Jared Polis

Gov. Jared Polis talks about the accomplishments of the 2019 session.

Gov. Jared Polis, in the final hours of the 2019 Colorado General Assembly session, told reporters he was "thrilled" that so much on his first-year agenda got finished, and ruled out a special session to deal with what didn't get finished.

Polis pointed to passage of bills from his agenda on education and health care, state-paid full-day kindergarten, freezing college tuition at 2018-19 prices, hospital transparency, importation of prescription drugs from Canada and reducing costs on insulin.

He noted he's been talking to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on the Canada prescription drug issue, which requires a waiver from the federal government. Florida also wants to try that idea, and Polis said having a red state and a blue state both asking boosts Colorado's chances on that waiver.

Another waiver will be needed for the so-called "reinsurance" program, which would help insurance companies with high-cost claims. Such a program would be expected to reduce health insurance premium costs on the Western Slope by 20 percent and 10 percent along the Front Range, Polis said.

He told reporters he has been talking to Sen. Cory Gardner about the waiver, as well as with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which would grant the waiver. 

He also briefly addressed some of his agenda items that didn't make it, such as hiking taxes on tobacco and instituting one on vaping, which died in the state Senate Thursday when the bill failed to gain enough support from Senate Democrats and faced opposition from the vaping industry.

"No legislature will solve every problem in four months," Polis said, although he is still concerned about the teen vaping rate in Colorado, which is twice the the national average. Polis said he may consider what he can do within the executive branch to address the issue.

Polis dismissed the idea of a special session, saying he didn't think it was needed.

That possibility was brought up as a possibility earlier in the week by Democratic leaders in the legislature as a way to handle unfinished business.

Polis has the authority to call lawmakers back for a special session; he would have to specify what issues would be covered.

Colorado's constitution also allows the legislature to call a special session itself, but that would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber, meaning some Republican votes would be needed.

Polis was asked how he will reach out to those who oppose him, particularly in counties that are calling for him to be recalled. Last Friday, Polis faced a sometimes-angry crowd at a restaurant in Fort Morgan.

"Our agenda is for all of Colorado," Polis replied, "whether they voted for me or not." He pointed to programs like full day kindergarten as helping all Coloradans, adding, "I'm everybody's governor."

Polis didn't say whether he will be a factor on the campaign trail this fall for ballot measures on sports betting and allowing the state to keep excess revenue that would otherwise be refunded under the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, but said he was supportive of both measures. 

The sports betting bill, if approved by voters, could bring in funding for the state's water plan. The state is expected to come up with at least $3 billion over 30 years for plan implementation. Polis sought $10 million in general fund dollars for the plan in the state's 2019-20 budget. He said that the betting bill could eventually generate enough revenue that the state could bond against it.

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