2020 Legislative Session – A Seat at the Table…May 2020

I returned to the State Capitol in early May with my fellow members of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and began the painful task of dismantling months of hard work on the state’s budget. Crafting a balanced budget meant accepting the May 2020 updated forecast which indicates an unimaginable general fund revenue shortfall of nearly -3.3 billion dollars or a whopping 25% reduction from fiscal year 2019-20. To put things in perspective, this impact is nearly 2.5 times as large as the financial downturn in 2008 after the Great Recession.

Given these tough times, I’ve been asked if I regret my appointment in January to the JBC.  It’s been a roller coaster ride, for sure. We’ve moved from a thriving economy where we had an opportunity to make greater investments in public schools, higher education and transportation to a barren fiscal landscape requiring significant cuts and reductions to essential services, safety net programs and so much more.

Yet as challenging as these reductions have been, I can’t imagine trading my seat at the table and giving up my chance to fight for our high country values and Western Slope priorities.

In committee meetings, I’ve been advocating for accessible health care by protecting funding for our community health clinics and preserving our second year of reinsurance savings. I raised my voice in support of getting our economy back up and running by maintaining funding for Colorado tourism, marketing for our agricultural industry, and maintaining rural economic development grants. We’re continuing our fight for climate action by maintaining investments in the public safety and welfare measures we passed for oil and gas development. And while we’ve made some difficult reductions to health and human services, we worked hard to preserve critically important funding for housing, food, child care, and other safety net assistance programs.

Our reductions to public schools and higher education have been the most painful. We combed through every department, leaving no stone unturned, all to try and protect our investments in education.  And while Federal CARES Act money can not be used to backfill these reductions, I am pleased to see that local schools, colleges and universities are receiving this support to help them offset COVID19 impacts.  Never before has it been more critical to find a sustainable, ongoing funding source for public education!

For a deeper dive on the proposed 2020-2021 Budget, check out this article from The Colorado Sun. 

#JusticeforGeorgeFloyd Protests and Vandalism at the Capitol

After days of protests, tear gas and vandalism, it is clear that pain is walking the streets of our cities. Raw, exposed nerves; throbbing emotions pumping in raised fists; anger gushing into the space between the dramatically different lived experiences of white and black America.

This pain showed up as broken windows and graffiti at our State Capitol.  I am hurt by the desecration of the monuments erected on these grounds. The Capitol is a symbol of our democracy, a place for all people, a place of history and of hope. This is the sacred place where we make right what is wrong in the world.

I’ve been asked if I support the protests and that is not the question I want to answer. Without hesitation, yes, I support our rights to peaceful protests, freedom of speech and marches for justice. But more importantly, we need to respond to the “why” these demonstrations are happening in the first place. These protests are a manifestation of the extraordinary pain felt by communities of color who cry for justice, not just in response to the death of #GeorgeFloyd, but to the white privilege embedded in our institutions and laws.

My voice seems small and unworthy at this moment, but I raise it in support of the those fighting social injustice, racism and bigotry. I raise it in support of my colleagues in the House of Representatives who ask me to stand beside them as they lead the way to a more just Colorado. 

Photo from State Representative Susan Lontine

Safer at Home means staying home whenever possible for the health and safety of your family, friends and loved ones.

Safer at Home means staying home whenever possible for the health and safety of your family, friends and loved ones.  We are turning the corner and beginning to transition back to a new normal. 

Effective June 18, 2020:

  • Residential summer camps may open with groups of 10 kids indoors, 25 kids outdoors, similar to day camps. Camps are encouraged to divide campers into groups and limit contact between those groups in order to limit potential COVID-19 spread and make contact tracing easier.
  • Indoor events (conferences, receptions, museums) can begin to open — these vary based on the size of the venue:
    • Regular sized rooms under 5,650 square feet may open up to 25% capacity or 50 people per room for rooms, whichever is fewer.
    • In large rooms, where you could have an even bigger radius — a 6ft radius, around each person — rooms over 5,650 square feet may open to 25% capacity or up to 75 people per room, whichever is fewer.
    • And then in rooms DOUBLE that size — extra large rooms with over 11,300 square feet — may open to 25% capacity, or up to 100 people per room, whichever is fewer.
    • Extra large venue distinctions will also apply to restaurants, houses of worship, life rights, and higher education — which are activities that are quite similar in nature.
  • Outdoor events (concerts, fairs, rodeos, receptions) can also begin to open:
    • Standard venues under 5,650 square feet may open up to 50% capacity or up to 50 people
    • Large venues over 5,650 square feet may open up to 50% capacity or up to 125 people
    • Extra large venues, over 11,300 square feet can open up to 50% capacity or up to 175 people
  • Bars will be able to open at 25% or up to 50 people indoors, but must follow the same guidelines as restaurants where parties are seating, limited in size, and things like games that encourage mingling are not allowed. Outdoors parties must be spaced 6ft apart, up to local capacity limits.
  • Personal services will be able to expand to include things like facials, beard trimming, lip waxing, etc. where the client has to take off a mask — these services are permitted if the worker has adequate protection.
  • Non-critical manufacturing facilities can expand in-person workforce up to 50% or 50 people per room.

To read the full guidelines online, please visit

Some Counties in the high country may be continuing with additional restrictions beyond the Safer at Home Order.  For more information on your community guidance visit:

COVID-19 webpage —
The State of Colorado recently unveiled the new COVID-19 webpage — resource will keep you up-to-date on the latest statistics and the latest guidance on how we can protect ourselves and protect our most vulnerable populations.   Three Stages of State’s Response of COVID-19

Standing with Colorado’s Farmers and Ranchers
I am proud to stand with 127 of my colleagues from 34 states calling on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to take immediate action to support Colorado’s local farmers and ranchers.  Our food producers have been working tirelessly to feed their neighbors, yet they are in need of critical COVID-19 aid that they are not getting.  We can not have a local food system without our local farmers and ranchers.

Colorado is No Place for Hate
I am proud to stand with my colleagues and call for an end to the racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry we see during this pandemic. You can read a full copy of our letter here. Interested in joining us and supporting this message?  Sign on Here.

Have extra time on your hands? Fill out your 2020 Census form today!
Our state receives funding from the Federal government based on our population. Now during a pandemic, it’s important we account for every individual in our state. Take 10 minutes to fill out the form, because COLORADO COUNTS!

Federal Loan Assistance for Colorado’s Small Businesses
Colorado small businesses throughout all 64 counties impacted by COVID-19 can seek individual small business loans up to $2M as part of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans assistance provides low-interest federal loans for working capital to Colorado small businesses that have realized economic injury from COVID-19. Funding was appropriated through the US congressional Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. Small businesses, private non-profit organizations, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises impacted by COVID-19 can seek federal loans to pay key needs such as fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable.

Eligibility information, loan application links and emerging economic recovery resources can all be found at Practices

The best thing you can do right now is encourage your family and friends to stay home. This will help reduce the spread. Also, practice good hygiene and social distancing in order to keep yourself and others safe — especially vulnerable populations like older Coloradans and those with underlying health conditions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing from others — at least six feet apart.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick and keep your children home if they are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • If someone at your home is sick, avoid sharing dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Choose a  separate room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy.  Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick. All of these ways of preventing the spread of CO-VID 19 are also effective in preventing the transmission of the flu or seasonal colds. Smart hygiene practices make us all healthier. ____________________________________________________