Roberts: Previewing the 2020 legislative session
This week, your Colorado State Legislature will begin its 120 day-long 2020 legislative session. That means that all 100 legislators convene at the Capitol in Denver to begin our constitutional duty to pass a balanced budget and tend to the business of the state of Colorado. Once again, it will be a humbling privilege to step into the Capitol to represent you, the people of Eagle and Routt Counties, in the House of Representatives.
The relatively short session means that for my colleagues and me, the preparation has been happening for months. As you have read in past columns, that means serving on interim committees, monitoring the implementation of bills that passed last session, connecting one-on-one with community members, and conducting town hall meetings across the district.
After a busy and productive 2019 session, you are probably wondering what is ahead for 2020. While there is no way to know exactly what we will be debating until bills start to be introduced in the weeks ahead, there are certainly some big topics already emerging.
The first is our continued work to lower health care costs. Eagle and Routt County residents face some of the highest health insurance costs of anyone in the nation just because of where we live — that is not right and we have taken action to fix that and will continue to do so. After passing the bipartisan Colorado reinsurance program last year, customers on the individual market in our area are seeing up to 30% reduction in monthly premiums on individual market plans.
This is huge news and it has been exciting to hear from so many of you about the $200-$1000 per month savings you are starting to see in this new year. Combine this with other legislation we passed to help health insurance co-ops to start forming to offer plans in our communities (look for these soon in Eagle and Routt Counties thanks to promising efforts by several local leaders and groups), progress is being made on this issue.
Yet, we need to continue working on the underlying forces causing high health insurance costs. To that end, Sen. Kerry Donovan and I passed a bipartisan bill last session that directed the state to craft a proposal for a Colorado public option for health insurance. That proposal was completed and we are now working collaboratively to craft a bill to implement a Colorado public option.
In creating a public option, Coloradans will be guaranteed access to an additional option on the market, which for 22 counties including Eagle and Routt, will finally mean competition. Further, a public option could help you save between 10-18% more every month. This bill is still being written along with a broad group of stakeholders but we look forward to introducing it in the coming weeks and passing it before the session is done in May.
Another big priority for me will be economic development in rural Colorado. On day one of the session, I will introduce a bill to reauthorize and expand the Rural Jump-Start economic development tax credit. The Rural Jump-Start tax credit was established in 2015 and has been a successful program that has assisted nearly 20 businesses open their doors and hire employees in rural Colorado. However, we need to make changes so that even more areas of the state can encourage new companies to establish roots right in rural Colorado. I am thrilled to be sponsoring that legislation with Sen. Donovan as well Republican co-sponsors from across the aisle.
You can also expect to see legislation introduced by my colleagues on a multitude of issues like school finance, transportation funding, environmental policy, family leave, and much more.
To everyone who has reached out to me during this interim period whether it was during my pre-session town hall tour, individual meetings, emails, or phone calls, thank you. Your input truly guides me as we craft legislation and head into the 2020 session.
As we continue through the coming months, please join me at a town hall meeting in your area and never hesitate to contact me to share your thoughts, criticisms, and ideas. My cell: (970) 846-3054 and e-mail: Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us.
Representative Dylan Roberts represents Colorado House District 26, encompassing Eagle and Routt counties.