Opinion: Rounding the halfway point
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
The Colorado General Assembly is in session for 120 days a year, and we crossed the halfway point of the 2020 legislative session a few days ago. While the first half certainly was busy — writing and introducing bills, convening stakeholder meetings, debating in committee and on the House floor and meeting with constituents at the Capitol and back home — the second half promises to be even more eventful.
Over the last two weekends, I was thankful to make it back to Eagle and Routt vounties and hold town hall meetings in Basalt, Steamboat Springs and Avon. Giving an update on our work but, more importantly, answering your questions is always such an energizing experience and the best way to bring new motivation to our work at the Capitol.
Since not everyone is able to make it to a town hall meeting on a weekend, I would like to use this month’s column to provide an update on the work I am doing on behalf of the citizens of Eagle and Routt counties as we head into the second half of the legislative session.
Priority number one for me, as always, is working to lower the cost of health care. To that end, there are two exciting pieces of legislation that I have been working hard on for months (and years) that are making progress at the Capitol.
The first is the recently introduced Colorado Affordable Health Care Option. This legislation arises out of the problem that too often, Coloradans are faced with the decision of purchasing increasingly expensive health insurance or going without the security of coverage simply because it is too expensive and there are no choices on the individual market.
Sen. Kerry Donovan and I are proud of this bill that will create a new, less expensive, private insurance product on the individual market and finally bring needed competition to the health insurance market. No, it’s not the scary “government-run” plan that the outrageous TV commercials funded by secret, out-of-state money, are trying to portray; it is a targeted, data-driven and public-private partnership solution to an acute problem.
The second health care bill I have introduced is a measure to bring transparency to the prescription drug industry and supply chain. HB1160 will mean that we can finally have some answers to why drug companies keep raising their prices and give us the data we need to take future action to lower the costs of the drugs you need to stay healthy.
I am also pleased to report that several of my bills dedicated to protecting our state’s water have passed and are on their way to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
For example, I have been working on a bill to expand the instream flow loan program since last year and this session, I was able to garner bipartisan support for the legislation, and last month, it passed the House unanimously and then passed the Senate. This program allows water rights holders to voluntarily and temporarily loan their water back to the river to maintain river flows during dry years so that ecological health, outdoor recreation and downstream agricultural users are protected.
Finally, I am very proud of the first bill I introduced back on the first day of session: legislation to continue and modify the Rural Jump-start economic development tax credit. Just this week, it passed the House with large bipartisan support. The Rural Jump-start program makes tax credits available to small businesses that decide to open their doors in rural Colorado and hire employees in our communities, including right in Routt County. While Colorado’s economy continues to be strong, rural communities are not always sharing in the prosperity, and this bill will give us more tools to expand economic opportunity in all parts of our state.
As we enter the final two months of the session, we are looking forward to passing a balanced budget as we are constitutionally required to do and debating several other pieces of major legislation, like a family and medical leave program, secured retirement plans, environmental protection and climate change mitigation, increases to education funding, and much more.
I’ll be back almost every weekend and look forward to holding more town hall meetings across the district. In the meantime, as always, you can contact me anytime at Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us or on my cell at 970- 846-3054. Thank you for the privilege to serve you and our state at the Capitol — on to the second half.
Dylan Roberts is the state representative for Colorado House District 26, encompassing Eagle and Routt counties.
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