KGNU is partnering with the League of Women Voters of Boulder County on a monthly commentary series called Making Democracy Work for All! which focuses on educating listeners on the workings of state and local government and letting them know how they can get involved at different stages of the political process.
This month League member Jeannette Hillery takes a look at the 71st Colorado General Assembly which convened on January 11th.
The Colorado General Assembly convenes for 120 days beginning in January and ending in May of each year. There are 100 members, 65 in the House and 35 in the Senate. Boulder County has 8 representatives, 5 in the House and 3 in the Senate.
They are House District (HD) 10 Rep. Edie Hooten (D); HD 11 Rep. Jonathan Singer (D); HD 12 Rep. Mike Foote (D); HD 13 Rep. KC Becker (D); HD 33 Rep. Matt Gray (D); Senate District (SD) 16 Sen. Tim Neville (R); SD 17 Sen. Matt Jones (D); SD 18 Sen. Stephen Fenberg (D).
The Colorado League has a volunteer lobby core that follows proposed legislation in areas such as voter service, health care, transportation, education and air quality. The Boulder County League advocates for our positions with our local elected representatives.
This year the top priorities of the Legislature are transportation, education (K through 12) and health care. The League feels that transportation both funding and modes is of critical importance. Colorado has an aging roads and bridge infrastructure. We have supported legislation in the past to fund repairs and replacements to deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as supporting FasTracks.
However the state is in dire need of addition funding and in completing agreed upon projects. Funding for transportation should come from federal, state and local sources. At this time there has been no bill introduced to address this issue, but we know there will be one. The League believes some of these sources should be user fees, appropriations from the General Fund, revenue bonds and private funds. One proposal is to have a referred ballot question to ask state votes to approve a tax increase to fund these programs. It is important for voters to know and understand the importance of such a request.
At present there is a bill to study accessibility for disabled and another to hold hearings in Transportation Commission districts. There needs to be an open system in place to deal with transportation to ensure there is adequate funding and resources.
Regarding education, the state expects a $170 million shortfall in the budget, and that will impact funding for schools, K-12. Where will money come from to adequately fund schools? The League believes in equalizing educational opportunity, equity for students, taxpayers and school districts; programs for students with special needs; incentives for efficiency and effectiveness including cooperation among school districts; and assuring the availability of adequate facilities. This year more creative ways to address school needs will have to addressed. On a local level, the League addresses issues in both the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain school districts. Are the school districts adequately addressing all children’s needs. Is there adequate funding?
Under the Afforadable Care Act, many Coloradans have been able to obtain health care. However, there is effort to undo this program both nationally and on the state level. Where will the thousands of people who have accessed health care in Colorado go to get care? What impact will dismantling the program bring, not only to the individuals and families but to Colorado clinics and hospitals. The League supports adequate health care with funding by state and federal monies where necessary. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid coverage was expanded so more women and children and families were covered.
The League has supported state legislation to address inconsistencies or gaps in health care coverage, including elder abuse and will continue to do that during this session.
Another component of health care is behavioral health. A more comprehensive approach must be used in addressing individuals with behavioral health diagnoses, that includes children through adults. Adequate funding for care and treatment must be addressed. This could be another area affected by the budget shortfalls. The League will continue to support accessibility to health care for all.
In previous sessions, air quality and measurable goals to attain clean power have been introduced and defeated.. The League has supported goals that address reduction in pollution from power plants and other emitters. We have urged control of carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act and implementation of the Clean Power Plan. There will be legislation introduced during this session on adding measurable goals to air quality assessments in the state.
During the Legislative session the League publishes a Legislative Letter that covers all the bills that they are following. This is published bi weekly. For more information about the legislative letter, contact lwvcolorado.org and hit the legislative action link.
The Boulder County League and its action teams will be looking at the bills that are introduced and how they will effect the county. The schools team will continue to look at programs and issues in both St. Vrain and Boulder Valley. These include funding issues, adequacy of the physical plant and bonding issues. The Social Policy team is addressing minimum wage issues with local municipalities and was glad to see the passage of the minimum wage initiative in the 2016 election. How this is implemented will be of interest to this team. The Behavioral Health Team is continually concerned about the adequacy of programs and funding for them for impacted populations. The budgeting and direction from the state plays a great part in implementation of new or ongoing programs.
The Voting Methods Team will look at alternatives to the present plurality voting in the state.
The Money in Politics Team is going out in the community to discuss how money affects the outcome of elections and what local communities can do to address it in their own community. These presentations are available for free to any group or organization.
Voter Service is a major area for the League. Ensuring people are registered to vote, have access to the ballot and get out to vote is of primary concern. This will continue to be a priority for the League. Any new bills introduced that threaten voter accessibility will be fought by the League. The League will be watching to see how the Secretary of State will be writing guidelines for primaries after the passage of propositions 107 and 108 in the 2016 election.
For information about the Boulder League. Go to lwvbc.org for Teams, a calendar of events and membership.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Contact information for local legislators:
House District 10: Rep. Edi Hooton, D-Boulder
Capitol phone: 303-866-2915
Capitol email: firstname.lastname@example.org
House District 11: Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont
Capitol phone: 303-866-2780
Capitol email: email@example.com
House District 12: Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette
Capitol phone: 303-866-2920
Capitol email: firstname.lastname@example.org
House District 13: Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder
Capitol phone: 303-866-2518
Capitol email: email@example.com
House District 33: Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield
Capitol phone: 303-866-4667
Capitol email: firstname.lastname@example.org
House District 49: Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor
Capitol phone: 303-866-2907
Capitol email: email@example.com
House District 63: Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone
Capitol phone: 303-866-2906
Capitol email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate District 15: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, D-Berthoud
Capitol phone: 303-866-4853
Capitol email: email@example.com
Senate District 16: Sen. Tim Neville, R-Jefferson County
Capitol phone: 303-866-4873
Capitol email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate District 17: Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville
Capitol phone: 303-866-5291
Capitol email: email@example.com
Senate District 18: Sen. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder
Capitol phone: 303-866-4872
Capitol email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate District 23: Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins
Capitol phone: 303-866-4876
Capitol email: email@example.com
- Colorado General Assembly website: leg.colorado.gov
- Colorado House Democrats: cohousedems.com
- Colorado House Republicans: cohousegop.com
- Colorado Senate Republicans: coloradosenaterepublicans.com
- Colorado Senate Democrats: coloradosenate.org