I’m sorry to say it’s been a month since my last update, but I’ve been busy trying to get some things done in the final month of the 2017 legislative session! It’s been turbulent with many highs and lows, and as we gear up to “Adjourn Sine Die” on Wednesday, here’s a quick run down of what’s been going on.
To begin with, we reached a balanced budget deal. Though there are many painful cuts, we managed to mitigate the impact of the Gallagher amendment and avoid further cuts to K-12. We also finally reached a deal on converting the hospital provider fee into an enterprise. Though we again had to make many painful concessions, this accounting change will have a meaningful impact in future years by allowing us to start reinvesting in priorities like higher education, K-12, affordable housing, mental health, and more.
We also finally had a breakthrough on the construction defects issue with a bipartisan compromise that should give builders the confidence to start building new condos while protecting homeowners’ right to access the courts when needed.
Two more of my bills have completed their journey through the process. One was a simple bill to continue the licensing and regulation of landscape architects (SB218). Another was a bit more controversial. After some serious back-and-forth, SB203 passed both chambers. This bill, supported by the Chronic Care Collaborative, prohibits insurance companies from putting a patient through “step therapy” more than once. That means patients will get covered for the medications prescribed by their doctor without having the fail first on an alternative treatment.
The transportation bill is dead. We had high hopes for a bipartisan compromise on referring a small tax increase to the voters that would support major investments in roads, bridges, transit, and more. While the Republican President of the Senate supported the deal, too many Republican Senators felt the pressure from their anti-tax base, and as a result, they killed the bill.
Our caucus was also pushing some big ideas forward that were sent straight to kill-committees in the Senate:
- Paid family and medical leave
- Accelerating the shut-down of coal plants in a way that boosts renewable energy and invests in economic development in rural Colorado
- Increased transparency for money in politics
- Funding for affordable housing
- Background checks for medical professionals
- Transparency for pharmaceutical costs
These are all disappointed losses, but we’ll keep fighting!
While I truly value the relationships I’ve built with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, there have certainly been some ugly moments this session. I’ll only bring up one example here, and I won’t name names. I’ll just say it’s disappointing that some legislators have been more focused on demonizing immigrants (as if they are the ones causing our problems) than they are on finding actual policy solutions to make life better for all Coloradans.
All we can do is continue to rise above that kind of demagoguery.
Everything above is just a small sample of what we’ve been up to this year. We have 100 legislators, all working every day on a wide variety of topics. Learn more about the work of my fellow House Democrats here.