My ballot measure endorsements for 2018

In addition to the incredibly importance races for federal, statewide, state legislative, and county offices this year, Colorado voters will get to weigh in on 13 statewide ballot questions and numerous local issues. While I’m only weighing in on a few of them in this blog, you can read about the rest in the Blue Book.  Feel free to email me any questions you may have at chris@kennedy4co.com.

Statewide Ballot Measures

  • Amendment A:  Vote yes if you want to remove the last references to slavery from our State Constitution. It’s that simple.
  • Amendment W:  I support this measure to simplify the appearance of judicial retention elections on future ballots.
  • Amendment X:  This sounds complicated, but all it’s really doing is moving the definition of hemp out of the constitution and into state statute. This will allow us to respond more rapidly if the federal government changes the rules on hemp farming, which could be a huge benefit to Colorado farmers.
  • Amendments Y & Z:  I strongly support these measures to reform our redistricting/reapportionment system and put a stop to political gerrymandering. To be fair, Colorado’s system for drawing state legislative districts already involved an independent commission, but Amdt Z improves that process significantly and Amdt Y will make the system for drawing congressional districts use that same process. The measures establish fair criteria for drawing maps and remove politics from the process as much as possible.
  • Amendment 73:  I support it and hope you do, too. Colorado’s school funding situation is dire; we’re about $2500 per kid per year below the national average. This measure asks corporations and the wealthiest 8% of Coloradans to pay their fair share to support our schools. Coupled with local funding efforts (see 5A & 5B below), Amdt 73 will help us take a major step forward to providing a 21st century school system that provides great opportunities to every Colorado kid.
  • Amendment 74:  I oppose it. Sponsored by the oil and gas industry, this measure is designed to prevent local governments from trying to regulate industry to protect the health and safety of their communities.
  • Propositions 109 & 110:  While we need to do more to repair and expand our roads and bridges, we must also recognize that increasing transit options and bike paths are important parts of the whole. I strongly support Proposition 110, which increased our sales tax by 0.62% to fund infrastructure investments. I strongly oppose Proposition 109, which effectively forces the legislature to make deep cuts in education and health care in order to fund transportation.
  • Proposition 111:  I support this measure to crack down on the exorbitant interest rates being charged by payday lenders. This kind of predatory lending hurts the people who are struggling most to get by.

As for the rest, I’m still weighing pros and cons. Let me know what you think at chris@kennedy4co.com.

Local Ballot Measures in Jeffco/Lakewood

  • Jeffco School District Issues 5A&B:  I support both Our schools are in need of more funds to attract and retain great teachers and maintain our facilities. While we’ve worked hard to increase school funding at the state level, we’re still well below the national average. Learn more at WeAreJeffco.com.
  • Lakewood Issue 2D:  I support it. Without raising taxes, Lakewood voters can choose to allow the city to retain dollars above the TABOR limit to increase our investment in parks, police, and potholes. I think these are smart and needed investments. Learn more at OurLakewood.org.
  • West Metro Fire Protection District Issue 7C:  I support it. Because of the Gallagher amendment (long story), our fire district’s revenues are very uncertain in the years ahead. Without raising taxes, district voters can stabilize future budgets and make sure we don’t have to cut our fire protection. Learn more at LifeSavingAlliance.com. 
  • Urban Drainage and Flood Control District Issue 7G:  I support it. Colorado’s bizarre constitutional requirements have ratcheted down this special district’s mill levy by 44%, putting real strain on our infrastructure. By allowing this special district to restore it’s original 1.0 mill levy, we can do a better job investing in storm water systems and other infrastructure across the Denver Metro area. Learn more at UDFCD.org.

Colorado House District 23 candidate Q&A

By the Denver Post (October 10th, 2018)

Why are you running for office?
I believe that everyone who works hard and does their fair share should have a fair shot to get ahead and enjoy the Colorado way of life. Though our economy is booming, the rapid growth and high cost of living are making it hard for too many Colorado families to get by. I believe we must do more to make sure our economic growth benefits everybody – not just the folks at the top.

What three policy issues set you apart from your opponent(s)?
I can’t speak to my opponent’s policy positions, but I believe my commitment to LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom, and fighting climate change are likely contrasting positions. I also believe we need to do more to fund education, transportation, affordable housing, mental health, and other priorities in Colorado. That means we must demonstrate to Colorado voters that we are making responsible decisions with their tax dollars and ask them to consider raising their own taxes to fund these key priorities. We can’t cut our way to prosperity.

What are the biggest areas of agreement between you and your opponent(s)?
The one time I’ve heard my opponent speak, she praised some of Jeffco’s nonprofits for the important work they’re doing in our community. I couldn’t agree more. The partnerships between government and the nonprofit world are critical to providing the services that so many Coloradans depend on.

Where would you like to see Colorado’s transportation system in two decades, and what’s the best way to get there? What’s your position on the competing state transportation initiatives?
While we need to do more to repair and expand our roads and bridges, we must also recognize that increasing transit options and bike paths are important parts of the whole. I strongly support Proposition 110, which increased our sales tax by 0.62% to fund infrastructure investments. I strongly oppose Proposition 109, which essentially forces the legislature to make deep cuts in education and health care in order to fund transportation.

What role, if any, should the state legislature play in managing the impact of growth along the Front Range and ensuring that rural areas share in the benefits?
Growth is the number one concern I hear about when I’m knocking on doors. While we may not be able to control growth, we can certainly stop incentivizing it by trying to attract big companies to relocate here. We must figure out how to make growth pay its own way so that it doesn’t put so much strain on our roads, neighborhoods, and available housing.

Colorado’s health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion have given hundreds of thousands more residents coverage, but health care remains a top concern in state polls. Affordability and access are particularly challenging in remote areas. Where should the state go on this issue, and what will you do to get us there?
The Affordable Care Act did a lot to expand access so that more people could get health insurance, but by building on top of a broken system, little was done to control costs. We must push further on ideas like cost transparency for hospitals and pharmaceuticals while taking steps away from the fee-for-service system and moving closer to a value-based payment system. We must also work on insurance reforms that will allow everyone in the state to access insurance with reasonable premiums and deductibles. To do that, we need to explore either a reinsurance program, and public option, or both.


Joan Poston has not returned the questionnaire.

Read the full story at DenverPost.com

Opioid education day focuses on solutions to crisis

Opioid education day focuses on solutions to crisis

By Natalie Ianniciello (October 9th, 2018)

The Physical Therapy Program in the University of Colorado School of Medicine recently held an educational day titled, “Pain & Healthcare in Society: Changing Attitudes, Behaviors and Health Systems to Address the Opioid Crisis.” The event drew 250 students, alumni and community members from various disciplines.

The event was focused on improving pain management through a better knowledge of systems-level barriers to achieving effective collaboration, a deeper understanding of pain management across health care disciplines and examples of innovative approaches to pain management and collaboration.

“The scope of the opioid crisis and the challenges of caring for people with pain are sometimes overwhelming,” noted Andrew Kittleson, PT, DPT, PhD, core faculty, Physical Therapy Program. “This event showcased so many brilliant and compassionate people — both nationally and right here in our community — who are working to make a difference.”

CU welcomed speakers from other areas of the University, including Venu Akuthota, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & RehabilitationParticipants from other institutions included Colorado Rep. Chris Kennedy (D-Denver) and national thought leaders Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD, FAPTA, dean of rehabilitation science, the University of Pittsburgh; Alice Bell, PT, DPT, of the American Physical Therapy Association; and Robert Saper, MD, MPH, from Boston University.; Rob Valuck, PhD, of  the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Daniel Goldberg, JD, PhD, of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. Participants from other institutions included Colorado Rep. Chris Kennedy (D-Denver) and national thought leaders Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD, FAPTA, dean of rehabilitation science, the University of Pittsburgh; Alice Bell, PT, DPT, of the American Physical Therapy Association; and Robert Saper, MD, MPH, from Boston University.

Areas of discussion were focused on the history and scope of the opioid crisis, barriers and opportunities for inter-professional collaboration and examples of innovative solutions and ideas for managing pain holistically, equitably and effectively.

Not just a day of presentations, a core group of professionals met following the event to brainstorm action items for the Physical Therapy Program, UCHealth and the CU Anschutz campus community.

Event sponsors were RehabVisions, Aegis Therapies and New Health.

Read Full Story at cuanschutztoday.org

Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis unveils plan to lower health care costs

Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis unveils plan to lower health care costs

By Eli Pace (September 17th, 2018)Saying it could save Coloradans up to 40 percent or more on their health care costs, gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis rolled out a 100-day, multi-point roadmap Monday in Frisco to reform the state’s health care system.

Winning the democratic primary in June, the congressman from Boulder is set to face Republican Walker Stapleton in the November election. While many in the GOP believe surging state and national economies will rank high on voters’ minds at the ballot box, Colorado Democrats are appealing to people with promises of lowering the cost health care and framing it as an economic issue.

“You know, health care is an important issue because it’s a big part of our economy and it’s a big cost factor that affects Colorado families,” Polis said before his running mate, Dianne Primavera, added that the Medicaid expansion brought roughly 20,000 new jobs to Colorado alone.

Polis decided to roll out his plan at the Ebert Family Clinic in Frisco, he said, because of Summit County’s unique position as a superbly healthy community that pays too much for health care.

By almost every measure, Summit is one of the healthiest places in the U.S. The county has earned a No. 1 nationwide ranking for life expectancy, has one of the lowest cancer mortality rates and stands as one of the leanest counties in the country’s fittest state.

Despite all that, Summit still has some of the highest health care costs in the U.S. with locals often paying three to five times what they would for the same care on the Front Range. Those costs are frequently passed onto consumers in the form of higher health insurance premiums here, too.

Read Full Story at SummitDaily.com

Opioid Committee, Round 2

Happy summer!

I hope you and yours have enjoyed some of the warm weather, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the much-needed moisture, too!

I’ve been busily dividing my time between legislative and campaign work this summer, as well as some projects around the house. And yeah, I also managed to get away a little bit to camp and climb a few 14ers…

On the legislative front, the Opioid and Substance Use Study Committee has started up again to build on the great progress we made in this most recent legislative session (read more here). We’ve had three all-day hearings so far to get feedback from pharmacists, doctors, hospitals, treatment and recovery professionals, and many more stakeholders about the gaps that remain in our system.

On Wednesday, our committee initiated the drafting process on five bills that will focus on gaps in the five following areas:

  • Prevention (education programs, law enforcement, safe disposal)
  • Harm reduction (increasing access to life-saving overdose-reversal drugs)
  • Treatment (expand capacity for inpatient/outpatient treatment and medical detox in urban, suburban, and rural Colorado)
  • Recovery (regulation of sober living facilities, facilitating reintegration into the community)
  • Criminal Justice System (access to medication-assisted treatment in prisons and jails; better transitions to community services upon release)

I’m excited that these subject areas seem to be picking up some real bipartisan support, and we’ll keep on plugging away!

Another successful kickoff!

Another successful kickoff!

Thanks so much to all of you who came out to support me last night! I’m excited about the work we’re all going to do together over the next few months to elect some great folks to lead Colorado forward over the next few years!

And a special thanks to Dan and Dona for hosting me once again (and for all of your work to get the yard ready after Monday night’s flood)!

If you couldn’t make it, you can still donate at Kennedy4CO.com/donate.

Cary, Phil, Jena, and Dave

Good morning!

While I’m uncontested in the Democratic Primary this year, there are plenty of decisions to make on your ballot including three statewide primaries. We’re lucky to have so many great Democrats stepping up to serve our communities. Here are the folks I’m supporting:

Cary Kennedy for Governor
Cary has devoted her entire career to public education and will make it Colorado’s #1 priority. She led the charge in 2000 to pass Amendment 23, the only constitutional amendment to truly push back against TABOR and drive a conversation about our need to invest in our kids’ future.

Cary supports creating a public health insurance option for any Coloradan to choose. She also supports Medicare for All at the federal level but knows we can’t wait for Washington to make this change. We need to take action in Colorado now.

Cary is committed to managing growth wisely, protecting our public lands, and increasing our renewable energy standard to make sure all Colorado utilities are transitioning away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

On top of all this, she’s just a great person. Her collaborative approach is exactly what we need in the governor’s office to make real progress for hard-working Coloradans.

Phil Weiser for Attorney General
I’m going to start with a fun fact. Phil started his post-law-school career clerking for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg! That’s right! The Notorious RBG!

Phil went on to work in President Bill Clinton’s justice department and President Barack Obama’s White House before returning to Colorado to serve as the Dean of CU Law School. He has worked on a wide range of issue from antitrust investigations to agricultural competition to civil rights litigation.

In these uncertain times, Phil knows that the rule of law is the biggest thing protecting our democracy from the threat of tyranny. He knows the law, and as Colorado’s AG, he will make sure to protect the things that make Colorado so special like our commitment to equal rights and our beautiful public lands.

Jena Griswold for Secretary of State
Ok, so Jena is unopposed on the primary ballot, but she’s have a tough general election in November so I thought I’d go ahead and say a few words. I met Jena when she was working on voter protection for the 2012 Obama reelection campaign. She’s smart, hard-working, and committed to the most fundamental element of our democracy – ensuring we have free and fair elections.

Dave Young for Treasurer
I have had the pleasure to serve in the State House with Dave, and I couldn’t be more pleased he’s running for State Treasurer. Dave has a heart of gold and has spent his eight years in the legislature fighting for public schools, increased services for people with disabilities, paid family leave, clean energy, gun safety, marriage equality, and more.

Dave spent most of his career as a math, science, and technology teacher in Greeley Public Schools. In the legislature, he served on the budget committee and knows our state’s finances inside and out.

As treasurer, Dave will responsibly manage our state’s investments and use his platform to advocate for TABOR reform, public education funding, and public banking.


I also have good relationships with a number of candidates for State House and Senate, so if you have questions about any of those races, feel free to email me and we can chat. For now, I’ll just plug two more folks running in Jeffco.

Kris Teegardin for House District 24
If you live in Golden, Wheat Ridge, or Edgewater, you’ve probably already meet Kris because he’s everywhere. I’ve known him since 2011 and have seen what a genuine person he is. He’s committed to making sure every hard-working Coloradan has great opportunities to pursue their dreams. He did a great job as Mayor of Edgwater, has been an advocate for underserved communities, and has been active in numerous local organizations including the Jefferson Success Pathway, the Child and Youth Leadership Commission, the Metro Mayors Caucus Homelessness and Hunger Committee, and JD1 Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee. He’s a true progressive and a great collaborator. We need him in the State House.

Shakti for House District 28
If you live in southern or eastern Lakewood, vote for Shakti – the candidate with just one name! When I got to know Shakti several years ago, I noticed she was quiet and assumed she was shy. But soon I learned that she’s quiet because she listens more than she talks, and she takes it all in before making a decision. Shakti served Lakewood well on our city council and is a passionate advocate for environmental sustainability, public education, and making sure seniors have all the services they need to retire in the comfort of their own communities. She will serve Lakewood well in the State House.


So there you have my opinions, for what they’re worth. Happy voting!

Chris

 

Primary Ballots Must Be Returned by 7:00pm on June 26th
You can find a full list of candidates on the primary ballot, anywhere in Colorado, here.
If you’re in Jeffco, find all the info you need about the primary election here at VoteJeffco.us.
Haven’t received your ballot? Verify your registration or call your county clerk’s office.

Hickenlooper signs health care bills at Lutheran

Hickenlooper signs health care bills at Lutheran

By Clarke Reader (May 23rd, 2018)

Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by Wheat Ridge’s Lutheran Medical Center on May 21 to sign into law three bills that aim to fight the opioid crises facing the state and those in need of mental health services.

“The opioid crises isn’t an urban or suburban issue — it’s grown into an epidemic all over the state,” Hickenlooper told the crowd of supporters, hospital staff and bill sponsors in attendance. “This has been an amazing legislative session, and this package off bills is as important as anything that was accomplished.”

SB 270 – Behavioral Health Transition Referral Program

Sponsored by Sens. Cheri Jahn (I-Lakewood) and Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County), and Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Cole Wist (R-Arapahoe County).

The bill establishes a community transition specialist program in the office of behavioral health in the department of human services. The program coordinates referrals of high-risk individuals to transition specialists by behavioral health programs and organizations.

“This bill will impact my life and the life of many others,” said Evan Silverman, who has struggled with mental health issues for years. “This will put many, many people on a path to a better life trajectory.”

SB 077 – Clinical Practice for Opioid Prescribing

Sponsored by Sens. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and Irene Aguilar (D-Denver), and Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Chris Kennedy (D-Lakewood).

The bill restricts the number of opioid pills that a health care practitioner, including physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and veterinarians, may prescribe for an initial prescription to a seven-day supply and allows each health care practitioner to exercise discretion to include a second fill for a seven-day supply.

“My mother’s story of opioid addiction recovery began in this hospital, where I saw how broken the system to help those suffering from addiction is,” Pettersen said. Her mother has been dealing with addiction issues for years. “I know this is some of the most important work I’ll do in my life.”

HB 1003 – Opioid Misuse Prevention

Sponsored by Cheri Jahn (I-Lakewood) and Kevin Priola (R-Adams County) and Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood).

In 2017, the state legislature created the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee. The committee met throughout the summer and fall of 2017 and recommended a package of substance use disorder-related bills that were introduced during the 2018 legislative session. This bill would extend the committee’s charge through 2020.

“Anyone who has had firsthand experience with opioid addiction knows that it can happen out of nowhere. It is impossible to predict,” Hickenlooper said. “I’m not saying we’re done, but this is a great first step.”

Read Full Story at LakewoodSentinel.com

Opioids Package Signed by Guv

(May 22nd, 2018)

DENVER, Colorado, May 21 The Colorado House Democrats issued the following news on behalf of Colorado State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, (D-Lakewood):

Gov. John Hickenlooper went to Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge today to sign five bills to tackle opioid abuse, which has become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.

“The war on opioids will not be won overnight, but today we gain some ground,” said Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, who has spearheaded legislative efforts to combat an epidemic that has killed more Americans than the entire Vietnam War.

The bills signed into law today are:

* SB18-022, sponsored in the House by Reps. Pettersen and Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, limiting many opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply and mandating that medical professionals check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database before writing refills.

* SB18-024, sponsored in the House by Reps. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, and Pettersen, expanding the Colorado Health Service Corps program, which includes loan repayment and scholarship programs for medical professionals who commit to working in underserved areas where substance abuse is more likely to go untreated.

* SB18-270, sponsored in the House by Reps. Pettersen and Cole Wist, R-Centennial, coordinating referrals of high-risk individuals with significant mental health or substance use disorders to transition specialists who can provide housing services, program placement and access to other behavioral health treatment or benefits.

* HB18-1007, by Reps. Kennedy and Singer, requiring insurance companies and Medicaid to provide faster approval of medication-assisted treatment so patients with substance use disorders don’t go back to opioids while waiting for approval to begin their treatment.

* HB18-1003, by Rep. Pettersen, commissioning further study of the substance use disorder problem in Colorado.

Read Full Story at PharmacyChoice.com

What happened at the legislature this session?

The whirlwind of the 2018 Legislative Session has come to a close. It was packed with ups and downs, vigorous debates, bipartisan breakthroughs, and a fair amount of drama. At the end of the day, I feel like we actually got a lot of good work done!

Though this was only my second session as a legislator, it was my sixth session counting my years as a staffer. This session stands out from the rest for one primary reason – we decided to tackle the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, and we started by making sure there were real consequences for the unacceptable behavior of one of our own members. Read more about the expulsion of Rep. Steve Lebsock here.

Handling the sexual harassment issue the right way was very time consuming, but we kept plugging away at a number of issues throughout the session. Many of us were engaged in negotiations since opening day on issues of transportation and education funding, reforming our state pension system, and continuing the Colorado Civil Rights Division. On all of these issues, we were successful in passing bipartisan legislation that will soon be signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper.

With any big bipartisan deal, both sides have to compromise. Some of those compromises were really painful, especially in the pension reform bill. By way of background, our Public Employee Retirement System (PERA) was in need of some adjustment following a reduction in the long-term expected rate of return on our investments along with an update to our mortality tables to reflect the longer expected lifespan of Coloradans. We approached the policy with the idea of “shared sacrifice” in which employers, employees, and retirees would all need to give a little. This meant increasing the retirement age, increasing the employer and employee contributions, decreasing the annual cost-of-living-adjustment, and more. While I would have favored structuring the bill somewhat differently, we had to make some concessions to get a deal with Senate Republicans. I ultimately voted yes on the bill because I think it’s critical to protect the pension program and I was uncomfortable with kicking the can down the road another year, especially when we don’t know who will be the Governor next year.

As for my own legislation, I focused mostly on health care issues. I am extremely proud of the five bills we passed addressing the opioid epidemic and the two bills we passed to increase cost transparency for consumers at free-standing emergency departments. I also worked hard to increase cost transparency for hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, though those efforts were defeated by Senate Republicans.

Last but not least, I poured enormous effort into a bill to stabilize the individual health insurance market. For those who don’t get health care through their employment or public programs, costs have been ridiculous – largely because President Trump and Congressional Republicans have gutted the Affordable Care Act in every way they know how. My bill would have established a reinsurance program to share the risks and costs of health care more broadly across all markets rather than concentrating those costs in the individual market. I worked hard to earn the support of several House Republicans and a couple Senate Republicans, but it wasn’t enough to get Senate Republican leadership to give the bill a fair hearing. Read more about the reinsurance bill here.

This is just a small sample of the work we did this year, but if you’re interested in digging deeper, check out this report on our accomplishments and attempts this year.

Reflecting on my first two legislative sessions, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what it means to try to make progress in a messy, complicated system. The partisanship can be frustrating and the special interest politics can be pretty gross, but there are moments that give me hope. When you work hard, persevere after failure, and focus on building constructive relationships, there is common ground to be found. So, I’m going to keep plugging away and trying to make things happen. Thanks again for all of you who helped elect me to this crazy job, and I’ll be asking for your support again soon because I want to keep doing this job as your State Representative!