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Hickenlooper Cheers Senate Passage of Annual Budget with Funding for Colorado Priorities  

Dec 22, 2022

Hickenlooper successfully pushed to include Dearfield Study Act, Two Colorado River Bills, $14 million for Ft. Carson Fire Station, and more

Hickenlooper secured
funding for $129 million in community projects across state

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper applauded Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus government funding bill, which includes $178 million for community projects and funding for numerous Colorado priorities. The bill also includes reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president.

“This year’s funding bill has ‘Colorado’ written all over it,” said Hickenlooper. “We’re protecting our rivers, preserving our history, lowering prescription drug costs, and helping small business employees save for retirement. This is what a productive Congress looks like.”

Hickenlooper-authored legislation included in the final bill:

Dearfield Study Act –legislation that would direct the Department of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the Dearfield Homestead in Weld County to determine its suitability as a unit of the National Park System. Dearfield Homestead was the largest Black  homestead in Colorado, Hickenlooper introduced the bill in September.

Colorado River Basin Conservation Act – a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the System Conservation Pilot Program along with Lower Basin conservation programs, which offer Colorado River water users payment in exchange for voluntarily conserving water. Any conserved water can be used to help maintain reservoir levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Hickenlooper introduced the bill with Senator John Barasso earlier this year and successfully passed it out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act – bipartisan legislation to continue protecting four threatened and endangered native fish species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins. The legislation would extend current conservation programs by one year and allow Upper Basin communities the time to develop a long-term management plan. Hickenlooper introduced the bill with Senator Mitt Romney and Representative Joe Neguse.

Modernizing Biosurveillance and Epidemic Forecasting Act – a bipartisan bill to modernize and codify current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) programs that focus on surveillance and forecasting of pandemic-causing viruses. Hickenlooper introduced the bill with Senator Bill Cassidy earlier this year.

Simplifying Small Business Retirement Savings Act – a bipartisan bill to make it easier for small businesses to access and offer retirement plans for their employees. Due to costs and regulatory complexity, only 53 percent of workers at small businesses have access to a retirement plan compared to 85 percent of employees at larger companies. Hickenlooper introduced the bill with Senator Susan Collins earlier this year.

Incentivizing Small Business Retirement Savings Act – a bill to further help small businesses offset the costs of offering their employees a retirement plan. This bill provides a tax credit for the first five years of matching contributions made by small employers to their workers’ retirement savings plans when they create a plan. The tax credit would apply to businesses with 50 or fewer employees and phase out gradually for those with 50 to 100 employees. Hickenlooper introduced the bill earlier this year.

Hickenlooper cosponsored legislation included in the bill:

Early Countermeasure Discovery Act – bipartisan legislation to improve the research and development of preventative medical countermeasures for pathogens with pandemic potential before they actually cause one. Hickenlooper joined Senator Richard Burr to introduce the bill earlier this year.

Enhanced Access to Affordable Medicines Act – bipartisan legislation to speed up approval of generic drugs and increase competition by stopping brand-name drugs from using minor label changes as delay tactics. Generic drug labeling is required to be the same as the referenced brand product for a drug application to be approved. When the labeling for the brand product is changed during the approval process, approval of the generic will be delayed until the applicant amends its application with updated labeling and the FDA reviews the labeling amendment. As a result, brand-name drugs commonly use minor label changes as a tactic to slow generics receiving approval. Hickenlooper cosponsored this bill led by Senator Mitt Romney.

Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act – Bipartisan legislation to expand coverage of telehealth services under Medicare, make COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities permanent, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors. Hickenlooper cosponsored this bill led by Senator Brian Schatz.

Electoral Count Act reforms – legislation to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president. Flawed and imprecise language in the current Electoral Count Act gave rise to the failed attempts to overturn the 2020 election by illegally disregarding vote outcomes in certain states. This bipartisan bill would clarify that language to ensure attempts to subvert democracy don’t succeed in the future. Hickenlooper joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to cosponsor the reforms.

Funding for Hickenlooper priorities included in the bill:

  • $14.2 million for the Fort Carson Fire Station Support building
  • $2.7 billion for programs providing rental assistance and clinical services to homeless veterans, including $7.5 million to specifically serve Native American veterans
  • $13.2  billion for pandemic preparedness including supporting epidemic forecasting, the early discovery of medical countermeasures, and expanding the public health workforce
  • $1.8 billion in supplemental funding to implement programs authorized under the CHIPS & Science Act
  • $9.9 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to carry out research, development, STEM education, and CHIPS & Science Programs
  • $70 million for the Office of Space Commerce to identify and track orbital debris, an increase of $54 million from last year.
  • $188 million for NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership to grow manufacturing capacity for small businesses.
  • $3.5 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy which houses the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) with campuses in Golden and Arvada 
  • $4.1 billion for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Apprenticeship Programs

Hickenlooper also successfully included $129.3 million in funding for 94 Colorado projects through the congressionally directed spending (CDS) process. A full list of those projects is available HERE.

The bill now heads to the House and then to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.


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