradans asking you for your top priorities for 2012. Thousands of you wrote back to tell me what matters most to you, your families and your businesses. I am pleased to say that, from reforming the way Washington works to improving our energy strategy, 2012 was a great year for making your ideas to create jobs, boost our economy and preserve our quality of life a reality.
For many years, you and I have been fighting to make Colorado the country's leader in clean energy production. The latest chapter in that fight was six months ago, when I pledged to deliver a speech on the Senate floor nearly every day we were in session about how the wind Production Tax Credit and the wind energy industry have boosted our economy and created jobs in Colorado and across our great nation.
Our great state - and much of Colorado's history - began with a mining boom. However, this heritage, literally the state's foundation, left behind 7,000 abandoned mine sites and the toxic runoff they often create. These sites, the legacy of past decades of irresponsible mining, today threaten the foundation of much of our outdoor economy and what makes our state great: our land and water.
Two weeks ago, small-business owner Lisa Goodbee, president of Goodbee & Associates in Centennial, and 14 other small-business owners met with President Obama in Washington, D.C. They asked him to continue working with Congress to reach a balanced deal that fixes our budget.
What do GPS, flat-screen televisions and the Internet have in common? Before each became commonly available consumer goods, they were developed by the military. Alternative fuels are on the cusp of similar cutting-edge development.
Thanksgiving is a great time to spend time with family and friends and to take stock of how fortunate we are to live and work in the West. From our growing economy to the natural wonders that make Colorado the best place to raise a family, we are truly blessed.
Since I was first elected to serve, I have worked to ensure that we do everything we can to foster a healthy environment for the growth of small businesses in our state and across the country. Small businesses face unique challenges ranging from accessing the capital they need to expand to finding unique ways to serve their communities; but in the end, it comes down to people. An important factor to hiring and retaining a competitive workforce for any small business is the ability to provide reasonable and affordable health coverage for their employees - health care plans that meet their needs and provide reliable coverage.
This past summer, Colorado experienced one of the most severe wildfire seasons on record. The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, in particular, reminded us that wildfires don't stop at city limits - and residential areas near our forests, grasslands and public lands are at just as much risk as forestlands. Furthermore, roughly 40 percent of Coloradans live in the risky areas where human development meets or intermingles with undeveloped wildland and vegetative fuels, sometimes called the Wildland-Urban Interface. As we make our way through the fall months, now is the time to look ahead and do all we can to safeguard our homes and communities from the threat of future wildfires.
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), the law that previously prohibited gay and lesbian members of the military from serving in the armed forces unless they kept their sexual orientation a secret from their colleagues.
In Colorado, it doesn't have to be Hispanic Heritage Month to notice the positive contributions that Colorado's Hispanic community has made to our great state. This month of recognition provides us with a chance to reflect on how the contributions of Latinos in Colorado have benefited our overall quality of life and how we can collectively celebrate the Hispanic community as a vibrant part of our Colorado family throughout the year.
This week, as we reflect on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, I join all Coloradans in renewing our vow to never forget those who were killed, the first responders who risked everything that day so that others might live, and the troops who have fought for us ever since. In one of the darkest moments in our history, the courage and selflessness of the American people shined brighter than ever as we stood together as one nation.
As parents and students navigate the first few weeks of the new school year, it is important to remember that physical activity is a critical part of having a healthy and alert mind. From rock climbing to mountain biking and skiing to hiking, Coloradans are fortunate to have so many options for fun outdoor activities.
Great countries build things. And great countries make their own energy. Coloradans know this. We are at the epicenter of our nation's all-of-the-above energy strategy, from solar to natural gas to wind.
Rebuilding our economy is the single most important issue we face today in Washington, D.C. Although the federal government alone does not create jobs, we have an important role to play in helping businesses be successful.