June 29, 2017

I finally made it home to Denver after studying at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government for three weeks as part of a program for Senior Executives in state and local government. I am forever grateful to the Gates Family Foundation for giving me this opportunity because I never would have imagined when growing up in the neighborhoods of Northglenn and Arvada that I would have the honor to study there.

The course was much more than I expected it to be. It left me feeling more inspired and motivated than ever to fight for Coloradans and our quality of life.

The past legislative session concluded in a whirlwind of work and major accomplishments. It is being called the most productive legislative session in recent years and I am so proud that we were able to work together to bring results for the people of Colorado. But we still have much more to do.

We are at a crossroads in our country and we need leadership that is not beholden to special interests in politics. The most important title in democracy is not the President, U.S. Senator, nor the Speaker of the House. The most important title is WE THE PEOPLE.

It is so important for politicians to have the courage to lead and take on the tough issues, and be willing to put our people before their own self-interest. It saddens and even angers me to see what is happening in Washington, D.C. right now, especially when it comes to access to health care.

When I held a health care town hall in Denver a couple of months back, I heard from constituents who were worried about their coverage being taken away. These are people struggling with lifelong diagnoses or folks who know that without it they could be just one accident away from financial ruin. The American people deserve better than the health care bill that will be voted on by the U.S. Senate. If you haven't already done so, please call your U.S. Senators today and ask them to vote no on this terrible piece of legislation.

Beyond protecting health care, we have a lot more to do to preserve Colorado's quality of life. As a 6th generation Coloradan, I've seen how much our state has changed due to growth. I can't blame people for wanting to come to Colorado to work here and raise a family - in my opinion, it is the best place in the world to be. While growth has led to many benefits, such as low unemployment and good jobs for Coloradans, we need our leaders to act without fear to take on the challenges that come with this growth. Whether it is skyrocketing housing costs, finding work-life balance for more Colorado families, or being stuck on the highway for hours during rush hour, we can and must do more to address these issues.

I only have about a year and a half left to serve as the Speaker of the House, and it has been the honor of my life, to be the first Latina and the youngest woman in the history of our state to be in this position. That's why I feel it is more important than ever for me and my colleagues to hear from you about what your hopes and dreams are for our state and our country. We need to know what concerns you, what keeps you awake at night, and how we can work together to move our state in the right direction.

Please reply to me at this email or find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or if there are meetings or events in your community that you would like me to attend, don't hesitate to ask! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

May 18, 2017

The 2017 legislative just concluded in a whirlwind of work and major accomplishments. This is being called the most productive legislative session in recent years and I am so proud that we were able to work together to bring results for the people of Colorado.

We passed a budget that avoided the catastrophe that was predicted this year, and honored our pledge to take no Coloradan for granted and leave no Coloradan behind. I applaud our House Joint Budget Committee members Rep. Millie Hamner and Rep. Dave Young for stretching our budget dollars as far as they could go.

We passed the long-debated hospital provider fee fix – an accounting change which will prevent several rural hospitals from closing and will save programs and services at hospitals all around the state. We’ve been trying to fix the glitch in the hospital provider fee for three years, and finally we have succeeded. With the money freed up under the revenue cap established by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), we’re adding $1.8 billion in much-needed funds for our crumbling transportation system, we’re increasing our investment in our public school system and designating money specifically to help struggling rural schools, we’re cutting taxes on Colorado businesses and we’re protecting a tax break for seniors. I applaud Majority Leader KC Becker and Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman for their leadership on this bipartisan compromise.

We finally reached a compromise agreement on construction defects reform, an issue that has been contentious in the Capitol for many years. I thank Rep. Alec Garnett for leading the long and arduous negotiations on an issue so important to the Denver metro area. This was a priority of mine and I’m hopeful that we will soon see an increase in condo starts here in Denver and around the state to help make home ownership a viable option for more Coloradans.

We passed an education funding package that addresses the running controversy over funding for schools regardless of type – whether it’s a traditional or charter school. Many thanks go to Rep. Brittany Pettersen for bringing forward solutions to increase equity for all Colorado students while also protecting local decision making and expanding transparency and accountability. We still have work to do, but by putting kids first – regardless of what type of school they attend – this is a step in the right direction to ensure that every boy and girl in Colorado has the opportunity to live up to his or her full potential. Click here to see what I had to say during the floor debate.

I am also very proud of another accomplishment in the education arena: we worked together to enhance the quality and availability of computer science education in Colorado schools. These fields are providing the jobs of the future, and Colorado students deserve the chance to succeed.

We also accomplished a lot on criminal justice reform, thanks to the leadership of Rep. Pete Lee and many others. His work to transform the culture of the Division of Youth Corrections and to ensure our system works to rehabilitate people and prevent crime will bring true progress to Colorado. We were also successful in creating an interim committee to work on criminal justice reform – I look forward to seeing what legislative solutions come out of that task force.

My biggest disappointment of the year was that three Republican Senators voted against bringing a bipartisan transportation ballot measure to the people of Colorado. I worked with President Kevin Grantham and Coloradans, businesses, and leaders from across the state to create a package that would have transformed our transportation system in Colorado. We have a $9 billion backlog in transportation needs, and anyone who spends time stuck in traffic on I-25 or I-70 knows the need is real. It is a shame that just one vote stood in the way of this bill coming before the full Senate and prevented this breakthrough measure from coming to the ballot, so the people of Colorado could make their own decision. I will keep working on this issue and remain optimistic.

There are many other wins and losses from the session, but I am very proud that we remained committed to my promise on opening day: that we will work for a Colorado where no one is taken for granted and no one is left behind.
Thank you as always for your support and please reach out with questions, comments, and concerns. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents.


Jewish Colorado Legislative Appreciation Award

I couldn't be more honored or humbled to receive the Jewish Colorado Legislative Appreciation Award. Sincere thanks to Jewish Colorado for all that you do to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.- Israel relationship. Congratulations to Chad Asarch for receiving the Community Leadership Award!

Click here to watch the award video!


November 11, 2016

I'm writing to let you know that yesterday my colleagues voted to elect me Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. I am humbled and honored by this responsibility and want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way-- especially my parents, who taught me that with hard work and determination I could be anything I wanted to be. They were right.

This week has been a hard one for our country, but we have faced hardship before and overcome. We may feel alone, but it is important now more than ever, that people stay involved with the political process.

Now that the election is over, it is time to govern. The people of Colorado have always been able to work together and stand tall in the face of adversity. I learned a long time ago that ugly politics does nothing to advance the issues that matter most to people and the struggles they deal with everyday. That's why I will work with both Republicans and Democrats to advance our transportation needs, quality schools, and making sure we don't leave any Coloradan behind in a changing economy.

We will not stop fighting for those at the margins, and uphold the rights of everyone in our state and our nation, regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. I pledge to you that I will stand firm against divisive policies that will destroy communities.

I hope I can count on your help and support.

Looking forward to working with my friend and colleague, the new Majority Leader KC Becker! Congratulations to Democratic caucus leadership Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, as assistant majority leader; Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, as majority caucus chair; Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, as majority assistant caucus chair; Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, as majority whip; and Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, as majority deputy whip.

Family Ranch

At the family ranch with my nephews and my dog, Coco.

2016 Legislative Accomplishments

June of 2016

The 2016 legislative session has ended! I wanted to highlight some key bills that I sponsored this year. My colleagues and I worked hard at the State Capitol to level the playing field for all Coloradans. We focused on continuing Colorado’s economic recovery by introducing legislation that will strengthen the middle class, prioritize hard working small businesses over special interests and ensure access to high quality education at every level. I am committed to fighting for legislation that moves Colorado forward and benefits our community.

In this very tight budget year, the legislature passed a budget that avoided the major cuts originally feared. Here’s an overview of what this year’s budget accomplished: 
• Increased per-pupil average spending for K-12 schools by $112, to $7,425 
• Averted a possible $20 million cut to higher education 
• Set transfers to the state’s highway fund at $150 million 
• Maintained the statutory 6.5 percent budget reserve 
• Averted cuts to payment rates for medical providers

Here are some of the key bills I sponsored this session:

HB 1063 – Mental Health Professional Disclosure for School Safety – Now A Law! 
In order to better protect Colorado’s schools from violence and the threat of violence, this bill provides a limited exception for certain mental health professionals related to the prohibition against disclosing confidential client communications. Under current law, mental health professionals may not disclose any confidential communications between the professional and the client, except under very narrow circumstances. Under this bill, a specified mental health professional may make a disclosure if his or her client makes a significant threat to a school or its occupants, or exhibits behavior that the professional deems to jeopardize the safety of students, teachers, administrators, or other school personnel. Such disclosures may only be made to appropriate school and school district personnel or law enforcement agencies, and the information disclosed must remain confidential.

HB 1289 – Incentives to Complete Career Development Courses – Now A Law! 
The global economy is rapidly changing, and Colorado students need to be prepared with the skills for the jobs of the future. This bill creates incentives for local schools and districts to encourage high school students to complete career development work tied to in-demand jobs that are not currently being filled.

HB 1302 – Align Colorado Law with the federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act – Now A Law! 
The federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services and to match employers with skilled workers. This bill aligns Colorado law with the federal act, and clarifies the roles of specific entities in workforce development programs.

HB 1332 – Alternative Fuel Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credits – Now A Law! 
Alternative Fuel Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credits are an important way the State of Colorado is encouraging Coloradans to make the environmentally responsible transition to alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric cars. This bill makes several changes to these tax credits in order to streamline the credit program, and allows taxpayers to sell the entire credit to a financing entity allowing for greater flexibility.

HB 1404 – Regulate Fantasy Contests – Now A Law!
As fantasy sports become increasingly popular, we wanted to make sure Coloradans can continue to play the games they love. This bill establishes the registration of small fantasy contest operators and the licensure of all other large fantasy contest operators by the State, in order to better protect consumers and ensure everyone has a fair shot to win.

HB 1465 – Modifications to the Low-income Housing Tax Credit – Now A Law! 
Even as Colorado’s population is exploding, we face a crisis of affordable housing opportunities. This bill extends Colorado’s successful Low-income Housing Tax credit until 2019 to help create more affordable housing and spur economic activity.

HB 1467 – First-time Home Buyer Savings Account Tax Deduction – Now A Law! 
Purchasing a home is a core piece of the American Dream. This bill allows for the creation of first-time home buyer savings accounts, and starting in tax year 2017, allows an income tax deduction for account holders equal to the interest and other income earned on account contributions. Closing costs and down payments can be enormous, and often prohibitive, so this bill will help reduce these roadblocks and extend the dream of homeownership to more hard-working Coloradans.

SB 193 – Free Safe2Tell Materials and Training – Now A Law! 
The Safe2Tell program is designed to help students anonymously report any threatening behavior that endangers the student and his or her friends or family. This bill requires the Colorado Department of Law annually to provide Safe2Tell program materials to all Colorado preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, 4-H extension officers, and boys and girls clubs. The Department is also required to develop a training curriculum and teaching materials for a “train-the-trainer” program, which will be held annually and at diverse geographic locations in Colorado at no cost to attendees.

HB 1073 – Electrical Industry Safety and Training Act – Now A Law! 
This bill creates new requirements for individuals applying for a renewal of a master electrician, journeyman electrician, or residential wireman license. Under the new requirements, renewal applicants will be required to complete 24 hours of continuing education. The bill also requires any electrical inspection performed by the state, a local government, or qualified state institution of higher education to include a contemporaneous review to ensure that all electricians working on-site are properly licensed, and that all electrical apprentices working on-site are performing the appropriate work and are properly registered and supervised.

HB 1182 – Commodity Metals Theft Task Force Sunset – Now A Law! 
Theft of commodity metals such a copper, aluminum, and stainless steel, continues to plague construction sites, public utilities, and other sources of these metals. This bill continues the Commodity Metals Theft Task Force to continue its important work until September 1, 2025, and encourages law enforcement agencies to join the scrap theft alert system and continue reporting commodity metals theft within their jurisdictions to the system.

SB 029 – Insurance Companies Comply with Model Acts – Now A Law! 
In 2014, the Colorado General Assembly enacted model legislation adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that increased the authority of the Commissioner of Insurance over derivative transactions and holding company systems. This bill adds authority for the commissioner to compel the production of information in a financial examination of an insurer. This bill also adds requirements for certain insurers to annually assess the adequacy of their risk management and file reports with the commissioner.

HB 1291 – Modern Technology Education In Public Schools – died in the Senate 
This bill would have added "the ability to use information and communications technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information" to the state academic standards. The bill also would have created a resource bank for educators containing materials pertaining to computer science courses, including model academic content standards, programs of instruction, curricula and professional development materials, and would have created a program to provide computer science education grants for teachers, to be awarded annually, subject to available appropriations.

HB 1435 – Taxpayer Accountability Act – died in the Senate 
Throughout Colorado, there are approximately 238,300 low-wage employees whose wages are so low that they are all but forced to use Medicaid to receive healthcare coverage, while their employers reap the rewards of a low-wage workforce. This bill would have required these large corporations to pay a fee for the benefits of having a healthy workforce instead of relying on Colorado taxpayers to pick up the check.



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