Highlights and Accomplishments
The 2020 legislative session was unlike any other session before it. From an unprecedented global health emergency and the dire budget consequences we faced, to the chaotic flashpoint of a centuries-long struggle for justice taking place outside of the Capitol, we’ve had everything but business as usual at the General Assembly this year.
I am proud of how the House of Representatives rose to the occasion and worked to pass responsible laws to protect the health and safety of hardworking Coloradans and get our state back on track to a full economic recovery.
The Long Bill…better known as the State Budget
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented $3.3 billion state budget shortfall. As the newest of the six members of the Joint Budget Committee, I’m proud to say we took our responsibilities seriously in crafting Colorado’s budget. We spent weeks agonizing over very difficult funding decisions while we prioritized resources for public schools, higher education and critical health and safety services. For a complete overview of the long bill, including the funding narrative and state agency budgets, click here.
COVID-19 Relief Package
While I was busy with the State’s budget, my colleagues were busy responding to the needs of the hardworking people of Colorado. They put together a robust package of relief bills aiming to provide safety net services and spark a sputtering economy. Here’s the list of bills we consider to be a part of the COVID-19 Relief Package:
Small Business Recovery Loans – HB20-1413 — Reps. Shannon Bird and Lisa Cutter
Small Business Grant Program – SB20-222 — Reps. Mary Young and Perry Will
Coronavirus Relief Funds for Housing Assistance – HB20-1410 — Reps. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Tony Exum, Sr.
Coronavirus Relief Funds for Utility Assistance – HB20-1412 — Reps. Chris Kennedy and Lisa Cutter
Coronavirus Relief Funds for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Programs – HB20-1411 — Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Tracy Kraft-Tharp
Earned Sick Leave for Employees – SB20-205 — Speaker KC Becker and Rep. Yadira Caraveo
Expand Unemployment Insurance – SB20-207 — Reps. Matt Gray and Tom Sullivan;
SB20-170— Reps. Dominique Jackson and Monica Duran
Protections Against Price Gouging – HB20-1414 — Reps. Mike Weissman and Brianna Titone
Whistleblower Protection for Public Health Emergencies – HB20-1415 — Reps. Leslie Herod and Tom Sullivan
Limitations on Extraordinary Debt Collection – SB20-211 — Rep. Leslie Herod
2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System – HB20-1197 — Reps. Marc Snyder and Janice Rich
Food Pantry Assistance – HB20-1422 — Reps. Daneya Esgar and Lisa Cutter
Telehealth Services Expansion – SB20-212 — Reps. Susan Lontine and Matt Soper
Extend Restaurant Takeout & Delivery of Alcoholic Beverages – SB20-213 — Reps. Dylan Roberts and Colin Larson
Cigarette, Tobacco and Nicotine Products Tax
HB20-1427 — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Yadira Caraveo
This bill refers a measure to voters in November 2020 that would raise taxes on cigarettes, tobacco and for the first time, apply a tax on nicotine vaping products that is equal to that placed on tobacco. In the first two and a half years, the resulting revenue would provide resources to public schools with additional funding directed to rural schools. After that initial period, the revenue would be devoted to nicotine education and cessation programs and toward giving every child in Colorado access to early childhood education.
Expanding Health Insurance Affordability
SB20-215 — Reps. Chris Kennedy and Julie McCluskie
With Coloradans facing some of the highest health insurance costs in the country, Democrats have prioritized saving people money on their care. The Reinsurance program has lowered premiums by thousands of dollars for families across the state. The program has been an effective way to offset high-cost health care claims in order to lower premiums for consumers in the individual market. This bill establishes a sustainable funding structure to extend the Reinsurance program for an additional 5 years, and expand coverage for undocumented people and those caught in the family glitch.
Higher Education Funding Allocation Model
HB20-1366 — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Daneya Esgar
Colorado’s Institutions of Higher Learning came together to create a funding allocation model that supports Colorado’s goals to see 66% or more adults earn a postsecondary credential, eliminate equity gaps and support student success. This new funding formula ensures smaller and rural colleges and universities receive additional funding support.
Emergency Telephone Service Charges – NextGen 9-1-1
HB20-1293 — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Rod Pelton
Nothing is more important than access to emergency services during a crisis. This legislation provides the resources for all 9-1-1 call centers in the state, particularly in rural Colorado, to migrate to the next level of technology, and ensure more accurate and timely responses during an emergency.
Rights for Mobile Home Park Residents
HB20-1196 – -Reps. Edie Hooton and Julie McCluskie
This bill further strengthens tenants’ rights by preventing park owners from retaliating against residents for filing a complaint, and prohibits them from removing residents from their homes over minor violations. It requires transparency in utility billing and secures a right to tenant privacy by requiring owners to give notice and obtain consent before entering.
Broadband for Small Rural Communities
HB20-1137 — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Matt Soper
At a time when many Colorado students are learning at home, and even more families are working at home, access to reliable internet has never been more important. This bill offers a more efficient way to determine an “unserved area” and help small rural communities get the resources they need to develop and deploy critical broadband technology.
Allowing PERA Retirees to Work after Retirement Limit for BOCES
HB20-1127 — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Barbara McLachlan
This bill will allow retired educators an opportunity to work for school districts in rural Colorado while retaining their retirement benefits – a win/win for retirees, educators and students!
County Licensing Authority for Short-Term Rentals
HB20-1093— Reps. Julie McCluskie and Jim Wilson
The short-term rental market has exploded in rural resort communities. This bill gives county authorities a chance to license and regulate short-term lodging rentals. This ensures fewer issues with trash, noise, parking and sewer problems.
Eligibility Expansion for Wildfire Grants
HB20-1057 — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Terri Carver
Rural communities in Colorado are at high risk for wildfires. This bill changes the program to ensure that lower wealth communities in greater need of wildfire mitigation assistance can take advantage of these grants.
Early Childhood Workforce, Mental Health Consultation and High-Quality
HB20-1053 — Reps. Emily Sirota and Jim Wilson
When the world hands you lemons, make lemonade!! I was honored to carry HB20-1006 and HB20-1016 – two early childhood bills that would have brought an evidence-based mental health consultation system to our state and opportunities for improving the quality of all early childhood care and learning centers. But a pandemic threw a wrench into that plan. In the end, we were able to incorporate both of my bills into an excellent early childhood workforce support bill. While we were unable to fund these efforts at the levels we hoped, I am confident we will prioritize this funding when our economy rebounds.
For a more in-depth overview of the 2020 Legislative Session, click here.