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.
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.