Late summer greetings to everyone in Eagle county and Routt County!
Summer always goes too fast in the high country! The fireweed and the asters are blooming in a riot of deep color, and there are red and yellow leaves on sarvisberry and chokecherry bushes. The beautiful, productive agriculture meadows are dotted with baled hay. Fall can't be too far away.
I continue to wear two hats this summer and fall:
1 Your State Representative, working on policy, on Interim Joint House-Senate Committees (Water and Transportation), visiting organizations and projects to listen and understand what people in our communities are doing, and responding to constituent requests for help.
2 Campaigning for reelection, which means listening to you at events, walking door to door, raising and accounting for money, creating campaign materials, and answering many questionnaires from citizen advocacy groups, and writing policy pieces.
Interim Water Resources Committee (WRRC)
I have attended two meetings of our Interim Water Resources Review Committee: one in Grand Junction on August 2 and one at the Capitol on August 16.
At the August 16 meeting we requested that several bills and one resolution be drafted for our next meeting. The resolution was mine. It asks our Federal partners, especially the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers to help Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) with the critical boat inspections for non-native, invasive aquatic nuisance species, such as mussels. Due to our very successful program headed up by CPW, we are still the only state that does not have infestations of this very invasive, extremely destructive species. These mussels not only interfere with native aquatic species and crowd out native riparian habitat but they overrun water infrastructure and may cost millions to mitigate. Once mussels invade they are virtually impossible to eradicate.
In September our committee will meet to consider 2017 bills to be introduced.
Transportation Legislation Review committee (TLRC)
The first TLRC meeting of the interim is at the Capitol on August 31 and will meet again on October 5, look for an update on what happened in our next newsletter!
Health insurance risk Rating Study outcomes:
In 2016 I co-sponsored a bill with two fellow Western Slope Legislators: Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and Rep. Bob Rankin (R Carbondale), that required the Division of Insurance to conduct a study to examine the potential impacts of a statewide insurance risk pool. On August 1st the study was completed. I will meet with my colleagues who worked on HB16-1336 at The Capitol on August 22 with the Lt. Governor and the Commissioner of Insurance to look at next steps.
The study did show that having a single region would significantly reduce individual premiums in 6 of the 9 current regions. Premiums for individual policies would rise for Denver + 5.7%, Colorado Springs + 6.3%, and Boulder +5.5%. For all other regions, they would drop significantly: Fort Collins -4.0%, Greeley -4.5%, on the Eastern Plains and Southern valleys -8.5%, Pueblo -3.5%, Grand Junction -9.7%, and in our West Region, -23.2 %.
However, the Division of Insurance concluded that creating a single rate region is not feasible based on their hypotheses that: carriers would leave Colorado, carriers would not serve certain areas, and many carriers might go to an HMO only plan suite.
Moreover, the Colorado Commissioner of Insurance stressed that cost of care is the driving factor here, and until we get costs under control, we cannot really lower premiums. Please feel free to contact me with questions, I would be more than happy to send you the results of the study. Please look for an update on the August 22nd meeting in the next newsletter.
Avon Summer Lunch Program and Salvation Army Food Bank & Community Garden.
I was honored to visit the much needed and very effective summer lunch program for those eligible for free-reduced lunches during the school year that Sarah Amberg of InteGreat!, organizes in the community room at Riverview apartments in Avon. What a warm, inviting atmosphere with tasty, nutritious food! I met families with children of all ages. Sarah is so energetic and really knows how to negotiate to get peoples' needs filled in a very cost-effective manner.
After the lunch, Meighen Lovelace and her daughter, Snow, took me over to the Avon Salvation Army Food Pantry and Community Garden. Both the Food Pantry and the Community Garden are impressive, and really needed by our less fortunate neighbors. The garden is easily accessible and people are able to grow what they desire on their plot and to have fresh vegetables. Kudos to Coordinator Tsu Wolin-Brown, Meighen Lovelace, and all the Salvation Army staff and volunteers!
Visits to Town and City Governments
I met with Minturn Town Board, Oak Creek Town Board, and the Avon Town Council to provide a Legislative Update and answer questions. I will continue to meet with municipal governments in our House District 26 throughout August and September.
Hayden Solandt Memorial Hospital Check presentation
I was delighted to be a part of the Colorado Historical Fund Check Presentation for $30,239 to the Solandt Memorial Hospital in Hayden on August 9. This is the fourth grant that Board Chair Kathy Hockin has successfully applied for and received for Solandt. The money will be used to do building improvements at the historical Hospital, which is now a wonderful full service clinic for NW Colorado.
Met with the I-70 Coalition
Along with my colleagues from the mountain counties, I was on a panel at the July meeting of the I-70 Coalition, which is comprised of all the counties, municipalities, Transportation Planning Regions, CDOT staff, CSP, and many businesses along the I-70 Mountain Corridor from Jefferson County through Eagle County. It also includes several mountain counties not directly adjacent to I-70, but very dependent on the highway for movement of people and goods. We provided a legislative update and discussed issues and answered questions about Transportation.
Senator Donovan and I met with industry representatives to discuss rural broadband issues, including the Connect America Funds. We will both continue to work on how best to expand access to broadband in rural Colorado, especially on the Western slope.
...On the Campaign Trail
77 days until Election Day! I have been out at events, knocking on doors and listening to you about the issues that matter most to you. I had a great time marching in the Gypsum Daze parade with my fellow Eagle County Democrats and visiting the Holy Cross Energy's Community Solar Garden opening earlier this month. I am always so humbled by the wonderful events and programs that my constituents are able to come together and put on.
I am thrilled to announce that in the past few weeks we have brought on two outstanding volunteers to the team to help reach out to as many voters as possible: Madeline has joined on as a campaign intern and has done a fabulous job thus far by helping keep me and my campaign manager on track with our goals; Erin has also joined the team as a volunteer coordinator to help us activate all of the wonderful people with a desire to get involved throughout our District!
I need help to make sure that come November 9th I am still able to represent you and our entire beautiful headwaters district. To join the campaign efforts click here to sign up to knock doors, make calls or let us know how you want to be involved! Can't volunteer? Contribute to the campaign here. Any amount is much needed and very appreciated. Campaign contributions are used to help get my message of a more just, equitable, sustainable, and prosperous Colorado for all, out to as many voters in House District 26 as possible.
Paid for by Citizens to Elect Diane Mitsch Bush for Colorado HD 26 • Tessa Kirchner, Treasurer • ©2012-2017 Diane For Colorado