State Rep. Dylan Roberts: Checking in from the Capitol
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
The Colorado General Assembly has been in session for just about one month, leaving a little more than three more months to go. Right now, my colleagues and I are working through the dozens of bills that have been proposed and will soon begin voting on moving some forward and rejecting others. I am happy to report that my top priorities, all ideas directly from residents in the district I represent, are moving forward with bipartisan support and significant momentum.
As chair of the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force, I am pleased that we released our final recommendations last week, all of which received bipartisan support. The report and its recommendations set forth our intention to leverage a once-in-a-generation $400 million opportunity to put in place housing policies that will provide immediate and long-lasting change on this critically important issue to our mountain and rural communities.
These recommendations include ways to make significant strides by increasing access to flexible capital, fostering innovation, enhancing market stability and promoting equitable access to homeownership and rental housing for people in every corner of the state. We expect these investments, partnered with existing and future local government, nonprofit and private development to create more affordable housing for our workforce, teachers, police officers and everyone that needs a safe and affordable place to live. I look forward to working with my colleagues in converting these proposals into bills that will begin the legislative process, and making these recommendations a reality this summer.
Another bill of mine focused on affordable housing and supporting our workforce has been introduced as HB1117. This bipartisan bill will allow local communities, with voter approval, to use lodging tax revenue for tourism workforce needs like housing, child are, and more. It just makes sense to let communities decide how to use the revenue brought to us by tourists and make sure we are supporting the workforce that serves our visitors.
Saving Coloradans Money
I have also introduced HB1006, a bipartisan bill that will provide a property tax exemption for landlords who lease to a child care center, prospectively resulting in an increased number of affordable child care centers across the state while supporting small businesses and landowners. Just last week, this bill took a major step forward when it passed its first committee hearing with a sweeping and bipartisan 11-1 vote. Thank you to Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney for providing compelling testimony in support of the bill.
I am also following and supporting more cost-saving measures like reducing gas fees, business fees and measures intending to support our rural health care workforce and our public school teachers.
Another major topic that the Legislature will address this session is how to adequately and fairly fund our public education system and the amazing teachers serving our children and communities. I am optimistic that our state budget will make significant, if not historic, investments in education this year, including a two-year plan to eliminate the so-called “negative factor” and set our state on a course toward an equitable and fully-funded public education system. Our school funding decisions will occur when we debate and pass our state budget in late March, so I look forward to providing more updates on this work in the coming months.
Increasing public safety
Several of my bills intending to help reduce and prevent crime have been introduced and assigned to their respective committees. I have introduced bills, all with bipartisan support, cracking down on retail theft, tightening regulations on funeral home abuses that we unfortunately experienced in our communities, and making our roads safer from drunk and impaired drivers. I am also looking forward to partnering with colleagues to tackle other important public safety issues like increasing penalties for fentanyl distribution and investing in important behavioral and mental health services that often lead to unnecessary crime.
Fighting climate change and investing in wildfire and drought prevention
There has also been significant movement on the issue of wildfire, water resources and climate change as we begin this legislative session. Protecting our state’s water and investing in forest health and management are top of mind in several pieces of legislation that I am sponsoring. I look forward to making significant strides on these important issues. Our way of life in the mountains and rural Colorado will remain threatened by drought, climate change and out-of-state water demands, but the state Legislature can — and should — play an important role in protecting our environmental, agricultural and water future.
This session shows no signs of slowing down, and I am optimistic that the bipartisan and deliberate work we are doing will start improving lives in our region, and across the state. As always, my work is a reflection of your feedback, so please reach out any time at Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us or on my cell at 970-846-3054.
Rep. Dylan Roberts serves Eagle County and Routt County in the Colorado State House.
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We just concluded one of the most impactful and bipartisan legislative sessions in recent memory. We responded to Colorado’s most pressing needs and passed legislation that will move our state forward.