February 25, 2007
Tomorrow is the 48th day of the 2007 Legislative Session. The good news is that we are progressing in the areas of health care, renewable energy and education while building the “new energy” economy and strengthening our social safety net. Nevertheless, there remains much work to be done.
WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN DO BETTER
Yesterday, we had our third Saturday morning community conversation with 12 participants asking great questions and discussing innovative ideas. We gathered at the Bear Rock Café on Harmony Road, and two weeks ago we convened at the Bean Cycle Coffee Shop. Please support these local businesses.
Last Saturday, we had our first monthly educational forum, “Vanishing Mobile Home Parks - What Can We Do?” with over 50 people attending, including many mobile home park residents and owners. We focused on this issue because of the Dry Creek Mobile Home Park closing. Six panelists provided excellent information and perspectives, and the dialogue resulted in potential solutions to the problems faced by residents and owners. As a result, we are convening a task force to further develop these ideas with 20 people interested in being involved. Democracy in action is a beautiful thing!
Our next collaborative town hall meeting is Saturday, March 3, 1 PM – 2:30 PM in Room 228 of the CSU Lory Student Center. All Larimer County legislators have been invited, and I expect there will be Democratic and Republican lawmakers present to answer your questions and discuss legislation.
Tomorrow (2/26) is Health Care Day of Action at the State Capitol. Hundreds of people concerned about our broken health care system will march to the Capitol, meet with their legislators and rally on the West Steps at 11 AM. There is carpooling from Fort Collins (contact Eliza, 416-1636) and you can check out the day’s agenda at www.thebell.org/hclobbyday.html.
JOHN’S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
HB-1026, Graduate Student Health Insurance, passed out of the Senate Education Committee on 2/21 and is headed to the floor. Bob Bacon is the Senate sponsor.
HB-1131, Hemodialysis Technician Training Standards, passed out of House Health & Human Services Committee on 2/1 and is sitting in the House Appropriations Committee.
HB-1162, Voter Choice Act of 2007, passed out of the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on 2/8 with an 8 – 3 vote and is sitting in the House Appropriations Committee.
HB-1220, Purchasing of Environmentally Preferable Products by Government, passed out of the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on 2/15 with a 10 – 1 vote and is scheduled for the floor (2nd reading) tomorrow.
HB-1260, Changing the Sunset Review Dates for the State Boards of Nursing and Chiropractic Examiners, passed out of the House (3rd reading) on 2/16 and was introduced in the Senate on 2/20 and assigned to Senate Health & Human Services Committee.
HB-1290, Department of Revenue Reporting on Impact of Tax Policy in a Tax Incidence Study lost in the House Finance Committee on 2/20 with a 7 – 4 vote, primarily because of the fiscal note. This bill would have provided detailed analyses to lawmakers and the public about tax incidence (burden) across income groups and businesses sectors as well as analyses of tax expenditures to determine their effectiveness and impact on state revenue and the economy.
Health Care: Last week, we passed SB-097 - allocates tobacco settlement dollars to help pay for vital health care programs such as indigent care, children’s basic health, treatment of drug and alcohol abuse and mental health programs. The bill also directs 49% of the funding to the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to help ensure the education of our future doctors and keep tuition affordable.
Renewable Energy: Last week, we passed HB-1281 - raises Colorado’s renewable energy standard to 20% by 2020. This means that 20 percent of our electricity will come from clean and renewable sources like solar and wind within the next 13 years, bringing new jobs and investment to Colorado.
OTHER RELEVANT ISSUES
On the Iraq War, I have drafted a letter that will be faxed to our Congressional delegation after I secure the signatures of legislators who agree with the statement. The letter is a statement of conscience from members of the Colorado General Assembly in support of peaceful means for building democracy and freedom in Iraq and around the world. I also spoke out against the war and its escalation at a State Capitol press conference this past Thursday.
I am also forming the Common Good Legislative Caucus with the goal of convening a bi-partisan group of legislators who are passionate about self-sufficiency, community development and addressing poverty. Our first meeting is next Friday.
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE
During the week I’m in Denver, and my days are typically spent deciphering legislation and listening to a wide variety of opinions on all manner of issues. Meanwhile, I’m working to get my own bills passed. I generally rise at 5:30 AM and lay my weary head to rest at 11:30 PM (seeking a little sympathy here).
Occasionally there is variation on this theme, and on Thursday two eighth graders shadowed me to learn more about the legislative process. Bethany (Colorado Springs) and Emily (Granby) were part of a student group participating in the Legislative Day of the Colorado Association for Gifted & Talented. It was a real pleasure to host these two delightful and inquisitive teens and suggest to them that we need more women legislators.