March 01, 2012
It's that time of year again. For those of you who missed last month's townhall on tax tips I wanted to share a few tips with you. There are services out there to help with free tax preparation for income levels higher than you might think.
- Community College of Aurora Lowry Campus, 710 Alton Way, West Quad (Bldg 903), Room 113. Free tax help is available for families in Aurora earning under $49,000. The service runs from Jan. 29 to March 12. Please note the days and times: Saturdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m; Tuesdays 6-9 p.m; Wednesdays 4-9 p.m.
- Piton Foundation has great resources about commonly overlooked tax credits, how not to get swindled by tax refund anticipation scams and other locations for free tax preparation. Go to http://www.piton.org/eitc.
- The IRS has a new free-file program which gives you the public free access to brand-name tax preparation software to walk you through step-by-step filing at http://www.freefile.irs.gov/.
Monday March 5, 2012, 7:15 AM
Mimi's Cafe - 205 S. Abilene St, Aurora
Coffee & Open Forum: Sen. Morgan Carroll, Rep. Su Ryden, & Rep. Rhonda Fields
Thursday March 15, 2012, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Community College of Aurora, 16000 E. Centretech Pkwy, Aurora
TOPIC: Legislative Update by Sen. Carroll, Rep. Ryden and Rep. Fields
MY BILLS THIS SESSION
Employment Opportunity Act SB 3 (Carroll - Fisher) - This bill eliminates the use of credit reports by employers in the hiring process. 60% of employers are now using credit reports in hiring decisions, even though they were never designed for that purpose, are fraught with errors, and have never been demonstrated to validly predict whether someone would make a good employee. We lost 7.9 million jobs nationally in this recession and have 250,000 Coloradans out of work. For the people who lost their jobs in the recession, clearly their credit will be impacted. No job = bad credit. Bad credit = no job. This bill removes this unecessary barrier to re-employment for Coloradans trying to get back to work. This bill passed the Senate 20:15 and is assigned to House Local Government Committee.
Colorado Local Business Smart-App & Database SB 143 (Carroll - Pabon) - There is pent up demand and renewed interest among the public to buy local and support Colorado's home-grown small business. Buying from locally owned businesses brings three times the financial returns to the local economy, directs business to those who live in our communities, and helps support local job creation (i.e. as opposed to outsourced). This bill creates a searchable database and smart-phone app where customers can search by location or by type of good / service to help support local businesses in our daily transactions. Shifting even 10% of our holiday purchases to local businesses is estimated to bring an additional $15 billion dollars to our local economy. This bill has passed the Senate Business Committee and Appropriations Committee and will be debated on the floor of the Senate tomorrow for 2nd reading.
Fair Family Courts Act SB 56 (Carroll - Holbert) - This bill addresses a growing concern about the increasing role of court-appointees relied upon to make recommendations pertaining to child custody issues. This bill prohibits conflicts of interest in court-appointees for children and requires standard disclosures pertaining to any prior relationships between the appointee and the parties. This bill passed the Senate 35 - 0 is is pending House Judiciary.
Hospital Disclosures to Patients SB 93 (Carroll - Duran) - This bill addresses the growing frequency of hospital mergers and consolidations that has placed an increasing percentage of hospital ownership under religious ownership in Colorado. There are some 90 different health care services that may be refused on religious grounds, ranging from contraception, tubal ligations, vasectomies, HIV counseling, end of life decisions, etc. This bill requires any hospital that denies medical services on religious grounds to disclose what those services are ahead of time to the patient and notifies them of their right to get them elsewhere. This bill has passed the Senate 20:15 and is pending House Committee assignment.
Water Rights Protection & Fracking SB 107 (Carroll - Wilson) - This bill directs the CO Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to promulgate rules for best practices for drilling around munitions, radioactive, nuclear materials or superfund sites. It also collects the water quantity data about the amount of water used before and after drilling a well and requires water quality safety testing before and after drilling. It prohibits the injection of known carcinogens into the ground where it can contaminate soil and drinking water and creates a rebuttable presumption that contamination of water within 6 months of drilling within 1/2 mile arises from the drilling operations unless they used a closed-loop system. The bill requires environmental bonding for all drilling activities around high risk areas (such as explosives, superfund sites or radioactive materials). It also directs the COGCC to promulgate rules for best practices around pressure readings that indicate leaks. This bill has been assigned to Senate Judiciary and is pending hearing.
I am also carrying some bills originating in the house and will send you an update on the status of those next time.
I am honored to have awarded the Joseph Award from Faith Advocacy Day for my work on addressing people in poverty and living on the margins of our society. I am also extremely honored to have named a Legislator of the Year by the Colorado Social Legislation Committee (presentation scheduling pending).
As some of you may know, I have published my first book, Take Back Your Government: A Citizen's Guide to Grassroot's Change. We made the local best seller list last week, which is very exciting. There are a few book signing events coming up and you are invited to come. We will talk about inside tips and observations about how to best impact the legislative process and will be followed by candid Q&A. All invited! No purchase necessary. The next events are:
Sat March 3, 2012
Barnes & Noble Lone Tree
Reading and Book Signing
8374 S. Willow Street, Lone Tree, CO 80124
Sat Mar 10, 2012
Parkhill Bookstore Book Signing
12:00 – 1:30 PM
23rd & Dexter, Denver
January 27, 2012
60% of employers now use credit scores in hiring practices, but there are material errors in credit reports of over 20 million Americans. No job = bad credit. Bad credit = no job. This practice disproportionately impacts minorities, single parents, deployed veterans. It impacts everyone who lost work in the last recession.
That's why I created a petition to The Colorado State House, The Colorado State Senate, and Governor John Hickenlooper, which says:
"• Nearly ¼ Million Coloradans have faced unemployment every month since the recession. (Department of Labor & Employment).
• Colorado’s unemployment rate reached a high of 9.3% and that figure is even higher in some regions of the state.
• The real impact of unemployment reaches beyond the one person who lost their job. Nearly every person in the State, directly or indirectly impacted by unemployment. For every one person unemployed, there is often a spouse and children who are impacted as well.
• When a person loses his or her job their credit score is very likely to suffer (i.e. may be impacted due carrying increased debt load or late payments.)
• 60% of employers are now using credit scores as part of their hiring decisions. (Discrediting America 2011)
• That means that people have been laid off or lost their job may be automatically barred for future jobs by as many as 60% of employers.
• Research has found that there are material errors in the credit reports of 20 million Americans. (Discrediting America 2011)
• Credit scores are not a valid indicator or predictor of the worth or skills of an employee, even according to FICO. (FICO)
• This practice has a disparate impact on blocking employment for minority communities, veterans, single parents, families with serious health problems, and college students.
THEREFORE, we respectfully request your help in removing unnecessary barriers to employment. Please support SB 3 and help people hurt in the economic downturn get back to work!
Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:
January 12, 2012
THE SENATE JOBS BILLS
There are a package of bills from the Colorado State Senate that will be focused on growing our economy and putting Colorado back to work.
Thursday January 19, 2012
Townhall with Rep. Ryden, Rep. Fields and Sen. Carroll
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Community College of Aurora, Aurora
16000 E. Centretech Pkwy
TOPIC: Arapahoe County & Aurora Public Services & Safety Net
Monday February 6, 2012
Coffee with Carroll, Ryden, Fields
7:15 - 8:30 PM
205 S. Abilene Street, Aurora
There have been a few changes in my committee assignments for the 2012 legislative session. I will continue to Chair, Senate Judiciary committee and serve on Legislative Legal Services committee, but will no longer be serving on the Audit committee. Instead of serving on Senate Health & Human Services, I will now be serving on the Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee.
MY BILLS INTRODUCED SO FAR
SB 3: Employment Opportunity Act (Carroll - Fischer). 60% of employers are now using credit scores in their hiring and job-related decisions. Not only are there material errors in the credit reports of 20 million Americans, but most people who have been laid off or lost their jobs in the recession have seen a dip in their credit. Using credit scores for purposes they were not designed for is not only not a good measure of an employee's merit, but it is structurally prolonging the ability of people to get re-employed and back to work. This bill prohibits use of credit scoring in hiring unless relevant for the job position and gives disclosure the applicant if their credit was an adverse factor in the decision. No job = bad credit. Bad credit = no job. For more information about the uses and misuses of credit scores you may be interested in reading http://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/Discrediting_America_Demos.pdf.
SB 56: Family Court Appointments (Carroll - Holbert). This bill requires that anyone appointed by the Court to make recommendations about a child's best interest by neutral and independent. The bill addresses potential conflicts of interest and ensures that the appointee does not have any prior relationship to any of the parties. Courts are relying increasingly on parenting coordinators, child family investigators and others to make recommendations to the Court. For the process to work as intended those appointees need to be independent and free of any conflicts.
BOOK UPDATE! :)
I am very excited to report that my book, Take Back Your Government: A Citizen's Guide to Grassroots Change, will be in bookstores on or before February 1, 2012. I am told that it can already be ordered online at Barnes & Nobel and Amazon now. You are invited to join me at any of the following book signings! Free, all welcome.
Friday February 10, 2012, 7:30 PM
Tattered Cover on Colfax
Saturday February 25, 2012, 2:00 PM
Barnes & Noble - Loveland, 5835 Sky Pond Drive, Loveland
Saturday March 3, 2012, 2:00 PM
Barnes & Noble - Lone Tree, 8374 Street, Lone Tree
December 04, 2011
Growing Colorado's Economy
Colorado has fared better than the rest of the country with the collapse of the economy following the mortgage crises and speculative derivatives, yet many people remain out of work in Colorado and what's worse is that despite extended unemployment much of the employment has become chronic to the point where people "fall off the rolls" of what is counted. Colorado's unemployment rate is now 8.1% (U.S. = 9%) but 40,000 new jobs were created in Colorado since September 2011.
In walking my district and talking with constituents it is clear that a variety of sectors have been hard hit across a spectrum of education and work levels. So what can we do from a policy perspective? While many of the abuses that led to the crash need to be remedied at the federal level, there are a variety of important roles the state (and you) can play.
(1) Office of Economic Development: The Governor has a variety of new initiatives coming out of this office. This office can offer information, resources, grants and a variety of opportunities to help create and grow Colorado businesses.
(2) Colorado Eco-Tourism: Colorado remains a top tourism destination and our local economy receives a 7-fold return on our investments in this area. You can help by supporting our local natural beauty and encouraging friends and family to come visit us in Colorado! Colorado continues to have some of the most breath-taking beauty in the world.
(3) Local First: While mass layoffs often happen with the largest of corporations, the recovery and growth of the economy is going to be fueled by small, local businesses. Every time you make a purchase from a local business, the benefit to our local economy is three-fold. Coloradans spent $12 Billion last year on holiday shopping. If we shifted even 10% of our spending to the locally owned businesses, it would add $3 Billion to Colorado's economy! For other great ideas on buying and supporting local, please visit: http://coloradolocalfirst.com/.
(4) State Contracting: Of course the state has a very limited budget, but the State of Colorado spends over $3 Billion year in contracting with the private sector. By contracting smart we can not only save taxpayers money, and ensure we provide better services, but we can also have a significant impact on our local economy. The state could give bidding weight to Colorado contractors and employers who are hiring Coloradans, paying a living wage, and not out-sourcing local jobs.
(5) Outsourcing: While it is a businesses prerogative to ship our jobs oversees, it is important to patron and support the companies that don't. We can also take a studies look at ensuring the state (and federal) government is not extending public subsidies or benefits to corporations who ship our jobs overseas.
(6) Colorado's Growth Sectors: I am very proud to have authored SB 09-51 which created the opportunity for solar lease financing in Colorado, which has doubled the amount of residential solar in less than 2 years but has also brought three new companies to Colorado to date! There is no question that Colorado has fared better in part because of our forward thinking on the New Energy Economy. Our health care industries have remained relatively strong as well.
(7) Education is the backbone of a strong economy: In order to ensure our children our well-educated, critical thinkers, and ready for the workforce, we need to provide the quality of education that is necessary so all of our kids in K-12 succeed, have the greatest opportunities and can afford to go to college or vocational schools for work. There are decent-paying jobs that remain unfilled at present because of a need for more engineers and IT specialists. We need to make sure we are filling those jobs.
(8) Tax Credits are a Mixed Bag: The data show that some targeted tax credits can serve as effective incentives but that many others don't have any impact. We need to get past talking points and take a sober look at the data as to what has a measurable impact and what doesn't. Unaccountable distribution of public funds to private corporations who do not create jobs or ship them overseas is simply wasteful spending and corporate welfare. Colorado cannot afford corporate subsidies to the largest actors who do not need the funds and are not using them in a measurable way to create jobs.
Want to add your own ideas? NOW is the time.
June 13, 2011
Some information about Colorado compared to the 50 states:
- Colorado population is 5,029,196 - 22nd most populous
- Colorados Personal Income Per Capita is $42,262 - 15th highest in country
- Colorado's poverty rate is 11.9% - 32nd in the country
- Colorado's homeownership rates are 68.5% - 33rd in the country
- Colorado's maximum corporate income tax rate 4.63%
- Colorado's state and local tax burden as % of income 8.6% - 39th in country
- Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9%
- Colorado's state cigarette tax is $0.84 per pack
- Colorado's state gas tax is $0.22 - 33rd in country
- Colorado's spirit tax is $2.28 galon, wine $0.32 gallon, beer $0.08 gallon
- Colorado is 10th friendliest state for entrepreneurs
- Colorado has the 14th highest rate of patents in the country
- Colorado ranks 34th in how much state share of funding for K12 is
- Colorado ranks 30th in public school funding per pupil
- Colorado ranks 32nd in state support for higher education
- Colorado ranks 24th in state per capita on spending on natural resources, parks & rec
- Colorado ranks 46th in state highway spending per capita
- Colorado ranks 6th in the nation on corrections spending per capita
- Colorado ranks 22nd in the nation for the % of people without health insurance for year
- Colorado ranks 25th in annual Medicaid spending per capita
- Colorado ranks 48th in expenditures on public welfare per capita
SOURCE: Taxpayer Network 2011
This is not a judgment on whether any of these levels are adequate to achieve any given result or public policy but wanted to share this updated information with you. There are a few takeaways: Colorado's tax rates are relatively low. Our investment in education is comparatively low. Our spending on corrections is high. Our poverty support is low.
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