CO legislature guts bill to remove county commissioners from board of health

JoAnn Kalenak, DCCR Senior Blogger — A Colorado House bill that would have prohibited county commissioners from serving concurrently on their local board of health was watered down considerably once it reached the Senate and is now on its way to becoming law.

The new version of House Bill 1115 requires all members of a board of health to receive annual training on public health but does not exclude county commissioners from serving while they are in office.

“There will be another couple of small tweaks to the bill. But ultimately the choice we made with our public health advocates was to take a step forward and get something (annual training for all public health board members in public health) rather than letting the bill die,” said Representative Cathy Kipp, the bill’s main sponsor, in an email to DCCR.

Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes and Colorado Rep. Matt Soper strongly opposed the original language and complained that it is difficult to recruit qualified members to most county boards. Others argue that the recruitment complaint is a political smokescreen because elected officials often recruit from a limited pool, or those within their tightly knit political spheres.

Kipp’s original intent when she introduced the bill was to remove politics from public health decisions. Conflict between public health agencies and county elected officials — including those in Delta County — have proven contentious in the past but strongly revealed itself during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

In the meantime, Delta County Commissioners released a statement at last Tuesday’s public meeting that the county will no longer require masks or social distancing but rather rely on business owners and residents to make their own choices to protect themselves against a virus that has killed almost 600,000 US citizens.

A few other bills DCCR is watching

House Bill 1242, would create a new Office of Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience within the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Without adding to that department’s budget, the new office would provide technical assistance, non-regulated programs and incentives to farmers and ranchers to help them respond to threats related to droughts or climate change, such as wildfires and floods.

House Bill 1071, would allow a municipality to hold a municipal election using instant runoff voting (IRV) to be conducted as part of a coordinated election. IRV: Instead of indicating support for only one candidate, voters can rank the candidates in order of preference.

Senate Bill 235, directs the state treasurer to make an immediate, one-time transfer of $3 million from the general fund to the agriculture value-added cash fund to augment the department of agriculture’s ongoing advancing Colorado’s renewable energy and energy efficiency (ACRE3) program.

More county happenings this week

At last Tuesday’s public meeting, County Commissioners awarded a $125,000 recycling contract to Double J Disposal in Austin. The contract will replace the current county-run program at the North Fork Transfer Station in Hotchiss, which previously cost taxpayers $42,000 per year.

The status of recycling at the transfer station remains a mystery but is rumored to be ending on May 3. Under the new contract, bins for free paper and cardboard recycling will be placed in Delta, Cedaredge and Hotchkiss but their exact locations are currently unknown.

A county-wide, free recycling service will also be available at Double J Recycling Center, 21358 Austin Rd and is expected to begin offering services in the next 30 days.

County staff plans an education campaign to inform the community about the service and Commissioners plan to revisit the program’s effectiveness after one year.


Despite objections from Delta County Commissioners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to designate a 25-mile stretch of the Colorado River as critical habitat for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. The protected area includes 16 miles of the North Fork of the Gunnison River in Delta County.


As prescribed by the newly updated Delta County Master Plan, Planning Commissioners and county staff will perform the first annual review of the plan.

Administration Building – Board Room
560 Dodge St., Delta, CO 81416
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 @ 5:30 p.m.
Attend virtually.