2019 Legislative Agenda
The mission statement of the GSCRA is to provide leadership, promote commerce, encourage measured growth and continue to support endeavors which will enrich the quality of life in our community.
Our vision is to make Glenwood Springs the ideal mountain community.
Like exemplary chambers of commerce, the GSCRA prides itself on these core competencies:
- Promoting the community;
- Building a strong local economy;
- Representing business interests with government;
- Taking political action;
- Proving networking opportunities for the business community.
The GSCRA believes that a strong business community leads to a strong community. Therefore, we advocate on behalf of business at local, regional, state and national levels. The GSCRA strives to make sure elected officials and other community leaders are aware of concerns of the business community.
As representatives of the major business sectors in the community, the GSCRA’s Business Advocacy Advisory Board (BAAB) has developed this legislative agenda. This purpose of this publication is to inform the membership and elected representatives of issues that are important to Glenwood Springs area businesses. It will also be the guideline the chamber board utilizes in taking positions quickly as needed.
The GSCRA holds membership in and works closely with various local, state, regional and national organizations. These partnerships are important to our success. However, the GSCRA is not obligated in any way to follow, approve or endorse any other organization’s positions or initiatives. In some cases, we do utilize positions of these and other organizations to help guide our own.
Located at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers, the historic resort town of Glenwood Springs is famous for the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Glenwood Canyon, Hanging Lake, Yampah Vapor Caves and Sunlight Mountain Resort. Since the late 1800s, Glenwood Springs has been a prime tourist destination. Likewise, tourism continues to be the main economic driver in the community.
The most accurate indicator of how tourism has benefitted Glenwood Springs is its accommodations tax. This pass-through tax of 2.5% is added to room nights within the city limits. The Glenwood Springs lodging tax has increase 6.88% cumulatively over 2015s figures and has seen a 24% increase over the benchmark year of 2008.
The Tourism Promotion Fund, with oversight by the City of Glenwood Springs, is managed by the GSCRA’s Tourism Department. The tourism department receives 92.5% of the overall tax collected from September 1 through August 31 of the year prior to budget. A Tourism Promotion marketing plan and budget are presented to the City of Glenwood Springs annually by GSCRA tourism staff.
The Glenwood Springs Chamber supports continuing to market Glenwood Springs as an international tourist destination. Additionally, the GSCRA supports measures that continue to enhance Glenwood Springs thereby attracting additional tourists.
Glenwood Springs is situated at the confluence of Interstate 70 and Colorado Highway 82. I-70 is a critical transportation corridor connecting Colorado’s Front Range and the Western Slope. This interstate is the only major east-west highway to move tourists and residents, as well as goods and services. Additionally, much of our community’s workforce lives west of Glenwood Springs along Interstate 70. Colorado Highway 82 is also an essential corridor connecting our Glenwood Springs to communities throughout the Roaring Fork Valley to Aspen.
Congestion or closure of Interstate 70 and/or Colorado Highway 82 infuriates travelers, harms small businesses, impacts our tourism economy, impacts workforce, creates safety risks, and hinders intrastate and interstate commerce.
Glenwood Springs itself if situated in a narrow valley. Connectivity throughout the community is essential for traffic flow and safety.
The GSCRA believes that an efficient transportation system is an essential component in the creation and maintenance of a healthy business climate. The ongoing maintenance and upgrades of existing roads, as well as the construction of new roadways, are critical pieces of an overall transportation plan. Continued development of multimodal forms of transit should be considered where viable. Development should be balanced with maintaining Glenwood Springs’ small town character and preserving our cultural and natural resources.
- The implementation and continual updating of the City of Glenwood Springs’ Long Range Transportation Plan 2003-2030
- A statewide approach to transportation funding, recognizing the importance of transportation to all citizens of Colorado and the economic vitality of the state.
- Increased federal, state, and local funding for transportation improvements, to compensate for inadequate funding of these improvements in recent years. Evaluate sources of revenue for additional funding of transportation needs.
- Supports the identification of sustainable transportation funding sources and other viable alternatives.
- Active role in legislation that reduces the percentage of the budget at the federal, state, and local levels allotted for transportation.
- A statewide approach to highway funding, recognizing the importance of all Colorado roads to all citizens.
- CDOT bonding against future revenues in an effort to maximize highway improvements but only to the extent that a dedicated funding source of revenue is identified to service the debt created by the bonding which does not negatively impact dollars for maintenance.
- Efforts to develop an increased and sustainable source of funding for transportation infrastructure at the local, state and federal levels, placing transportation and transportation infrastructure as priority.
- A planned local transportation infrastructure, including continued development and improvement of a system that complements growth and development, including public transit.
- Efforts to expand and retain general and commercial air service into Eagle, Aspen and Grand Junction.
- Efforts and initiatives to address mobility issues along the I-70 transportation corridor through the state with particular focus on access for western slope citizens.
- Streamlining of federal, state and local regulations for the construction of local roads and highways so as to minimize the cost to taxpayers in terms of time, resources and money.
- Continued dialog with citizens and businesses during all phases of transportation infrastructure improvement.
- The use of local contractors and subcontractors in line with local government guidelines for all projects. Encouraging local governments in creating reciprocal bidder preference which spurs a level playing field.
- Development of bicycle and pedestrian trails in coordination with other roadway improvements.
- Greater use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in government owned vehicles and the continued research and development of CNG infrastructure.
- Term limits for state transportation commissioners.
- More public-private partnerships that ease the strain on federal and state budgets and free up public money for projects that can’t attract private investment.
- A strong federal role in transportation so that our national system remains cohesive and interconnected.
- Permit streamlining so transportation projects can get off the ground more quickly, are completed in a timely manner, and keep costs low.
- Any use of highway funds for non-highway purposes, including funds raised from any taxes on vehicles, motor fuels or on auto parts and accessories.
- Altering the State’s current Resource Allocation Formula (RAF) so as to reduce either real or proportional funding for Western Colorado Roads.
- Efforts to change the composition of Colorado’s Transportation Commission.
- Tolls on existing roadways.
- The Colorado Department of Transportation from partnering in and supporting individual efforts of municipalities in sales tax increases that do not address statewide transportation needs.
The GSCRA recognizes that the health care system in the United States is a unique combination of employer-based plans, individually purchased plans, and a government-sponsored system.The rapidly rising cost of health care and health insurance represents a significant burden to Colorado businesses currently providing health coverage to employees, and a significant deterrent to businesses looking to provide health coverage to employees.
Health insurance premium increases are driven by a number of different factors, including but not limited to: financial incentives that encourage excessive utilization of health care, overuse of emergency room services and the use of an inappropriate level of care in general, lack of preventative care, inadequate funding for government health care programs (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare, CHP+), increasing prescription drug prices, a high level of defensive medicine, the medical needs and demands of an aging population, costly new medical advances, inefficient government regulation, lack of pricing transparency and comparability, increases in administrative costs, benefit design, and rapid increase in medical inflation.
Health insurance premiums are being driven by various federal and state mandates (e.g. mandated benefits such as the essential health benefits package, cost sharing limitations maternity coverage for men and pediatric dental) and changes to rating rules.
The private sector is incurring an increasingly disproportionate share of the costs of health care – in particular because of insufficient government reimbursement for health care services. This “cost shift” has a tremendous impact on the business community and the provision of health insurance.
The GSCRA recognizes the highly regulated nature of health care and the impacts that adverse regulation has on the cost of health care.
The GSCRA emphasizes the need to structure appropriate access to health care – especially preventive care – and to optimize the provision of high quality, cost effective health care services.
The Glenwood Springs Chamber supports the goal of a healthcare system that is affordable, accessible, and provides quality healthcare to residents.
- Health care reform legislation and regulation that promotes greater affordability, community collaboration, a higher level of stability and which is compliant with all other policy positions.
- Efforts and initiatives that emphasize healthy lifestyles including personal responsibility for lifestyle choices and encourage preventive medical care, health education awareness, early screening and detection, and disease management.
- Partnerships with the local health care community to address local health care needs.
- Programs and initiatives aimed at educating health care consumers and businesses with meaningful information on the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care procedures, providers and plans; and initiatives encouraging cost-effective and efficient utilization of the health care system.
- Increased access to and improved transparency of health care results and costs.
- Addressing the cost shift from the public sector to the private sector, with government providing adequate funding for governmental health insurance programs (i.e. Medicaid, Medicare, and CHP+).
- Addressing the cost shift within the private sector due to uncompensated care, by requiring all individuals who can afford it to have health coverage.
- A comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of the uninsured and underinsured, including collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors.
- Programs and initiatives intended to ensure appropriate access to health care and health coverage for greater numbers of individuals, especially children.
- A coordinated effort to address the shortage of healthcare providers, particularly on the Western Slope and in Garfield County.
- Expanding and implementing measures aimed at maximizing effectiveness of the State’s Medicaid program, including: coordinated care programs, aggressive disease and case management protocols, additional long-term care options, and pharmaceutical cost management.; while limiting the duplication and overlap of the various case management/care coordination programs being implemented by numerous entities.
- The employer’s ability to select health benefits which best meet the needs of the business and its employees.
- More competition and fair competition in health insurance, including market expansion across state lines, so long as there is a level playing field for competitors, whether implementing state or federal standards.
- Reevaluation of the appropriate role of the judicial process in the health care system and reform of the medical malpractice and medical liability system. Reform may include limiting non-economic damage awards in medical malpractice cases.
- Initiatives and programs aimed at giving consumers more control and responsibility over the dollars spent on their care – i.e. tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs), which are coupled with high deductibles and allow the balance of such accounts to carry over to future years.
- Efforts that address administrative inefficiencies; including the simplification and standardization of administrative procedures inside and outside of the Health Benefit Exchange, as well as the more widespread use of efficiency increasing technology.
- Tax credits or incentives for individuals and small businesses to help offset the cost of health insurance.
- Greater flexibility for businesses to band together to address employee health needs.
- Innovation and options for business and consumers without discrimination or penalization including direct primary care.
- Shifting health care costs from the public to private sector. As such, the GSCRA opposes the public healthcare option that would compete with the private health insurance market.
- The establishment of a single-payer system, whether administered by an elected board such as the “ColoradoCare” single payer ballot initiative, or other type of government-run system.”
- Any mandate applied to the private sector that would exempt the State of Colorado, the Federal Government or their employees.
- Any mandate requiring employers to offer insurance or pay an assessment.
- Legislative interventions on health care issues that would be more appropriately addressed within the health care system (e.g., mandates staffing ratios or minimum lengths of stay).
The GSCRA is a proponent of the free enterprise system and opposes undue intervention by the government. However, the GSCRA understands the need to balance the rights of private property owners and ability of the community to provide a range of housing options.
- Housing opportunities available to community residents and workers.
- Collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to address attainable housing.
- A fair and equitable system for incentivizing private sector activity to diversify housing options available in the community.
- Public sector competition with the private sector.
The GSCRA believes that a strong education system is crucial to preparing young people for good jobs and bright futures and sustaining a 21st century workforce. Partnerships between business and education are essential to ensuring a quality education for children, and should provide retraining opportunities for adults. Both create a qualified workforce for employers.
GSCRA believes students should emerge from our public education system prepared for college or career; higher education is more accessible and affordable; employers can find workers with the right skills and qualifications; and our workforce will attract investment, drive growth and spur innovation.
Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is an economic driver for our community, and has provided access to the most affordable postsecondary education in our state for the last 50 years. CMC has a strong partnership with the Roaring Fork School District that provides the opportunity for high school students to participate in dual enrollment and earn college credits while in high school. CMC also offers custom and on-going trainings to help make businesses more profitable and safer.
- Measures that ensure students have access to affordable postsecondary education thereby becoming productive members of our economy and local workforce.
- Local governing board initiatives that maintain a degree of autonomy and develop market driven education programs to meet the needs of our members and our region.
- Measures that promote enhanced technological means for delivery of education to rural areas.
- Direct business involvement in education and the active involvement of Chamber members in education and workforce readiness programs.
- Training and vocational programs for youth and adults to ensure our community has a workforce prepared to satisfy the needs of a diversifying economy.
- Efforts to address the financial needs of education in Garfield County, and ensure local school districts receive full federal and state funding.
- Local school district goals aimed at providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary for the future.
- New and updated facilities to keep pace with growth and advancement.
- Local control of our school districts and limitations of state and federal regulations and controls.
- Enhanced student options, choice, and multiple pathways to graduation.
- Measures that help to attract and retain high quality teachers.