Newsletter 15

Two More Weeks- HAPPY EASTER!

Happy Easter and Passover! It may be hard to believe for many, but there are two weeks left in the session. We have our final day on Friday May, 3 at Midnight. 
During the last week, I was nominated for the "I AM History" Award from Run For Something. Unfortunately, I didn't know about getting through round 1 until it was too late to post about in the newsletter. So I got through to round 2, but alas, that round ended on Friday afternoon. So, hopefully I'll have a result before the next issue. I was also awarded an honor with "The Advocate" magazine. More on this later as well. 

Elysia and I went down to La Junta to the Otero County Dems JFK dinner. The reason I was asked to come down to speak was because their theme was "Breaking Barriers". Many were broken in 2018 and I was one of those barrier breakers. Otero County Dems are also barrier breakers. They have two openly transgender members elected in their County Party! 

While we were down in Southeast Colorado, we got a history lesson while we visited Old Bent's Fort, Amache, and Sand Creek, two sad times in our history. Visiting these places is a sharp reminder of some of our low points. We should be cognizant of these and not repeat history
Old Bent's Fort was a really fun place to go because it's very interactive. When we walked up to the front of the fort and entered the portico, the smell of a campfire assailed our noses. Turning the corner, 4 men dressed right out of the 1800s are there to greet us. They were all park rangers in a uniform that really fits the place. The store is just like a old fashion store with all the old fashion products, too. 

For my bills, I had one bill sent over to the Senate (on a 65-0 vote), another one done jointly between JTC and JBC introduced, and one more sent to Appropriations. That should be the balance of my bills for the year. 

What's wrong with maximizing ballot access?
We live in a democracy. Our system of government—and our very identity as Coloradans—rests firmly on the principle of “one person, one vote.” The problem is that not all people have equal access to the ballot at election time. As trite as it might sound, the Preamble to the Constitution does not begin “We some of the people” or even “We the majority of people.”  It begins, “We the People.” I believe that denying even one person their right to vote is a denial of the democratic principles that help us to “form a more perfect union.”
Recently, several county clerks have expressed opposition to HB19-1278 concerning modifications to Colorado’s uniform elections code. The modest provisions in HB19-1278 are intended to improve ballot access and provide Colorado voters with every opportunity to exercise the voting franchise afforded to them under both the United States and Colorado constitutions.

Under the bill:

  • Anyone who is pre-registered to vote when they turn 17 and who will turn 18 before the general election will be allowed to vote in their party’s primary election.
  • A formulaic approach based on county population will require some counties to expand the number of ballot drop boxes and polling places made available to voters.
  • Hours for drop boxes as well as voter service and polling centers will be expanded.
  • Individual voters will be allowed seek a court order to keep polling locations open past the regular closing time on election day when voting or access to a polling location has been significantly impaired by circumstances outside their control.

While opposing clerks acknowledge that there are major disparities in poorer counties and poorer areas of Colorado, they argue that the provisions in the bill will increase their costs and that Colorado’s status as one of the top turnout states in the nation make the bill unnecessary. I’m sorry, but if you have to spend millions of dollars to ensure ballot access for voters in your county then you probably aren’t allocating your resources to this vital function of government appropriately. These weak-kneed attempts to valuate our votes –to pick and choose the right voters—only serve to undermine the value of our democracy.

As Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold recently said, “there’s still more that we can do to make sure that our democracy is accessible to everyone in the state.”

I agree. It’s high time some elected officials got to it.

A tale of two bills...

Coal fired power plants still provide 50% of the electricity used in Colorado. The chemical process of burning coal also releases many toxic airborne pollutants and heavy metals into the atmosphere. These pollutants don’t just return to the earth over our own state, our pollution has the potential to travel all over the planet.

42% of mercury emissions in the United States are caused by coal burning plants. Mercury is linked to nervous and immune system problems. Coal burning plants emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide which are both linked to respiratory issues and acid rain. They also emit arsenic, lead, cadmium, VOCs, and other particulate matter which are linked to cardiovascular issues and cancer.

HB19-1261 is an upcoming bill that I have co-sponsored to mandate reductions in greenhouse gas pollution for Colorado. The bill states that by 2025 greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 26%. By 2030 the levels will be reduced to 50%. And by 2050 the levels will be reduced to 90% of their 2005 levels.

HB19-1313 is a related bill that focuses on utility providers specifically meeting these targeted greenhouse gas reduction levels. Utility companies will be required to provide plans to the Public Utilities Commission as well as the Governor on their clean energy plan. The plan submitted will detail their actions, investments, and methods for self regulation, as well as their reasonable predicted cost.

Colorado air quality along the Front Range is notoriously bad. In 2008 the EPA set a Federal Standard for healthy air quality. In 2019, Colorado has still failed to meet these standards. As a result the EPA is threatening to downgrade Colorado’s air quality and start imposing stricter regulations to Colorado industry. It’s difficult to blame all the air quality issues in our state ON our state, but Colorado could set an example for the surrounding states. And when we all reduce our greenhouse gas emissions it will have a big impact on air quality in the West.

The national average for electricity rates is 12 cents per kilowatt hour. Coloradans currently pay 11.2 cents per kilowatt hour. The combination of HB19-1261 and HB19-1313 may lead to an increase in rates, but any increase will ultimately help offset the costs of going 90% renewable in the next 30 years. The prices of renewable energy technology is getting cheaper every year. Because of this, I believe that the increase, if any, will be tolerable and will help offset the costs for Colorado as we step into a role as one of the the nation’s leaders in renewable energy development and a cleaner environment.

ICYMI: The Big Issues in Review

Climate is changing for the better, says Colorado state senator
Here's how Colorado Democrats aim to close the gender pay gap, starting with more wage transparency
Colorado bill making vaccination exemptions harder gets OK in committee
Female representation matters. Colorado's legislature proves that.
Colorado Could Be The Next State To Let Its Employees Collectively Bargain

Legislative Update 

Tax day was this past Monday and for most of us, it was the culmination of many hours of hard work to prepare our returns.  This week the Joint Budget Committee also saw the culmination of several months' work: drafting the state’s budget.  It's an annual exercise in determining how best to serve constituents while remaining fiscally responsible and balancing a limited budget.  Their tireless efforts this year have resulted in a bi-partisan budget passing the House by a vote of 41-22, the Senate by a vote of 25-7, and signed enthusiastically by Governor Polis on Thursday.  This week I've given special attention to this most important bill of the session,  known as “The Long Bill” (it’s 320 pages!).

Here are the highlights:

Our troubled transportation infrastructure will get some much needed funding. $300 million has been allocated for both state and local governments to pay for highway construction, mass transit projects and road maintenance.  While it’s a great start, it’s estimated that nearly $9 billion (yes, billion!) dollars is needed to cover all projects.
Full-day kindergarten, a cornerstone of the Governor’s campaign, has been included in the budget for the very first time as part of a larger K-12 education increase. Families will see savings from the elimination of full-day tuition fees.  Local school districts will be able to redirect those resources previously dedicated to full-day kindergarten, plus an additional $327 per pupil budget increase, to other priorities such as class size and teacher pay.  The budget also addresses higher education by keeping college and university tuition rates flat to students in 2019-2020 while maintaining their current levels of service.
Several issues related to healthcare are being addressed in the budget.  At the top of the list is $216 million that will provide health services to 1.25 million Coloradans including at-risk groups such as low-income children and adults, pregnant women, seniors, people with physical and developmental disabilities, and those suffering from mental health issues.
In response to the regulatory changes prompted by SB19-181, funding has been increased for the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to hire additional staff including field inspectors and environmental specialists.  There was also an unprecedented allocation to implement the Colorado Water Plan, a comprehensive plan to ensure we have enough water to support our continued growth.
Criminal Justice
While a modest increase, $12.6 million has been allocated to support reforms such as parole case managers, job training, housing support, and a new work release program.

Action on my own bills:
Urban Drainage and Flood Control District Board of Directors

HB19-1284 passed the House on 3rd reading with unanimous support. It was a deregulation bill that cleaned up the statute pertaining to the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.  

Upcoming Events

On Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 am we will host a town hall focused on the Tax Payer Bill of Rights. The town hall will be at Standley Lake Library, 8485 Kipling St, Arvada, CO 80005, US. We look forward to seeing you!
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My next Capitol Coffee Talk will be on April 23rd at 7:00 am at 5340 Coffee at the corner or Ward and 64th. See you for coffee!
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Following the Legislative Session we'll do a wrap-up so please join us for May's Beers with Brianna event. Jack's Steamers in 5 Parks off 86th Parkway in Arvada on Tuesday, May 7 at 6:00 pm. Come down and throw a few back with us!
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As always please let me know if you have questions, concerns or feedback for me or my office. Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the most recent information!

Thank you,

Representative Brianna Titone, HD27 (She/Her/Hers)
72nd Colorado State General Assembly
200 E. Colfax Ave - Room 301, Denver CO 80203
C - 720-213-6660
O - 303-866-2962

Copyright © 2019 Representative Brianna Titone, All rights reserved.