Perry Will column: 2022 legislative session wrap-up

State Rep. Perry Will
State Rep. Perry Will

One of my top priorities when I took office as your state representative was to ensure investments were made in rural Colorado to preserve and protect our beautiful land, our wonderful wildlife and our way of life. This legislative session, I had the honor of passing quite a few bills to do these things.

The bill I am most proud of sponsoring is SB22-151, the Safe Crossings For Colorado Wildlife And Motorists. By creating safe crossings across our state, we can ensure that we protect both our animals and our drivers. As a game warden for over 40 years, I’ve seen firsthand how important investments like this into our infrastructure are to keep Colorado beautiful and safe.

My experience as a game warden also inspired my other bills, like HB22-1072, the Habitat Partnership Program, which expanded the Habitat Partnership Program to assist Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife with solving wildlife conflicts on private land and with habitat and conservation efforts.

Three of my other bills, the Backcountry Search And Rescue Act, Resources For Volunteer Firefighters Act, Resources To Increase Community Safety Act, also addressed the funding and resource shortages we have in rural Colorado. By giving critical funding and support to Colorado’s Backcountry Search and Rescue Fund in the Division of Parks and Wildlife and increasing resources to fire protection services staffed by volunteer and seasonal firefighters, we are taking steps to protect the staff who risk their lives for public safety.

After listening to your concerns and hearing about the things you’d like to see change in our state, I brought legislation to address health care shortages in rural Colorado. My bill, HB22-1095, the Physician Assistant Collaboration Requirements Act, was a bipartisan bill that would have increased the scope of practice of physician assistants, allowing them to see more patients and address more concerns. This bill, which was one of the most controversial this session, was ultimately lost but raised important conversations about health care access in rural Colorado.

However, I was able to pass the Telehealth For Hearing Aid Providers Act, which allowed hearing aid providers to use telehealth for services; this bill will go far in addressing some of the difficulties seniors face in finding hearing aid providers and getting to appointments — many a long drive away.

This legislative session, Colorado Republicans were focused on our Commitment to Colorado, a legislative agenda focused on making Colorado affordable, prioritizing public safety and expanding educational choice. As a native Coloradan, I know firsthand the changes and challenges our state has faced in the past decade. I’ve watched the cost of living rise across the state and felt the impact of that upon rural Colorado. I’ve seen a massive increase in crime, both in my capacity as a game warden and as a member of the community. I’ve watched as my grandkids had very different school experiences than my own children and seen the firsthand effects of failing to fund our schools.

I chose to serve my state as your representative because these things have been worrying me, just like they’ve been worrying you. I believe the voice of rural Colorado matters and that our way of life should be well represented in Denver. It is an honor to be your voice in the Capitol, and I look forward to your continued support in November for my re-election campaign. I have a proven record of being a strong voice for the issues that matter most to our community; that will not change.

State Rep. Perry Will of New Castle represents House District 57, including Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. He is running for reelection in the newly redrawn HD57, which now includes Garfield and Pitkin counties and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.

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