Roberts: Not in session but the work continues
So what happens now? The Colorado Legislature adjourned on May 3 but that does not mean that the work of serving our districts ends for the year. In fact, the summer and fall are just as busy as ever. I am particularly lucky because I have the distinct pleasure of continuing my legislative work back home in beautiful House District 26 and with all of you in Eagle and Routt counties.
As you have read in this column before, the 2019 legislative session was an historic one for many reasons. We passed 460 bills and Gov. Polis signed 455 of them — and 96% of those bills received bipartisan support.
We tackled the most pressing issues facing the state and found bipartisan consensus on solutions that will bring down the cost of health care and insurance, made a historic investment in our education system, became national leaders for combating climate change and environmental protection, and put over $300 million more into funding our roads.
Now what happens between the end of the session and when we return back to the Capitol in Denver for the 2020 legislative session? This interim period is a time where we can all take a step back from the time-crunched 120-day legislative session and work on the implementation of what was passed at the legislature, as well as take a long and detailed look at what is ahead.
Lowering health care costs
First, looking back. Now that the dust on the session is settling, there are several key pieces of legislation passed that are now in the process of implementation. One is a bill I crafted with Sen. Kerry Donovan and Rep. Marc Catlin to create a public health insurance option so that residents in Colorado, especially in our mountain communities who have so little choice, can find competition and lower prices in health insurance markets. That bill, HB1004, was passed with a large bipartisan vote and was written in a way that gives the executive branch and non-government stakeholders a say in crafting the plan.
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The last thing we wanted to do was mandate policy that was unworkable. The bill allows for this interim period as a time for the plan to be crafted with extensive outreach and a data-driven process so we can come up with the best and most affordable plan. There have been many meetings across the state hosted by state agencies, and there are more to come before they present the plan back to us at the Legislature in November. Then we will take that plan, make tweaks if needed and get it ready for implementation next year.
Other exciting news out of this interim is the reinsurance program that I co-sponsored and that was led by Rep. Julie McCluskie and Sens. Donovan and Bob Rankin. On July 31, the federal government granted the waiver to implement this program in Colorado. That means on Jan. 1, 2020, health insurance premiums for plans purchased on the individual market will drop by 18% statewide and over 29% in our mountain counties — that’s $9,000 of savings per year for Eagle County families.
Looking forward, during this interim I have the honor of serving as the vice-chair of the Water Resources Review Committee. As a native of western Colorado, I may be biased, but I believe this is probably the most important committee for our state’s future. This body has the chance to study the state of our water resources, help plan for dry years, and consider legislation for next year.
Given how complicated yet important water policy is in our state, it is so important that this bipartisan committee has the chance to meet, call expert testimony and study issues in a methodical way so that we get it right. I am honored to be a part of it.
Day to day, I continue to meet with constituents across Eagle and Routt Counties, confer with officials in Denver, and attend meetings on your behalf. If you ever have a question, comment, want to meet, or have an idea for the future, please contact me on my cell (970) 846-3054 or via e-mail Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us.
Dylan Roberts resides in Avon and is the State Representative for Colorado House District 26, encompassing Eagle and Routt Counties.