Colorado Community Media asked the following questions of state Sen. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, ahead of the 2020 legislative session, which began Jan. 8. Smallwood represents Senate District 4, which …
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Colorado Community Media asked the following questions of state Sen. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, ahead of the 2020 legislative session, which began Jan. 8. Smallwood represents Senate District 4, which includes Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Parker and Larkspur.
What can be learned from the 2019 session?
I suppose that depends on who you ask. For me, I've learned that if you want to get something done in the minority, you might have to pull out all the stops. When Democrats tried to kill Senate Bill 25, my legislation to require the teaching of Colorado's Safe Haven law in schools, it required a great deal of effort, organizing, and alerting the public and the media to keep that bill alive. And remember, that wasn't even considered a controversial bill.
What bill or bills are you most looking forward to working on in the 2020 session?
I am most looking forward to working on bringing down Coloradans' health care costs without initiating a government takeover of the entire system. Democrats already appear all-in on a “public option” that will result in cost shifting by rate-setting, which means while some Coloradans may benefit in the short term, many Coloradans will end up paying more in the long term.
My focus is on more market-driven solutions that don't get the government nearly as involved in the doctor/patient relationship.
Considering Proposition CC's failure in November, what steps should be taken for transportation and education funding?
Before Proposition CC, and before the Democrats took over in 2019, we passed Senate Bill 18-001, which would ask the voters of Colorado to utilize revenue we already had (i.e. no raising taxes) to bond and make a large payment towards the Department of Transportation's $9 billion backlog. Last session, Democrats postponed that bonding measure going to voters in order to try and pass Proposition CC. They asked Republicans to go along with it, and we did, hoping that Democrats would allow that bonding measure to go to the ballot this year in good faith.
What do you envision as the most daunting challenge this session?
It's easy to make predictions, and it's even easier for those predictions to fall through. In a broad sense, I think the most difficult part of the session will be what it was last year — getting Democrats to bring everybody to the table. Democrats won their majorities — they won the governorship — but there is still a large percentage of the population that feels ignored, disregarded and neglected. I will do everything I can to make sure their voices are heard.
Describe a successful 2020 session.
It's difficult to have a wildly successful session when you don't have the votes to pass — or scuttle — any legislation. For me, a successful session will include revamping the health insurance “reinsurance” program, which astoundingly actually increased net premiums to the vast majority of subsidized insurance purchasers in Douglas County and the Front Range. I plan to help bring forth market-based solutions on holding down hospital costs in the health care system while also ditching the idea of a public option. I'd also love to see Democrats give careful consideration to Republicans' education ideas.
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