U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton looks to continue focusing on finance, veterans affairs and health care in the new year, according to his communications director.
Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, defeated Democrat Gail Schwartz in November to stay on for a fourth term in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes most of the Western Slope and parts of southern Colorado. He has served the district since 2011.
Tipton released a column through his press office on Dec. 9 that highlighted legislation from 2016 and his focus for 2017.
“My primary focus this Congress has been on advancing policies that grow jobs, spur economic growth and support health and safety in our communities,” Tipton wrote.
Rolling back regulationsTipton will continue to serve on the House Committee on Financial Services, as well as the Congressional Western Caucus and Small Business Caucus, according to his communications director, Liz Payne. New committee assignments may be added in 2017, she said.
“Generally the focus of the new Congress will be to look at regulations that President (Barack) Obama has put forward in the lame duck session and rolling those back, especially ones that step on states’ rights,” Payne said.
Those regulations might include the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 program and the Department of Labor’s fiduciary and overtime rules, Payne said.
In 2015, Tipton introduced a House bill that would eliminate and streamline rules from financial regulatory agencies, including some in the Dodd-Frank Act. HR 2896 intended to allow banks and credit unions to focus more resources on providing services to customers, instead of devoting resources to compliance with regulations.
“Outside of the financial services committee, my focus has been on protecting our water rights, holding the EPA accountable for its reckless actions in Gold King Mine, and working to find solutions to the opioid epidemic that has devastated so many of our communities,” Tipton wrote in the column.
EPA, BLM accountabilityAmong environmental issues, Tipton supported the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which Obama signed on Dec. 16.
That bill included a provision to expedite the process for states, local governments and tribes seeking to recoup expenses they incurred after the Gold King Mine spill.
Tipton also is working to advance HR 3189, which would protect private water rights. The bill has been supported by ski resorts and cattlemen’s groups that feared it could lose access to water.
The BLM’s Planning 2.0 program aims to increase public participation in the agency’s land use planning process, according to the agency’s website.
Veterans, drug abuse are Tipton’s top 2017 issuesOpioid drug abuse and veterans affairs continue to be priorities for Tipton, Payne said.
In 2016, Tipton held a series of roundtable meetings in the district, including Cortez, to discuss opioid and prescription drug abuse.
The 21st Century Cures Act, introduced as HR 6 by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., addresses opioid abuse, mental health issues and development of cures for 7,000 rare diseases. It speeds up the approval process for drugs and adds funding for research, including the “cancer moonshot” initiative led by Vice President Joe Biden. The funding will also aid research on opioid abuse and brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, and allocates $1 billion in state grants to supplement opioid abuse prevention and treatment activities. Obama signed it into law on Dec. 13.
It also includes reforms to the mental health care system in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which Tipton and 200 other representatives co-sponsored earlier this year as HR 2646.
Department of Veterans Affairs matters such as quality of care and availability of appointments are perennial issues in the Capitol, Payne said.
“That’s something that Congress is constantly looking at,” she said.
The House passed several bills this month regarding the VA, including HR 6416, 5399 and 4352. Those bills focus on increasing accountability within the VA, quality of care at VA facilities, and access to education and rehab services for veterans, the release states.
Improving main streetsAs a member of the Congressional Small Business Caucus, Tipton supports small-town entrepreneurs, Payne said.
In September, Tipton sponsored HR 6287, which would expand access to smartphone and mobile banking, aiming to make banking easier for people in rural areas who might not have access to a bank’s physical location, Payne said.
“When main streets are strong, the country is strong as a whole,” she said.
In the column, Tipton touched on progress but said there is still work to be done.
“With the House Republicans’ Better Way Agenda as our guide, we have a real opportunity to get our country back on track,” he wrote.
The top focus for Congress will be repealing the Affordable Care Act, he said.
“Then we’ll turn our focus to enacting the reforms we’ve developed over the past year to fight poverty, restore Constitutional power, allow people to keep more of their hard-earned money, and rebuild our national defense.
“We have a tall task ahead of us, but we’ll hit the ground running in 2017.”