This first year in the statehouse has been a humbling and exciting experience. Much of my time was spent learning the ins and outs of the lawmaking process, and getting my feet wet with some lower profile legislation. Regardless, the bills I sponsored this year will help improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable Coloradans. My first bill (HB19-1045) regarding the Office of Public Guardianship passed through the Senate on the last day of session - and establishes funding for a commission to appoint guardians to help indigent and incapacitated adults make life decisions regarding their health and wellbeing. Additionally,HB19-1147 makes changes to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program to expand the scope of patients eligible to receive services for treatment for any kind of brain injury, regardless if the injury was acquired through trauma or not. I also passed a bill with Rep. Emily Sirota (HB19-1188) that will require an analysis of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions for certain legislation. The idea for the bill came from Keep Colorado Green during the campaign, and I am proud to have delivered on my promise to pass this piece of legislation.
My other bills range in topics from allowing county commissioners to delegate to county administrative officials certain land use determinations affecting subdivision platting, to establishing a study for determining the feasibility for electronic preservation of abandoned estate documents.
Highlights of the 2019 Session
Reducing the Cost of Healthcare
This session we passed legislation to increase transparency for health care costs in Colorado’s hospitals, prohibit budget-busting out-of-network billing, reduce the price of insulin and lower prescription drug costs by allowing for the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.
We also worked across the aisle to create a new affordable and competitive health care option in the state of Colorado that will be available to families and individuals when purchasing health insurance. Colorado will become the first state in the nation to ever set in place a process for offering a public health insurance option. We also passed a bill that will allow healthcare cooperatives to incorporate consumer protections like coverage for preexisting conditions and allow the State Insurance Commissioner to work with groups seeking to create co-ops so that they can get up and running as soon as possible to provide health care cost relief for Coloradans.
Coloradans are concerned about the impacts of climate change on our economy and environment. This session we were able to pass reasonable, science-based legislation to put carbon reduction goals in statute (HB19-1261), and comprehensive energy legislation (SB19-236) increasing PUC oversight and requiring consideration of the social cost of carbon in electric resource planning. SB236 also secures an 80% reduction in carbon pollution for our state's largest power company - the most ambitious trajectory for any utility in the country - while HB19-1314 ensures workers and communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry are not left behind as Colorado transitions to a cleaner economy.
We also passed SB19-181 to update Colorado’s antiquated oil and gas laws to put health and safety first by reforming the mission of the COGCC, increasing local government authority over oil and gas and empowering affected communities to protect our clean air and clean water.
Speaking of wildfires…
I have been appointed Chair of the Wildfire Matters Review Committee over the interim! I will be working with my colleagues to explore how to make Coloradans safer and reduce the impacts of wildfires.
This year the legislature passed bills to fund full-day kindergarten for Colorado’s youngest learners, invest in skills for Colorado’s emerging workforce, attract and retain early childhood and rural educators, and allow school capital construction funding to be used for career and technical education projects in public schools.
We also added an additional $100 million to buy-down the budget stabilization factor and better invest in our K-12 schools, increasing funding by $183 per student. With regards to higher education, we passed legislation to keep higher ed tuition flat and provide more oversight for student loans.
expanding opportunity and building a fair economy
Colorado’s economy is booming for some but not for all. Too many hardworking Coloradans aren’t seeing the benefit of our state’s economic success and feel like they can’t get ahead. This year, the legislature made important progress on leveling out the playing field for all Coloradans:
Women, especially women of color, should be paid equally for equal work. We are committed to fighting for every Coloradan to be treated with the dignity, fairness and respect they deserve. That’s why we passed SB19-085 to ensure equal pay for equal work, and we will continue working on solutions to expand opportunity for all.
We renewed our push to ensure access to paid family and medical leave for hardworking Coloradans who need to take care of a sick relative or a new child. SB19-188 will lay the foundation to help ensure an effective implementation of the best possible family leave policy for Coloradans.
America is in a retirement crisis—people are not saving enough. In our fast-growing economy, Colorado needs a plan to make sure workers can save for the long term and retire securely. That’s why we passed SB19-173 to help Coloradans who don’t have access to a workplace retirement savings plan.