This week the House is diving head-first into the “long bill.” Agreeing on the budget for the next fiscal year is one of our most important tasks we take on as legislators so we are working tirelessly to find compromise in a draft that honors the many agencies, institutions, and people that depend on a budget being set. Since we have yet to create a passable draft I will not go too far into detail about the budget, but I will continue to work tirelessly to advocate for House District 46 in the debates, discussions, and long fight ahead. Some of my priorities going into the budget sessions are supporting CSU-Pueblo, protecting the State Fair, looking out for state employees, and protecting the Office of Consumer Counsel.
Although the budget has been our main focus this week, many of my bills have been moving and passing. This is a really exciting time of the session as more and more of the hard work we have done starts coming to fruition. Below I have included details on my bills and activities at the Capitol.
Pueblo County Assembly: It is a great honor and privilege to have been unanimously nominated at the Pueblo County Assembly to continue to serve you as Colorado’s State Representative from House District 46. I do not currently have an opponent in this race and I think that is a testament to this community’s ability to work together. Thank you all so much for your continuous support.
Headed to the Governor’s Desk
We are 79 days into the legislative session and thus far I have sent four bills to Gov. Hickenlooper to sign into law. One such bill, HB16-1081: which will remove obsolete reporting requirements for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, has been signed into law! And just this week, two bills I am the co-sponsor of were passed by the Senate and are now awaiting the Governor’s signature. HB16-1100, allows one of Colorado’s most vulnerable populations to access in-state tuition for higher education. This bill helps make higher education more accessible to all, a worthwhile goal that I am always happy to work on. HB16-1265 also passed this week. One of many bills in the Rebuilding Trust package, this will automatically expunge wrongful arrests based on mistaken identity.
HB16-1289: Career Development Incentives
This week we successfully presented HB16-1289 to the House Education Committee, which was passed 10-1. This bill creates the career development success pilot program, which will provide financial incentives for school districts to provide career preparation (industry-certificate, internships, pre-apprenticeships) for their students. These career prep programs will be related to STEM fields and high-demand industries. This legislation will help ensure that Colorado’s high school graduates are well prepared for 21st century jobs, we need to provide young Coloradans’ with opportunities to succeed. This bill will continue to make Colorado a great place to live and work. Part of the Colorado Ready for Work package which has bipartisan support, I am honored to be co-sponsoring this with the House Majority Leader, Crisanta Duran (D-Denver). I have introduced two of the ten bills in this Ready to Work package, including renewing the ReHire Colorado program which has gotten more than a thousand Coloradans back to work, may of them from Pueblo.
Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver) and I passed HB16-1294 through the House to ensure that all forms and methods of contraception are covered by a woman’s insurance company. This not only brings Colorado in line with the Affordable Care Act, but removes barriers for the significant number of Colorado’s women who are denied coverage to the contraceptive method that they and their doctor have decided is right for them. Women need to be able to safely and affordably acquire the contraception that works best for them. I am proud to stand up for Colorado’s women alongside 34 of my colleagues in the House. This bill is now headed to the Senate where it faces an uphill battle.
Free the Rain Barrels! If you’ve followed my legislative career, I have no doubts that you know the fight I have put in to free the rain barrels. This has been one of my many passion projects in the past two years. Last year, this legislation was slowed to a stop before it could reach the Senate. Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Jefferson County), Sen. Michael Merrifield (D-El Paso County) and I came back fighting this year. I am thrilled that after countless stakeholder meetings, supportive editorials, and emails of support, this bill is finally headed to the Senate for a vote! The House approved legalizing barrels with overwhelming bipartisan support (61-3) and I am confident that this momentum will continue in the Senate. This morning it passed the first hurdle, making it through second reading, leaving only third reading and final passage between it and the Governor’s desk.