Increased funding for affordable housing while reducing plastic bag consumption: Sen. Lois Court and I have introduced HB1054, a common-sense bill that would fund about $50 million in grants and loans to local governments and contractors to build or retain affordable housing in Colorado. Population growth is outpacing housing construction, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford rents or mortgages. Our bill would ask Colorado voters to authorize a modest, 25-cent tax on plastic bags in Colorado, a one-time fee per visit at the register whether you use a single or multiple plastic bags. No matter where I go or who I talk to, the sky-high cost of housing is the primary concern I hear. The tax would also encourage the use of reusable bags and raise awareness of plastic bag waste in Colorado. This is personal for me, since my school is next to a garbage dump in Arapahoe County. Every day I see more and more garbage piling up on a mound that now blocks my view of the mountains—that must stop! UPDATE –Killed in committee, but everyone thought it was an innovative idea.
Change HOA Regulations of Dogs by Size or Breed: HB1126 would prohibit Homeowner Associations (HOAs) from discriminating against certain dogs based solely on breed, weight, or size. Affordable housing is already difficult to find, but a person with a large dog has an even tougher time securing a place to live since many HOAs refuse to accept people who have large dogs. However, regulations such as nuisance barking, dogs leaving a mess, and the number of dogs per household, would remain in effect. UPDATE–Hearing on 2/14/2018 at 130pm at room 271. Support from Humane Society.
HB17-1101 on DYC scholarships: My bill will allow the Division of Youth Corrections to work with a foundation to create a scholarship program for young people leaving the DYC to help them get on their feet. The bill passed the House and the Senate, and the Governor signed it.
HB17-1014: The infamous “Ballot Selfie Bill.” Finally, after 3 years, I am pleased to announce that this bipartisan bill has finally passed both chambers, and the Governor signed it. You can now post a photo of yourself and your completed ballot on social media legally!
HB17-1156 to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy: That year, I reintroduce my bill to ban a licensed therapist from conducting “Gay Conversion Therapy” services to minors. Again it passed the House, and again, the Republicans in the Senate have killed it. I will continue to work on this bill until it passes, because children who are LGBT should not be made to feel guilty for how they feel–this “therapy” causes anxiety, depression, and even suicide and must be stopped.
HB17-232 is a “sunset” bill to continue regulations for bingo to ensure that there is oversight of how many charities raise funds for their efforts. It has passed both Houses and the Governor signed it.
HB17-1212 creates a special Colorado license plate for the aviation industry which employs thousands in the state. It passed both House and Senate and the Governor signed it. You’ll be able to get this soon in 2018!
House Bill 16-1207–Requiring PERA to invest in renewable energy: This bill would have required the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA pension) to invest 1% of future revenues into renewable energy companies, ONLY if PERA thought they met their high standards for investment. That would have amounted to just $25 million a year. Currently PERA has invested almost $1 billion in oil and gas companies but only $60 million in renewable energy companies. Despite our best efforts, the bill was killed in committee because members were concerned about intervening in PERA’s decision-making process. Sadly, my colleagues killed this bill in committee.
House bill 16-1188–Legal transparency within Special Districts Contracts: Passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives, then out of the Senate. It will require any special districts which sign a contract to do joint projects to file those contracts with DOLA to better comply with Colorado’s transparency laws. Governor signed it into law.
House Bill 16-1279–Creation of a Sister State Relationship Program in OEDIT: With this bill, I hope to revitalize the several international Sister-State relationships between Colorado and Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, Taiwan Province, Taiwan, and Kangwon Province, South Korea. There may be others, but there is no confirmation of it, which is why I’m doing this bill, to ensure that these relationships grow and aren’t forgotten. The concept of Sister States has been particularly successful in the State of Maryland. Yet, my goal is to also support Colorado’s Sister Cities like Denver’s and build on their relationships. This way we can continue to grow our state, capitalize on our diversity, and be inclusive to other countries around the world by welcoming business, cultural, and educational exchanges. I was thrilled when this bill passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis on the House floor. It was killed by Republicans in the Senate.
House Bill 16-1210–Ban on so-called “Gay Conversion Therapy”: Of all my bills, this one has by far caused the most emotion under the gold dome. For decades, individuals struggling with identities and sexual orientations have been subjected to therapy and were made to believe that there was something wrong with the feelings and attractions they may be having. The American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness decades ago. This bill will make it illegal for state licensed therapists to continue using so-called “Gay Conversion Therapy” to re-condition or “correct” the sexual orientation of clients under the age of 18. I passed this bill out of the House last year, and it died in the Republican-controlled Senate. On March 8th the bill passed out of committee 7 to 6, along party lines. Later, on third reading and final passage of this bill, it passed again along party lines, although just 1 Republican voted yes. The Republicans in the Senate killed it. You can hear the radio show I was on with CPR’s Colorado Matters host, Ryan Warner and “conversion therapy” victim, Brad Allen.
Here are some news articles about HB16-1210:
House Bill 16-1316–Changing Procedures of Child Placement: This bill will address some of the issues that arise when dealing with changing a court venue during a child’s Dependency and Neglect case. This bill will help to better ensure that children receive the services in the county that is in their best interest, so that they avoid any unnecessary transfers. It passed out of the House unanimously and also passed the Senate, and the Governor signed it.
House Bill 16-1287–Studying how to implement apprenticeship programs: The integration of apprenticeships into the public education system is necessary if we hope to create more career opportunities and reduce the youth unemployment rate of 16.7% (ages 16-24) here in Colorado. However, before we are able to do so, we must understand the root of the problem and how to implement a program. This bill will require the Colo. Department of Labor and Employment to make recommendations which will be included in the annual Colorado talent report. This bipartisan bill passed out of the House overwhelmingly and passed the Senate, and the Governor signed it.
- Ban on gay “conversion therapy”: It is unconscionable that some “therapists” in Colorado still try to convert children to have a sexual orientation other than how they feel. The practice is not backed by science and is proven to be harmful psychologically. My bill to ban it passed out of the House, but sadly Republicans in the Senate killed it in committee. I know, I don’t understand why either.
- Ballot Disclosure: This bill to permit you to exercise your free speech right to show your completed ballot to anybody was unfortunately killed in committee. As I predicted in my last email, opponents made bizarre statements about it. We heard testimony that voters were selling their ballots for the price of a drink all the way up to $100. I was astonished to hear that a prosecutor was dispatched to a private event where people were filling out their ballots together to notify them not to show ballots to each other. Talk about the heavy hand of government! UPDATE–this bill passes in 2017!
- New Juvenile Competency to Proceed Standards: A Task Force’s bill I carried on creating a standard for juvenile competency to stand trial was sadly killed by 1 vote in the Judiciary Committee. It was emotional, as task force members had worked several years on the bill. So, for the foreseeable future, adult standards will continue to apply to children regarding competency. UPDATE 2/2018, the bill passed finally, but the bill sponsor expressed his gratitude for my hard work and for blazing the trail.
- Intergovernmental Authority Bill: On a happier note, I passed a bill out of the House that allows local governments to work together to build projects like fire stations, etc. and pay for them with tax-exempt bonds. This bill, passed by the Senate and then signed by the Governor, would help minimize costs to taxpayers and maximize efficiency.
- Assisting federal employees serving overseas: My bill to provide a tax break to civilian federal employees stationed overseas, like the benefit we have for our military, passed its first committee. Unfortunately, it was killed in Finance Committee because members were concerned about the state budget. A constituent suggested this bill since he is going into the Foreign Service of the US State Department.
- Earned time for certain offenders: This bill gives what they call “earned time” to about 67 offenders in the Dept. of Corrections who, because of an oversight, didn’t start earning it between 1985 and 1993. Earned time is given to offenders who do programs to better themselves. It passed overwhelmingly out of the House, and will be heard this week in a Senate committee. This issue was brought to my attention by a constituent, Dianne from Colorado CURE.
- Helping “tuk tuks” ease into the market: There are nifty 3-wheeled vehicles like the ones in Thailand which are now manufactured in Colorado. Their speed is under 25 miles per hour, they have seat belts, and they are electric. Tuk tuks are already permitted by the PUC and US Dept. of Transportation and will operate soon in downtown Denver. They are technically classified as a “motorcycle”, so my bill would change the law so drivers and passengers are not required to wear sunglasses, and passengers under 18 wouldn’t have to wear helmets. This bill was signed into law.
HB14-1344 Electronic Delivery of Insurance Documents
You can imagine how much paper is mailed each year by insurance companies sending regular insurance notices of policy changes, etc, to their customers. This bill allows them to send these notices to consumers via email if they have no personally identifiable information on them. This is a win for consumers who will have greater convenience, a win for insurance companies who will save money on postage and printing, and a win for trees which will keep their bark on their trunks. The Governor signed this into law on 5/15/2014.
HB14-1069 District Commissions on Judicial Performance
After District Court Judges are appointed by the Governor, they are reviewed by commissions before they go up for retention by the voters. Currently input is taken by forms submitted by attorneys who practice in that courtroom. This bill would have added in-person feedback from District Attorneys and Public Defenders. While the bill passed the House 62-2, it was killed in the Senate because, after negotiations, the State Judicial Review Commission ultimately decided to adopt into rulemaking what the bill intended in law.
HB14-1278 Sunset Worker’s Comp Physician Certification
Renews the program for certification of physicians to work on worker’s compensation claims. It extends the program until September 1, 2025. The Governor has not yet taken action on this bill.
SB14-031 Police and Fire Pension Fund Old Hire Plans
Concerning modifications to the administration of an employer’s old hire police officers and firefighters pension plans. The Senate passed this bill 31-3.
HB13-1293 Requiring Governor to Create Climate Change Position
All credible science points to that our planet is experiencing climate change, and that it is caused mostly by humans. Colorado is experiencing the effects of this climate change, and the state has been implementing various efforts to do our part to mitigate the human contribution of greenhouse gases, such as raising the renewable energy standard. This bill, which was signed into law, requires the Governor to appoint someone to work on climate change matters, and issue a an annual report. The Governor’s office has done so, appointing three people from 3 agencies to work as a team, and they presented in early 2014 to the necessary legislative committees. If you would like a copy of this report, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 720.529.9787.
HB 13-1159 Using Cellphones to show Proof of Insurance
Currently, a driver of a motor vehicle or scooter must have a paper proof of insurance card and present it when requested by a police officer. The owner’s insurance company issues cards that verify the policyholder has up-to-date insurance. Today, cell phones and other electronic devices can easily and reliably store and display the data on a proof of insurance card. My bill, which was signed into law by the Governor, permits a person to use a cellphone or other device to present proof of insurance to a police officer. The officer is prohibited from inspecting any other data on the phone or device.
HB13-1118 Issuing ID’s to Retired Police Officers
This bill provides that retired police officers will continue to be eligible for ID’s so they may comply with federal law that allows them to continue to carry their weapons after retirement. The bill originated with the request of a constituent, a retired police officer, who was concerned about the lack of procedures in Colorado for issuing ID’s to retired officers. The Governor signed this bill into law.
HHB 13-1038 Voting Registration for Juveniles in Youth Corrections Custody
Young persons who are in juvenile custody have been in limbo when it comes to registering and voting, although many who are eligible would like to do so. This bill guarantees their right to register and vote by requiring the Department of Youth Corrections to make voter registration and election information available to them and helping them to register and vote. The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor on 3/15/2013.