May 17, 2022
The following op-ed was published in The Steamboat Pilot & Today.
We just concluded one of the most impactful and bipartisan legislative sessions in recent memory. We responded to Colorado’s most pressing needs and passed legislation that will move our state forward.
This session focused on saving Coloradans money, improving public safety, building a healthier Colorado and investing in our students. As always, the bills I introduced and led to passage were based on the ideas directly from Eagle and Routt counties residents.
Here is some of what got done:
Historic investments in housing
Ensuring that all Coloradans have an affordable place to call home was my top priority this year. I am thrilled to say that this legislative session represents Colorado’s largest single-year investment in affordable housing.
Over the past year, I was honored to chair the Affordable Housing Task Force — a bipartisan panel of legislators, housing experts and local officials tasked with making policy recommendations on housing — and every single one of our recommendations passed with bipartisan sponsorship.
In total, we allocated $428 million for housing projects in local communities, with dedicated funds for our rural and rural-resort communities who are grappling with the housing crisis most acutely.
Additionally, one of my priority bills to allow counties — with voter approval — to use lodging tax revenue for housing and other workforce needs was signed into law in April.
Saving Coloradans and small businesses money
In January, we set out to save Coloradans money. We did just that.
Because of our work, Coloradans will receive a refund check of close to $500 for single filers and $1,000 for joint filers in September. We lowered property taxes for residential and commercial properties by over $700 million, saving the average homeowner $274.
Families will save thousands of dollars a year with free universal preschool and with more affordable child care — a product of my first bill this year, which was an idea directly from my district.
We also reduced fees for professional licenses and businesses and took action to save people money at the DMV and the gas pump. I also sponsored and passed a bill allowing restaurants to keep $70,000 of their sales taxes this summer.
Protecting our environment
We all know that wildfire is a constant threat to our communities. That’s why we continued — and expanded — our support for wildfire mitigation and response measures while taking significant steps to combat climate change and protect our air quality.
I also furthered my work protecting our Western Slope water. From investing in interstate compact compliance to a statewide program incentivizing municipal turf replacement, I am proud to continue leading the charge to protect our state’s most precious resource.
I worked very hard on several bills seeking to make our communities safer. My bills cracking down on retail theft, protecting victims’ rights and increasing funding for police and EMS providers all passed. We also passed a comprehensive bill tackling the nationwide fentanyl crisis, which will drastically increase penalties for those who deal fentanyl and dedicate desperately needed resources for addiction treatment, Narcan supplies and more.
While this bill is not perfect, it is a necessary step in addressing this lethal drug’s impact on our communities.
Historic education investments
As I wrote last month, this year’s state budget represents the largest investment in our K-12 system in over a decade, resulting in increased teacher pay and more support for our students, educators and education staff.
Mental and behavioral health
This year’s session made transformational investments to improve Colorado’s mental health system. In total, $450 million was dedicated to mental health services, which includes assembling the new Behavioral Health Administration, additional mental health beds in our rural communities, recruiting behavioral health professionals, and legal updates making the system more accessible.
Standing up for rural Colorado
I have always worked to make sure that our region does not get left behind in the halls of the Capitol and this year was no different. One of my passed bills invests $15 million into transitioning communities like Hayden, Oak Creek and Craig, so they can attract businesses and help workers with the energy transition and keep good jobs right here.
We also passed bills supporting our agriculture producers, fought for increased funding to help ranchers mitigate the impact of the voter-imposed reintroduction of wolves, and I supported efforts to encourage more geothermal energy development right here in rural Colorado.
I now look forward to being home and spending time with family, friends and all of you. As always, I invite you to contact me with feedback, questions, or if you need assistance with your state government. Join me for an upcoming town hall meeting or reach out directly at 970-846-3054 or Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us.