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.