Still optimistic after all these years

Still optimistic after all these years

It’s hard to believe this whirlwind of a year is nearly over. At the end of the landmark 2019 legislative session, I had to take a step back before I could fully appreciate everything we accomplished.

We passed legislation to lower the cost of health care; invest in education, transportation, and affordable housing; accelerate our transition to clean energy; make our schools safer; expand mental health access; reform our criminal justice system; fight the opioid epidemic; expand the rights of every Coloradan, including voting rights, reproductive rights, and rights to self-expression; and protect the clean air, clean water, and beautiful open spaces that make Colorado such a special place to live.

Years like this are why people run for office. When bills become laws and begin to impact people’s lives, we remember that our democratic republic often succeeds at expanding opportunities for people to live better, happier, and healthier lives – as long as we elect the right people.

Even when Americans are subjected to horrifying news nearly every day from the Trump administration, our progress here in Colorado keeps me feeling optimistic about the future.

Next session, we’ll be continuing our work on all of these issues, and believe me, it’s a lot of work. There will be obstacles and setbacks, lies and distortions, and a whole lot of money spent on lobbying and advertising by the defenders of the status quo. As soon as soon as the session ends in early May, my colleagues and I will be hitting the campaign trail again to talk to voters about the work we’ve done and ask for their support so we can keep moving Colorado forward.

On that note, it should be no surprise that I’m running for reelection in 2020! It’s been such an honor to represent the people of House District 23 and to help lead the state as the Assistant Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives. Please join me for a Holiday Happy Hour & Fundraiser on December 17th to celebrate the progress we made for the people of Colorado this year and to prepare for another great year!

Together, we really can change the world for the better. Thank you for doing your part. I’ll certainly keep doing mine.

My 2019 Endorsements

Ballots were mailed out last week for the 2019 election. For those of you on my list who live outside of Lakewood or Jeffco, the rest of this email may not be very interesting, but you can read my positions on the statewide ballot measures here.

I know I’m a little late in announcing my endorsements for Lakewood City Council and Jeffco School Board, but I moderated a candidate forum last weekend and I decided to wait so that all candidates would feel they were treated fairly. But now that the forum is behind us, here are my 2019 endorsements:

Lakewood City Council
This year has been a contentious one with growth being the central issue on most voters’ minds. The candidates I’m endorsing have all expressed thoughtfulness about this issue. Rather than kneejerk reactions and faux-populist politics, these candidates will work to balance these growth concerns with other priorities like affordability, inclusivity, and sustainability.

Mayor – Adam Paul
Ward 1 – Kyra deGruy
Ward 2 – Sharon Vincent
Ward 3 – Henry Hollender
Ward 4 – Christopher Arlen
Ward 5 – Dana Gutwein

With the right leadership, I believe our city is capable of managing growth the right way while increasing access to affordable housing in the parts of Lakewood that need it the most. And I believe these candidates will truly prioritize sustainability and work to make sure Lakewood is doing it’s part to fight climate change.

There are also two municipal ballot measures in Lakewood this year, and I’m voting yes on both.

2F – I’m voting yes to modernize our trash/recycling system in Lakewood. We can have better service, lower cost, and fewer trash trucks driving up our streets every week if we just choose to work together rather than choosing to have everyone go it alone.

2G – I’m voting yes to give Lakewood future opportunities to create public-private partnerships to expand broadband access.

Jeffco School Board
After some turbulent years, Jeffco voters made a course correction in 2015. Since then, we’ve had a school board focused on working together for the benefit of Jeffco kids. I’m supporting candidates who will keep Jeffco moving forward.

District 3 – Stephanie Schooley
District 4 – Joan Chavez-Lee

Remember, these candidates run district-wide, so you can vote for one candidate in each district.

That’s all for now. Get more information about voting at https://www.jeffco.us/elections, or email me here at any time! Thanks for voting!!

I’m Voting Yes on CC, DD, & 1A

This November, I’m voting Yes on Proposition CC, Yes on Proposition DD, and Yes on Jeffco Question 1A.

Prop CC allows the state to keep revenues above the outdated TABOR formula to increase investments in K-12, higher education, and transportation. This formula is why Colorado is $2500 per kid below the national average in funding our public schools and why we haven’t been able to adequately maintain our transportation infrastructure. While Prop CC doesn’t solve all of our budget woes, it’s a big step in the right direction. Prop CC doesn’t raise tax rates; it just lets us keep what Coloradans have already paid. And we’ll know exactly where the dollars go with an annual, independent audit. Learn more at YesOnPropCC.com.

Prop DD legalizes sports betting in Colorado, imposes a new tax on casino profits, and uses the bulk of the new revenues to fund the Colorado Water Plan. The 2018 Supreme Court decision would have made online sports betting available in Colorado regardless of whether we took action, so it makes sense to allow Colorado businesses to participate and pay taxes on their new profits to fund a critical state priority – the future of our water supply. Learn more at YesOnDD.com.

Jeffco Question 1A is similar to Prop CC but for the county budget instead of the state. If 1A doesn’t pass, the same outdated budget formula will force huge cuts to public safety and other critical county services. And here’s another fun fact. If Prop CC passes, Jeffco will receive over $1M in transportation funding from the state next year – but we won’t get to keep it unless we also pass 1A. This is an example of how badly these budget formulas need to be updated. Learn more at KeepJeffcoSafe.com.

Please email me at chris@kennedy4co.com if you have questions about these ballot measures or anything else!

September Update

Well, it’s been another busy summer!

I’ll admit that I’ve made some time to get up into the mountains and enjoy our beautiful state, but I’ve also had plenty of work to keep me going. In addition to general meetings about constituent and policy issues that we might address next session, I’m serving on two interim committees that are each diving deep into big topics.

First, I’m in my third summer on the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders committee in which we’re continuing our work to improve prevention, treatment, and recovery services in Colorado. Second, I’m on the Investor-Owned Utility committee in which we are looking at the regulations that govern Xcel Energy and other IOUs to ensure we’re maximizing progress on moving toward clean energy while consumers are protected from any unfair billing practices.

It’s an interesting experience to get involved in so many diverse topics, and I continue to be grateful you all elected me to this crazy job.

One last thing. The Lakewood delegation will be resuming our monthly town halls this month, starting Saturday. September 21st at 10:00am at the West Metro Fire HQ (433 S Allison Pkwy, Lakewood). We’ve invited all of the 2019 Jeffco School Board candidates and the supporting and opposing campaigns for statewide and countywide ballot measures (CC, DD, & 1A).

Our next meetings will be on October 19th and November 16th, same time and location. Then we’ll skip December and start up again in January.

I hope to see you at one or more of the town halls, but if you can’t make it, you can always email me to share your thoughts and questions!

Why I’m Voting No on Lakewood Ballot Question 200

Why I’m Voting No on Lakewood Ballot Question 200

For several years now, growth has been the number one issue I’ve heard about as I knock on doors across Lakewood. People are worried about population growth and what it means for our historically underfunded schools and transportation infrastructure. We have all seen the traffic congestion on highways like 6th Avenue and C-470 and thoroughfares like Wadsworth, Kipling, Union, Colfax, and Alameda, and we don’t want it to get worse.

Lakewood has a long tradition of developing plans in a collaborative way, moving slowly and taking community feedback every step of the way. That’s how we ended up with our Comprehensive Plan, Sustainability Plan, and several other community plans. And that’s what’s driving our current Development Dialogue, which has already led to many changes in how the city deals with development.

This week, Lakewood voters will receive mail ballots asking them whether to support Ballot Question 200. I’m voting no, and I hope you do too. Though I share many of the proponents’ concerns about growth in our city, I feel that passing Question 200 won’t stop growth – it will just increase sprawl and make Lakewood’s housing affordability and traffic problems worse.

We already have a shortage of affordable housing that can only be solved by true strategic planning. If passed, Question 200 will make it much more difficult to build new affordable housing and will drive up rents and property taxes for people who already live here.

For the teachers, police officers, firefighters, young professionals, and others who work in Lakewood but can’t afford to live here, Question 200 will mean they have to drive in from somewhere else. That means more cars driving in and out of Lakewood every day, and thus more congestion on our roads.

So if not in Lakewood, then where? I’ve had constituents suggest that growth can just happen east of Aurora, but that’s just not realistic. If people are working in Lakewood, they’re not going to want an hour commute every day. That means increasing demand for developments in unincorporated Jefferson County that would sprawl out across the undeveloped spaces that contribute to our views of the foothills.

That’s really the choice we face. If we pass Question 200, we make Lakewood less affordable and increase sprawl and congestion. If we defeat it, we can resume our thoughtful, collaborative, and strategic planning process for the future.

I believe that we all want Lakewood to be a community accessible to young families, seniors, and everyone in between. I believe we all want to protect our beautiful parks, open spaces, and views. I believe we all want safe neighborhoods and great public schools. I believe we all enjoy having a growing number of unique restaurants, breweries, stores, and other amenities right here in our own city.

And how about the revitalization that has begun on West Colfax? I have loved seeing the emergence of art galleries and the facelift on the old JCRS shopping center, but we’re still seeing too many vacant units that could be filled by a new restaurant or store. And many of northeast Lakewood’s residents have to drive a couple miles to reach the nearest grocery store, which can be a real problem if you don’t have a car.

Why is that? It’s because businesses won’t move into areas that don’t have enough residents. New multi-family housing in northeast Lakewood – one of the growth areas designated in the Comprehensive Plan – could make a big difference in continuing the West Colfax renaissance.

What if we had a new restaurant row on Colfax instead of the growing number of storage units? Or retail establishments other than dollar stores? What if we could be sure that our kids will be able to afford to raise their families here? And that our parents will be able to retire here?

If we want to be thoughtful and strategic about growth, we must push our city council to continue the Development Dialogue, taking community feedback as they plan the right ways to grow. Passing Question 200 will not make growth more strategic – it will only increase sprawl and congestion while making Lakewood a less affordable place to live. Please join me in voting no.

Learn more at OurLakewood.com.

Delivering on promises

Last Friday, the 2019 Legislative Session came to a close with a list of accomplishments that the Denver Post said would ensure the session’s legacy as “one of the most transformative in decades.”

It’s amazing how quickly 120 days go by. As soon as we learned the results of the 2018 election, we began crafting an agenda based on the concerns we heard and the promises we made while on the campaign trail. Then there was the drafting and stakeholding and revising and moving bills through committee meetings and floor debates. And then it was over!

Here’s what I heard on the trail: Lower the cost of health care. Invest in education, transportation, and affordable housing. Accelerate the transition to clean energy. Make our schools safer. Expand mental health access. Stand up for the rights of every Coloradan – voting rights, reproductive rights, rights to self expression, and more. Protect the clean air, clean water, and beautiful open spaces that make Colorado such a special place to live.

And those are the things we put most of our energy into over the last 120 days. Check out this recap of the session to learn more.

I am so proud of the work we did this session, and now I’m going to relax a little and start getting caught up on yard work before starting to make plans for the 2020 session.

Thanks again for placing your trust in me.

P.S.  Before too long, I have to start fundraising again for my 2020 reelection campaign. If you want to get a head start, you can donate here!

HD 23 Day at the Capitol

Last year, Colorado voters elected Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate because we campaigned on supporting education, protecting our environment, addressing the high cost of health care, standing up for the most vulnerable among us, and much more.

And over the last 78 days, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing down at the capitol. Here are a few recent highlights:

Oh yeah, and the hospital cost transparency bill I’ve been working on since 2017 is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law!

If you want to see how this all happens from the inside, join us next Wednesday, March 27th, for our HD23 Day at the Capitol. See the agenda and RSVP on Facebook or email my aide, Ryne Fitzgerald, at ryne@kennedy4co.com.

Memorial for Former Rep. Gwyn Green

As most of you already know, one of my precedessors, Rep. Gwyn Green, passed away last year.

We have a tradition down at the State House of celebrating the life of our members with a memorial ceremony in which former colleagues come to share their memories. Family members come and sit on the House floor, and other friends can come and sit in the gallery to hear the speeches.

We’ll be holding our memorial for Gwyn on April 15th, shortly after 10am. If you’re interested in attending or if you have stories you’d like to share, email me at chris@ kennedy4co.com.

Leftover Pizza

During my five minute lunch break today, I’m eating some pizza left over from last night’s nine-hour committee meeting. We heard three bills:

  • One that would make it harder for seniors and low-income Coloradans to vote (defeated 3-6)
  • One that would allow Colorado businesses to freely discriminate against the LGBTQ community (defeated 3-6)
  • One that would join Colorado into the national popular vote interstate compact (passed 6-3)

Colorado law allows every legislator to get a fair hearing on five bills each year, and as you can see from the first two listed above, not all of them are good ideas. With the third, though, I’m very excited that Colorado will soon be joining an interstate compact in which we award our nine electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The law will go into effect once enough states have joined the compact to make up 270 electoral votes. To be clear, the electoral college will still exist as required by the US Constitution, but Colorado will be exercising our right to award our electoral votes as we see fit. This idea’s time has come and I’m excited we’ll finally be treating every American vote as equal!

In other news, we’ve been incredibly busy working on everything from health care affordability to clean energy to education funding. Here are just a few highlights:

  • My hospital cost transparency bill passed the House with bipartisan support and will soon be heard in the Senate. Check out this recent story.
  • A bill I sponsored with Rep Kerry Tipper to make it easier for local governments to license tobacco retailers passed the House. With Colorado’s teen vaping rate the highest in the country, we must do a better job preventing retailers from selling to minors. Check out our press release.
  • One of the bills from last summer’s opioid study committee will be heard this Friday in the House Public Health and Human Services Committee. This bill, which I’m carrying with Rep Jonathan Singer, will establish tough standards for sober living facilities and increase housing support for people in recovery.
  • I’ve been working with Rep Julie McCluskie on a bill to reduce health insurance premiums on the individual market through a reinsurance program. It was introduced last week and will be heard in committee soon. Check out our press release.

That’s only a snapshot of what I’ve been up to, and we’ll have much more to talk about soon. Bring your questions and join us this Saturday at 10:00am for our monthly Lakewood Town Hall meeting.