MONTE VISTA—During the monthly meeting of Upper Rio Grande Economic Development (URGED), State Representative Donald Valdez and Senator Larry Crowder took a moment to talk about the previous year’s victories in the house legislature and about what they plan for the coming year’s session. The meeting took place at the Mountain View Restaurant in Monte Vista on Tuesday, August 8 and opened with a brief overview from President Tom Acre.
State Representative Valdez was the first to speak to the attending members and thanked them for allowing him the chance to come and talk about the past year. Valdez stated that he pushed for six bills during the house session last spring that included House Bill 1019 and 1094. HB 1019 states, “When property taxes are delinquent, a county treasurer issues a tax certificate, which is a lien on the property. The property can be redeemed upon paying the delinquent taxes, interest and specified publication, abstract and search fees. The bill now requires the repayment of any amounts paid to third parties for computer software costs incurred in connection with processing the redemption.”
House Bill 1094 states, “Under current law, health benefit plans are required to cover health care services delivered to a covered person by a provider via telehealth in the same manner that the plan covers health care services delivered by a provider in person. The bill clarifies that: A health plan cannot restrict or deny coverage of telehealth services based on the communication technology or application used to deliver the telehealth services; the availability of telehealth services does not change a carrier’s obligation to contract with providers available in the community to provide in-person services; a covered person may receive telehealth services from a private residence, but the carrier is not required to pay or reimburse for any transmission costs or originating site fees the covered person incurs; a carrier is to apply the applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible amount to health care services a covered person receives through telehealth, which amount cannot exceed the amount applicable to those health care services when delivered through in-person care; and Telehealth includes health care services provided through HIPAA-compliant audio-visual communication or the use of a HIPAA-compliant application via a cellular telephone but does not include voice-only telephone communication or text messaging.”
Valdez finished by saying that he plans on a legislature to increase water storage amounts for the region for the coming session and that he will be endorsing bills to help find solutions for the rising drug problems. “The jails are overcrowded, and we have a heroin and drug issue. We need to do something about it and help these people get back into the workforce to help serve their communities, their families and themselves,” said Valdez.
Crowder was the next to speak, stating that he usually pushes for 30 bills per year with a 60 percent success rate. This year the senator plans to focus on the jail overcrowding issue as well as the opioid and heroin problems that are on the rise in his district which consists of 16 Colorado counties, including the SLV. “The drugs are a major issue and it is so much further past what we are used to with the synthetic drugs,” stated Crowder.
The senator continued stating that he is on a board of officials looking for a reasonable and sustainable solution to the growing problem and will be looking at legislature to find a solution for the jail overcrowding throughout the state.
Other issues Crowder plans to focus on will be to stop the rise in gas tax by focusing efforts on economic development and transportation issues. “The answer lies in economic development. We will get through this,” finished Crowder.
The senator took a moment to speak on the subject of education and how he plans on looking for a type of incentive for students who pursue teaching degrees. “Less and less students are going for educational degrees, and we need teachers in rural Colorado. We need to offer an incentive to teachers and bring them here as well as to motivate students to pursue a teaching career,” said Crowder.
Crowder finished his speech with a brief statement that he will continue to support all forms of energy within Colorado. “I will support any type of energy as long as we watch the consumer cost.” Crowder stated that he will support both the oil and gas industry as well as solar and wind projects throughout the state and that he anticipates an increase in both energy fields in the near future. Crowder thanked URGED for their time and closed the discussion.