Roberts: The 2022 legislative session begins
This week, the Colorado General Assembly will convene to begin the 2022 legislative session. It will be the utmost honor and privilege to represent the people of Eagle and Routt Counties at the State Capitol — this time for my final session in the Colorado House. Although this is my last year as your state representative, my commitment to those I serve is as resolute as ever.
My initial legislative priorities for this 2022 session will focus on three main goals based on issues impacting our area: addressing the cost of living in our mountain communities (particularly when it comes to housing and child care), continuing to help businesses and workers recover from the pandemic, and improving public safety by cracking down on crime and protecting victims. Further, each bill that I will introduce has already secured bipartisan sponsorship.
I have dedicated much of my time over the past several months working on the issue of affordable housing given its vital importance for our communities and our economy. Last month, I was appointed as the chair of the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force, and we just finished our work deciding how to allocate $400 million we received from the federal government for housing.
Those recommendations, which I detailed in last month’s column, will now be turned into legislation for this coming session. I look forward to seeing those ideas turned into law and crucial funds being allocated toward our communities to help local governments, nonprofits and private developers build more affordable housing.
Further, I am working with county commissioners from across the state and a bipartisan group of legislators on a bill that would allow counties to use their lodging tax revenue for vital workforce and community needs, like housing. This is a tool that communities have long asked for — the ability to use the revenue brought in by tourists to support the workers and communities that serve those tourists — but have been prevented from doing so by state law. This year, we will update that law to allow local communities to decide for themselves how to utilize lodging tax dollars.
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Affordable child care
I will introduce a bill aimed at increasing the number of affordable child care centers in our state and helping support small businesses and landowners. With bipartisan sponsorship, this bill would give a property tax exemption to landlords who choose to lease to a child care center. We know that child care is exceedingly expensive and scarce in our state — particularly in our mountain communities — and the cost and lack of services hurts working families. By passing this bill into law, we will give landlords a large financial incentive should they choose to lease their property to a child care center.
Stopping rising crime
I am working with my colleague across the aisle, Rep. Terri Carver, to crack down on crime, specifically retail theft. We are sponsoring the Colorado INFORM Act, which will cut off the shady online marketplace currently enabling criminals who steal from retail stores (including Home Depot, Walmart, and others) and conduct “smash-and-grab” robberies. The bill requires third-party marketplaces who typically sell these stolen goods to verify their vendors, affirm they are not stolen items, and give the attorney general and district attorneys the authority to prosecute those who refuse to comply and help perpetuate organized retail theft.
Funeral home atrocities
The next bill I am bringing forward is also a bipartisan effort that seeks to prevent the atrocious acts committed by the Kent Funeral Homes across the mountain region. Under current law, state agencies are unable to inspect funeral homes on a regular basis, even while they are able to inspect other businesses like restaurants and salons.
That lack of oversight resulted in horrible conditions at multiple funeral homes in our regions that victimized many families who received unidentifiable remains and saw their loved ones treated with disgusting disrespect. This is unacceptable. My bill will hopefully prevent that from ever happening again by allowing state inspectors to enter funeral home premises upon any complaint by a customer of misconduct.
This upcoming legislative session is as important as ever, and while we face significant challenges in our state and communities, I am optimistic that we can take commonsense actions to address our area’s most pressing needs. As always, my work is guided by those I represent and I invite you to contact me anytime at Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us or on my cell: 970-846-3054.
Rep. Dylan Roberts serves Eagle County and Routt County in the Colorado State House.