Angie's 2006 State Legislative Agenda - 1/10/2006

2006 State Legislative Agenda
Guest Commentary
by Angie Paccione

Fort Collins Coloradoan
, 1/10/2006
In my first term as your state representative, I pledged to focus on what's right and not who's right as I made decisions on legislative proposals. I have kept that pledge for the past three years. My work in the upcoming session will be no different. Although political pundits suggest this election-year session will be contentious, I believe that each of the 100 legislators have a responsibility to continue to do the people's work, not the work of their political parties.

During the first half of the 65th General Assembly, I passed 14 bills covering a broad array of issues. As a few examples, these bills strengthened interventions to prevent identity theft, created a "safe haven" for minors who seek medical assistance for alcohol-related emergencies, prohibited price gouging of medicine during declared medical emergencies and prohibited insurance companies from raising the rates on men and women returning from active military duty.

In this new legislative session, I plan to continue to work on important issues that require state-level attention. One such issue is forced annexation. Here in Fort Collins, I want to make sure that private property owners are treated more equitably. I want to make it mandatory that residents impacted by forced annexation are informed in a timely manner, that a resident's transition board is formed to assist property owners and that existing intergovernmental agreements are included in any real estate transactions.

A second issue involves tax reform for small businesses in the health care field. I am especially concerned that as our federal politicians continue to ignore the plight of millions of uninsured Americans, health care professionals are bearing unfair financial burdens. My second bill would allow a tax write-off for socially conscious health care professionals who provide care for low-income patients. I look forward to exploring how the Legislature can help us meet the needs of the growing number of uninsured residents.

A third bill was suggested by Nancy Freudenthal, the first lady of Wyoming, while she and I were panelists at a Colorado State University forum on alcohol in college towns. This bill would prohibit insurance companies from denying claims for people with alcohol-related injuries. Such legislation to prevent this discrimination is happening across the country, and I intend to spearhead these efforts in Colorado.

The final two bills that I can introduce (each legislator can introduce five bills and can be the sponsor of any number of bills), are still under consideration. One proposal is about an effective and financially efficient way to make sure that every child in Colorado has access to health care. Other states have done it, and Colorado should make this commitment to our children.

Another proposal is a "bottle bill." This would make Colorado one of many states that have a refund/deposit on beverage containers. We take pride in the beauty of our state, and a bottle bill would assist in reducing litter and in reducing waste in our landfills.

I am also considering how we might address the incredibly low number of Colorado's ninth-graders who go on to college (38 percent), how we can make college more affordable, how we can relieve small businesses of the rising cost of health insurance and how we can capitalize on renewable energy as a source of rural economic development.

This session of the state Legislature does not have to be contentious. I pledge to make sure it isn't. I strongly believe that if we focus on what's right, and not who's right, we can continue to serve the people who elected us with pride and integrity.

Angie Paccione of Fort Collins represents District 53 in the state House of Representatives.

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