Opinion | Susan Knopf: Colorado Democrats pass more than 400 bills with 95% bipartisan support
For the Record
Do you remember when you thought all toilet paper was the same? Then you tried some really soft and absorbent paper, and you just couldn’t go back again? Politics is like that. In the last presidential election, I heard so often, “All politicians are the same. They just want to grease their palms.”
I think the 72nd Colorado legislative session proved what happens when Democrats, dedicated to work for all citizens, roll up their sleeves and go to work. With majorities in both houses of the legislature, state Sen. Steve Fenberg reports more than 400 bills passed and 95% enjoyed bipartisan support. Democrats say: “Promises made. Promises kept.”
Our newly elected local Rep. Julie McCluskie reached across the aisle over and over and sought Republican co-sponsorships for her bills — our bills. Eight bills she co-sponsored are signed into law. More await the governor’s signature. It’s actually pretty amazing for her first session. How did you do your first weeks in a new job?
Here are some of the highlights:
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• The handcuffs are off of Colorado Mountain College, and now the CMC board will determine how many distinct bachelor degrees we’ll offer locally.
• Actuaries say a new state reinsurance program will likely lower our local health insurance rates. Check McCluskie’s website for more about what she accomplished for us.
• Perhaps the most controversial bill passed is the extreme risk protection orders bill, more commonly known as the red flag bill. One of the best analyses of this law appears on The Daily Signal, written by Amy Swearer and Peyton Smith. Both are associated with the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, which I have often impugned. Hopefully, their conservative authority assures the most reluctant of our electorate that the bill preserves due process and is primarily directed to the topic that concerns us most: mental health. For the record, NRA representatives said we should be dealing with mental health issues. That’s exactly what the extreme risk protection order does while protecting constitutional rights.
• The most-awaited and happily received success is probably state Gov. Jared Polis’ promise of free, full-day kindergarten. We all know the earlier good education starts, the better the outcome for our students.
• Remember the last time your regular prescription ran out, and you forgot to get it refilled? Now the pharmacist can refill an emergency short-term supply, just to get you through. How awesome is that? McCluskie co-sponsored this one, too.
• House Bills 19-1257 and 19-1258 give us a chance to put our money where our mouths are. Our legislators heard us complain loud and long about the condition of our roads and the need to competitively fund our schools. But as a state, we usually demur to assess ourselves more taxes. Well, what if we let the state keep the money already collected? The bills would allow the state to retain revenue and spend it: one-third on K-12, one-third on higher education and one-third on transportation needs. You can help fill our potholes with a vote for HB19-1257 in November.
• Democrats say Senate Bill 19-181 offers the “largest reforms” to the oil and gas industry in 60 years. The bill already signed into law by Polis puts our health and welfare first. It gives local communities the power to protect their environments. McCluskie also co-sponsored a bill, passed into law, that enacts stricter water-quality standards to protect against the impacts of mining.
• Colorado women are now legally entitled to get equal pay for equal work. No surprise, the prime sponsors of this enacted bill are all women.
• Our representatives restored the right to vote for Coloradans on parole and finally put an end to debunked gay conversion therapy for minors.
The list of accomplishments is too long for a column. Check out the Summit County Democrats website for a list of the highlights.
Susan Knopf is a Summit County resident who writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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