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Republican state Sen. Jim Smallwood represents District 4, which includes Castle Rock, Sedalia, Larkspur, Franktown, Castle Pines and most of Parker. He was elected to the position in 2016, and this is his first time holding a public office. Smallwood has spent years working in the field of insurance, and was appointed to the Colorado Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities by Gov. John Hickenlooper. He has also served on various national and statewide trade associations. Committee assignments include chair of the Health and Human Services, the Business, Labor, and Technology, and the Legislative Audit committees.
What is the most important issue for the Legislature to tackle this session, and what needs to be done?
Finding a long-term fix for Colorado's chronically underfunded roadways, using existing funds and without raising taxes, is one major piece of unfinished business we hope to tackle this session. And we face another heavy lift in putting the state's financially troubled pension fund on a sustainable long-term trajectory, avoiding the need for a taxpayer bailout.
Balancing the state budget may not be the huge challenge it was been in recent years, thanks to a relatively strong state economy, but there's always robust debate about how to prioritize those scarce dollars. I'll be fighting to ensure those funds are directed toward the core functions of government. Lawmakers will also be adjusting to what Washington has done on a number of fronts, from Obamacare to Medicaid expansion, tax reform to marijuana regulation, as we come to understand the policy implications for Colorado.
Describe two pieces of legislation that you plan to sponsor.
I plan to sponsor multiple pieces of legislation this year that will provide immediate relief to those citizens who are struggling to pay for health insurance and medical bills in our state. The average premium in Colorado for individual policies is expected to increase by a incredible 27% next year. I hope to change the rules in our state which currently don't allow people to buy less expensive policies, if they choose to do so. Additionally, I hope to help craft rules that will make the costs of healthcare services more transparent to our citizens, so they know what prices to expect before those services are rendered. After all, no one likes surprise medical bills.
For this session to be deemed a success, what must happen?
For the 2018 session in a split statehouse to be successful, all legislators know that we need to work in a bipartisan, bicameral way. Having seen so many examples of lawmakers coming together to do the right thing for Colorado in 2017, I am excited and confident that this session deliver some great accomplishments.
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