Healthcare, jobs and bipartisanship on local state reps minds
Less than two weeks into Colorado’s 2020 legislative session and the contentious issues between majority Democrats and minority Republicans are beginning to appear.
Paid family leave proposals shelved at the end of the 2019 session will likely come back, and the majority party will likely introduce a public option for healthcare, Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, said in an interview.
But for now, the elected representatives are introducing their own bills and reading their colleagues proposals.”
“We’re all getting along. There’s no real opportunity to get into arguments or contention quite yet, but we’re all gearing up for it,” Rankin said.
Last session saw a historic number of new laws pushed through a government controlled by Democrats.
One contentious bill last session was SB 181, which called for a host of new rules designed to make oil and gas development safer. Oil and gas may not be a battleground this year, as the Air Quality Control Commission and Colorado Oil and Gas Commission continue drafting rules.
“I don’t see anything big on oil and gas because of what they did last year,” Rankin said.
But extraction industries are still top of mind for Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle, particularly the closure of the Craig Station Power Plant and the ColoWyo mine, both in Will’s district, announced last week.
In his state of the state address, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis hailed Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s announcement as a big step toward Colorado’s goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
“He kind of pointed it out as a win, and I don’t see it as a win. It might be a win from an environmental standpoint for him, but for the community, not at all,” Will said.
Polis also promised to help coal industry workers find new employment through the new Office of Just Transition.
Will plans to meet with Polis soon to discuss his concerns, and said he will focus on funding for the just transition, and encourage other projects, like solar, that coal workers could move into.
It’s not all going to be fights though. Will, who was appointed to his seat and started after the 2019 session was well underway, said all of the bills he’s prime or cosponsoring are with Democrats.
“I’m working with a representative from the other side of the aisle on all of them, and they seek me out to help on their bills, and vice versa,” Will said.
One of Will’s bills would increase tax benefits for landowners who complete fire mitigation work on their property. He also proposed a bill to “clean up” laws related to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, where he used to work.
Rankin plans to introduce a healthcare bill aimed at reducing costs by looking at the total cost of care.
It’s similar to what Peak Health Alliance has done in Summit County, and is working on in Garfield County, negotiating with providers to set prices for a localized group.
“It’s kind of what we’re doing locally, but magnified to the state-wide basis,” Rankin said.
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“From my perspective, with the economy going as it is, if there’s a good time to ask for a tax increase it’s probably now,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.