Roberts focuses her energies on education, health care bills

DENVER - Southwest Colorado's state senator already has several bills lined up that will place her in the middle of high-profile debates about health care and education.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, has to do that in a year when rival Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor's office.

"I've been in single-party control before, so I recognize the need to be practical and pragmatic," Roberts said.

She has two bills about the use of technology in education. One would let school board members attend meetings by remote video. The second would expand the use of specialized online classes in small schools that can't afford a full-time teacher for, perhaps, an obscure language.

Young people are already used to the technology, Roberts said, and she knows kids who do their homework together over video conferencing.

"I think maybe we adults could learn to take advantage of technology in the same way," Roberts said.

Roberts will serve as the lead Republican on the Senate's health-care committee. She's planning to sponsor a bill to crack down on Medicaid fraud, and she opposes Gov. John Hickenlooper's recent move to let more people join Medicaid.

"I think we need to be focused on delivery of services and the cost of those services, and not just handing somebody a Medicaid or insurance card," Roberts said.