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Gov. Polis Is On A Bill Signing Spree. The New Laws Will Affect Road Work, Health Care And More.

 Gov. Jared Polis signs Senate Bill 260 under Interstate 70 near Floyd Hill on Thursday.
Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage
Gov. Jared Polis signs Senate Bill 260 under Interstate 70 near Floyd Hill on Thursday.

Gov. Jared Polis signed a $5.4 billion transportation package on Thursday, one he said will benefit the very stretch of road the outdoor signing ceremony took place under.

The bridge towering overhead creaked from heavy traffic, and the smell of heated truck brakes filled the air.

Many Coloradans have been stuck on this particular stretch of I-70 in the mountains, near Floyd Hill, as trucks slow down to navigate a sharp turn at the bottom of a slope.

And four years ago, a basketball-sized hole appeared right above where Polissignedthe bill and led to four-mile traffic backups before a busy New Yearholiday.

Polis said Senate Bill 260 will help build another lane on a seven-mile stretch of the interstate, and fix other big issues.

The average Coloradan loses over $600 a year in time, stuck in traffic, and you can't even put a price on the non-economic time,” Polis said. “How do you put a price on missing your kid's soccer game? How do you put a price on not being there to help your kid with homework because you're stuck in traffic?”

To fund the road work, the state is requiring Coloradans to start paying new fees next year.

They include an extra 2 cents per gallon of gas starting July 2022, and 27 extra cents on deliveries through FedEx, Amazon and restaurants.

Combined with investments from the state’s general fund, the measure is projected to raise $5.4 billion over the next 11 years.

To Utah, to Nebraska: We are back,” House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said at the signing ceremony. “No longer will your citizens be driving into our state making a mockery of our roads, OK? No longer will we be 37th in the country when it comes to the quality of our highways. No longer will we be 47th when it comes to the condition of our rural pavement and our rural road safety.”

Polis signed several other bills this week including:

A measure to create a new insurance option on the individual insurance market. Supporters say it will reduce premiums by 15% over the next three years. But even some Democrats who helped to pass it are skeptical of its success, after the measure was amended more than 20 times.

● A bill creating a new state board to set caps on the price of prescription drugs.

● Several stimulus bills, including funding for wildfire prevention, renewable energy programs and subsidies for weddings and other events that fill enough hotel rooms.

Copyright 2021 KUNC

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.