STATE Sen. Cleave Simpson found himself last week volunteering to serve on the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee to hear 14 hours of testimony on House Bill 1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act.

Simpson of Alamosa was a last-minute replacement for Republican committee member John Cook, and he found himself absorbed and captivated by the debate.

“It’s not a space I spend a lot of time in,” said Simpson during a taping of The Valley Pod, a podcast created by “I volunteered for this and it certainly wasn’t fun, but it was really engaging, and thoughtful and compelling stories from folks on both sides of the fence.”

The full episode of The Valley Pod with Sen. Simpson will publish on Friday, March 25. You will be able to download and listen to it here.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee moved the bill forward on a 3-2 party line vote to the full senate. The Colorado House earlier adopted House Bill 1279 following 24 hours of debate.

“For me I got to a spot where I was thinking about, you know Colorado could be in a unique position to really change the direction of this debate,” Simpson said of his experience with the bill in the state senate judiciary committee. “For me it shouldn’t be this binary choice, that you either offer reproductive rights, abortion, all the way up to full term, or the other end of the spectrum is you legislate and make abortions illegal, and I’m like there’s got to be a different spot to land in.”

Simpson is in his second year as state senator representing the San Luis Valley and communities east of the Valley to the Kansas border. In that time he has carved out an early reputation as a rural Republican legislator willing to engage and discuss important issues from both sides of the political spectrum without flame-throwing rhetoric.