Roberts: Time to get to work for Eagle County
Next week, after a pandemic-related delay, I will return to the Colorado House of Representatives to work on behalf of Eagle and Routt counties as we commence the 2021 legislative session. Our mountain communities continue to face adversity, and I am determined to address these challenges and work to build a stronger Colorado. Before heading to Denver, I wanted to take a moment to share my legislative priorities with you and offer a preview for the session.
Heading in to my second term as your representative, I am redoubling my focus on our community’s most important issues. Since we adjourned last spring, I have met with many of you to turn your ideas into legislation, and I look forward to introducing several pieces of legislation that will address the most pressing challenges our community faces.
First and foremost will be helping our economy recover and responding to COVID-19. Last month, I was appointed as the chair of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee for the coming term. We will craft legislation to help our state’s small businesses and workers. We are working on a comprehensive and bipartisan stimulus package for small businesses, including restaurants, retail, hospitality, nonprofits and arts organizations. Also, we will prioritize funding to increase vaccine supply and distribution as quickly as possible.
Next, I will address an issue that is especially relevant to rural communities: making Colorado’s health care system more affordable and accessible. Mountain regions have the highest rate and concentration of uninsured people of anywhere in the state. In our mountain communities, including both Eagle and Routt counties, 14.3% of the population was uninsured in 2020, and that number is likely to rise due to the pandemic. Further, Eagle and Routt County residents only have one choice of provider on the individual insurance market — no competition and rising prices. That is unacceptable.
I am working with Sen. Kerry Donovan and Rep. Kyle Mullica to implement a Colorado Health Insurance Option — a new, more affordable choice on the market — in our state. This has been a multi-year effort that was sidelined by our COVID-shortened session in 2020, but we remain steadfast in our fight for you and your families, because we know that every person should have access to affordable health insurance if they want it, no matter where they live. We have made important changes to this legislation so that our health care industry can recover from COVID while still achieving the ultimate goal: lower prices and more choices.
I will also be introducing bills that came directly from our community’s businesses and residents. For example, an extension of my Alcohol Beverage Retail Takeout and Delivery bill, which became a law last year. The bill provided a lifeline for restaurants struggling during the pandemic by allowing them to sell alcohol along with take-out food. This bipartisan bill will allow our local restaurants to continue these sales in perpetuity.
I also look forward to helping pass more stimulus legislation for small businesses including restaurants, retail, hospitality, nonprofits and arts organizations.
Another set of bipartisan bills I am working on will address inadequacies in our legal system for some of our society’s most vulnerable.
First, I will re-introduce a bipartisan bill to update our state’s laws regarding child pornography. The last time that the statutes were updated, legislators were addressing possession of Polaroid pictures and VHS tapes. Obviously, that is not the world we live in anymore. Current law is simply not enough to protect our children, and this year we will do something about it.
Second, I crafted legislation and secured bipartisan sponsorship to protect undocumented victims from crime. The bill would make it illegal to use someone’s immigration status as a means to prevent them from reporting a crime. Immigration status should never prevent our community members from reporting a crime.
Also in the works (and I look forward to sharing details soon): lowering prescription drug costs, increasing transportation funding, combating climate change, incentivizing outdoor recreation and water conservation, increasing affordable child care access, small business tax relief, attaining affordable housing, supporting educators and schools and much more.
For a more detailed preview of the legislative session, join my virtual town hall from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87414529788. You can always contact me personally anytime. My cell is 970-846-3054 and my e-mail is Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us.
This is going to be a busy year in the Colorado state legislature, as it should be. We must match the intensity of the moment with the intensity of our actions. Eagle and Routt counties, it is an honor to serve you, and I am ready to get to work.