Your Legislators’ Thoughts on the 2018 Session
Former Denver Post city editor Todd Engdahl brings Front Porch readers the highlights of the 2018 session.
We asked the five state legislators who serve constituents in our distribution area to respond to the following questions:
- What did you consider to be the most important statewide issues that passed in the 2018 session?
- What statewide issues didn’t pass that most disappointed you?
- What were the main issues you sponsored or worked on personally and what was the outcome (passed, will work on again next year, etc.)
Sen. Lois Court
Senate District 31 – includes Lowry, Mayfair and Montclair
The most important thing we did during the 2018 session was pass a balanced budget. Along with $10 billion of expected general fund dollars, we had about $1 billion more than previously budgeted for. Highlights include:
*$606 million for education, including $271 million to avoid growing the “budget stabilization factor” (formerly called the “negative factor) and another $150 million to reduce it; * Close to $500 million for transportation * $225 into PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) to address the more than $30 billion in unfunded liability
What didn’t pass were two bills of mine: Hands-free driving (not holding your cell phone while moving in traffic); and the Emergency Restraining Protective Order (also known as the “red flag” gun safety bill). I fully intend to bring them back next year, and every year until they do pass.
The other bill I worked on for over 6 months, the stabilization of PERA, did pass—it was the best bill we could get with a split legislature. It created a shared responsibility for all parties—current employees, future employees, retirees, and the state.
Sen. Angela Williams
Senate District 33 – includes Stapleton and Park Hill
The Colorado General Assembly ended at 12 midnight on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. While it was a challenging session I am pleased with our accomplishments. The most important issues accomplished are the School Finance Act, Reauthorization of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, PERA, Rural Broadband and Transportation Funding. These are issues Coloradans and SD 33 constituents voiced were most important matters.
The statewide issues that did not pass that disappointed me the most were three Suicide Prevention bills for students, teenagers and behavior care related to suicide prevention; 100% Renewable Energy by 2035; and legislation to Collect Long Term Climate Change data.
The main issues I sponsored and worked on personally are: the Funding of and Reauthorization of the Colorado Civil Rights Division—the Division was funded and reauthorized. Use of Cyber Coding Cryptology for State Records—passed. Income Tax Deduction for Military Retirement Benefits—passed. Behavioral Health Care Ombudsperson—passed. The Alternative Fuel Vehicles Public Utilities legislation did not pass and I look forward to reintroducing this legislation in 2019.
Rep. Chris Hansen
House District 6 – includes Lowry, Mayfair and Montclair
Funding broadband for underserved rural areas was the most impressive feature of the year—showing the legislature can think imaginatively and find good solutions. The House made progress on developing new standards of conduct regarding sexual harassment. The Senate repeatedly refused to even engage with this issue.
The red flag gun bill, sponsored by Reps. Garnett (D) and Wist (R), would have allowed families or law enforcement to bring an individual before a court, if they felt that person posed a major risk of gun violence. The court would decide whether such fears were grounded and temporarily prohibit the individual from owning or buying firearms. The House passed this common sense bill, and the Republicans in the Senate killed it. We’ll be back next year.
We passed a transportation package, but it doesn’t meet the roughly $1 billion current funding deficit, and it doesn’t plan for future population growth.
My energy storage bill (HB18-1270) passed, which will ensure that the Public Utilities Commission will take into account storage when evaluating the benefits of energy projects, which is critical to the renewable energy economy. Overall, 14 of my 20 bills passed, though as my son says, 70% is just a C, and isn’t really that impressive, Dad.
Rep. James Coleman
House District 7 – includes all of Stapleton and the area of Park Hill/East Colfax east of Magnolia and north of Montview Blvd.
I’m happy to report that our greatest accomplishments this session have to do with issues that drew me to public service, such as improving education, safety, and the economy for all Coloradans. This year we saw successes surrounding raising per-pupil funding for Colorado’s youth and created fiscal improvements for education in rural areas.
However, several pieces of legislation didn’t make it into law—such as our bill HB18-1310 that would have created a pilot program to reimburse employment support organizations that help people who are working to find a job. Nonetheless, we were proud that we were able to foster an important conversation. There are still many successes that did make it into law this session and we are proud of the many bills of ours that passed. I’m energized to continue this expansive platform next session and uphold the values that we have fostered in our work. I look forward to working to continue to keep District 7 the best house district in Colorado. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Rep. Leslie Herod
House District 8 – includes Park Hill from Monaco to Colorado, E Colfax, and the area of Stapleton bounded by Central Park Blvd, E 28th Ave, Beeler St, and Montview Blvd.
We passed unprecedented increases in transportation and education funding, infusing $645 million into multi-modal transportation and infrastructure projects and increasing per pupil funding by $469 per student.
I worked on legislation that would prohibit a landlord from refusing to rent to someone based on source of income. That proposed legislation died in a senate committee.
In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case where a baker refused a wedding cake for a gay couple, the Civil Rights Commission determined that the baker violated Colorado’s nondiscrimination laws-— thus sparking great debate about the rights of LGBTQ people in public accommodations. Because of this case, Republicans jeopardized the future this executive agency and therefore, the civil rights of Coloradans. House Speaker Duran and I fought off attempts to weaken the powers of this agency, ultimately brokering the right deal to keep the Division and Commission alive and well.
I worked on passing legislation that increases Corrections Department communication with community corrections, increases access to educational opportunities for youth and adults in corrections, and creates a grant program focused on crime victims.