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.