LISA'S WINS AT THE CAPITOL
This year, I worked with my colleagues in the House and Senate to pass several bills that have become law to move Colorado forward. From working to expand access to health care including mental health treatment and reproductive health care, to saving Coloradans and businesses money, to helping our students prepare for future success, to ensuring we’re better prepared to prevent wildfires, to creating safer communities, I have stood up for our community and gotten things done for Jeffco.
Between pandemic-induced inflation, rising housing costs, and more, Coloradans are feeling the financial pressure of the last few years. That’s why I worked with my colleagues this year to cut costs, save people money on housing, and keep more of your hard-earned money in your wallets.
Reducing Business Filing Fees to $1: Colorado’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need to do all that we can to help them bounce back from the effects of the pandemic and move forward. A new law I championed this year (HB22-1001) reduces several business filing fees and other costs associated with operating a business to $1, saving businesses nearly $8 million by making it nearly free to start a business in Colorado. Reducing business filing fees will make it easier and cheaper for Coloradans to start a business, which will help us continue to power our economic recovery and help Colorado thrive.
Providing Expedited Relief through the Colorado Cashback: Here in Jeffco and across the state, pandemic-induced inflation has caused Colorado families to spend more of their hard earned paychecks while getting far less for their money in return. To help ease the financial pinch, I supported SB22-233 which speeds up the timeline for refund checks to help families afford basic necessities like gas and groceries. All full-time residents of Colorado who filed their 2021 income tax returns by June 30th, 2022 will receive a check. Thanks to our healthy state budget, urgently-needed relief checks have increased, which means every Colorado taxpayer will receive at least $750 – $1,500 for joint filers – giving folks more financial freedom to fill up their gas tank, put food on the table, buy school supplies, and pay their bills.
Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program: The pandemic only exacerbated inequity and left many families economically insecure, which often includes food insecurity. HB22-1364, which I was proud to champion, ensures Coloradans have access to day-to-day necessities. This law invests $3 million in food pantry assistance and broadens the kinds of products that food pantries may purchase with the funds to include culturally significant foods. As Coloradans recover from pandemic-included financial stress, we're taking steps to make it easier for families to put healthy, nutritious food on the table.
Tax Relief and Cashback for Individuals and Families: This year, I’m proud to have voted for vital legislation to save the average homeowner $274 on their property taxes (SB22-238); help families and workers take advantage of tax reforms to save $180 million this year through the expanded earned income tax credit and child tax credit (SB22-182); and save homeowners money on wildfire mitigation (HB22-1007).
Tax Relief for Businesses: Democrats are providing $700 million in property tax relief over the next two years for businesses and homeowners (SB22-238); eliminating fees to start your own business (HB22-1001); allowing restaurants to keep $40 million of the sales tax they collect (HB22-1406); making sales tax filing easier (SB22-006); and replenishing the unemployment insurance trust fund to save businesses money and protect this important assistance for workers (SB22-234).
Saving People Money on Housing: Democrats are saving Coloradans money on housing by investing $428 million in pandemic relief funds to preserve and construct new affordable housing. This funding will go toward loans to leverage private and local dollars to construct affordable homes; direct grants to nonprofits and local governments to build affordable homes; investments in middle-income housing; and innovative housing solutions such as modular homes. (HB22-1304, SB22-159, SB22-160, SB22-146, HB22-1282). Additionally, we extended the Colorado Affordable Housing Tax Credit for an additional seven years, providing $420 million in additional tax credits over the next decade (HB22-1051), fostered economic mobility among mobile home park residents (HB22-1287), and protected veterans and active military members from housing discrimination (HB22-1102).
Building a Healthier Colorado for All
Every family deserves access to quality, affordable health care. From codifying the right for all Coloradans to access the full spectrum of reproductive care, including abortion care, to improving health care access across the state, to addressing our behavioral health crisis, I worked hard to build a healthier Colorado for everyone.
Reproductive Health Equity Act: Access to reproductive health care – including abortion care – is a fundamental right, and gives our communities the power to control their bodies and their futures. HB22-1279, which I enthusiastically cast my vote for this year, establishes that every individual has the fundamental right to use or refuse contraception, continue their pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion, and declares a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights.
Increasing Behavioral Health Care Access: Democrats passed legislation to expand access to behavioral health care and save people money on the treatment they need to support their health and well-being. This $450 million package utilized pandemic relief funds to expand access to critical services for adults, youth, and families; increase access to substance use disorder treatment; bolster the behavioral health workforce; and add desperately needed residential treatment beds. (HB22-1281, HB22-1303, HB22-1283, SB22-196, HB22-1302, SB22-147, SB22-148, SB22-181, SB22-177). I also voted for a landmark bill (HB22-1278) to streamline and improve access to Colorado’s behavioral health system.
Behavioral Healthcare Workforce: If we want to achieve our goal of transforming Colorado’s behavioral health system and better meet the needs of patients, then we need a robust workforce to help us do it. A new law I sponsored (SB22-181) directs the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to invest $72 million to bolster and stabilize the state’s behavioral health care workforce, which will help more Coloradans access the critical care they need to thrive. The BHA’s workforce plan must include efforts to diversify the behavioral health workforce, expand the peer support professional workforce, reduce the administrative burden on providers, and support the existing workforce. The bill also provides funding to the community college system to build a robust career pathway for the behavioral health field.
Supporting Recovery Programs for Those Who Wander: SB22-187 grants state assistance to programs that assist in attempting to locate persons who wander. The bill is intended to take steps to ensure all Coloradans are kept safe and healthy by restructuring a grant program that assists local governments in locating persons with medical conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, autism, brain injury, or developmental, cognitive, neurological, or chromosomal disorders that may cause them to wander.
Preventing Wildfires & Protecting Our Environment
Wildfire Mitigation Incentives for Local Governments: Local governments must be equipped with the necessary tools for wildfire mitigation in their own communities. HB22-1011 creates a grant program in the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to provide matching funds for local governments that dedicate funding for forest management or wildfire mitigation at the local level. Eligible projects included activities such as forest thinning, fuel reduction, and the creation of fire breaks.
Wildfire Mitigation & Recovery: Following countless devastating wildfires that have occurred in Colorado, I passed legislation to create the Wildfire Mitigation and Recovery Grant Program to help communities mitigate and recover from catastrophic wildfires. HB22-1012 requires the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to develop a publicly accessible carbon accounting framework that includes carbon stock and flux estimates for ecosystems by county and forest cover type, for wood products, and for project-level forest management practices, including wildfire mitigation. The agency must use this framework to train practitioners in management practices and must provide technical expertise to industry and landowners with carbon inventories and monitoring. It transfers $7.2 million from the General Fund to various cash funds in the CSFS to accomplish the work.
Resources for Volunteer Firefighters: Volunteer firefighters put in thousands of hours of work to mitigate and prevent wildfires. Legislation I championed this session (SB22-002) provides $1 million in FY 2022-23 and $5 million in the two subsequent years to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control (DFPC) for safety and mental health treatment for volunteer firefighters. The bill also provides $4 million for safety equipment and training; with prioritization given to departments with greater funding needs and heavier reliance on volunteers. DFPC may use some of the funds to directly purchase and distribute equipment rather than giving grants.
Increase Wildfire Mitigation Outreach Efforts: Over the past few years wildfire season has evolved into a year-round threat, which means we must take steps to defend our homes and our communities from these climate-induced extreme fires. A new law I sponsored this year (SB22-007) directs multiple state agencies to collaborate on a wildfire safety outreach campaign, which the State Forest Service must implement in coordination with partners during wildfire awareness month (May) of 2023 and 2024, and in future years if funding allows. The campaign must educate and incentivize people living in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) to undertake fire risk mitigation efforts. This bill will give more Coloradans the tools and knowledge they need to proactively defend themselves, their property, and their communities from future blazes.
Protecting Our Environment: Environmental stewardship and conservation should have no partisan boundaries. The water, air and land we all enjoy are bountiful but ultimately finite and we must do everything in our power to protect these precious resources. That’s why I championed bills to: immediately protect Colorado consumers from PFAS or “forever chemicals” in everyday consumer products (HB22-1345); divert more waste from Colorado landfills and attracts sustainable businesses (HB22-1159); and transform Colorado’s recycling and waste diversion to produce less waste and save Coloradans money (HB22-1355).
Preventing Crime & Creating Safer Communities
Every Coloradan deserves to feel safe and secure in their community. But just like the rest of the country, crime has been on the rise in our state. This year, I supported proven, evidenced-based measures to cut down on crime and improve public safety so that no matter where you live, you and your family feel safe.
Community Safety Investment Act and Safer Streets Act: Every Coloradan deserves to feel safe in their community, which is why I voted for several bills that will prevent crime and improve public safety. The Community Safety Investment Act (SB22-145) invests $30 million to implement proven public safety strategies like co-responder models, violence interrupter programs, and support for recruiting and training law enforcement who reflect the communities they serve. The Safer Streets Act (SB22-001) helps communities make critical improvements to cut down on crime and improve public safety through neighborhood upgrades, such as better lighting to increase visibility and improved design of shared community spaces. HB22-1003 invests $2 million in projects that demonstrate an evidence and community-based response to reducing youth involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft: In response to the rising prevalence of catalytic converter thefts across our state, I voted for legislation that will crack down on stolen catalytic converters. SB22-009 gives state regulators more oversight of aftermarket sales of catalytic converters and makes it easier to prosecute those selling stolen ones. SB22-179 adds civil penalties for offenses related to catalytic converter theft, while HB22-1217 creates a grant program to increase public awareness around catalytic converter theft and provide financial assistance to victims.
Supporting Victims and Preventing Identity-Based Violence: In an effort to support crime victims and prevent violence, I voted for the following: HB22-1234 creates a grant program to prevent and respond to identity-based violence; SB22-049 updates the Victim Rights Act to make it easier for victims to navigate the criminal justice system and bring perpetrators to justice; and HB22-1243 invests $14 million to improve school security and increase student access to behavioral health care in public schools.
Preparing Our Students for Success
Our students are our future leaders, and it’s up to us to provide them with the tools they need to grow and thrive. By making a historic investment in K-12 education, implementing universal pre-K, and creating more pathways for students to achieve their dreams, we’re well on our way toward ensuring that every Colorado kid is prepared for future success!
Child Care and Free Universal Preschool: I can’t think of anything more important than investing in Colorado’s most valuable asset: our kids! That’s why I supported legislation this session to help child care providers save money and stay open (HB22-1006, SB22-213) and create free universal preschool for every Colorado family that will help parents get back to work and save families thousands of dollars (HB22-1295).
Major Increase in K-12 Education Funding: The 2022 School Finance Act increases funding for K-12 public schools by nearly $550 per student on average, putting more resources directly into classrooms that school districts can use to increase teacher pay, reduce class sizes and ensure students have what they need to thrive. State support for K-12 education will increase by $431 million to $8.4 billion, reducing the Budget Stabilization Factor to the lowest level since it was created.
Boosting Funding for Higher Education: The 2022 state budget increases funding for institutions of higher education. As tuition rises across the country, the budget saves students money by investing state dollars to keep tuition down. With an investment of $129 million, we are boosting financial aid and tuition assistance to save Colorado students and families money on their degrees.
Creating More Affordable Pathways to Degrees, Certificates and Successful Careers: Democrats passed legislation to to invest $91 million in regional talent development initiatives to better align postsecondary credential programs to help workers fill good jobs in growing industries (HB22-1350); and expand stackable credential pathways to help Coloradans seeking to further their education or switch careers get the affordable training and credentials they need to land jobs in high-demand industries (SB22-192).