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Accelerate Colorado

2018 Successes

FAA Reauthorization

In October, the President signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 into law. The bill authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for five years, and includes provisions that fund FAA operations, modify the Airport Improvement Program, sets standards for airport noise, reforms the FAA Safety Certification process, sets new flight standards, improves safety requirements, and directs the Secretary of Transportation to update a comprehensive plan for the integration of unmanned aircraft (drones) into the national airspace. Importantly, the bill did not include outgoing Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster’s (R-PA-9) plan to privatize air traffic control. This initiative was opposed by Accelerate Colorado, and by working with our Congressional delegation it was ultimately rejected. Given their economic contributions to Colorado, ensuring general aviation airports like Centennial, Front Range, Northern Colorado Regional, and Rocky Mountain Municipal airports continue to have a seat at the table is imperative to our state’s economy.   A not-for-profit, privatized air traffic control system could potentially allow the interests of the big airlines who dominate the busiest airports, like Denver International, to overcome the needs of regional airlines, general aviation and business jets who utilize smaller airports. Being that general aviation is big business in Colorado a privatized ATO would not be good for the economy of Colorado. 
 
Colorado Air and Space Port
 
In mid-August, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave final approval for the Colorado Air and Space Port (formerly Spaceport Colorado), which will be located at Front Range Airport in Adams County.  This has been an Accelerate Colorado priority for the past several years as Adams County officials have worked diligently to obtain this license. Now the 11th such facility in the nation, the Colorado Air and Space Port will eventually serve as a horizontal launch facility for sub-orbital spaceflight, utilizing FAA-licensed reusable launch vehicles that would take-off and land from existing airport runways. Enabling access to space for scientific research, education, and space tourism in the short-term; and point-to-point, high speed, sub-orbital transportation to other international spaceports in the future, the Colorado Air and Space Port offers an incredible economic opportunity not only to Front Range Airport and Adams County, but to the entire state of Colorado as well. 
 
Farm Bill
 
A new five-year farm bill that enhances existing programs while offering new assistance to less traditional forms of agriculture and legalizing industrial hemp easily won final congressional approval from the House and Senate and was signed by President Trump on December 20th. The Farm Bill also removes industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances and will allow hemp growers the ability to apply for USDA programs, get bank accounts related to their crop, secure federal water rights, and get crop insurance.  A part of Accelerate Colorado’s federal policy agenda and the subject of months of advocacy on our part, industrial hemp is big business for Colorado. Given half of US domestic hemp production occurs in Colorado, the full legalization will allow for the industry to expand in the state to the benefit of the agriculture industry, the marijuana industry (hemp can be used to produce cannabidiol (CBD) oil which has proven incredibly useful for medicinal purposes), and the state in general. Also, a number of members of Congress believe that a federal legalization of hemp in the U.S. could serve as a stepping-stone to the federal legalization of marijuana. That would remove similar barriers facing the marijuana industry in Colorado (banking, etc.), which is also an Accelerate Colorado priority. 
 
National Defense Authorization Act
 
In August, President Trump signed the John. S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2019 into law. The bill includes a base budget of $639.1 billion designed to speed decision making, increase military readiness, and address multiple emerging threats from both state and non-state actors across the globe. Additionally, the 2019 NDAA allocates $23.5 billion to repair and rebuild military infrastructure, as well as authorizes the purchase of 77 F-35s. Both of these provisions are critical to the continued success of Buckley Air Force Base and were specific priorities of Accelerate Colorado in our conversations with the Colorado Congressional delegation and key Pentagon officials. 

America's Water Infrastructure Act
 
In October, President Donald Trump signed a sweeping law which authorizes water resource projects and policies nationwide to be administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 will, among other provisions, authorize federal funding for water infrastructure projects; expand the country's water storage capabilities; upgrade wastewater, drinking and irrigation systems; as well as authorize or reauthorize water infrastructure projects and programs for state and local governments. In addition, the bill continues reforms meant to accelerate project approval timelines, improves costs, further eliminates barriers, and reduces project delays, all of which are a part of Accelerate Colorado’s 2018 federal agenda that has been reiterated to our Congressional delegation numerous times throughout the past year. 

SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (Opioid Bill)

This bipartisan legislation signed by the President in late October is a big breakthrough that will boost access to addiction treatment and many other interventions to mitigate the opioid epidemic, from law enforcement efforts against illicit drugs to combating the over-prescription of opioids. The bill will increase access to long-term treatment and recovery while also helping stop the flow of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the United States through the Postal Service. The legislation makes quite a bit of legal and regulatory tweaks that will attempt to make addiction treatment more accessible, but it does not pay for a wide and sustained expansion of addiction treatment, which is the policy approach that many experts argue is necessary.  This issue is critical for the state and is one of Accelerate Colorado’s policy priorities.  In Colorado in 2016 alone, while heroin claimed 228 lives, opioid overdoses accounted for over 300 deaths (32 percent more than heroin-related deaths), which is why Accelerate Colorado pushed this issue with our Congressional delegation throughout the last year.