One-On-One: Interview with Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado)

Each month, BizWest asks a business leader to participate in a question and answer feature to help shed light on a business topic, an industry or add insight to a field of endeavor. This month, BizWest interviewed Gov. Jared Polis and asked him to reflect upon multiple topics. Gov. Polis was elected in November 2018 and took office in January.

BizWest: What do you expect to happen to oil and gas production in Colorado as a result of the new state law that rebalances safety and energy development?

Gov. Polis: “Production of oil and gas depends mostly on the price of oil and gas. There is such an enormous difference when it trades higher or lower. There will be cycles with robust exploration and cycles when it won’t pay to pump. The new law allows for local control and we’re not surprised with the reaction. It’s about what we expected. Some communities are embracing it and taking steps and some are not exercising their local control. Our aim was to empower local control. [With regard to what Weld County is doing], no one anticipated Weld would put onerous regulations on the industry.”

Gov. Jared Polis engages with supporters during one of many bill signings this spring during and after the legislative session. Courtesy Colorado Governor’s Office

BizWest: Making health care more affordable is one of your stated goals. What are you doing with neighboring states with regard to collaboration on health care, creating new networks, driving down prescription costs and insurance premiums?

Gov. Polis: “The lowest hanging fruit for collaboration [between states] is on prescription drug purchasing. We’re talking about creating interstate formularies and using the buying power of additional states. Colorado and Florida have both passed laws that permit importing of prescription drugs from Canada. Colorado was first but we were in touch during the process. We’re working with Florida to share ideas. [The recent regional governor’s conference] didn’t address health-care costs but did address opioid and fentanyl abuse. We talked about how states can work together to save lives and stem the flow of fentanyl into our states. Groundwork was laid. We [Colorado] also capped the price of insulin. Starting in January, insulin is capped at $100. Prescription drugs are an important cost driver in health care.”

BizWest: What advice would you have for Colorado small businesses with regard to HB 1240, the destination-based sales tax law? Specifically, how can they comply?

Gov. Polis: “We want to implement [HB 1240] in as business-friendly way as possible under the law. We were thrilled that the bill removed the smallest of businesses, those with under $100,000 [in taxable sales] from it. Now we’re trying to make it easier for those over $100,000. The will is there for us. It’s a legal question. Lu Cordova [executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue] is trying to move the state from a culture of enforcement to a culture of empowerment in taxes.”

BizWest: What do you foresee as impacts of tariffs on the Colorado economy? Please address agriculture as well as technology.

Gov. Polis: “Tariffs are a terrible tax, a regressive tax. They hurt economic productivity, and they close down overseas markets when other countries reciprocate. My focus is on opening markets overseas. Colorado’s agriculture and technology industries are key to our thriving economy. Tariffs and trade wars only hurt our economy and raise health-care costs. I will always advocate for opening more overseas markets to made-in-Colorado and grown-in-Colorado products.”

BizWest: Kindergarten was an emphasis in the 2019 session. What do you see as your emphasis in 2020?

Gov. Polis: “My agenda remains the same: saving Coloradans money, cutting taxes and expanding opportunity for all. Now that the session is over and the bills have been signed, we are focused on implementation. There is still plenty of work to be done around the implementation of full-day kindergarten, our health-care roadmap and more.”

BizWest: I know you’ve been a proponent of blockchain technology. What role do you see for blockchain in state government?

Gov. Polis: “Colorado is already a leader in the blockchain space. Our goal is to establish Colorado as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government. We want to encourage companies to come to our state and to encourage applications that can potentially save taxpayers money while creating value for Colorado residents.”

Each month, BizWest asks a business leader to participate in a question and answer feature to help shed light on a business topic, an industry or add insight to a field of endeavor. This month, BizWest interviewed Gov. Jared Polis and asked him to reflect upon multiple topics. Gov. Polis was elected in November 2018 and took office in January.

BizWest: What do you expect to happen to oil and gas production in Colorado as a result of the new state law that rebalances safety and energy development?

Gov. Polis: “Production of oil and gas depends mostly on the price of oil and gas. There is such an enormous difference when it trades higher or lower. There will be cycles with robust exploration and cycles when it won’t pay to pump. The new law allows for local control and we’re not surprised with the reaction. It’s about what we expected. Some communities are embracing it and taking steps and some are not exercising their local control. Our aim was to empower local control. [With regard to what Weld County is doing], no one anticipated Weld would put onerous regulations on the industry.”

Gov. Jared Polis engages with supporters during one of many bill signings this spring during and after the legislative session. Courtesy Colorado Governor’s Office

BizWest: Making health care more affordable is…