Rep. McCluskie, Attorney General Weiser host town hall in Frisco to review first months in office
FRISCO — State Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon) and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser held a town hall forum Tuesday evening in Frisco. The freshman state officials were in town to review accomplishments over their first few months as well as to field questions from Summit County residents.
McCluskie kicked off the town hall at the Summit County Community and Senior Center by reviewing her legislative accomplishments after being elected to the state house in November. Top among her priorities this session was health care.
Among other items, McCluskie was a prime sponsor for House Bill 19-1168, State Innovation Waiver Reinsurance Program. Signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, it would institute a short-term reinsurance program, which would act as insurance for insurance companies on exceptionally high-cost claims, that McCluskie said would lower consumer health premium rates by as much as 30% when it goes into effect next year.
Looking to shut down price gouging on essential medications, McCluskie also sponsored HB19-1216, Reduced Insulin Prices, that will cap insulin at $100 for a one-month supply. McCluskie also was co-sponsor on HB19-1001, Hospital Transparency Measures To Analyze Efficacy, which requires hospitals to divulge certain financial information about their costs, giving consumers a better idea of what goes into the pricing on their medical bills.
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Aside from health, McCluskie also highlighted her efforts in education. She was prime sponsor for HB19-1052, Early Childhood Development Special District, which authorizes the creation of special legislative districts for early childhood development services, as well as HB19-1153, Colorado Mountain College And Direct Grants Annexation, which would expand baccalaureate degree offerings at CMC.
“I am really pleased with legislation that I hope will have long- and short-term impacts,” McCluskie told the packed audience at the community center. “We are excited to see what comes out of our efforts from the past year.”
McCluskie also highlighted her efforts to push a “de-Brucing” bill that would allow the state to keep tax revenue generated above the TABOR cap, which normally would be refunded to taxpayers.
Turning from law creation to law enforcement, Weiser reviewed the efforts his office had made in the first few months of his tenure as state attorney general. He said his office has five core priorities: advancing the rule of law, addressing the opioid epidemic, public safety, consumer safety, and issues concerning land, air and water.
When it comes to the rule of law, Weiser highlighted his office’s fight with the Trump administration concerning the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including the Medicaid expansion in the state and barring discrimination against pre-existing conditions.
For opioids, Weiser has been pursuing Colorado’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the company widely blamed for being a primary contributor for the nationwide opioid crisis. Weiser said the state would be seeking to add more claims to the lawsuit soon.
Weiser also mentioned his intention to enforce HB19-1177, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as the “red flag bill.” Among the significant and most controversial pieces of legislation this session, the bill was signed into law in April, and Weiser said it was a law necessary for public safety and to prevent suicides.
“If someone is known to be mentally ill, law enforcement has no tools to take the weapons away,” Weiser said. “You’re likely to have a single (Extreme Risk Protection Order) case a year in Summit County, and it’s most likely to prevent a suicide. Nothing happens until a judge approves it, and people subject to it will be provided a lawyer for free to contest the order if they wish.”
Among the questions fielded by elected officials was one from Dr. Don Parsons, a retired surgeon who served Summit County for decades. Parsons asked Weiser what he intended to do about the vaping epidemic, given statistics on the alarming rise in vaping product use by minors. In Summit County, teen vaping use is double the national average.
Weiser responded by acknowledging the extent of the problem as well as offering his office’s willingness to work with communities to stem the tide on vaping.
“Vaping is insidious; companies have marketed to teenagers with flavors and advertising, kind of like Joe Camel back in the day,” Weiser said, referring to the marketing campaign by Camel cigarettes featuring a cartoon camel that was shut down in the ’90s after public pressure on marketing cigarettes to kids. “We are looking at it from a consumer-protection approach. We will evaluate if there is something we should do to protect consumers and argue that they are breaking the law.”
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