Dan Gibbs (born c. 1976) is a legislator in the U.S. state of Colorado. A staffer for U.S. representative Mark Udall before being elected to the Colorado House of Representatives as a Democrat in 2006, Gibbs is noted for his focus on transportation and environment issues in the state legislature. He was appointed to a vacancy in the Colorado State Senate in late 2007 and currently represents a multi-county region stretching from the Colorado Front Range into the Rocky Mountains west of Denver.
Gibbs' parents were both public school teachers and later school principals; they divorced when Gibbs was young and he split his childhood between Gunnison, Colorado and East Lansing, Michigan. He was influenced at an early age toward public service after meeting former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Gibbs earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Western State College, and then attended the University of Colorado at Denver, where he worked towards a graduate degree in political science.
Gibbs has worked in the timber industry, as a manager with a whitewater rafting company in Lake Luzerne, New York and as an outdoor adventure guide in Gunnison, Colorado. As a local businessperson, he was a member of and diplomat for the Summit Chamber of Commerce, and was elected to their board for a three year term in 2006.
An athlete and outdoorsman, Gibbs has competed in marathon and ultramarathon running races (including the Leadville Trail 100) and helped coach the Battle Mountain High School cross-country ski team. He has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Eagle River Clean Up, and the I-70 Clean Up Team, and sat on the boards of Club 20, the High Country Conservation Center, the Vail-Eagle Valley Rotary Club, and Vail Valley Hospital Home Health/Hospice. He has cited being a volunteer youth mentor with the Buddy Mentors program as his most meaningful volunteer experience. He also helped launch the Summit County Young Democrats in 2004.
Gibbs worked in the Washington, DC office of U.S. Congressman Mark Udall before becoming the director for Udall's Western Slope office in Minturn in 2003. As a Congressional staffer, Gibbs sat on the Congressional Legislative Staff Association Board of Directors.
Currently a resident of Silverthorne, Colorado, Gibbs first ran for the state legislature in 2006 for a seat being vacated by Gary Lindstrom, who served as his campaign chair. At the age of 30, Gibbs faced criticism for his relative youth and inexperience, however, he defeated Republican Ken Chlouber by a 2:1 margin to represent House District 56, encompassing Eagle, Lake and Summit Counties, including the skiing communities of Vail and Breckenridge.
In the 2007 session of the Colorado General Assembly, Gibbs sat on the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and was Vice-Chair of the House Transportation and Energy Committee. Gibbs has also been appointed to the Colorado Interbasin Water Compact Committee and the board of directors of the Colorado Tourism office.
As a staffer for Congressman Udall and as a legislator, Gibbs has promoted increased government assistance on forest management issues, including response to the increased fire danger caused by bark beetle infestations. In the general assembly, Gibbs sponsored legislation which established the Colorado Community Forest Restoration grant program, setting aside $1 million for projects to reduce fire risks. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter and ultimately yielded $176,000 for forest restoration projects within Gibbs' district. Following the legislative session, in order to better understand issues surrounding forest wildfires, Gibbs trained for and received certification in wildland firefighting; he is now a certified Type II Wildland Firefighter with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue. Gibbs' first deployment as a volunteer firefighter was to assist fighting the Santiago Fire during the October 2007 California wildfire epidemic.
After successfully sponsoring a 2007 bill requiring collaboration between the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission and Colorado Division of Wildlife to minimize the impact on wildlife from oil and gas drilling, Gibbs was asked to testify before the U.S. House's Natural Resources committee on cooperative efforts between oil and environmental interests.
After initial resistance, Gibbs also successfully pushed legislation in 2007 to increase penalties for truck drivers who fail to comply with Colorado's law requiring snow chain on roads in winter, a move designed to improve accessibility and safety on I-70, which bisected Gibbs' house district. The following year, Gibbs attributed a decrease in tickets issued for violating the chain law to the passage of the bill.
Following the legislative session, Gibb sat on the interim Transportation Legislation Review Committee.
Following the resignation of Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald in November 2007, Gibbs was unanimously elected by a vacancy committee to take her seat in the Colorado State Senate. He resigned from the House of Representatives at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 11, 2007, and was sworn into the Colorado State Senate an hour later. He now represents Senate District 16, which covers Clear Creek Gilpin, Grand, Summit and portions of eastern Boulder and Jefferson counties.
Because of his interim appointment, Gibbs must be elected in November 2008 in order to retain his Senate seat. Christine Scanlan was appointed to fill Gibbs' vacant house seat on December 19, 2007.
In the Colorado State Senate, Gibbs is expected to sit on the Senate Agriculture, Livestock, Natural Resources and Energy Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee — both the counterparts of the House committees he served on — and to be vice-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also co-chaired the General Assembly's Sportsmen's Caucus.
During the 2008 session, Gibbs sponsored a total of 26 bills, and passed an average of more than one piece of legislation per week, including:
Several of Gibbs bills failed in committee, including:
In response to Gibbs' efforts to advance understanding of the ongoing bark beetle epidemic, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed an executive order in February 2008 creating the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council; Gibbs was named to the 24-member panel shortly after its creation.
With Rep. Scanlan, Gibbs was a prominent opponent of several proposals to charge tolls along the I-70 mountain corridor within his district. In July 2008, Gibbs was a prominent critic of Denver Water's sudden closure of the Lake Dillon Dam Road for security reasons. Shortly after the road was reopened, Gibbs and Rep. Christine Scanlan announced plans for legislation to prevent future unilateral closures and to encourage cooperation between agencies to share vulnerability assessments and emergency plans.
Following the legislative session, Gibbs was named the chairman of an interim legislative committee to study wildfire issues, but was criticized by Republicans for delaying the start of the committee's work. The following day, Gibbs announced plans for the committee's first meeting.