Western Slope lawmakers meet with local business leaders at legislature wrap up breakfast

Local state representatives and business owners talk about legislative session
Local state representatives and business owners talk about legislative session(KKCO)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 9:07 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Colorado state representatives from the Western Slope met with local businesses owners as part of the Legislative Wrap Up breakfast following the end of 2022 Colorado State legislative session.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the breakfast every year following the session in an effort to provide a window for lawmakers to meet with local businesses to share and discuss what happened during the session that can directly impact businesses.

“It gives people the opportunity to ask questions of our legislators,” said Diane Schwenke, Chamber president and CEO. “It gives our legislators a chance to say here’s what we did, here’s where we made a difference.”

House representatives Matt Soper and Janice Rich along with State Senator Don Coram were attended the breakfast held at the Courtyard by Marriot on Horizon Drive. The three representatives spoke about what they were proud of during the legislative session and things they were able to accomplish.

Rep. Rich said one bill she was pleased to be able to pass was SB172 the Colorado Rural Health-care Workforce Initiative. The bill is aimed at bringing more health care professionals to the Western Slope.

“Instead of just medicals doctors, we’re going to expand it to nurses and dentists and various healthcare providers to come to rural Colorado,” said Rich.

Rich also had a hand in the fentanyl bill as lawmakers argued down to the wire, passing it with barely more than an hour before the midnight deadline on the final night of the legislative session.

“I realize that the fentanyl bill is not everything everybody wanted,” said Rich. “But for me, it was important to at least do something. We’re losing too many people to fentanyl.”

Soper also had a strong hand in fighting for the fentanyl bill. For him, it was all about getting drug dealers off of the streets.

“I want to stop the drug dealers,” said Soper. “I want to get fentanyl off the streets. I want to disrupt the business model and the only way to do so was with this particular bill.”

According to Rep. Matt Soper, one of his proudest accomplishments was HB 1091 Online Availability Of Judicial Opinions, which is geared toward making case laws accessible.

Both Soper and Rich are up for reelection and both are looking forward to keep serving their communities. As for what they’re looking forward to, Soper said he is looking forward to enjoying a little break now that the session is over, but is excited to meet with the community members and learn more about issues they’re passionate about.

“Certainly as the summer goes on and meeting with many different constituents and holding town “halls, that’s really when bill ideas come to me,” said Soper. “I mean all the bills I’ve run have come directly from constituents.”

“I hope that we can have a more balanced government,” said Rich. “I’ve always liked to work across the aisle but I think if we had a more balanced government, everyone would be more willing to work together and see that we were doing really good for the people of Colorado.”

Senator Don Coram just finished up his last year at the state legislative session. After 12 years serving he decided it was time to move on to new things.

“It’s been a great ride,” said Coram. “12 years in the general assembly. It’s been very rewarding, I’ve enjoyed it.”

Coram attributes his some of success in the state senate to be from building good relationships.

“I think the thing that I’m most proud of is my ability to be a problem solver, negotiate and to bring better legislation to the state of Colorado through relationships.”

Coram is running against Congresswoman Lauren Boebert for her seat in Colorado’s third district in the coming June primary election.

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