It has been an honor to serve in the 71st Legislative session which was one of the most productive in recent memory. I am gratified to report that 17 of the 19 bills I sponsored this session were passed, all with bipartisan support. However, the work is never done. Over the interim, I hope to serve on the interim committee I requested to study how evidence-based and cost-effective sentencing reform could be implemented here in Colorado to ensure the best use of prison resources for the protection of public safety.
2017 House Democrats’ Legislative Session Overview
Governor John Hickenlooper called this session “the most productive legislative session” since he took office in 2011. Here’s a quick rundown on how we partnered with the Governor and Republicans to bring results for the people of Colorado on a wide range of issues.
We stood up for an inclusive Colorado and fought back against attacks on women’s reproductive rights. We also moved the ball forward on contraceptive coverage, equal pay for equal work, and a quality education for every child. We will continue our work on an agenda that gives everyone who works hard and play by the rules a chance to get ahead. From family and medical leave to making college more affordable for Colorado families, we will continue working on these important issues!
Before session began, it looked like we were going to have to make cuts to our schools, hospitals and transportation. Our budget forecast projected that we would hit Colorado’s revenue cap under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). Meantime, we were also compelled to deal with the Gallagher Amendment, a complicated tax formula baked into our constitution that could have led to devastating cuts to both the state budget, and local governments. (Watch video here for more information on TABOR and the Gallagher amendment).
However, because of the good work of our budget committee, we were able to avoid painful cuts and craft a budget that:
- Gives a $242-per-student funding boost to schools in a year where school funding was expected to take a significant hit
- Provides more funding for affordable housing and to tackle homelessness
- Puts $9.5 million toward expanding access to broadband in rural areas of the state
- Saves important programs like the Healthy Kids Survey, which provides critical information about Colorado children’s health and wellbeing
- Boosts funding for substance abuse treatment across the state
- Increases funding for the ASCENT program, which helps students get a head start on their college education through concurrent enrollment, so high school students can enroll in community college classes to earn college credit while completing their high school degree
- Adds inspectors in the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling to help ensure our communities are safe and to defend against pollution
- Increases funding for the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program, which supports programs to help prevent child abuse and neglect, and to reduce youth crime and violence
- Protects core services that our seniors and those with disabilities rely on
Senate Bill 267 – A Win for Hospitals, Kids, Seniors, Small Businesses and Transportation
We were finally able to fix a glitch in our budget regarding hospital reimbursement rates – known as the provider fee. The change in law will save our hospitals from $500 million in budget cuts, which could have led to the closure of hospitals across the state, and compromised access to health care for thousands of Coloradans. The bill also gives big wins to rural Colorado, safeguards the senior homestead property tax exemption, gives a tax break to upwards of 100,000 Colorado small businesses, directs an additional $30 million toward rural schools, and authorizes a $1.8 billion investment in our roads to start to address our most urgent needs.
Construction Defects Reform
This difficult issue took three years to solve, but we were able to do so this year in a way that will lay the foundation for more condo starts across the state without compromising Coloradans’ right to protect their most important investment – their homes.
Criminal Justice Reform
We made significant bi-partisan achievements on reforming Colorado’s criminal justice system this year, protecting our communities from the most dangerous criminals while also continuing to shift the system’s focus toward rehabilitation. Key legislation will create a crime prevention pilot program for areas of the state with little economic opportunity and high rates of crime by focusing on education and economic opportunity in those areas of the state. That bill has the chance to revolutionize the way we think about crime prevention. Other good work that was done on criminal justice reform, including record expungement for juveniles and reforming the Division of Youth Corrections, shows that we can make real progress in a bipartisan way on these issues. There will also be an interim committee meeting this summer and fall to take a broader look at criminal justice reform.
Solutions to Tackle the Opioid Crisis
This session we took some important steps to tackle the opioid crisis. One bill will create a center for research into substance abuse disorder prevention, treatment and recovery support. Finally, we created a pilot program to expand access to treatment in areas of the state particularly impacted by opioid abuse.
Here are all the bills I sponsored this year:
HB17-1329 Reform Division of Youth Corrections – This bill better serves and treats youth by renaming the division to replace “corrections” with “services,” and accentuating the rehabilitation aspect of the division. This bill creates new programs that protect and help children and also includes improved ways of recording data and governing decisions that are made within the division. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1326 Justice Reinvestment Crime Prevention Initiative – This legislation shortens the amount of time a parolee can serve due to a technical violation. This creates savings which are then reinvested in crime prevention programs like small business investment, education, and community development programs. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1207 No Detention Facility Requirement Youth Ages 10-12 – This bill raises the age that a child can be placed in a detention facility from 10 up to 13, unless they are charged with a felony. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1071 Refund Monetary Amounts After Vacated Conviction – This bill allows a defendant to get a refund from a conviction in a district or county court if they meet a certain set of requirements. Now Law
HB17-1302 Juvenile Sexting Crimes – This bipartisan bill changes the law regarding child sexting to dissuade young people from engaging in the practice without punishing victims or being overly punitive. The bill also eliminates the possibility of a juvenile being registered as a sex offender if charged. It works with schools to provide proper sexting education. Sent to Governor
SB17-248 Modify Previously Approved Regional Tourism Project – This bill will allow local governments to apply to the commission to modify a project if the local government believes that there is an alteration that would improve the project and increase the number of out-of-state tourists visiting the project. An increase of tourists results in increased revenue, greatly benefiting the local economy. Postponed Infinitely
SB17-224 Relocate Title 12 Driving Schools – This bill moves and repeals the pre-existing statutes regarding commercial driving schools. The other pre-existing statutes are edited to comply with the new locations. Now Law
SB17-201 Sunset Domestic Violence Offender Management Board – This bill extends the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board until September 2022. It also changes the position and qualifications of various members and gives the board more responsibilities. Sent to the Governor
SB17-012 Competency Restoration Services and Education – This legislation addresses the issues surrounding competency restoration services for juveniles and adults in criminal justice system by requiring the courts to consider services for defendants out on bonds or summons, requiring services to be reviewed by the courts, establishing the office of behavioral health, and initiating the duties of the office regarding competency restoration services and education. Sent to the Governor
SB17-294 Revisor’s Bill – This bill works to clarify pre-existing statutes, amends, repeals, and recreates other statutory provisions of the law that are not clear, perfect, or effective. Sent to the Governor
SB17-293 Update Paper Specification Standard For Colorado Revised Statutes Publication – This legislation changes the paper required for Colorado Revised Statutes Publication, as the current national standard paper has been discontinued. Sent to the Governor
SB17-183 Support USS Colorado Commissioning – This bill raises awareness and supports the USS Colorado, a nuclear submarine, by having the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs to make grants supporting the vessel. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1330 No Escape Convictions for Habitual Criminals – This bill clarifies the current law that states a conviction for an escape or an attempt to escape cannot be used to declare a person a habitual criminal unless the escape or intended escape is the basis of the conviction. This bill states that this law applies to both current and previous convictions and that it does not apply to community correctional facilities. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1039 Restorative Justice Communications Issues – This bills allows district attorneys to permit a test for an offender’s ability to participate in Restorative Justice as part of a sentence. The offender has to meet all requirements in order to participate. Now Law
HB17-1168 Criminal Court Procedures For Military Defendants – This legislation protects defendants who are veterans and those who are currently serving in the United States armed forces by considering treatment options for those who have suffered mentally and includes treatment as a part of the sentencing. Probation is more easily granted and the defendant’s file is sealed if all of the conditions of his/her sentencing has been met. Postponed Infinitely
HB17-1204 Juvenile Delinquency Record Expungement – This bill requires a written notice to the juvenile regarding the right and process of expungement. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1303 Judicial Performance Evaluation System and Commissions – This bill renews and improves on the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commissions. These commissions review judges and recommend to the voters whether to retain or dismiss them. It was set to routinely expire but this legislation extends their lifespan. Sent to the Governor
HB17-1371 Distribution Of Medications To Certain Outlets – This bill expands the number outlets that hospitals, prescription drug outlets, and the state department of corrections can distribute prepackaged medications to. Sent to the Governor