Rep. Dylan Roberts: Advocating for you
The 2018 Colorado Legislative Session began on Jan. 10, and it was a privilege to be there that day and every day as the representative for House District 26, serving Eagle and Routt counties.
On that opening day, Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran implored all of us to work together to preserve and enhance our Colorado way of life. We have until May 9 to pass a balanced budget and craft legislation. I write today to provide an update on what has happened in the first month, what I am working on for you and what to expect in the month ahead.
A lot has happened in the month since the session began. We have already sent a law to the Governor’s desk that will allow nurses to practice across state lines and fixed a tax code that will benefit our local special districts that provide public transportation, fire protection and other services.
By the time you read this, a bill sponsored by Eagle County’s Senator Kerry Donovan increasing the funding for rural broadband services could be law and a step toward alleviating our state’s nursing shortage by allowing community colleges to offer four-year bachelor of nursing degrees could be passed.
These efforts prove that despite the partisan rancor and dysfunction in Washington, your state government is committed to working across partisan divides to solve problems.
Further, I am optimistic about the legislation that I am personally bringing forward. I have dedicated myself to bills that will have a meaningful and positive impact for you, my constituents and our region. Knowing that health care costs are an acute problem for those of us in the mountains, I have introduced two pieces of legislation to help alleviate that problem.
First, House bill 18-1205 would provide relief to individuals and families that have to purchase health insurance on the continually rising-in-price individual market. The bill would grant a subsidy solely for the purchase of health insurance if you do not qualify for the federal subsidy paying 20 percent or more of your monthly income on health insurance.
In our communities where the cost of living is so high, having such a large amount of your monthly income go to health insurance can be financially ruinous. My bill, while certainly not the answer to the underlying problem, would provide some immediate relief that too many need. I am proud that Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate have signed on to co-sponsor this bill.
Second, prescription drug costs can be a crushing burden for people with chronic diseases while the companies that produce these drugs are experiencing record profits and little competition. One of the most egregious examples of this is in the insulin market.
If you are a Type 1 diabetic (an unpreventable genetic disease unlike Type 2 diabetes), you need daily doses of insulin to simply survive. If you do not have insulin every day, you die. Insulin has changed very little in its physical makeup over the last 20 years but its price has increased over 1,200 percent in those 20 years.
That means that diabetics with limited or no insurance are paying up to $250 per vial for the same product that used to cost only $21. That is like paying the price of an iPhone X for a Nokia brick cellphone from the late ’90s. My bill, the “Insulin Price Transparency Act” (HB18-1009), is a first step in simply asking these companies “why?” It is a first step at what could hopefully be the beginning of lower drug prices for Coloradans.
I will also be presenting a bill to promote the hiring of talented attorneys to become deputy district attorneys in our rural Colorado offices (including the Eagle and Routt County DA’s offices) and one that will protect our precious clean water by ensuring that hard-rock mining operations are backed by the proper financial assurances to handle water quality monitoring and clean up.
On a broader level, I look forward to being your advocate during the all-important budget process when the entire general assembly will debate how to allocate your tax dollars and balance our budget. We will need to make some bold decisions about adequately funding our public education system, investing in our transportation infrastructure and finding a long-term solution to our state’s pension system, among other priorities.
As always, I invite you to contact me to share your thoughts on legislation or if you need help navigating our state government. I can be reached at Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us or at 970-846-3054.
I am humbled every single time I step into the State Capitol on behalf of the people of Eagle County, Routt County and the State of Colorado. With every bill I work on and every vote I cast, my priority is always my constituents and making sure that the action we take in Denver will make their lives better. It is an honor and privilege to serve.
Dylan Roberts is the state representative for Colorado House District 26, serving Eagle and Routt counties. He grew up in Steamboat Springs and now resides in the town of Eagle.
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