Dylan Roberts: Back to work at the Capitol
On Jan. 9, the Colorado legislature commenced, and we began our work serving our great state.
The start of the legislative year provides a spirit of optimism, as we seek to bring solutions and ideas for the challenges and opportunities that our communities face. After speaking directly with many voters on the campaign trail and community leaders in recent weeks, I feel energized and hopeful about drafting and passing legislation that meets our region’s needs and makes Routt County an even better place to live.
I am excited to report that I have already introduced several pieces of legislation that are directly inspired by conversations in our communities.
More affordable housing
We are continuing our momentum bringing meaningful state support to address our region’s affordable housing crisis. In 2022, I helped lead the largest single-year investment in affordable housing development, which will result in millions of dollars coming to Routt County to help build affordable homes and apartments for teachers, nurses, police officers, our tourism workforce and others.
Now, my and the Senate’s first bill of the 2023 session, SB23-001, doubles-down on our affordable housing work, and I am particularly excited to partner on this bill with Routt County’s state Rep. Meghan Lukens. Inspired by partnerships like that between the Colorado Department of Transportation and Routt County to build a child care facility and employee housing in Steamboat, SB23-001 will provide more funding and incentives for public private partnerships to build workforce housing on unused state-owned land. By eliminating the cost of land, we will see housing projects across the state built more quickly and more affordably.
Additionally, I am working with Republican and Democratic colleagues on a bill to expand and streamline a property tax exemption for nonprofit homebuilders, like Habitat for Humanity. This tax reduction will help spur more affordable housing projects across the state, particularly in our higher-cost regions like Northwest Colorado.
Helping rural Colorado
On the campaign trail and in numerous recent conversations with local government officials, I heard that our rural county and municipal governments are being left behind when it comes to statewide support for critical economic support and development projects. That’s why I am working with colleagues from both parties on two bills that will make it easier for our rural local governments to find and secure funding opportunities.
My second bill of the year is the bi-partisan SB23-006, which will create the Rural Opportunity Office within our state government to connect rural communities to essential programs and resources. This office will boost rural communities by connecting towns, businesses and nonprofits with state, federal, nonprofit and private partner agencies that provide support in economic development, energy transition and community outreach.
I am also collaborating with county governments on a bill that will provide rural counties funding for state park infrastructure. With more Colorado residents and visitors utilizing our state parks each year, roads and other park infrastructure have undergone significant wear and tear. My bipartisan bill will allow counties to use the revenue from state park passes for park maintenance and improvement.
To protect Colorado’s most precious natural resource, I’m working on a number of bills to advance water quality and quantity. In light of unprecedented drought, growing in-state population, and pressure from downstream states, we are struggling to meet water supply needs. While a large part of the solution to our looming water shortage crisis lies in inter-state negotiation, Colorado can do more to prepare for water shortages and conserve water on behalf of our agricultural and municipal water users. With this in mind, I’m crafting legislation to restore the health of our streams and rivers, mitigate the impacts of drought on our water users, and strengthen our municipal water infrastructure.
And so much more
Overall, the legislature has a lot of work ahead. In addition to my personal early priorities, the body as a whole will be focused on passing a balanced state budget, increasing funding for K-12 education and affordable child care resources, combating climate change, making our state safer, sustaining our strong small business economy and continuing to pursue our shared goal of ensuring Colorado is an affordable and beautiful place to live.
Throughout the session, I look forward to your feedback, ideas and questions. I invite you to attend upcoming in-person and virtual town hall meetings, as well as to contact me directly at SenatorDylanRoberts@gmail.com or on my cell at 970-846-3054.
Dylan Roberts represents the 8th District, which includes Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties, in the Colorado Senate.
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