Dylan Roberts: Looking back at 2021 Legislative session
Last week, the 2021 legislative session came to a close at the Capitol in Denver — it was unique, challenging, rewarding and, most importantly, productive. After a busy four and a half months, there is a lot to recap and a lot of exciting developments to report.
This year, my colleagues and I set out to help Colorado build back stronger, and with the passage of many bipartisan bills, we did just that. We allocated $800 million in economic stimulus to jump-start our economy and ensure the recovery was equitable. We helped the most vulnerable avoid eviction, we mitigated unemployment, updated infrastructure, improved school funding, helped businesses retain employees and worked to keep Colorado strong.
My own bills, SB21-291 and HB21-1263, which will support small businesses and the event and tourism industry, respectively, were a part of the economic stimulus. Both bills will help businesses in our community bounce back fast as Colorado recovers from the broad economic effects of the pandemic.
Among businesses across Colorado, restaurants were one of the hardest hit. And one COVID-era rule change — selling to-go alcohol — helped them generate additional revenue, keep their employees hired and, for some, keep their doors open. That’s why I introduced a bill, HB21-1027, to continue to-go alcohol for restaurants, and the bill passed. Now, restaurants can continue to sell to-go and delivery alcohol as an extra and crucial source of revenue for at least four more years. In addition, I was proud to support a bill that will allow restaurants and retail stores to retain sales tax collections as a means of helping them recover from the downturn.
Along with economic recovery, I focused my efforts this year on the health of Coloradans and passed two bills to that effect.
Most notable was the Colorado Option, which I’ve been working on with Sen. Kerry Donovan for several years. The passage of the Colorado Option means that, finally, every county in the state will have more than one choice for health insurance on the individual and small group markets. The bill creates a standardized plan offered by existing insurance carriers in every county that will be 15% cheaper than current plans by 2025. Pitkin County consistently experiences some of the highest insurance rates in the state, largely because there is only one carrier on the individual market and a monopoly on prices — the Colorado Option will change that.
Prescription drug costs also continue to burden Coloradans. I introduced an insulin affordability bill to assist those without insurance or who are underinsured. Insulin costs are out of control and for those who have diabetes, insulin is like oxygen, you cannot live without it. Life-saving drugs should not be unaffordable, but for too many insulin is. HB21-1307 creates the insulin affordability program in the division of insurance to supply individuals who are uninsured or underinsured with their insulin for no more than $50 a month for 12 months. I also supported a bill that will establish the Colorado Prescription Drug Affordability Board — a body that will work to reduce the prices of the most-used and most-expensive prescription drugs.
Things are looking good for Colorado. We passed many notable bills and also a balanced budget that completely restored and expanded investment to vital state resources like public education, affordable housing, behavioral health, water, agriculture, and more. In the interim, I look forward to speaking with you, my constituents, and turning our sights to the future needs of our communities. As always, I invite you to contact me anytime on my cell: 970-846-3054 or email: Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us.
Rep. Dylan Roberts represents parts of the Roaring Fork Valley in the Colorado House of Representatives
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