May Greetings to Everyone in Eagle County and Routt County!
Well Attended Legislative Wrap-ups and community conversations in Eagle and in Steamboat Springs:
The Legislature adjourned late Wednesday, May 11. The next afternoon I was in Eagle for a Legislative Wrap Up and Community Discussion. Thank you to all my constituents who attended. We had a spirited discussion of many issues, including k-12 education, wildfire management, transportation funding, and affordable housing. Here is a link to the Vail Daily story.
Governor Hickenlooper came to Eagle County and Summit County last week to sign bills into law
In addition to my five 2016 bills previously signed into law, here are the bills I sponsored or cosponsored that he signed into law on May 17th:
Statute will now allow a school district to ask their voters for specific approval of a mill levy that by law can ONLY be used for a capital construction and technology fund that can accrue interest. The law explicitly states that the funds cannot be used for operating expenses. The new law has clear stipulations about how this fund can be spent.
This fund will enable school districts to pay as they go for capital and technology projects instead of spending large sums on debt service. The money they would have had to spend on debt service can now go to teachers and classroom materials. Approval of the mill levy to create this new fund is completely up to voter approval in the district.
SB021 Public Lands Day, was signed into law in Vail on May 17th. I was a House co-prime sponsor for Senator Donovan’s Public Lands Day bill. The third Saturday in May is now Colorado Public Lands Day.
Our public lands are critical to our state economy and in our beautiful headwaters district. Public lands conserve habitat and water resources, and they enhance our quality of life. Statewide, they are a draw for tourism, outdoor recreation, and many new businesses and innovative people. Our public lands renew our souls and invigorate our communities, offering the opportunity, especially for children, to deeply experience nature.
Public lands comprise the majority of land in both Eagle County and Routt County, contributing to our ski industry, local outdoor retail and manufacturing, real estate and development. Many inventive “location neutral businesses” that could locate anywhere choose to be close to our magnificent public lands.
Businesses, local government, and non-profits have all partnered with Federal Land Managers in our counties to boost our industries and maintain our healthy and thriving mountainous ecosystem. We all benefit from our public lands, and we have worked together cooperatively to conserve them.
HB1336 by Representatives Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and Bob Rankin (R- Carbondale), carried in the Senate by Senator Donovan, directs the Division of Insurance (DOI) to examine the potential impact of a state wide risk pool on health insurance premiums across the state. I was motivated to start working on this concept in late 2013 because I compared the prices and number of health insurance plans available to our district versus those on the Front Range and I was astonished at the significantly higher rates and low availability of the plans.
In both 2014 and 2015 I met with the Insurance Commissioner for solutions to the outrageously higher costs for health plans in the mountain counties (the highest in the nation) and the very limited number of plans available to us. Having one risk pool statewide might lower the cost for all, but there were no data to examine this question.
A group of Western Slope County Commissioners were also looking at the issue and trying to find solutions. In January 2016 this group of Mountain County Commissioners, led by Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs and Eagle County Commissioners Jill Ryan and Kathy Chandler-Henry, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankowsky, joined by Routt County Commissioners Doug Monger and Tim Corrigan met via phone with Rep. Hamner, Rep. Rankin, and myself.
After our meeting, Representative Hamner reserved us a bill title. Then Rep. Hamner, Rep. Rankin, I and Commissioner Dan Gibbs worked with the bill drafter to get the bill introduced in early March. I co-sponsored. We asked Senator Donovan (D-Wolcott) to be the Senate sponsor. Commissioner Gibbs very effectively organized all the witnesses who provided compelling testimony in committee in both the House and Senate. I cannot thank him and the other County Commissioners enough for all their dedication, tenacity, and effectiveness!
Continuing to work for you through out the 2016 Interim
Once again, I will serve on two Interim committees: the Water Resources Review Committee and the Transportation Legislation Review Committee. We will start meeting in June and meet through November. Some meetings will be at the Capitol, and others will be through out the State.
I will meet with local town and county governments, business, and non-profits from June through November in both Eagle County and Routt County, attend local events, and walk door to door to listen to you.
I will continue to work across the aisle for legislation that makes life better for all Coloradans. I am honored and humbled to work with you and for you and for everyone in our beautiful, headwaters district!
Paid for by Citizens to Elect Diane Mitsch Bush for Colorado HD 26 • Tessa Kirchner, Treasurer • ©2012-2017 Diane For Colorado