Mountain region representatives talk housing, health care at town hall |

Mountain region representatives talk housing, health care at town hall

Colorado State Rep. Julie McCluskie speaks during a Democratic Party meet-and-greet Sept. 3 at the Dillon Amphitheater. She joined Rep. Dylan Roberts and Sen. Kerry Donovan for a virtual town hall Monday, May 3.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Colorado Reps. Julie McCluskie and Dylan Roberts and Sen. Kerry Donovan met for a virtual town hall to discuss legislative progress Monday night.

Audience members asked for updates on topics most closely affecting their lives, particularly affordable housing and health care.

Roberts, who represents Eagle and Routt counties, began the conversation with an update on the Colorado Option health care bill, which he said would lower health care costs by adding an additional insurance option on the individual and small group markets.

The bill passed the House Health and Insurance Committee last week and is expected on the floor later this week. Roberts said the bill is focused not just on improving the price of insurance but also the quality across the entire state.

“That’s really important because we don’t want to just create a plan that’s cheaper but doesn’t actually get you coverage,” he said. “We want people to be able to use the coverage that they’re buying and be able to go to the doctor to get the care that they need without having the fear of going bankrupt or spending a bunch of money on an unaffordable deductible.”

McCluskie — who represents Summit, Gunnison and Pitkin counties, among others — spoke about the state budget, which she said is “finally through the entire process.”

“We have, I think, set the state off on the best path possible to make sure that we’ve prioritized our economic recovery,” she said. “We’re investing in the social safety net services that we know so many Coloradans are depending on at this time, and we’re really investing in good, thoughtful, creative, innovative ideas to help get our economy back on track and humming along better than ever.”

McCluskie also addressed multiple questions regarding housing, noting that it has “definitely been a priority” of the session as multiple bills and conversations on the topic are ongoing.

“There are a lot of conversations that are still underway and bills that may still be coming this session with additional investments into affordable housing,” McCluskie said. “I think it has risen to the top as one of the priorities for not only the state stimulus money that we’ve put aside, but also what we will be receiving as part of the (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars coming from the feds.”

She said the bills will encourage local governments to “push themselves” to create affordable housing projects and have them up and running in the next 18 months.

Roberts also noted progress on several economic stimulus bills, including one that would allow restaurants to continue selling to-go and delivery alcohol for the next five years.

Another bill that passed the House with bipartisan support will incentivize event organizers to host in Colorado, providing a 10% rebate on the hard costs of hosting the event.

“When those events come to our communities, we know that investment will double, triple, quadruple upon itself because those people who come go to restaurants, they go shopping, and they stay in our hotels, and so it would really boost our local economies,” Roberts said.

The legislators also discussed progress on various other bills including law enforcement, transportation, universal preschool, wolf reintroduction and wildfire mitigation. The full recording of the event can be viewed on Roberts’ Facebook page.

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