On January 9th the Colorado legislature began and we began our work of service to our great state.
The start of the legislative year is an exciting time as we seek to bring solutions and ideas to the challenges and opportunities facing our communities. Having spoken directly to many campaign voters and community leaders over the past few weeks, I feel energized and hopeful to design and enact legislation that meets the needs of our area and make Routt County an even better place to live.
I am happy to share that I have already introduced several laws directly inspired by conversations in our communities.
We continue our momentum and bring significant government support to address the affordable housing crisis in our region. In 2022, I helped lead the largest annual investment in affordable housing development that will result in millions of dollars flowing into Routt County to help build affordable homes for teachers, nurses, police officers, our tourism workers and others to help.
Now, mine and the first Senate Bill of Session 2023, SB23-001, double down on our work on affordable housing, and I’m particularly excited to be working with Routt County Assemblyman Meghan Lukens on this bill. Inspired by partnerships like that between the Colorado Department of Transportation and Routt County to build a childcare facility and employee housing at Steamboat, SB23-001 will provide increased funding and incentives for public-private partnerships to build workers housing on unused state land. By eliminating the cost of land, housing projects across the state are being built faster and at lower cost.
Additionally, I’m working with Republican and Democratic colleagues on a bill to expand and streamline a property tax exemption for nonprofit developers like Habitat for Humanity. This tax cut will help drive more affordable housing projects across the state, especially in our more expensive regions like Northwest Colorado.
Helping rural Colorado
On the campaign trail, and in numerous recent conversations with local government officials, I have heard that our rural county and local governments are lagging behind when it comes to nationwide support for important economic support and development projects. That’s why I’m working with colleagues from both parties on two bills that will make it easier for our rural local governments to find and secure funding.
My second bill of the year is bipartisan bill SB23-006, which will create the Rural Opportunity Office within our state government to connect rural communities with essential programs and resources. This office will empower rural communities by connecting cities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations with state, federal, nonprofit, and private partner agencies that provide support for economic development, energy transition, and outreach.
I’m also working with county governments on a bill that would provide rural counties with funding for state park infrastructure. As more Colorado residents and visitors use our state parks each year, roads and other park infrastructure are subject to significant wear and tear. My bipartisan bill will allow counties to use state park pass revenue for park maintenance and improvement.
To protect Colorado’s most valuable natural resource, I’m working on a series of bills to improve water quality and quantity. With unprecedented drought, growing state populations, and pressure from downstream states, we are struggling to meet water supply needs. While much of the solution to our impending water scarcity lies in interstate negotiations, Colorado can do more to prepare for water scarcity and conserve water on behalf of our agricultural and community water users. With this in mind, I am drafting legislation to restore the health of our streams and rivers, mitigate the impact of drought on our water users, and strengthen our community water infrastructure.
And so much more
Overall, the legislature has a lot of work ahead of it. In addition to my personal early priorities, the panel as a whole will focus on adopting a balanced state budget, increasing funding for K-12 education and affordable childcare resources, fighting climate change, making our state safer, and our small business strong to sustain the economy and continue to pursue our common goal of making Colorado an affordable and beautiful place to live.
I look forward to your feedback, ideas and questions throughout the session. I invite you to attend upcoming in-person and virtual town hall meetings and contact me directly at [email protected] or on my cell phone at 970-846-3054.
Dylan Roberts represents the 8th Circuit in the Colorado Senate, which includes Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.