Gov. Hickenlooper signs 2 bills during Routt County visit |

Gov. Hickenlooper signs 2 bills during Routt County visit

Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, left, and State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, sit at a table with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as he signs House Bill 1278 on Saturday at the Carpenter Ranch near Hayden.
Matt Stensland

— A day after visiting with Britain’s Prince Harry in the Denver suburb of Sedalia, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper traveled to Routt County to sign two bills into law.

His first stop Saturday was at the Carpenter Ranch just east of Hayden. Local Democrats, Routt County commissioners and the governor’s supporters watched as he used several pens to sign House Bill 1278. Hickenlooper sat beside the sponsors of the bill, state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora.

“This is a perfect place to sign a bill like this,” Hickenlooper said outside the ranch house near the Yampa River.

The bill lowers to one barrel (42 gallons) the threshold for requiring energy companies to report spills to a state agency. The previous requirement was five barrels.

The spills now must also be reported within 24 hours to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the local emergency manager, and the operator now will have to provide all the information about the material that was spilled.

Mitsch Bush said the bill will make cleaning up spills quicker and more efficient.

“It’s a law,” Hickenlooper said after signing the bill.

Next, it was off to the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association clinic at the Yampa Valley Medical Center’s medical offices building in Steamboat. Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 12-242.

The bill is expected to be implemented by April 2014 and will give adults under Medicaid a limited dental benefit worth about $1,000.

Sue Birch, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, was present at the signing. Birch is a Steamboat resident and the former CEO of the Northwest Colorado VNA. Birch praised the bill, which will provide the preventive dental benefit to adults for the first time.

“It’s going to save us a lot of money and help people stay healthier,” Birch said after the signing.

According to a news release, the bill will save the state money because it is more cost effective to fund preventive care and fillings at a dentist’s office rather than rely on an emergency room for procedures.

The Health Care Policy and Financing department estimates the bill will reduce costs for dental-related emergency room visits by $700,000 within the first three months of implementation and $1.6 million within the first year.

Before implementing the bill, dental experts, stakeholders and state officials will decide which procedures should be covered under the limited benefit.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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