Working together for a better colorado

When I ran for office last year, I promised not to let the party politics and obstructionism at the federal level stop us from getting things done here in Colorado. I’m happy to report that I played a role in many of this session’s biggest bipartisan wins—on education, jobs, and affordable housing. Of the bills I personally sponsored, nearly all had support from across the aisle and more than half passed with unanimous bipartisan support.

Last year, the Denver Post called the 2016 legislative session the most partisan and least productive in our state’s history. This year, Governor Hickenlooper called our session the most productive since he took office. Our success proves that when we focus on the values we share as Coloradans we can have a government that works—and works for everyone.

Next year we will continue our efforts to give those who work hard and play by the rules the same chance to get ahead.


legislation i sponsored

Protecting Online Privacy (HJR 1032) — Passed unanimously in both chambers and will be delivered to the FCC, FTC, and Colorado's Congressional delegation.
The bill is a direct response to the decision in Washington to repeal proposed FCC privacy rules governing Internet Service Providers (ISPs). After a lengthy stakeholder process, Comcast agreed to put their privacy policy online at comcast.com/privacy, and create a robust opt-out page at comcast.com/opt-out. Soon people across the state and nation will be able to go to one web page, click one button, and know that they can browse in privacy.

Student Free Speech (SB 062) — This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers.
This bill prohibits universities from restricting how, when, or where students can speak in a public forum. This includes eliminating so-called “free speech zones” that restrict students’ free speech to certain areas on campus. 

Autonomous Vehicle Framework for Colorado (SB 213) — This bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers.
This bill authorizes the use of automated driving systems as long as they conform to exist`ing local, state, and federal traffic laws. These rules protect Colorado drivers while putting our state at the forefront of this developing industry and the new jobs that will come with it. Automated driving systems will provide more accessible and affordable transportation to all of our residents.

Municipal Court Bond Hold Notifications (HB 1338) — This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers.
This bill will help keep people who commit minor municipal violations from languishing in jail while waiting for a hearing by setting timelines for holding a bond hearing and for release from jail.

Portability of TRAILS Background Checks (HB 1135) — This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers.
This bill allows childcare workers to transfer their background checks between workplaces run by the same ownership group or school district. This common-sense change streamlines government, saves money for schools and educators, and ensures the safety of our children.

Child Care and Preschool Teachers (HB 1332) — This bill passed with all but one vote in the House and unanimously in the Senate.
This bill allows child care workers to receive licenses from programs authorized by the state board of education. This will expand the pool of child care workers in Colorado to ensure greater access and quality of care across the state for our Colorado families.

DMV: DRIVES System (HB 1107) — This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers.
This bill updates current statute to facilitate the implementation of the new DRIVES system, an upgrade to the current CSTARS computer system that will help the department run more efficiently and reduce wait times at the DMV.

School Safety Resource Board (SB 291) — This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers.
This bill extends the School Safety Resources Center Advisory Board, which provides training and support to schools across the state to prevent and respond to school shootings and suicides.

Colorado Energy Office (HB 1373) – Killed by party-line vote in the Senate.
This bill would have continued funding to the Colorado Energy Office, avoiding cuts to programs that help grow clean and renewable energy, promote energy efficiency, and expand access to energy-related STEM education. 

Expanding the Electioneering Communications Disclosure Period (HB 1262) – Killed by party-line vote in the Senate.
This bill would have closed a crucial gap in election spending reporting rules, applying the same disclosure requirements throughout the campaign—a modest fix to ensure Colorado voters know who is spending money to influence their vote. 

Electioneering Communications Disclaimers (HB 1261) – Killed by party-line vote in the Senate.
This bill would have ensured that voters know who is paying for mass election communications by requiring “paid for by” disclaimers on all electioneering materials.

Higher Education Behavior Policies (SB 128) – Killed by party-line vote in the Senate.
This bill would have required state-supported colleges and universities to develop and publish their policies on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and hate crimes, and to publish and update the policies regularly.


2017 legislative Session overview

Budget
Before session began, it looked like we would have to cut funding for our schools, hospitals, and transportation because our budget forecast projected that we would hit Colorado’s revenue cap under TABOR. At the same time, we had to deal with changes under the Gallagher Amendment, a complicated tax formula baked into our constitution that could have led to devastating cuts to the state budget and to local governments. However, thanks to bipartisan leadership in both chambers, we were able to avoid painful cuts and craft a budget that:

  • Gives a $242-per-student funding boost to schools in a year where school funding was expected to take a significant hit.
  • Provides more funding for affordable housing and to tackle homelessness.
  • Puts $9.5 million toward expanding access to broadband in rural areas of the state.
  • Saves programs like the Healthy Kids Survey, which provides critical information about Colorado children’s health.
  • Boosts funding for substance abuse treatment across the state.
  • Increases funding for the ASCENT program, which helps students get a head start on their college education through concurrent enrollment.
  • Adds inspectors in the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling to help ensure our communities are safe and to defend against pollution.
  • Increases funding for programs to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to reduce youth crime and violence.
  • Protects core services that our seniors and those with disabilities rely on.

Education
In addition to increasing per-pupil spending, we eliminated 9th grade PARCC testing and replaced it with the PSAT, bringing 9th grade standards into alignment with 10th and 11th grade while giving kids one more chance to practice this important test. We also passed a bill with broad bipartisan support to ensure equitable sharing of mill levy override dollars with all public school kids. This same bill also brings greater accountability and transparency to charter schools. Rather than a one-size-fits-all state mandate, it requires districts to create a plan for how local money will be distributed based on student needs, not the type of school a student attends.

Hospital Provider Fee
We were finally able to fix a glitch in our budget regarding hospital reimbursement rates, known as the provider fee. This change in law will save our hospitals from $500 million in budget cuts, which could have led to the closure of hospitals across the state and compromised access to health care for thousands of Coloradans. The bill also gives big wins to rural Colorado, safeguards the senior homestead property tax exemption, provides a tax break to upwards of 100,000 Colorado small businesses, directs an additional $30 million toward rural schools, and authorizes a $1.8 billion investment in our roads to start to address our most urgent needs.

Construction Defects
This difficult issue took three years to solve, but we were able to do so this year in a way that will lay the foundation for more condo starts across the state without compromising Coloradans’ right to protect their most important investment—their homes. The compromise gives builders the opportunity to meet with homeowners and present a potential remedy to avoid litigation. It also requires disclosure to homeowners of the potential ramifications of a lawsuit, and requires a majority vote of all homeowners within a 90-day timeframe in order to move forward, rather than just a majority vote from the homeowner association board.