Romer: What to watch for in the legislative session (column)
At Vail Valley Partnership, we know that our members expect us to advocate for them at a state and regional policy level. Our recent member survey indicates our members value advocacy above all other member benefits.
This is because state policy significantly impacts our communities, and it’s critical that no matter how big or small your organization is that your voice is heard at the Capitol. The Vail Valley Partnership works with all our members to ensure our business voice is heard during each session. It should not be a shock that Front Range legislators and government departments often ignore the mountain region as we lack the population and voice of the metro area.
With members representing a variety of local industries, business size and geography throughout our valley, and with surveys, studies and research conducted year-round, we are able to identify policy to ensure we know what you need to be successful, particularly around the pillars of policy that help build a sustainable economy:
-Strong transportation infrastructure, from a transportation system that efficiently moves goods and people; consistent and cost-effective energy; and connection to broadband.
-Access and availability to affordable health insurance and health care that ensure we have the healthiest and most productive workforce in the country.
-And an educational pipeline and a workforce development system that starts early to prepare our kids for success, meets the changing needs of our economy and connects every Eagle County student with apprenticeship opportunities to help them succeed while growing the talent pipeline our businesses need to grow and succeed.
In the past few years, we have expanded our partnership with the Denver Chamber, Colorado Chamber and Colorado Competitive Council to strengthen our collective understanding of the shared challenges throughout the state. These issues are often aligned closely with our advocacy focus areas, and we will continue to support solutions that help ensure all of Colorado can thrive through our statewide partners.
Further, we are more committed than ever to finding solutions to some of the constitutional issues that are debilitating rural Colorado and posing challenges to our economy throughout our state.
Health Care: Partnership members have consistently identified insurance cost as their biggest health care concern. We will continue to work with our elected officials for legislative solutions, while working to develop Association Health Plans as encouraged by the Department of Labor and growing our One Valley Healthcare Program to address current realities.
Gallagher: Despite our strong economy, Colorado faces real fiscal problems. This is largely brought on by measures like TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment. Together, these provisions make funding public services extremely difficult and hamstring our special districts.
The lack of investment in public services like education, transportation and housing have consequences felt by all Coloradans. Colorado is growing because people value the Colorado way of life, but with that lifestyle comes certain challenges. Policies adopted decades ago continue to haunt our state. In order to serve all Coloradans, we must invest in our future and our state.
We’ll be watching to see what bills will be forwarded to the entire legislature for the 2019 session regarding Gallagher, potentially among them a proposal to ask voters to repeal the Gallagher Amendment or more likely a proposal to replace Gallagher with a property tax split based on regions, not statewide.
There will be other issues that percolate through the legislature, and we’ll be watching and sharing with the business community to ensure the voice of our business community is heard in Denver.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.
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