Under the Dome column: Taking time to digest the issues
June 11, 2018
The 2018 Legislative session's over, and now I have time to meet with constituents and state department personnel to catch up and learn more about issues that I'll need to study before the next session starts (Nov. 1 for the Joint Budget Committee). I enjoy this time of year when I can take more time to digest the issues and get to know people better. During the session with 600 bills and $29 billion to spend it can be a little compressed.
Diving in after a short vacation, I spent two half days last week with a group of 14 interns who are engineering students from our higher education institutions. They're learning about government and working on an issue of their choice to help us with possible legislation. I shared my background and helped with their projects. With students like these, our country will be just fine.
I was a member of a panel in Denver that was convened by the Colorado Community Health Network. Our local component is Mountain Family Health Center with eight regional clinics. They wanted to know how their priorities fit with the legislative process and political reality. Is there a political reality? Topics ranged from universal health care to hiring doctors in rural Colorado.
Back on home ground, I sat in on a session with the Aspen Community Foundation. They're mapping all of the resources from Aspen to Parachute that help kids from birth to 18 years of age. They can then determine where the resource gaps exist throughout this area. Since our public schools have kids only 20 percent of the time, outside resources play a huge role in preparation for successful lives.
Continuing on that theme, I met with the CEO of YouthEntity, a great local nonprofit that is providing opportunities for students that the schools don't have enough resources to offer. Financial literacy and culinary arts are high on its list.
I also met with a wonderful couple who have taken in foster kids with special needs and then adopted them. During the recent session I sponsored and help fund a major update and improvement of our state child welfare policy, and I want to follow up next year. My new advisors have promised to help put together a local working group later in the summer.
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I'm concerned about the future of our health care system and the cost of private insurance. We are making progress, and we've learned that accessible primary care is key to managing cost while ensuring better patient outcomes. I met with local family practice physicians to get a better perspective from their viewpoint.
I won't get partisan, but of course, I'm watching local and state elections. We have our primary ballots, and the changes that allow unaffiliated voters to vote in one or the other primary could affect the outcomes in interesting ways. Whatever your political persuasion, turn in those ballots (mark them first).
It's an honor to serve you.
"Under the Dome" appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his third term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.