I campaigned on a promise to support legislation to accelerate our economic recovery and restore much needed support to our local school districts. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in the last three years focusing on building a better Colorado.
Below are the key issues my colleagues and I focused on in the Colorado Legislature and some of the bills I personally sponsored.
HB 1003: The Middle Class College Savings Act
HB 16-1003 is an effort to provide all resources possible to ensure all students in Colorado have a fair chance at Higher Education. This bill modifies the state income tax deductions regarding the amount of contributions made to the state qualified 529 tuition program. 529 college savings accounts help families save for higher educational opportunities, but these accounts disproportionately benefit the wealthy, not the middle class. This bill will reorient the benefits of 529 accounts to help middle-class families across Colorado save for a higher education without mountains of debt.
HB 1050: Low-income Parents Ed Child
This bill is an effort to address the child care needs of low-income parents as they pursue higher education. HB 16-1050 creates a task force to identify and reduce barriers to obtaining child care from the available federal, state, and private child care sources. This task force will be charged with determining whether or not current childcare programs are adequate, streamlining the processes of enrolling in these programs, communicating information regarding their availability and if necessary, recommending legislative changes.
HB 16-1100: Define Tuition Status for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
HB 16-1100 is an effort to ensure that even Colorado’s most at risk students have every avenue available to them to attain a college degree. In state tuition status in Colorado is determined by whether or not an individual falls under the criteria designated on a ‘qualified persons’ list. Currently, this list includes Adults, emancipated minors, and graduate students. This bill would add individuals classified under the term ‘Homeless Youth’ to receive in state tuition at institutions of Higher Education in Colorado.
HB 1144: Transparency College Courses for High School Students
HB 16-1144 is an initiative to inform parents and students of opportunities to advance their college degrees while in High School. Currently, local education providers are required to notify students and parents annually of the opportunity for qualified students to concurrently enroll in both high school and college. This bill would modify this practice to require these education providers to also notify students, parents and legal guardians if a student enrolls in a postsecondary course that does not meet statutory requirements for concurrent enrollments programs.
SB 16-22: Child Care Assistance Cliff
This bill broadens the scope and impact of a bill signed in to law during 2012. As recommended by the Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission SB 16-22 removes the 10 county cap on the number of counties that may participate and the deadline for counties to apply to be part of the Childcare Assistance Cliff Effect Pilot program.
SB 16-45: Add to Financial Literacy Standards
This bill expands the state academic standards for subject matter currently covered in kindergarten through twelfth grade education. In addition to current academic standards, this bill would require the State Board of Education to include criteria related necessary for students to understand the financing of higher education or other career-related postsecondary education.
HB 16-1196: Aspire to College Colorado Pilot Program
HB 16-1196 is an initiative to provide the resources necessary for low income students to pursue a college education. This bill creates the Aspire to College Colorado Pilot Program within the Colorado Department of Human Services. The Aspire to college financial pilot program would establish college savings accounts for preschool aged children currently enrolled in an early childhood program. Studies show that students with college savings programs achieve more academically, have greater college expectations and improved future financial capability.
HB 16-1171: Sunset CO Special Advisory Committee
This bill would extend the lifetime of the Special Education Fiscal Advisory Committee. Currently, this committee is scheduled to disband on July 1, 2016. If enacted, this bill would continue the committee indefinitely.
HB 16-1177: Sunset Council of higher Education Representatives
This bill indefinitely extends the House Committee on Education.
HB 16-1166: Prohibit Seeking Salary History for Job Applicants
HB 16-1166 is an effort to close the wage gap between men and women. This bill would ban the practice of a prospective employer inquiring previous salary history levels in the negotiation process.
HB 16-1167: Colorado Family First Employer Act
This bill would create the Colorado Family First Employer Program in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The Colorado Family first Employer Program would recognize and certify employers based on opportunity for upward mobility in the company, equality in employee compensation, and flexibility in work arrangements to accommodate a work/family balance.
HB 16-1275: Taxation of a Corporations Income Sheltered in a Tax Haven
HB 16-1275 is an effort to level the playing field for all businesses in Colorado. The bill would put a measure on the November 2016 ballot to allow the voters to decide whether to tax corporations’ Colorado income that is sheltered abroad for the purpose of avoidance of Colorado income tax. The resulting revenue, estimated at $75 million per year, would be dedicated to K-12 public school funding.
HB 16-1282: Align regular Biennial School Elections and FCPA
This bill would align the campaign regulations governing school board elections with that of other elections in Colorado. HB 16-1282 implements some of the governing principles found in the Fair Campaign Practices Act in school board elections. The Fair Campaign Practices Act dictates regulations including disclosure requirements, contribution limits and elections communications regulations.
HB 16-1338: Extend Repeal of Early Childhood Leadership Commission
Under current law, the early childhood leadership commission is scheduled to repeal on Sept 1, 2018. HB 16-1338 bill would extend this date to September 1, 2020.
HB 16-1332: Health Coverage Prescription Contraceptives Supply
This bill would require health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act to provide contraception coverage for women. Access to long-term supply of monthly birth control reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy and lessens the risk of having a gap in time without contraceptives or the potential for missing a dose.
HB 16-147: Suicide Prevention through Zero Suicide Model
This bill would establish the zero suicide model of suicide prevention within the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services. Suicide is a complex public health problem in Colorado, which demands a systemic solution. By implementing Zero Suicide in systems across the state, it is hoped most services that touch the lives of those at risk will be improved. So far, the Zero Suicide Model in other health systems has shown up to 80% reduction in suicides in states that have already adopted this program.