Guest commentary: Legislative session brings meaningful solutions to Eagle County
As leaders in Eagle County government and the greater community, it’s our role to develop impactful, thoughtful solutions to the challenges faced by our constituents. While we spend much of our time formulating and administering innovative county programs, as well as improving existing initiatives, we also work with our elected officials to represent our interests at a state and federal level. We look to our strategic priorities — support our workforce, create a resilient economy and protect our mountain ecosystem — to guide our efforts.
The 2022 legislative session in Denver was certainly busy and productive, generating achievements that resonated at home. We worked on a number of important bills with both State Rep. Dylan Roberts and State Sen. Kerry Donovan, as well as Gov. Jared Polis.
“I am proud that several of the bipartisan bills I introduced and got passed were ideas that came directly from Eagle County thanks to our collaboration with our commissioners and county employees,” Rep. Roberts said. “The goal of a citizen legislature like we have in Colorado is to solve the everyday problems of local communities and our partnership with Eagle County’s officials and residents to turn challenges into bipartisan solutions through legislation is a great example.”
Below is a summary of several bills that we are especially proud to have moved through the state legislature (more information is available online at Leg.colorado.gov).
- The creation of the Department of Early Childhood will align and strengthen the state’s early childhood care and education services and programs. Building a reliable child care infrastructure is a key foundation of a healthy mountain community so families can stay here and grow.
- Child Care Center Property Tax Exemption expands existing policy to ensure that property used by a tenant or subtenant to operate a child care center is eligible for property tax exemption, chipping away at our ever-present child care challenges and helping to create as many as 200 open slots. “The bill I introduced to eliminate property taxes for nonprofit child care centers was an idea brought to me last year by Commissioner McQueeney,” said Rep. Roberts, “and I wrote that bill along with her and the Eagle County Attorney’s Office.”
- Producer Responsibility Program For Recycling makes Colorado the third state to pass an extended producer responsibility law for packaging. Producers of packaging and printed paper will fund and operate the program, and dues will be used to finance a statewide recycling program. The Waste Diversion and Circular Economy Development Center will divert more waste from Colorado landfills and attract sustainable businesses.
- Two affordable housing grant programs fund local governments and nonprofit organizations to enable them to make investments in their communities in transformational affordable housing. Eagle County plans to further empower our Bold Housing Moves suite of programs designed to create a sufficient inventory of affordable housing. “On one of our county’s most important issues, affordable housing, Commissioner Scherr was an invaluable advocate on several bills and helped me explain to my Front Range colleagues why our rural and mountain communities deserved adequate support on housing,” Rep. Roberts said.
- We supported a number of bills to improve wildfire mitigation, defense and restoration. Fire suppression ponds water rights authorizes the designation of fire-suppression ponds that will be exempt from the prior appropriation system. We also supported wildfire mitigation incentives for local governments, wildfire mitigation and recovery, a wildfire mitigation public awareness campaign, and disaster preparedness and recovery resources. “I also passed several bills related to preparing for wildfire and protecting our water resources that Commissioner Chandler-Henry helped me craft and get passed,” said Rep Roberts.
As our legislators take a well-deserved break, we’ll continue to generate ideas to bring to the state Capitol when they reconvene next year. Please reach out to us with any feedback or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or email us individually.
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Jeanne McQueeney, Kathy Chandler-Henry, and Matt Scherr serve on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.