Last Week of Session

My colleagues and I from Jefferson County went to the well on Friday morning to share a moment of mourning for the victims and those injured in the horrific crash that occurred in Lakewood last Thursday, and honor the first responders. Tragedies such as this one are a  reminder of the fleeting and fragile nature of human life. I know I join many of you in affirming and appreciating the value of our family, friends and colleagues in light of this incident. 

This week is our last week of the 72nd session of the General Assembly. We expect a busy week wrapping up all of the legislation in process, and came in on Saturday to ensure we are caught up and ready to be as productive as possible as the legislation session comes to a close. We’ve accomplished so much this year to help hardworking Coloradans, and I’m eager to meet and talk with constituents in the interim to hear their impressions and discuss issues we need to tackle next session. 

Computer Science Grant Program (HB19-1277), Licensing Behavioral Health Entities (HB19-1237), and Media Literacy (HB19-1110) were heard in the Senate Appropriations committee last Friday and will be hopefully be moving through the Senate this week. Crossing my fingers these terrific bills do not die on the calendar! There was a great article written by Chalkbeat outlining what exactly the Computer Science Grant Program would mean for young girls and students of color, and outlining how it will create a more diverse workforce in computer science within Colorado. Additionally, the Lobbyist Transparency Act (HB19-1248),  was heard on the Senate floor last Friday and will be up for final passage this week before being sent to the Governor’s office.

HB19-1269, Mental Health Parity Insurance Medicaid, passed out of the Senate last Thursday and the House concurred with amendments added by the Senate. Now this bill, along with Physician Assistants Supervision And Liability (HB19-1095), are headed to the Governor's desk for his signature.

HB19-1324, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, had broad bipartisan support, and moved through the House quickly last week. Colorado Politics did a great job of explaining it in this article. This issue has impacted many Coloradans, and I’m grateful to the supporters who came to share their stories with the committee. Protecting free speech and facilitating access to democracy are critical in creating a high-functioning society. I’m really proud to be sponsoring this bill, suggested to me by a constituent, with my good friend and colleague Representative Shannon Bird. Senator Foote will now carry this bill in the Senate.

I am also proud to be sponsoring SB19-243, Prohibit Food Establishments' Use Of Polystyrene, which will be heard for final passage on the Senate floor early this week before coming to the House for deliberation. And SB19-192, the Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise Grant Program, was passed on third reading in the House on Saturday. We have a moral obligation to be better stewards of our planet, and any amount of progress matters. 
I’m so happy that this bill is on it’s way to the Governor’s desk.

On Wednesday April 12th, members of both sides of the aisle came together in nonpartisan support of sexual assault survivors. Across Colorado, more than 1,200 people took a stand on this day that has been marked to raise awareness of misconceptions regarding sexual violence. 

Unfortunately ‘FAMLI’, the Family Medical Leave Insurance Program bill, did not have the support to pass the Senate as originally drafted. The bill has been amended to create a series of studies on how the state should go about establishing a new insurance fund for Colorado workers to use when they or a family member are sick. I know this may be disappointing to some, and I hope the information gathered in future studies will help inform a successful paid leave bill next year. I do believe Colorado supports paid family leave, and the amended version will allow for further studies to confirm what we already know; this is a crisis that needs to be addressed. 

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

Remembrance of the Columbine Tragedy

All week my heart has been heavy with thoughts of Columbine. Our twins were in daycare only blocks away from the school, and our daughter at our neighborhood elementary school — all on lockdown. It was incomprehensible. And yet it has happened again, and again, and again.


The problems we face — including the staggering amount of gun violence in this country — are complicated and will not be solved by a single action. Grace and compassion will help us find our way.

Being focused on work that changes lives helps. But we all continue to carry the memory of Columbine and the precious souls we lost that day. It is always present; it has changed us. I will never forget.


And the work continues.

Last Thursday, on his 100th day in office, Governor Polis signed into law a $30.5 billion state budget for the 2019/2020 fiscal year. The budget includes $175 million for free full-day kindergarten throughout the state, and will ensure that tuition at Colorado’s public colleges and universities won’t rise in the 2019-2020 school year. There is a much needed extra transportation provision of $300 million to address Colorado’s crumbling infrastructure, in addition to a 3% pay hike for all state employees. This budget was the outcome of tireless work from a great number of state employees and legislators and I am encouraged by the way my colleagues stepped up and pulled together to create a budget that reflects our Colorado values.

I’m thrilled that Senator Pettersen is carrying my Media Literacy bill (HB19-1110) in the Senate. It passed third reading last Tuesday on the House floor, and is being debated this Thursday in the Senate Education committee. Additionally, HB19-1269, the Mental Health Parity Insurance Medicaid bill, was passed out of the House last Wednesday, was heard Friday in the Senate Health and Human Services committee, and advanced onto the Senate Appropriations committee. And finally, HB19-1277, the Computer Science Grant, and HB19-1237, Licensing Behavioural Health Entities, were both passed out of the House last Friday and are on the way to the Senate. After working so hard to develop and champion meaningful legislation, it is wonderful to see things moving along to the Senate and hopefully to the Governor to be signed into law.

The Lobbyist Transparency Act was heard last Wednesday in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee and referred onto the Senate Appropriations committee where it will be heard tomorrow. As we approach the end of the session, legislation is moving quickly through both chambers.

The Physician Assistant Supervision and Liability bill was heard last Thursday on the Senate floor and passed on third reading. This will be my second bill signing with Governor. It was one of my first bills, and one I proudly sponsored with my Republican colleague, Representative Lois Landgraff.

The Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise Grant Program was passed through the Senate last week and heard in the House Finance Committee on Friday. This bill creates the Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise in the Department of Public Health and Environment to promote waste diversion. The goal of this enterprise is to achieve municipal waste diversion goals within the front range, culminating in 51% diversion by 2036. Waste management and reduction is not only essential towards protecting Colorado’s resources and natural beauty, but also to achieving our climate change goals. 

My bill Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) has been introduced in the House and is being heard tomorrow in the Judiciary committee. SLAPPs are civil actions brought against a defendant to impede the exercise of their constitutional right of free speech or right of petition. SLAPPs are used to silence and harass critics by forcing them to spend money to defend these baseless suits, and are effective because even a meritless lawsuit can take years and many thousands of dollars to defend.  This bill establishes an expedited process for a court to follow in cases where a SLAPP has been initiated against a person resulting from that person’s exercise of their right of petition or free speech. Under this bill, such a lawsuit may be subject to a special motion to dismiss. I am excited about this legislation because SLAPPS can have a chilling effect on free speech for both media and ordinary citizens, and are also a waste of taxpayer resources.  

Prohibit Food Establishments' Use Of Polystyrene was introduced into the Senate last week and is being heard today in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee. I am so happy to see this bill being debated as it is an important step towards protecting our environment. Effective 2024, the bill prohibits a retail food establishment from distributing an expanded polystyrene product for use as a to-go container. I’m really happy to be a co-prime sponsor of this in the House, as I’m passionate about reducing waste and being respectful stewards of our planet. Prohibiting wasteful styrofoam containers that don't decompose is a step in the right direction.

The Colorado Avalanche are in the playoffs and in recognition of their achievement the state legislature has put their flag on the capitol to show our Colorado pride. We welcomed Bernie, the Avalanche mascot, to the House floor last Tuesday to sit on session and bring back our well wishes to the team. Good luck Avs!

Last Wednesday the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act was heard in the House Business Affairs and Labor committee and referred onto the Appropriations committee. SB 19-085 would prohibit a wage differential based on an employee’s sex. The bill also contains a salary history ban and pay transparency requirements. If passed, this would be among the most aggressive equal pay laws in the nation, stripping enforcement authority from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and instead allow for private right of action. This is a necessary and long overdue piece of legislation that will address unreasonable pay disparities based upon gender, and finally allow for recovery of back pay for violations of pay equality. I was proud to sponsor the House resolution on Equal Pay and I am proud to support the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act that will put Colorado at the forefront of the national equal pay movement.

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

Long Days Are Coming

Our Saturday town hall was the highlight of my weekend. Our guest speakers, Ali Mickelson of the Fiscal Institute, and Mary O'Neil, the Budget Director for Jefferson County, did a fantastic job breaking down complex budget issues for the group. I, along with Senator Story, County Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe, and Congressman Joe Neguse, enjoyed connecting with constituents. If you missed this one, look out for information on our June 8 town hall, where we plan to provide a recap of the 2019 legislative session. And if you did attend, please know that we heard your concerns about the full agenda, and will be making much more time for our own updates and audience questions.


The Lobbyist Transparency Act Representative Mike Weissman and I introduced in the House has passed on third reading and is headed to the Senate. Now our colleague Senator Mike Foote will be guiding the bill through the Senate floor and hopefully on to the Governor’s desk for his signature. This bill would require lobbyists to inform the Colorado Secretary of State when they take on a new client or change their position on an issue, and would require heightened disclosure while the General Assembly is in session. I believe transparency is essential in a healthy democracy, and I look forward to hearing our Senate members discuss this bill.


Tomorrow my bill Computer Science Grant Program is being heard in the House Education Committee. This bill would create in the Department of Education the computer science courses and clubs grant program. Under this program, public schools or school districts could apply for grant funding to increase enrollment or participation of traditionally underrepresented students in computer science courses or clubs. I’m sponsoring this along with my colleague, Representative Esgar, and we are excited to advocate for this bill with our colleagues. Supporting students, especially girls and students of color, in their passion for computer science will plant the seeds for a robust, home-grown workforce. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help steer underrepresented students towards these high-paying jobs.

There was a great article about my bill Media Literacy written by the 74, a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America. This bill was recently passed out of the House Appropriations Committee and passed second reading on the House floor last Friday. I love how this article explores similar legislation passed in other states, and how HB19-1110 will help Colorado students learn to better navigate the information landscape online. In addition the Boulder Weekly interviewed me about my bill and wrote a very informative article about what media literacy would for Colorado students. I am so proud to be a part of the nationwide effort to educate children about how to responsibly utilize the online resources offered to them.

My bill Licensing Behavioral Health Entities was heard in the House Finance Committee last Monday and was referred on to the House Appropriations Committee. I am amazed by the support this bipartisan piece of legislation has received and I would like to thank all the stakeholders for their work in getting us here. I enjoyed partnering with Representative Perry Will of House District 57 and learning more about his family and his district while we waited to testify. He is a truly lovely man who cares about many of the same things I do. We may approach things differently, but I am always grateful for the reminder that while we might sometimes disagree, we certainly don’t have to be disagreeable.

State Funding for Full-Day Kindergarten was passed out of the House Appropriations Committee and moved to the House floor last Friday. Under current law, the school finance formula provides funding for half-day kindergarten programs plus an additional amount of supplemental kindergarten funding. Some districts currently fund the other half to create full day kindergarten programs, but that still leaves an estimated 30,000 families in other districts who must pay out of pocket for full day kindergarten. Beginning with fiscal year 2019-20, this bill would provide funding through the school finance formula for full-day kindergarten statewide. This would free up the estimated $100 million some districts currently spend to fund full day kindergarten to apply towards other district expenditures and remove the burden from families paying to provide their children with full day kindergarten. This legislation was sponsored by my colleagues from the Education Committee, Representatives Wilson and McLachlan, and championed by Governor Polis. Representatives Wilson and McLachlan are longtime former educators, and it was touching and gratifying to be a part of this moment with them. I’m proud to be listed as sponsor of this historic legislation.

Friday was a long day, as we worked late to hear debate and ultimately pass on second reading an important piece of legislation, HB19-1257. This legislation will refer a measure to the 2019 statewide ballot that will allow voters to determine whether the state should be able to invest all the taxes paid toward better funding our schools, keeping college tuition affordable and repairing our roads when the economy is thriving. Your voice matters, and this will provide you an opportunity to weigh in on some critical funding issues.

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

One Month Left in the 2019 Session

With only a month left of session, we kept busy at the Capitol last week by discussing and voting on next year's state budget, and by moving more bills through committee.

Last Tuesday, April 2 marked Equal Pay Day - the day which women would have to work to this year in order to match the earnings of men in 2018. Unfortunately, this day is even further away for women of color (November for Latinas!). It is vital that we work to close the gap, which is why I was proud to sponsor the Equal Pay Day House Resolution. I am also a co-sponsor of SB19-085, the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act. It is time that we bring forward actual legislation to fix this issue - if we continue at our current pace without taking action, it will be 2057 before we reach pay equity between men and women in Colorado.


My bill on Mental Health Parity Insurance Medicaid was passed unanimously by the House Committee on Public Health Care and Human Services on Friday. Mental Health Colorado and other stakeholders have invested many hours into this, and I am so thankful to them, my co-sponsor Representative Tom Sullivan, and all who shared their support and personal stories during the witness testimony period.

Last Wednesday my bill Physician Assistants Supervision And Liability was referred out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Having already passed in the House, this bill is not far from a vote on the Senate floor. It has not yet been assigned a hearing date in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Today my bill to streamline behavioral mental health licensing is being heard in the House Finance Committee. Our newest member Representative Perry Will recently agreed to sponsor this bill with me, and I’m thrilled to have bipartisan support for streamlining the licensing and regulatory framework for mental health and substance abuse care, which will ultimately improve access to this treatment for the people of Colorado.

It was a long week and several committee meetings were cancelled in order to accommodate deliberations over the long bill. The long bill is a budget proposal supported by the recommendations of the Governor's office in order to create a state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The House and Senate debated and scrutinized the proposed budget in order to come to a finalized version that the two chambers will have to reconcile. This is an intense process and one of our most important tasks as legislators for the state of Colorado. I am particularly enthusiastic about our increased budget for education, including $185 million for free full day kindergarten, and $77 million to buy down the education budget stabilization factor. And we have allocated $300 million to transportation. We have limited resources to fund a number of important priorities, and the Joint Budget Committee did an admirable job of navigating this process and negotiating on important issues that will directly impact Coloradans.

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

On April 13, I will be holding a joint town hall with Senator Tammy Story and Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe. It will take place at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen, from 10:30-12:00pm. We will be welcoming guest speakers Ali Mickelson of the Fiscal Institute, and Mary O'Neil, the Budget Director for Jefferson County. We are also excited for an opportunity to include Joe Neguse, who will be stopping in. Check it out on Facebook here.

Budget Week

Happy Monday! Moving forward, we will send this newsletter on Monday mornings rather than Friday evenings to make it more convenient for you to read throughout the week.

On Wednesday last week, I held Civics and Stouts at Tony Rigatoni's Italian Kitchen rooftop bar. Thanks to all the constituents who came out for thoughtful conversations with Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper and me. We enjoyed having former Senator Andy Kerr and County Assessor Scot Kersgaard join us. And thanks to this wonderful local business for hosting us so graciously!

I am working with Represenative Esgar on a new bill titled Computer Science Grant Program. This bill was introduced on Wednesday and is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee on April 16th. The bill would create in the Department of Education the computer science courses and clubs grant program (grant program) to provide money to public schools or school districts in order to increase enrollment or participation of traditionally underrepresented students in computer science courses or clubs. Supporting students, especially girls and students of color, in their passion for computer science, and future access to these high-paying jobs, is so important. I hope that this small step will help increase the diversity of the future STEM workforce. 

On Tuesday the Lobbyist Transparency Act was passed out of the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee. The next step for this bill is a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee this Friday the 5th.  I am so thankful to my colleague Representative Weissman for his willing and generous partnership on issues of ethics, transparency and communications in elections and governance. His deep knowledge and respect for the law impresses me every day.

On Monday, my bill Mental Health Parity Insurance Medicaid was introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives. It is scheduled to be heard in the House Committee on Public Health Care and Human Services this Friday the 5th. Co-sponsor Representative Tom Sullivan and I are very eager to discuss this in committee since the bill caused quite a splash when it was first announced. The Colorado Sun highlighted the bill, writing that “In Colorado, which passed its own parity laws in 1997 and 2007, legislation introduced this week would add more teeth. House Bill 1269 aims to close loopholes and force insurance companies to provide proof to state officials that they are complying."

On Wednesday, we passed out of committee my bill to streamline behavioral mental health licensing. This bill reduces the regulatory burden, ensuring more efficient government. It also creates parity and efficiency by aligning mental health and substance use disorder treatment facility licensing and regulations. Ultimately, it will make it easier for those seeking treatment to find a provider. Thanks to the thoughtful work done by stakeholders (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Department Of HCPF, Colorado Department of Public Safety, and many other provider organizations) dedicated to improving mental health and substance abuse care for the people of Colorado.

This week is budget week! During this time period, the Long Bill will be discussed on the House floor. This bill is a budget proposal supported by the governor office’s recommendations in order to create a document that is typically 300+ pages and often introduces the addition of several bills as part of a “long bill budget package." The long bill is drafted by the Joint Budget Committee, which also incorporates recommendations from the Governor's office. Once the long bill is introduced all our work in the chamber will revolve around discussing the budget. After a long bill passes through both chambers, the document goes back to the governor’s office to be signed into law and will be further finalized by the House and Senate Appropriations committees so that the General Assembly may know how much money is available for the new programs or additional services. 

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day at the Capitol, which symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. This year it is April 2 for white women, which translates to 78 cents for every dollar earned by the average white man. Asian/Pacific Islander women earn 70 cents for every dollar, followed by black women at 63 cents, Indigenous women at 56 cents and Latina woman at only 54 cents. I am excited to be sponsoring the House resolution on Equal Pay this Tuesday along with my colleague Representative Meg Froelich.

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

On April 13, I will be holding a joint town hall with Senator Tammy Story and Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe. It will take place at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen, from 10:30-12:00pm. We will be welcoming guest speakers Ali Mickelson of the Fiscal Institute, and Mary O'Neil, the Budget Director for Jefferson County. We are also excited for an opportunity to include Joe Salazar, who will be stopping in.

I plan to hold these joint town halls with Senator Tammy Story and Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe every other month at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen. After April, the next is planned for June 8.

Warm Weather is Coming

Wednesday marked the equinox, the official start of Spring for the Northern Hemisphere. I can't wait to wave goodbye to winter and welcome some warmer weather.

On Thursday I had an opportunity to connect with citizen lobbyists who were at the Capitol for the Sierra Club lobby day, and was even lobbied by a constituent! It was fun to spend some time with people who have so much passion around protecting our lands, water, air, and wildlife. I have great respect for the work Sierra Club does both in our state and at the national level.

I’m teaming up again with Representative Mike Weissman on HB19-1248, the Lobbyist Transparency Act. This bill would require lobbyists to inform the Colorado Secretary of State when they take on a new client or change their position on an issue, and would require heightened disclosure while the general assembly is in session. I believe transparency is essential in a healthy democracy. We will present in committee next week.

We made some adjustments to my media literacy bill,  HB19-1110,  to accomplish our goals with a smaller fiscal note (less funding). We have a number of things we’d like to accomplish this session and a limited budget, so we are focused on delivering as much as possible to our constituents with the resources we have. It forced me to think creatively about this bill to increase the likelihood that it will pass, and that’s a good thing!

Next week, I am hoping to see some movement with both of my bills regarding mental health. The first is HB19-1237, Licensing Behavioral Health Entities. This would reform and streamline mental health licensing and consolidate regulatory functions, with the goal of increasing access to mental health care.

I’ve also been working hard with my co-sponsor, Representative Tom Sullivan, to shore up our bill on behavioral health care coverage practices, and it could be in committee as soon as next week. We are trying to get things through the system as quickly as possible in anticipation of the long bill, funding decisions recommended by the Joint Budget Committee to the rest of the General Assembly. I hear it is quite a marathon. The ebb and flow of work at the Capitol is definitely interesting! 

Please take a moment to mourn with me the death of my Zero Waste/Recycling bill. We’re not supposed to get too attached, because a lot can happen during the process. In this case, we were trying to incentivize recycling infrastructure, and were having issues with how, and by which organization, the program would be administered. But I’m not giving up. I will be meeting with stakeholders over the summer and really diving into the world of recycling, composting and waste reduction. We can do better, and I am committed to working on solutions to our waste issue. 

There has been robust debate this month regarding Senate Bill 181, “Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operation." It is true that we all have our bias as we look at any issue. But while I might lean one way, I always try to give the issue a fair hearing, and ask good questions. There have been many times where I felt something was an issue, but did not agree with the proposed solution. And even with what I perceive to be good policy, there might be room for improvement. So it was with that mindset that I have been listening to debate on this bill. 

 I believe it is important to state what this bill aims to accomplish. The bill would change the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission mandate from “fostering” oil and gas development to prioritizing protect health, safety and the environment, thus removing the Commission’s responsibility to encourage development. Local governments would also be given a more significant role in the siting and regulation of oil and gas development. The bill would grant them authority to issue impact fees and fines regarding surface use, noise, smell, traffic, and other nuisances. This would ensure a seat at the table for local communities.
 
I have heard frequently that Colorado voters already voted and disapproved of this measure on the November 2018 ballot. To clarify, SB19-181 is not Prop 112 and it does not address setbacks. Coloradans voted against Prop 112 which was a one-size-fits-all approach that mandated setbacks across the state. Instead, this bill allows optional and permissive land use authority for local governments that want to have more of a say in the siting of oil and gas operations.
 
During debate on the bill in the Energy & Environment committee some expressed concerns about how quickly the process is moving. Speaker Becker clarified that it will take four weeks to pass this bill. Legally, it takes only three days to pass a bill.  

The oil and gas industry is important to our state, but it is our responsibility to protect people and address climate changes. I believe this bill strikes a good balance.

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

On Wednesday, March 27 at 6 PM, County Commissioner Dahlkemper and I will be at Tony Rigatoni’s in Morrison. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about my work at the Capitol, and to ask any questions you may have. I hope to see lots of you there!

My Heart Goes Out To The New Zealand Victims

The snow slowed us down, but only a little. The House enjoyed a snow day on Wednesday, and I was able to get a lot of work done from home— making calls and doing research on the bills I’m working on. I hope you stayed safe and warm during this week's storm. I’m sorry we had to cancel the Town Hall we had scheduled for Thursday, but it seemed prudent! I’m pleased to say that Civics and Stouts has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 6 PM at Tony Rigatoni’s in Morrison. I hope to see lots of you there!

This morning, the day began with some sobering news. Forty-nine souls lost their lives in New Zealand in the sanctity of their place of worship. We had a moment of silence this morning in their honor, and I shared this with my colleagues:

These people were killed by hate. We talk a lot about making life better. We may disagree, but I know that every one of us in this chamber is here because we want to make the world a better place. The world is never going to be better until we stop the hateful rhetoric and divisive comments that create a false sense of separation. If you believe in God, all life is given by the same God. And I’m going to do my best every day to see every person in this chamber, on the street and on TV as nothing less than a child of God. We ALL matter. I wrote this poem several years ago and left it at the Columbine memorial. It is unfortunately appropriate for too many situations.


Across town, shots ring out.
My heart shatters.
I stoop to pick up the pieces, but some are missing. 

And life goes on. 


On a lighter note, I learned that Haven Coleman, one of the young women helping to organize the US Youth Climate Strike, lives in Denver. You can read more about Coleman here. Young people like Haven give me hope, and they inspire me to do everything I can to help make the world better, including doing whatever we can to address climate change. I’m hoping to connect with Haven soon so I can thank her in person. 

Representative Bird and I have also been gathering stakeholder input for my Anti-SLAPP Bill. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. These lawsuits are used to stifle public protest. Baseless suits can often take years to resolve, and more importantly, cost more than the average citizen is able to afford, meaning citizens often give up before the suit is resolved. My bill aims to ban this practice in the state of Colorado. Corporations should not be able to use their deep pockets as leverage against citizen activists.

My colleague, Representative Brianna Titone, has led the way in working to expand broadband access to rural communities in Colorado. Access is vital for seniors seeking healthcare, students, businesses, and individuals working from home. There are still many parts of Colorado that either do not have broadband, or have connections so slow that it limits their access. We’ve been working hard to explore creative options to address this, and I’m excited to be part of this exciting initiative. 

Some say a complex bill takes years to pass, and I’m not sure if my recycling legislation will see daylight this session. Not everyone realizes the dramatic impact that recycling has on climate change.  Increasing our national recycling rate would reduce waste in our landfills, resulting in fewer greenhouse gasses. Recycling also decreases the number of products that must be made from so-called "virgin" materials. I’m still hopeful we might introduce something this session, but regardless, I am 100% committed to this issue and plan on learning more over the recess so I can continue to create and champion legislation that will help Colorado become green. 

My media literacy bill will head to the House Appropriations committee soon. But in the meantime, I’m working with my bill drafter and relevant stakeholders to reduce the bill's fiscal impact. In its current form, I have heard concern that it may come with a heftier price tag than I am comfortable with.

Best regards,

Representative Cutter

We have rescheduled our Civics and Stouts for Wednesday, March 27 at 6 PM. I’ve put in a request for NO snow that night, so hope to see you then! I also have two joint town halls planned with Senator Tammy Story and Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe in the coming months at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen. Those will take place on April 13 and June 8. Look for more info and reminders as we draw closer.

Welcome Our Newest Member Perry Will

Happy Friday! So much happened this week, and I'm excited to tell you all about it. But first, I did not have the opportunity to share about our late night last Friday the second. We were on the floor until about 10pm discussing the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill. The bill has passed the House and is awaiting a date to be heard in Senate committee.

SB19-181, "Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations" was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday and I am hopeful it will pass through and make its way to the House for our consideration. If this bill is passed, it will be an endorsement of Colorado’s commitment to prioritizing our state's health and safety. SB19-181 modifies the composition and the regulatory charge of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), and provides additional regulatory authority over oil and gas operations to local governments. This bill will direct the COGCC to regulate the development of oil and gas in a manner that protects public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of wildlife resources, and will give control back to local governments to regulate oil and gas development within their jurisdictions. 

I strongly believe that we need to protect our environment and the health and safety of Coloradans without completely shutting down the oil and gas industry. This bill puts health and safety first, provides clear local authority and protects our environment. 

On Friday, the electioneering communications bill I’ve been working on, SB19-068, officially passed! This bill will expand the disclosure of funding in political campaigns. I’m looking forward to attending my first bill signing with the Governor.

On Wednesday, I attended a Town Hall Meeting presented by the Conifer Area Council. I provided a brief legislative update,  and heard about Staunton State Park (a gem in our community), CDOT activity, plans for the Yellow House at Meyer Ranch, and Native American sacred trees and places. Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper, Senator Tammy Story, and RTD Board member Peggy Caitlin also presented. The best part was engaging with constituents afterwards, including a man who told me he had never spoken to an elected official before that night.

On Tuesday morning, a new representative was sworn into the House. Perry Will, from District 57, was chosen to fill a vacant seat created when former Representative Bob Rankin moved to the Senate. We’ve all tried to make him feel welcome — I can’t imagine what it would be like jumping in to the rushing stream!

On Tuesday, People and Pollinators came to the Capitol to teach us about the important players in pollination. I learned that beetles and flies are key pollinators.  Who knew that bees and butterflies weren’t the only ones? These pollinators are critical in supporting healthy ecosystems as well as crops. They are currently threatened by climate change, loss of habitat, and harmful pesticides. I’m excited to meet with People and Pollinators over the summer to explore ways to help them at the legislature. 

I was thrilled to meet with many citizen lobbyists this week. I met young people lobbying for legislation to allow them to vote in school board elections, constituents lobbying for reproductive health issues, and members of the American Cancer Society Action Network. I’m so grateful when citizens (and especially young people) take the time to advocate for issues that matter to them.

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Happy 303 Day

Happy Friday! This weekend, Colorado celebrates 303 day, a nod to our state's very first area code. I hope you find this occasion a good excuse to get out and enjoy your Sunday! Without further ado;

HB19-1143- Distribute Plastic Straws Only Upon Request was killed in committee this week. One concern raised with this bill is the preemption that would prevent any local communities from passing their own, perhaps stronger, regulations on single-use plastics. Environmental advocates felt this could hinder efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastics. I care deeply about protecting our environment and will look for opportunities to support bills that address single-use plastics in the future.

Wednesday was the lobby day for Habitat for Humanity. I met with a member of Habitat for Humanity in the afternoon and we had a fantastic conversation. I have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in the past and am a huge fan of their work. Creating opportunities for affordable home ownership is an important part of solving an affordable housing crisis. I know there is a lot of need for this in my district and I am looking forward to working with Habitat for Humanity this summer.

On Thursday we heard testimony in the Education Committee on HB19-1134, which addresses the best ways to support students with dyslexia. It is a good bill that works to solve an important issue. Many young students testified, and they were phenomenal. I love that they are learning at a young age the importance of advocating for themselves. Thanks to Representatives Buckner and Wilson for working so hard on this bipartisan bill.

Wednesday marked Intellectual and Developmental Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol. I attended a lunch hosted by The Arc, Colorado Alliance, and JFK Partners — organizations doing great things in our community. I want to thank those self-advocates who came to the Capitol to teach us more about the issues they deal with daily and how we can support them.

On Monday, Representatives Galindo and Melton introduced their Local Wage Option bill. This bill would allow local jurisdictions to set their minimum wage. Hard working Coloradans should not be forced out of their communities in because wages are failing to keep up with the rising cost of living. I’m pleased to support this so cities can set a minimum wage that makes sense for their communities.

This bill, SB19-068 provides for additional transparency in electioneering communications, defined by the state constitution as communication that unambiguously refers to a candidate, that is disseminated to the public within 30 days before a primary election or within 60 days before a general election.  I was thrilled to work with Representative Weissman on this bill.  As a PR and communications advisor for 25 years, I am a strong advocate for fair and ethical communication.  Everything behind a campaign or communications piece is essential information we can use to make an informed decision.

Our bill would increase transparency in such communications by requiring any person spending $1,000 or more per year  to disclose the name of the person making the communication.  It is our duty to shine a light on the dark places, and this gap in current electioneering laws has created a dark place for voters.  A healthy democracy depends upon transparency, so let’s do everything we can to create an informed electorate.  This bill is a great start.

One last thought: This week we’ve seen heartbreaking testimony in both Public Health and Education committees, as well as powerful testimony on the House floor. It is a real honor to hear their stories, bare witness, and hopefully help them create that change they seek. Thank you for the opportunity to be here.  

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

My Bills Are Getting Introduced Soon

My Media Literacy bill is progressing. I want to make my bill as easy as possible for the Department of Education to implement, and have been working to address their concerns and those of a few Republican colleagues. As I’ve learned, nothing is as simple or straightforward as you might think! The bill will be heard in the Appropriations Committee in a few weeks, then on second reading on the House floor.

HB19-1095, Physician Assistants Supervision and Liability, passed the Health and Insurance Committee unanimously this week. This is a bipartisan bill I worked on with Representative Lois Landgraf. It will modernize supervision and licensing rules for PAs with the goal of making healthcare more accessible, especially in rural areas. This bill involved an intensive stakeholder outreach process, and we made some compromises to get it to the finish line. We hope to continue working on this issue next year.

I have another bill up next week regarding electioneering communications, SB19-068. I am thrilled to be working with Representative Mike Weissman on this bill, which will close some loopholes in campaign disclosures. Like my Media Literacy bill, this will help ensure the transparent, ethical communications people need to make good decisions.

Finally, I am getting close to introducing two bills, both connected to behavioral health. The first, titled Streamline Behavioral Health Licensing, would make it easier to get licensing and make requirements more consistent, ultimately increasing access to behavioral health care. The second will address mental health parity. Mental health parity describes the equal treatment of mental health conditions in insurance plans. I’m very excited about these bills and the opportunity to make mental health care a priority in Colorado.

This week SB19-042, the National Popular Vote Bill, was passed in the House. The National Popular Vote Bill enters Colorado into a compact which would require the state to allocate electoral college electors according to the results of the national popular vote. Colorado joins multiple other states which have already joined the compact, and it will go into effect when the member states represent a minimum total of 270 electoral college votes. I listened to your thoughts and concerns (on both side of this issue) and considered this bill very carefully. I ultimately decided to vote in favor of it because I believe that every Coloradan’s vote should count. When this compact goes into effect, Presidential candidates will be compelled to visit and listen to voices in every state- not just battleground states.

HB19-1032, The Youth Wellness Act, passed the House this week after rigorous debate. The next step for the bill is to move through the Senate process. I was really surprised at the degree of misinformation around this bill. The bill requires that if a school teaches human sexuality education, it must be comprehensive. It also forbids public schools from using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individual. And please know that parents can always opt their children out of human sexuality education.

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

I have two joint town halls planned with Senator Tammy Story and Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe in the coming months at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen. Those will take place on April 13 and June 8. I will share additional information and reminders in coming weeks.

Teacher's Strike Begins

Happy Friday, and I hope you had a fantastic Valentine's Day — mine was busy! Grateful for love in my life — including my wonderful husband, Brett who had dinner waiting after a long day. People are the most important thing in this life, and please know that I remember that EVERY DAY as your legislator.

This week was full of debates on legislation that will make a difference to people. I am particularly proud that we passed HB19-1122 out of Public Health Committee, creating a maternal mortality review committee to evaluate data with the hopes of preventing deaths. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists believe 80 percent of maternal mortality deaths (116 mothers) in Colorado from 2008 to 2013 were preventable. Not surprisingly, testimony was emotional.

Another to pass out of Public Health was HB19-1129 to ban conversion therapy for minors. One young man testified that through conversion therapy, he was separated from his mother and sisters for nearly three years to diminish their feminine influence. This, and so many other conversion therapy practices are needlessly cruel and harmful. I was very impressed with the testimony of former Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman. Coffman pointed out that this is a consumer protection bill, as she considers conversion therapy to be fraud. If this bill makes it through, we will join 15 other states who have banned this.

Monday marked the beginning of the first Denver teacher strike in 25 years, and we saw a lot of activity around the Capitol. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the protesters (including my cousin Katt, a DPS teacher) and hear about their concerns. It is so important to value our educators and make sure we are paying them a livable wage — they hold one of the most important jobs in our society and we should treat them accordingly. On Thursday morning, I was happy to hear that Denver Public Schools and the teachers union reached an agreement, giving DPS teachers a 7 to 11 percent raise. Kudos to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen! 

I held my first town hall last weekend. The elected officials of Jefferson County, including Senator Story and County Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe, came together to listen to the concerns and answer the questions of our constituents. We had a great turnout, and heard important feedback from the community. There was a lively discussion — thanks to all the County officials and community members who showed up! Make sure to follow my social media pages and keep an eye out in our weekly newsletter for upcoming events.

Finally, two of my bills are being heard next week. HB19-1095 deals with  making health care more available and affordable by addressing the supervision and relationship between doctors and physician assistants. The other, SB19-068 would increase transparency by expanding disclosure in electioneering communications.

We have already, and will continue to face some difficult and contentious votes. Things are frequently more complicated than might be apparent to those not at the Capitol. Please keep up on Facebook, my website or via this newsletter, or attend a town hall if you want more information. I will always answer your questions directly and as completely as possible based on the information that is available to me.

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Snow Days Won't Stop The Assembly

Happy Friday! Winter sure made its presence felt this week, but the snow didn’t slow us down. I hope you stayed safe and warm, or enjoyed snowshoeing or skiing. If you did, send your pics so I can live vicariously.

Two bills I am excited about passed through the Education Committee this week. The first is HB19-1153: Colorado Mountain College And Direct Grants Annexation, by Representative McCluskie. This bill would bring more bachelor's degrees to rural communities in Colorado. The second bill I’d highlight is HB19-1055: Public School Cap Construction Financial Assistance, by Representative Bird. This would strengthen the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, one of the only sustainable pools of funding available for Colorado school districts to construct safe and adequate classroom space. It is so encouraging to see strong steps being made toward strengthening our public schools.

My Media Literacy Bill was passed out of the Education Committee on Thursday. The bill was first discussed on Tuesday, where it met much more debate than I expected. My bill would create a committee to study how media literacy curriculum could be implemented in Colorado schools that would include issue experts like educators and media professionals. My Republican colleagues were concerned that the language of my bill might exclude educators who were not union members. This was not my intent. We postponed further discussion until Thursday, so that I could work to address the concerns of my Republican colleagues. The bill did pass out of committee Thursday, but unfortunately we still had some disagreements about the committee composition. I will continue trying to work with my colleagues to resolve these disagreements so I can earn their support.

There were some exciting guests at the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee meeting this week. A bill regarding the licensing of registered athletic trainers was passed in this committee on Wednesday, and representatives were thrilled to see some of our very own Denver Broncos show up for the hearing! 

I’ll be partnering with Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe, and Senator Story to conduct ttown halls every other month in Evergreen. We’ll plan a rotating coffee or happy hour in the off months. This month, we’re excited that nearly all of our county offices will be represented. Our format will be casual and we’ll take questions after providing brief updates.

Please invite your friends and neighbors to join us at the Town Hall, and encourage them to sign up here to receive the newsletter if they’re not already receiving it.

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Legislation in Action

This week we’ve seen some lively debate on a number of issues, though not all of it has taken place in my committees. Democracy at work! As a legislative body, we will be making decisions on issues that you may feel strongly about. These issues can be complex and confusing — be sure to look at all sides of every issue and refer to multiple sources for information so you can be as informed as possible. You can always find bill information here, and contact our office if you have questions about exactly what the proposed legislation will mean to you. 

On Wednesday, Governor Polis came to our early morning Joint Education Committee meeting to brief us on his plan for full-day kindergarten. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to learn more about his plan and my colleagues and I so appreciate the Governor taking the time to address our committee. Kindergarten was such a critical and formative experience for my three children, and I am excited that the Governor is working to ensure all Colorado children receive this benefit.

On Monday, the House passed the Encourage Use Of Xeriscape In Common Areas Bill. I love this bill- it prevents individual property owners and community governing boards from prohibiting the use of Xeriscape or drought-resistant landscaping in common areas. We need to do anything possible to encourage people to plant vegetation that eliminates the need for supplemental water or irrigation. 

On Wednesday night, my colleagues on the Health and Insurance Committee were in the Capitol past midnight, hearing the Youth Wellness Act and the Local Governments May Regulate Nicotine Products Bill. Kudos to my colleagues who listened to difficult and sometimes offensive testimony with grace.

Today was Military Appreciation Day at the legislature. Senator Story and I were honored to introduce a group of veterans from Lockheed Martin Space. We gave a standing ovation for all the Colorado men and women serving in our nation's military!

That's it for this week! I hope ya'll have a great weekend.

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Where to find me: This Saturday, I will attend the Teaching Media Literacy event at CU Boulder. I can't wait to visit my alma mater- and I'm looking forward to discussing my media literacy bill with the community.

Three Weeks in and Still Going

We are three weeks into the legislative session and things are heating up at the Capitol.

In the Education committee, I was particularly excited about HB 19-1005, sponsored by Representatives Buckner and Wilson. This bill provides a tax credit for early childhood educators. This tax credit would build self-sufficiency among the early childhood workforce and add stability to the $1.4 billion early care and education industry in Colorado. Supporting this industry has spillover effects; for each new child care job created, more than 1.5 additional jobs are created in the Colorado economy. This tax credit was pioneered in Louisiana and Nebraska, and resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of credentialed educators.

In the Public Health Care and Human Services committee, Representatives Kraft-Tharp and Landgraf brought a bill on behavioral health advance directives. Testimony for this bill was moving. Seeing people come and connect their personal stories to legislation I'm supporting makes me feel like I'm making a difference for Coloradans. That's really rewarding and reminds me why I became a legislator. 

Warm regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Let the committees begin!

I am settling in to my work at the Capitol. Legislative committees began this week, and I sat on the Education Committee for the first time. So far we’ve heard three bills in committee, and have had some interesting discussions. 

So far, two of my bills have been introduced. The first is on media literacy, and would encourage media literacy be included in elementary and secondary education based on recommendations provided by an advisory committee. We are working with stakeholders to make sure this is implemented in a way that is not burdensome to educators. It is scheduled to be heard in committee on February 5th.

The second is a bipartisan bill I’m working on with Republican Representative Landgraf on the house side. This bill would address supervisory requirements and related issues for physicians assistants. Look for more information on this soon.

This week I had my aide begin reaching out to set up coffees with my GOP colleagues in the House. I promised to listen to all voices and collaborate across the aisle whenever possible, and knowing everyone as an individual is an important first step.

Government Shutdown: I plan to sign a letter to Senators Bennett and Gardner, urging them to bring up and pass legislation to end the government shutdown. If you are a federal government employee experiencing difficulties making ends meet during the government shutdown, please know that there are resources available:

  • The Food Bank of the Rockies is distributing food; search for a location here

  • The bilingual Food Resource Hotline is open Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm. Call 855-855-4626

  • Search for information about Jefferson county food banks, food pantries, and other forms of assistance here.

Warm regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Where to find me: I am participating in the Women's March this Saturday, Jan 19. Being an organizer for the March for the past few years helped inspire me to run for office. You can learn more about the March here.
 

First Week of the 2019 Legislative Session Begins

Happy first week of the 2019 Legislative Session! This was a big week. On Tuesday, we celebrated the inauguration of Jared Polis, our new Governor. Alongside him, Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, State Treasurer Dave Young, and Attorney General Phil Weiser were sworn into office. Colorado is in good hands with this strong new executive team.

At the Capitol, we are still getting organized for the year. Session was mostly light -- and I got to participate in the Capitol Chorus a few times, singing Happy Birthday to Representatives Galindo, Duran, and Snyder. I am not the best singer, but do bring enthusiasm! On Friday of last week, House Democrats introduced their first ten bills. The bills are diverse, covering topics ranging from wildfire mitigation to technical education. In total, 69 bills have been introduced as of today, Friday the 11th. You can check them out here.

The introduced bills have been assigned to committees, which will begin meeting next week. On the education committee, I am particularly excited about the Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade Social And Emotional Health Act, introduced by Representative Michaelson-Jenet and Senator Fields. The act requires the Department of Education to select a school district to participate in a pilot program assigning a dedicated social worker to each of grades kindergarten through fifth grade. I can't wait to begin meeting with both my committees; Education and Public Health Care & Human Services.

Warm Regards,

Representative Lisa Cutter

Introducing the Newsletter

2018 has certainly been a wild ride! Thank you for your unflagging support. I am excited to be your newly elected representative, and I will strive to represent this community in the best way possible.

I am thrilled to have been assigned to the Education Committee and to the Public Health Care and Human Services Committee. I can’t wait to get started on these committees and make positive changes for District 25.

Friday marked the opening of the 2019 legislative session. You are always welcome at YOUR Capitol, observing proceedings or testifying on issues important to you. You can check out the legislature’s official schedule here, and look for tips on participating in democracy in future newsletters.

I am committed to keeping you updated on what I’m working on at the Capitol, so I will be sending a newsletter weekly to update you on my work, legislative developments, and opportunities for you to get involved. You may subscribe to this newsletter here, or check it out here on the blog.

I’ve loved Colorado and wanted to contribute to this state in a deeper way for as long as I can remember. I hope you remain by my side on this journey -- visiting the capitol and reaching out with your questions and concerns.

Here’s to a positive and productive 2019 for Colorado and for each of you.

Warm regards,

Lisa Cutter

Why You Should Vote

With just days left until the election, we must remember how critical it is for us all to exercise our right to vote. The United States falls far behind other developed nations in voter turnout, meaning a very low percentage of eligible voters end up casting a ballot. According to the Pew Research Center, only 55.7% voted in the 2016 general election. Voter turnout is historically even lower in midterm elections. It can be very easy to feel discouraged when our representatives don’t reflect our values and we may sometimes feel like our vote doesn’t matter. But with our vote comes the power to choose the government we want and hold them accountable for the decisions they make on our behalf. When we don’t vote, we lose that power. Your vote is your voice. Please join me in voting this year!


If you have not yet registered to vote, it’s not too late. You can still register squany time before 7PM on Election Day. If you have not yet received a ballot or have any other issues regarding your ballot, please contact the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder. At this point, if you mail your ballot it may not be received in time, so please instead take your ballot to your nearest drop off location by 7PM on November 6th. You may also vote in person any day between now and the 6th. Thank you for being a voter.



http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/21/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/


https://www.jeffco.us/DocumentCenter/View/511/Ballot-Drop-Off-Locations-PDF?bidId=

Secretary of State https://www.sos.state.co.us/

303-894-2200

Jeffco Clerk and Recorder: https://www.jeffco.us/687/Clerk-Recorder  

303-271-8186

Saving the Environment is not only the right thing to do, it’s the economical thing to do

Failing to address climate change is a threat to our children’s future. We need to take meaningful actions that bolster renewable energy production so we can reduce our greenhouse gas impact. According to the article linked below, Xcel Energy has received bids to meet our electrical needs via solar and wind options at a far lower cost than traditional coal-generated power. This demonstrates the real world feasibility of renewable energy, which is now cheaper to produce per kilowatt hour than natural gas. The clean energy sector is growing rapidly, with every county in Colorado employing people in this industry. Renewable energy is the best path forward for creating jobs, while reducing our energy bills and our impact on the environment. I will fight for our environment and ensure that renewable energy providers get the support they need to help them excel here in Colorado.

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/01/16/xcel-energy-low-bids-for-colorado-electricity/

How about some wage growth with those jobs?

Last year, The Denver Post reported that “In 2016, the median hourly wage in Colorado was $18.92, which is below the inflation-adjusted median wage of $19.70 in 2007 and 2 percent below the median wage in 2000, after adjusting for inflation.” Yet, according to the same article, Median Household Income has risen approximately 1.5 percent. This clearly doesn’t compute, and the likely reason is that there may be more workers in households (for example adult children living with their parents because they can’t afford to live on their own) or that people are working longer hours. Most people don’t mind hard work. But past generations have done better than their parents, and that is sadly no longer the trend. Upward mobility has stagnated, and working twice as hard to achieve what their parents did is not the American dream. One solution is to focus on bringing in promising new jobs within renewable energy production. Wind, solar and hydro-based jobs will provide a wide array of good paying jobs. In addition, we could better promote to young people the myriad of apprenticeship and job training programs offered by many of the local skilled trade unions. These are frequently stable and high-paying jobs.

 

https://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/19/colorado-unemployment-wage-growth-low/