Congressman Joe Neguse focused on problem-solving
By Dan Karpiel
As the Coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc all across the world, Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse, whose second congressional district includes all of Berthoud, wants his constituents to know he is working tirelessly on addressing problems specific to the area.
“Our focus has always been two-fold – problem-solving and leading locally,” the Congressman said during a telephone conversation with the Surveyor on Tuesday afternoon. “My service in the House has been framed by the feedback we get from the district; we want to make sure the bills we introduce in Washington reflect what we’re hearing at home. We set out to work with stake holders in a consensus driven approach.”
To that end, Neguse outlined several steps he has taken to address district-specific needs that have arisen as a result of the virus. One such measure is the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, which Neguse introduced to the House Oversight and Reform Committee last Tuesday.
The measure is designed to provide stabilization funds for local governments in smaller communities that the earlier enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or the CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, did not. The CARES Act provided stabilization funds for municipalities with populations over 500,000, the Community Relief Act aims to make available $250 billion in funds available for local governments, like Berthoud’s, to help make up for sales and property tax revenue lost a result of the economic downturn.
Neguse explained that he has had multiple conversations with mayors and county commissioners in Larimer County and, “We heard from them loudly for decisive action at the federal level to help stabilize local govt budgets, which will begin to suffer from sales and tax losses and which inhibit local governments from providing critical services.” Neguse said the bipartisan bill has 110 co-sponsors in the House and 10 in the Senate.
Working within the CARES Act by using funds already appropriated, Neguse’s office announced on Tuesday the Congressman was able to secure $16,865,798 in funds to stabilize the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland. Neguse is also working on a measure, of which the details are yet to be fully ironed out, to provide some measure of hazard pay for healthcare workers who are on the proverbial frontlines of the battle against the virus.
Neguse explained that while it is impossible to know precisely what the future impacts of the virus and responses to it will be, he is working to take steps to address problems that are likely to arise in the months ahead. Neguse sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) imploring the agency to prioritize testing for first responders. This, the Congressman says, is aimed to help with the summer wildfire threat in Colorado and much of the western United States, assuring that adequate fire mitigation personnel will be available this summer.
Last Friday, Neguse introduced legislation that would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not allowing debt incurred for an individual who contacted COVID-19 and had to seek medical care to show up on the person’s credit report. As he explained, “Medical debt can devastate a person’s credit and hinder their future ability to participate in the economy. I would hate to see that happens and I don’t believe a family that ends up with debt caring for a loved one should have all that reported to the credit agency.”
Congressman Neguse said he has been impressed with willingness of his colleagues in the House to cross party lines, even in an election year, to work towards bipartisan solutions for the problems that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. He cautions that much needs to be done and that the economic effects will be long-lasting.
Neguse said he wants to thank all his constituents in Berthoud for reaching out to his office, saying the feedback, whether positive or negative, is invaluable as he and his staff work to establish priorities.
“Thank you for all doing your part, I’ve been heartened by the compassion, by seeing everyone helping their neighbors, being kind to each other, that matters, the last few weeks have certainly reaffirmed my pride in being a Coloradoan,” the Congressman said. “I hope the readers will continue to take necessary steps to stay healthy and stay hopeful, I have no doubt at the end of the day we will beat this and we will come out of this pandemic stronger than before.”
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