March 16, 2013
Hello! I hope this email finds you well. We have had a busy and productive first half of the 2013 legislative session and wanted to share some progress with you.
Mon. Mar. 18, 2013
TOPIC: State HOA Information Office Townhall
Aurora Public Library, Central
6:00 - 8:30PM
Thurs. Mar. 21, 2013
TOPIC: School Finance Present & Future in CO
Townhall with Carroll, Ryden, Fields
7:00 - 8:30PM
CommunityCollege of Aurora, Forum Room
16000 E. Centretech Pkwy, Aurora
SENATE PROGRESS UPDATE
Below is a small sample of what we have been working on in the 1st half of the 2013 session in the Colorado Senate.
Jobs & The Economy
o CO has the 5th fastest recovery in the U.S. from the recession.
o CO is projected to add 42,100 jobs in 2013 & be in Top 10 for Job Growth
o Removed credit scoring as barrier to employment, helping people get back to work (Ulibarri)
o We eliminated a 90 day wait for children to get health care from CHP (Newell)
o Introduced Medicaid expansion / ACA Implementation (Aguilar), insuring 193,000 more people
o Created a package of historic child welfare reforms (Newell, Nicholson, Kefalas, Aguilar)
o Requested audit into child fatalities (Newell, Carroll, Ferrandino)
o Passed Civil Unions, moving closer to equal rights for LGBT Coloradans (Steadman, Guzman)
o Passed ASSET, giving ALL CO kids in state tuition (Johnston, Giron)
o Expanded ability for local schools to receive grants (Hudak)
o Working on the big picture school finance knot re adequacy & equity (Johnston, Heath, Hudak)
o Improving data-exchanges between K12 & postsecondary education (Kerr)
Water & Drought
o Protecting CO Water Rights & encouraging conservation re drought (Hodge, Schwartz, Carroll)
o Updating consumer protections if life insurance companies go under (Jahn)
o Increasing recycling efforts in CO (Todd)
o Collecting utility data in state buildings (Jones)
o Created permanent wildfire mitigation committee (Nicholson)
o Giving rights of workplace bargaining to firefighters (Tochtrop)
o Addressing parking shortages for RTD, public transit (Todd)
o Updated long overdue caps for people who are killed or injured by the govt (Morse)
o Finding real ways to address and reduce gun violence (Hodge, Heath, Morse & Carroll)
o Closing private sale loophole in background checks for sale, transfer of guns (Carroll)
o Removing weapons from domestic violence abusers with protective order (Hudak)
o Limiting size of magazines to 15 rounds (Hodge)
o Changing $1/2 million taxpayer subsidy of criminal background check to user pays (Heath)
o School Safety Resource Officers K12 (King)
o Helping kids, families, seniors through values-based budgeting (Steadman, Hodge)
o Long Bill (aka Budget) to be introduced end of March
o Improving government transparency and functioning of Open Records (Kefalas)
SB 26 Skolnik Medical Transparency Update - Finalizes the push to make all patient safety data available online about Colorado Health providers, including their training, education, qualifications, disciplinary and malpractice history, and financial ownership for spotting potential conflicts of interest. This bill has passed the Senate and the 1st House committee.
SB 183 Xeriscaping in HOAs - In record drought, this bill ensures that the 2.1 million homeowners who live in HOAs can fully xeriscape their landscaping within design approval parameters of the HOA as well as ensure an HOA can't fine a homeowner for complying with watering restrictions or guidelines. This bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting its 1st hearing in the House.
HB 1229 Background Checks Private Gun Sales & Transfers - This bill uses the exact same background check system we use for store or gun show gun purchases for private sales and transfers. All law-abiding citizens can still purchase or own the weapons of their choice, helps keep guns out of the hands of dangerous, convicted felons. Data in CO and in other states show that thousands of attempted purchases by convicted felons are blocked every year as a result of background checks. This bill has passed both chambers and is awaiting signature of the Governor.
HB 1136 Civil Rights Enforcement - This bill closes the "under 15" loophole in the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which protects workers from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability and sexual orientation. It brings remedies to conform to the federal Civil Rights Act, Title VII. This bill has passed the 1st committee in the House and is awaiting Appropriations.
PROJECTS IN PROGRESS
- Fracking Reforms
- Election Reforms
- Custody & Parenting Reforms for Rape Victims
- Disclosure & Deceptive Practices in For Profit Private Schools
- Colorado Jobs Act
- Buy Local Database & App
- Energy Package Jobs & Climate Change
- Repeal Colorado's Death Penalty for Life In Prison Without Possibility of Parole
- HOA Reforms
While there is a great deal of good news in Colorado's economy, the impacts of the federal sequestration could injure that recovery. In district, those impacts at minimum are likely to impact Buckley Air Force Base and the Front Range Airport. I will share more information as it becomes available.
A NOTE OVER THE TONE OF THE GUN DEBATE
We heard from many people with many different ideas over how to best address common sense gun reforms and still respect 2nd Amendment rights. Depending on the survey we know 80 - 90% of the public support performing background checks before gun sales, which enjoys majority support among Democrats, Independents, Republicans and even NRA members. People have been extremely passionate about this issue and most were helpful and respectful on both sides of the issue.
However, we also saw an unprecedented number of threats of death, violence, rape, torture, racial slurs, anti-semitic slurs, and sexist insults addressed to those who supported gun safety reforms that go beyond anything I have ever seen in my 8 years of public service. Only a very small number of those received were reported. This hurts our civic discourse and sets a dangerous precedent of how we handle differences of opinion on public polcy.
It is our ability to disagree without threats or acts of violence which makes us truly free in the United States. Thank you to all of you who do participate in our legislative process in a respectful manner, focused on public policy analysis, rather than slurs, insults or threats. You are what makes this process work!
January 25, 2013
Last Thursday, January 17th, I teamed up with my fellow legislators from Aurora to host a town hall discussion focused on mental health issues. Along with my colleagues, I was delighted to be joined by a number of experts in the mental health field who provided us with an engaging discussion of the most prominent issues facing the state's mental health system in the future. These individuals included Moe Keller of Mental Health America, Terri Hurst-Greene of the Colorado Behavioral HealthCare Council, Sarah Sills of the state's Department of Human Services, Jennifer Hill of the Colorado Mental Wellness Network, and Dr. Lisa Clements of the State Office of Behavioral Health. As part of our conversation, we discussed the resources available to Aurora residents looking for assistance and information about the mental health field. For your use, I've posted several of these resources in the "Mental Health Issues," section under the "On the Issues," portion of my website. I hope that you find them useful, and I encourage you never to hesitate to reach out for help if you or someone you love is facing a struggle with a mental health condition. Working together to find new solutions and bolster our existing system, I am confident that we can make Colorado a more caring and responsive place for mental health care.
Senate Majority Leader
Senate District 29
January 06, 2013
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER
200 E. Colfax Ave., Room 271
Denver, CO 80203
Denver, CO 80203
I am excited to let you know that we will begin the 2013 Legislative Session on Wed. Jan. 9, 2013 at 10:00AM. Colorado is beginning to show some strong signs of economic recovery and we have the opportunity to pursue some policies to strengthen our recovery.
Mon. Jan. 7, 2013
We will NOT be meeting at Mimi's
We will be combining events at the annual
Aurora Legislator's Breakfast
Community College of Aurora
We will be joined by the Aurora Chamber and members, local elected officials, and the Aurora Legislative Delegation: (Sen. Nancy Todd, Rep. Su Ryden, Rep. Rhonda Fields, Rep. John Buckner, Rep. Jovan Melton, Rep. Jenise May and myself) and -- YOU!
Because all of our districts have changed so much after reapportionment, our townhall meeting days and locations will change beginning in 2013.
My new townhall schedule will be as follows (please make a note):
3rd Thursday, 7:00 - 8:30PM
Community College of Aurora
January 17 Topic: Mental Health: Well-being, public safety and possible legislative ideas
1st Saturday, 11:00AM
Smoky Hill Library
Beginning in February (Feb. 2, 2013)
Eastern I-70 Corridor
Pre-Session Preview & Input
Post-Session Preview & Input
See web for details
PRIORITY PREVIEW FOR THE 2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Building the Economy & Supporting Working Families: We can help many working families and small businesses by pursuing the "earned income tax credit", "chlid care" credit and "dependent care" credit. These funds help working people on the margins with children, aging parents, or who support people with disabilities. Every $1 here is returned 3 times in the local economies. We are also looking at competitive grants to build advanced industries in Colorado and getting our workforce trained to fill these highly skilled, highly paid jobs. Efforts to "Buy Local" will strengthen our local economy and addressing the misuse of credit scores in hiring practices will help many unemployed people get back to work.
Improving Education: While we expect to see increased funding for our public schools this year, we remain at $1 billion funding deficit. We are also likely to see an increase of the public share toward higher education which may help ease upward pressure on tuition. Efforts are under way to revisit the School Finance Act to better address both adequacy and equity in our funding formula.
Strengthening Child Protection: In every child protective system there are also some fatalities and it is always tragic. Colorado has suffered unacceptable deaths of children in our system. Aggressive efforts and reforms are underway with the counties, the state and with child advocacy organizations to improve Colorado's system.
Developing Energy Responsibly: Colorado has an abudance of natural renewable energy with strong, viable options in solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass. CO has found ways for private families, businesses and government entities to save taxpayer money on their utility lines by going solar. With record drilling permits for fracking, we will need to continue to address public health and safety in the form of setbacks, water quality testing, and air quality protections. We need public health data to inform these discussions.
Enfranchising Voters: We are working on a host of election reforms that expand and protect the franchise and honors every eligible person's constitutional right to vote, free of harassment, voter file expungement or other barriers to exercising the right to vote.
Implementing Amendment 64: Per the will of the CO voters, we will implementing Amendment 64 legalizing and regulating marijuana in our state. The Task Force has already been established to provide implementation recommendations to ensure we have a system that works.
Improving Mental Health: We are looking to create 24-hour mental health hotlines and multiple 24-hour walk-in mental health crisis centers to better address our unmet mental health needs in this state. CO lags behind most others in terms of our support and policies for mental health.
Sensible Gun Reforms: CO will be revising our gun laws to figure out how we can better enforce the laws we have on the books, close loopholes that predictably allow guns to get into the hands of violent criminals, and respect the right of law abiding citizens to own firearms.
Protecting and Expanding Civil Rights: Colorado will introduce and pass Civil Unions this year. While I and many other would also support full marriage equality, the prohibition against same-sex marriage is in our state constitution which would require 2/3 vote from the legislature (which we do NOT have) or another measure by the people to change the constitution to remove that prohibition. We will introduce and pass efforts for Colorado's dreamers to have access to in state tuition commensurate with their years of residency in the state. We will close the loophole for enforcement of Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act to cover discrimination at work for people who work at places with fewer than 15 employees. (Federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers over 15).
There are so many important issues we are taking up that this is only a sample but I will keep highlighting important policy reform efforts throughout the session.
We will be watching federal immigration reforms closely. Also federal budget and funding decisions are likely to have a significant impact on Colorado's budget and the lives of everyone in this state.
HOW TO BE INVOLVED
The fact is that the legislative process is neither automatic or for spectators. It is for YOU. Below are some key ways you can be involved:
- Attend Townhalls
- Sign Up for Legislative Updates
- Bookmark & review the "status sheets" summarizing all introduced bills on the Colorado General Assembly website so you know what has been introduced.
- Bookmark & review the house and senate calendars indentifying what bills will be in committee and when Colorado General Assembly website. The floor calendar is a "notice" calendar and indicates that a listed bill can be heard any time on or after the date listed.
- Attend house or senate floor debates or committee hearings.
- Testify for / against bills that are important to you.
- Call or email us with your input on specific bills, ideas for future bills, suggested amendments, or offering research or information.
- Volunteer at the capitol
- Get to know your legislators. Their contact information is all online at the Colorado General Assembly website.
If you are not sure who your state legislators are you can find out by going to Project Vote Smart. As some of you may know I have also written a book with more complete treatment of tips and suggestions I have learned for how citizens can participate effectively Take Back Your Government: A Citizen's Guide to Grassroots Change.
Thank you for your time, passion and interest in your community.
October 05, 2012
For those of you who could not attend our townhall but who have an interest in the information and resources available on public safety I wanted to be sure to share some of that with you.
- Aurora Police Department, PAR District I, 303.739.1950, PAR District II, 303.739.6344, PAR District III, 303.627.3171.
- Crimestoppers, 720.913.7867
- DRCOG, Denver Regional Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging, 303.480.6700, http://www.drcog.org
- Metro Crisis Hotline, 1.888.885.1222
- Ready Colorado, Tips for Family Emergency Preparedness, 1.800.639.7323, http://www.readycolorado.com
- Tri-County Health Department, 720.200.1572
- AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, http://www.aa.org
- NA, Narcotics Anonymous, http://www.na.org
- Pipeline Safety, Emergency, 1.877.267.2290, Non-Emergency, 800.231.2566
- Safe2Tell, 1.877.542.7233
- Aurora Public Schools Security, 303.367.3060
- Homeland Security, http://www.ready.gov
September 19, 2012
MAJORITY CAUCUS CHAIR
200 E. Colfax Ave., Room 271
Denver, CO 80203
Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy
Legislative Legal Services
Hello! I hope you are doing well. A few updates on my end:
Our next townhall (Thurs. Sept. 20, 2012, 7:00 - 8:00PM) will be a public safety event to meet as a community in the wake of the July 20 movie theatre shootings. We will be honoring our 1st responders and have booths with public safety information from the following organizations:
- Aurora Fire Department
- Aurora Police Department School Resource Officers
- Aurora Public Schools
- Rural/Metro Ambulance
- Denver Regional Council of Governments and the Area Agency on Aging
- Children’s Hospital Colorado
- Safe Kids Metro Denver
- Aurora Mental Health Center
- Philips 66 Pipeline safety
Come find out more about the more common public safety challenges and what we can do about it. These organizations will have resources and information to help you and your family. Last year Forbes ranked Aurora the 9th safest city in the U.S. for a city of its size.
This will be held at the Community College of Aurora, 16000 E. Centretech Pkwy, Aurora in the Rotunda Room, Student Services Building.
This event is being hosted by myself, Rep. Su Ryden, Rep. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Nancy Todd. All are welcome. Please bring others. We hold these evening townhalls on the 3rd Thursday of every month unless it falls on a holiday.
Monday Coffee Oct. 1, 2012
7:15 - 8:30AM
Mimi's Cafe, 205 S. Abilene St, Aurora
All Welcome - Open Forum - Any Topic You Want to Discuss
*We hold these coffee events on the 1st Monday of every month unless it falls on a holiday.
There has been a lot of activity and confusion surrounding the status of voters. Please take a moment and make sure that you are properly registered (even if you think you are), that your address is current and correct and that you are properly signed up to receive a mail ballot. You can do this by visiting: http://www.govotecolorado.com.
SHAPING FUTURE LEGISLATION
Each legislator gets 5 bills per session unless granted special permission from leadership. We have a deadline of December 1 before the session to get those bill requests submitted. That means if you have an idea that you want to see pursued for legislation in the 2013 session, you should seek to have a legislative sponsor before December 1, 2012 or else you may have to wait until the 2014 session.
Anyone can make or change law in Colorado. All you need is 1 (of the 100) legislators to agree to be your sponsor and he or she can walk you through the process.
TAKE BACK YOUR GOVERNMENT: A CITIZEN'S GUIDE TO GRASSROOTS CHANGE
Because I feel like there is a lot information we can better share about how people can effectively participate in the legislative process, I wrote the book, "Take Back Your Government: A Citizen's Guide to Grassroots Change". I am pleased to report that it made a local best seller's list. If you have not yet received a copy but want to you can get one at Tattered Cover, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and most local independent booksellers.
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