In this Capitol Report:
This Capitol Report is brought to you by:
State Policy News
Health Care Cost Commission Seeks Stakeholder Input Regarding Cost Drivers
The Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care (CCAHC) is seeking feedback from interested parties to increase the knowledge of all commissioners on the various industries within the health care delivery system, as well as the issues facing consumers and purchasers.
The Commission is requesting that stakeholders submit responses to the commission no later than Monday, September 14th. Responses can be submitted to [email protected]. After submission, responses will be posted on the on the Commission’s website under public comment and will also be provided to each of the Commission’s members.
The Commission has provided the following prompts to guide stakeholder feedback:
- What do you think are the fundamental cost drivers and why?
- What are the barriers to reducing cost?
- Can you list up to three things that you are doing to address cost that are unique?
- Is there any supporting data that demonstrates a reduction in cost?
- Where do you see waste in the system?
- What are the principal barriers to transparency?
- What would you change to make things better related to cost?
For more information regarding this effort and submitting responses, please download this information sheet.
Federal Policy News
CACI Helps Ozone Opposition Gain Traction
With the U.S. House out of session until September and the Senate adjourning next week, Congress was still actively pushing back against the EPA’s proposed new ozone regulations set to be released in October. CACI has actively engaged with our Congressional delegation on the burdens, costs and economic drag of the proposed ozone rules on Colorado. On Tuesday, 136 Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy, requesting she and her agency reconsider maintaining the existing 75 ppb standard.
At the same time, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) coordinated and sent a letter from business communities across the U.S. to President Obama and the EPA. With more than 260 organizations, businesses and elected officials supporting the letter, including CACI, we urged the President to reconsider the toll of this regulation on our economy, our communities and our job producers.
- Highway Trust Fund/Ex-Im Bank: The House passed a short-term extension last week and the Senate followed suit Thursday afternoon, for an immediate fix through Oct. 31, 2015. Additionally, the Senate also completed work on a 6-year Highway Authorization, which included language to restart the Export-Import Bank. Sen. Gardner serves on the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee responsible for crafting the long-term language, which includes grants and Department of Transportation consideration of funding to complete the I-70 expansion, I-25 North corridor and other infrastructure to balance Colorado’s expanding population.
President Obama is expected to sign the short-term fix into law tomorrow, just hours before the Highway Trust Fund’s spending authority was set to expire. Leaders in the Senate have an agreement with the House to take up the
long-term spending deal in September. This leaves the Ex-Im Bank one step closer to renewal, but still dormant until September 8, at the earliest.
- Clean Power Plan (CPP): The New York Times and Washington Post both reported this week that the EPA would be delaying, by one year, submission of state implementation plans (SIPs), plus providing an additional two years for states to implement.
- ‘Ambush Elections’ Here to Stay: This week, the U.S. Chamber learned that NLRB’s ambush elections would not be overturned and privacy-infringing requirements would stay in place. Under this rule implemented in April, employers are required to provide all employee contact information to labor organizers within two days of filing for union election, including cell phones, home address, email, shift hours and work location. Of increasing concern are unions amusing this information-collecting process.
Unions are increasingly filing for elections, receiving employee information and then withdrawing election bids – without requirements to return employee personal information and only needing to wait six months to file for a legitimate election. In the meantime, unions have all employee information necessary to put for unionization, but businesses and employers aren’t able to push back or adequately educate their workers on the issue. Ambush elections have increased union organizing, with unions winning more than 60% of elections.
Gardner Language Benefitting Colorado Included in Federal Energy Bill
“Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced that three energy bills he previously introduced were included in the base text of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which passed by a bipartisan 18-4 vote of the Energy Committee today. Additionally, Senator Gardner announced that three amendments he authored were also adopted by the committee.
“These bills and amendments lead to more energy efficiency, more energy generation, and more jobs in the energy sector,” Gardner said. “Promoting energy efficiency and clean alternative power sources has been a focus of my entire life in public service, and I’m pleased to have the chance to continue shaping federal energy policy in the Senate.”
Gardner’s first bill, the Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnerships Act of 2015, would encourage the use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) and Utility Energy Savings Contracts (UESCs) in federal buildings. ESPCs and UESCs are innovative public-private partnerships in which private companies use their own money and resources to make energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings. The private companies receive a portion of money saved as a result of the increased efficiency in federal buildings.
The second bill, the Reliable Investment in Vital Energy Reauthorization Act (RIVER Act), would reauthorize an existing Department of Energy program which provides funding to retrofit existing dams and river conduits with electricity-generating technology. According to DOE reports, there are up to 12 gigawatts of untapped hydropower development within the nation’s existing dam infrastructure, and only three percent of the United States’ 80,000 dams are used to generate clean hydroelectric power.
The third bill, which Senator Gardner co-led with Senator Barrasso (R-WY), is the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act. This legislation would expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications, helping supply our allies overseas with a secure energy source, and creating American jobs.
Additionally, Gardner introduced three amendments which were adopted into the legislation. The first amendment commissions a study of the feasibility and potential benefits of an energy-water center of excellence within the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories. A center of excellence would aid in efforts to establish a comprehensive approach for managing energy and water resources in the future.
The second amendment clarifies that oilseed crops qualify for the same research provisions in the bill as biomass. Meeting future demand for energy and fuel will require a variety of sources, and science and research indicates that oilseed crops have the potential to play a significant role. Oilseeds could hold the key to providing safe, clean energy that’s water-efficient; a key for the increasingly drought-ridden west.
The third amendment, which Gardner co-authored with Senator Heinrich (D-NM), would allow the Secretary of Energy to establish “microlabs”, or smaller facilities which would be connected to an existing national lab. This amendment would help bring the important research and innovation being done by our national laboratories closer to where business owners, local governments, and communities can access them.”
Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.