Roberts: Halfway done at the Capitol, more work to do (column)
We have completed 60 days of the 2019 legislative session and that means there are 60 days left to go. The first two months have been busy but the final two months are shaping up to be even busier. In this month’s column, I am excited to share with you details on some of the significant progress on my legislative priorities on behalf of Eagle and Routt counties.
As you know, my top priority is lowering the cost of health care, particularly in our mountain counties. To that end, I have been leading the charge to create a public health insurance option to increase competition and lower prices. My bipartisan bill with Rep. Marc Catlin and Sen. Kerry Donovan passed the full House on Monday with a strong bipartisan vote of 46-17. The bill now heads to the Senate. We are also working to pass a bipartisan “reinsurance” bill that will lower premiums on the Western Slope by as much as 35 percent. Also on the health care front is my recently-released bill to lower insulin costs. I am also co-sponsoring efforts to increase transparency in hospital spending and prescription drug costs.
This weekend’s past snowstorm was a poignant example of the need for another one of my bills to increase winter traction requirements when driving on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor. The bill gives Colorado Department of Transportation and our state patrol more authority to enforce traction requirements and exercise precautionary road closures to reduce unsafe driving and traffic jams during the winter months.
Last week, another one of my priority bills passed its first committee hearing after strong and emotional testimony from three Eagle County high school students, among other amazing kids, who came to the Capitol to support the bill. The Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Education Act will provide young adults with more counseling services and mental health resources at school. This bill is just one piece of a large state and local effort that is needed to combat this silent health crisis in Colorado.
Finally, another major priority of mine for our district and state is water. A bill I have worked on for several years to protect water from mining spills passed the House with a bipartisan vote and is working its way through the Senate. I have also filed a bill to help keep more water in our rivers to promote recreation and stream health by expanding an instream flow program.
There are also several major pieces of legislation being brought by my colleagues. The House just passed the “red flag” gun violence protection act. After careful consideration and hours of testimony and floor debate, I was proud to vote “yes” and co-sponsor this important bill that will prevent suicide and tragedies like the one that killed this bill’s namesake: Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish. Last week, a major bill to reform the way the oil and gas industry operates and to give more control to localities was released and it will be considered by both chambers soon. In the coming months, look for bills regarding full-day kindergarten funding, climate change mitigation, Taxpayers Bill of Rights (or TABOR) reform and more.
I invite you to contact me anytime if you have questions, concerns, or ideas. I have already held my first town halls of the year in Avon, Eagle, and Basalt and have an upcoming town hall meeting that is free and open to the public: Saturday, March 16, at the Gypsum Library from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Stay tuned for more as the session continues. As always, I can be reached directly on my cell: 970-846-3054 and e-mail: Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us.
Thank you for the privilege to serve.
Representative Dylan Roberts represents Colorado House District 26, encompassing Eagle and Routt counties.
Patrick Tvarkunas needed 237 signatures on a petition to let Eagle voters decide whether The Reserve at Hockett Gulch — a 500-unit workforce housing project — should be built. He and others submitted 304.