State Rep. Marc Catlin, R- Montrose, has just finished his first session in the Colorado General Assembly, but he already has some fresh ideas. Catlin, of House District 58, is working to create a bi-partisan caucus of representatives of rural areas. As a life-long farmer and water use expert, Catlin believes that “The biggest division in the state is not necessarily Republican vs Democrat, but Rural Vs Urban.”
He says suburban districts have a bit of both. “A lot of suburban areas around population centers have urban issues close to the city. But when you get further away, they have rural issues the same as we do,” he explained.
Catlin is spending the summer trying to interest rural Republicans and Democrats in the idea. “I’m in the process of emailing legislators and asking if they’d like to get together and talk about it.” He is hopeful that his colleagues on the Western Slope and Eastern Plains will see the advantages in creating a Rural Caucus to develop bills to improve country life with bi-partisan support.
State Republican leaders chose Catlin to replace Don Coram in HD 58, after Coram was selected to take over for state senator Ellen Roberts, after she resigned from her Senate District 6 seat.
On taking office in January, 2017, Catlin had hoped the House Republican leadership would appoint him to committees handling familiar issues, such as agriculture and water. Surprise, surprise—they planted the farmer on the Public Health Committee and the Finance Committee, with very little preparation, and a lot of political jargon to learn. “I don’t like jargon, because jargon makes me feel you are trying to keep me out of the conversation, and that makes me mad,” he told a recent meeting of the Forum at Heidi’s Deli, in Montrose. He recommended to the audience that they take the same attitude toward their public officials—don’t let them lock you out of understanding with acronyms and technical words. Make them speak plainly.
On the other hand, Catlin says his committee assignments may be blessings in disguise. “I was really disappointed that they didn’t put me on the ag committee; ag is second largest industry we have, but it doesn’t get as much attention as it needs. “But they may have done me a real favor by putting me on Health and Finance. I could end up becoming a much better-rounded representative.” For example, “This session, rural hospitals got to be a major, major issue. I don’t know much about hospitals, but I do know they are critical to a community. The idea that the state wanted to balance the budget on Medicaid money seemed wrong to me.”
There is a pretty steep learning curve when you initially take office. It seems that his colleagues threw Catlin the curve, but not the learning. “They hadn’t given me any instruction. I hadn’t learned how to write a bill. They gave me the Rules to the House, but they didn’t explain how the rules under the rules work.” Even so, Catlin says he has given himself a rule that works well, “Do no harm”.
Marc Catlin and his wife Kerri are life-long residents of the Montrose area. Marc grew up on the Catlin family farm, under the tutelage of his father, Keith. He also worked for the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, serving as the manager from 1996-2011. Currently, he represents Montrose County on the Colorado River District Board of Directors. And, he hosts a weekly radio show about water issues called “Diversions”, on AM 580 KUBC, in Montrose.
After a successful television career at KREX in Montrose, Kerri Catlin became a well-respected teacher in the Montrose-Olathe school district. She and Marc have a son and a daughter.