We work a lot of long days during the legislative session, but I’ve never had such a streak of long days as I’ve had these past two weeks.
I’m starting to write this email from the House floor at 6:04pm on Saturday evening as we wrap up three straight days of debating a trio of bills to protect access to reproductive health care in Colorado.
We’ve worked the last 13 days in a row, and many of those days started for me at 4:00 or 5:00 A.M. and finished at 10:00 or 11:00 P.M. Tonight will be the 7th time I’ve missed my daughter’s bedtime, only seeing her for half an hour in the morning. It’s been really hard on my whole family, but you know what?
It’s worth it.
It’s worth it because I know the work we’re doing this session will make our state safer and guarantee my daughter’s freedom to control her own body and be whomever she is meant to be.
Last weekend, it was guns. We passed bills to raise the age to 21 to purchase a firearm, allow victims of gun violence to sue firearms manufacturers and dealers for reckless practices, and expand the red-flag law that allows interventions when there’s a credible risk that someone may use a firearm to cause serious harm to themselves or others. Last month, we passed a bill establishing a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm, and we will still be considering a bill to prohibit the sale of assault weapons in Colorado.
This weekend, it’s been about protecting access to reproductive health care, including contraception, abortion, and gender-affirming care. Our three bills build on last year’s Reproductive Health Equity Act as follows:
- SB23-188 protects health care providers from adverse actions that could come from the abortion bans and anti-LGBTQ legislation being passed in other states. Some have called this a Shield Law because it makes Colorado a safe haven for legally protected health care.
- SB23-189 eliminates copays and other financial barriers to accessing reproductive health care
- SB23-190 prohibits deceptive advertising by “crisis pregnancy centers,” some of which lure women to their facilities by suggesting they offer abortion care only to corner women and shame them. If an organization wants to help women find alternatives to abortion, that’s fine. They just can’t use false advertising to do it.
My descriptions of these bills simplify things a bit, but you can click the links above to learn a lot more about what they’re going to do to protect health care access in Colorado.
I just want to add one more thought today. During the debate on SB188, two of my colleagues got up to talk about their trans kids. One spoke about the journey of setting aside the movie that was in her head about what her child’s life would look like, and what it meant to just be there for her kid. The other spoke about how difficult it is to be a trans kid, and how she just wants to make sure her kid survives the 10th grade.
I cried my eyes out.
Maybe it’s because my best friend came out to me in 7th grade and struggled with her gender dysmorphia for years. That was 31 years ago now, in 1992, when Colorado voters passed one of the most discriminatory laws we had ever heard of: the infamous Amendment 2.
But I think it’s also because I have my own child now, and I don’t know what life holds in store for her. I don’t know who she’s going to love, and I don’t know who she’s going to be. All I know is that she’s perfect, and I’m going to do everything I can to give the the best possible life. I’m going to do that as her dad, and I’m going to do that as her State Representative.
And now I’m crying again.
It’s been a very long and draining two weeks. Thanks for reading my scattered thoughts. After a day of rest tomorrow, I’m going to get back at it on Monday morning as the House begins to debate the state budget.