Commissioners set state legislative priorities for 2024

RETT, broadband, weeds and healthcare top picks

By Katherine Nettles

Gunnison County commissioners this month discussed their picks for state legislature priorities this session, in the interest of reaching consensus to share with Colorado Counties Incorporated (CCI), a nonprofit member advocacy association for counties across the state.  

“Every year, counties submit individual recommendations,” said commissioner Liz Smith in review of the process. “All the powers of the county, as the smallest division of the state, are granted by the legislature. So sometimes we need partners there in order to get the tools we need to be effective at delivering our services and addressing our local issues.”

Commissioners compared their individual lists of possible proposals and determined that commissioner chair Jonathan Houck will be the official Gunnison County voting representative, with commissioner Laura Puckett Daniels as the alternate. Health and Human Services director Joni Reynolds is the proxy voter for any healthcare proposals. 

“As one county, we have one vote to help determine which of those proposals move forward to try and get picked up as legislation,” summarized Smith. The ideas or issues are not yet drafted into legislative language.

Commissioners agreed to support a proposal to eliminate annual fees for broadband along the CDOT right-of-way to aid the western district to get full Region 10 broadband access implemented. Puckett Daniels commented that while the county still does not have broadband, it would benefit the county when it becomes part of that network in the long run.

Another proposal on which commissioners agreed was to give counties the opportunity to put a real estate transfer tax (RETT) proposal on a ballot in order to form a dedicated revenue stream for projects such as affordable housing tied into the real estate market. It could potentially include separate tax assessment rates for short term rentals. “I think it’s time to really take this head on,” said Houck, which could help address differences in how property owners use short term rentals as a fulltime, out of town businesses or supplemental residential income.  

Commissioners also agreed on proposals that included protecting consumers from construction defects, the ability to cite property owners or developers for neglecting to mitigate noxious weeds, funding to manage open landfills and a healthcare continuum.  

Gunnison County did not put forth any of their own initiatives this session.

Houck emphasized that none of the proposed issues have been developed into legislative language and are still just broad topics to pursue. 

“I will advocate those to be priorities,” he said of the upcoming CCI discussions.

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