Legislative Wins and Losses in 2011

Of nine bills I introduced in the House this year, five have become law – all of these five passed with strong bipartisan support. That’s a pretty good record for a first-year legislator in a minority party. I attribute my legislative success to the fact that I tried to keep an open mind and work across the aisle.  The Uniform Military and Overseas Voter Act, HB-1219, eases the process of getting ballots to military and overseas voters to protect this precious right. Governor Hickenlooper signed into law on May 13, 2011. Criminal Record Sealing, HB-1203, requires that companies that sell information about criminal records clear their own records when a judge orders the official record sealed. It was signed in March and will take effect in August.The Allen Rose Tow Truck Driver Safety Act, SB-260, gives tow truck drivers tools to protect themselves from life-threatening accidents. The Mechanics Lien Bond Release Act, SB-264, resolves technicalities with managing ownership of improved property. The other bill I passed before is HB-1032 for Restorative Justice.I was disappointed by the loss of three other important bills I introduced that would have helped businesses expand and create good-paying jobs for Coloradans. “Buy Colorado,” HB-1129 would have helped local and veteran-owned businesses by encouraging the state government to hire work from Colorado, from veteran-owned companies and from American companies when it contracts with private industry.

Another good jobs bill I introduced is HB-1266, which would have helped entrepreneurs trying to start new business in Colorado to get seed funds by creating a private securities market connecting local investors to local businesses. I worked with experienced entrepreneurs who were Republicans, independents and Democrats, to come up with ideas for identifying and filling the biggest gap in our struggling jobs market - the lack of credit for small businesses to hire. But the bill was killed 6-7 in committee anyway. I am continuing to work on a plan for to promote these concepts.

HB-1132, “On-Bill Weatherization,” would have allowed utility companies to make low-interest loans to homeowners for them to build energy-saving structural improvements, and then the homeowners could repay the loan on the bill itself from their reduced utility costs. This was a win-win bill designed to save energy, help the environment, lower costs for home owners and put construction workers and contractors to work.

All three of these bills died on party-line votes in committees, even though I said I was willing to hear any suggestion or compromise from colleagues to get their support for the jobs bills. Yes, party politics do exist - yet I am reminded what we share in common when I think of what we did pass, with help from both sides of the aisle. I have many Republican collagues in the legislature I consider to be friends.

Restorative Justice Wins Final Passage

As many of you know, one of my main goals this year was to pass major Restorative Justice legislation, to potentially transform the criminal justice system. On the final day of session, HB-1032 passed the final legislative hurdle when the House concurred with the Senate’s amendments and passed the bill. The bill could help break the cycle of juvenile crime, enable offenders to change their lives and empower victims to begin healing like never before. More work needs to be done in the form of future bills to continue to define and support the restorative process, but the first pieces are in place as HB-1032 is sent to Governor Hickenlooper to sign.

A big thanks to those who cooperated on this effort.