Area State Legislators Present Priorities for Upcoming Session

(photo:  The Nation Report)

Acknowledging that there is a lot of ground to cover in Colorado’s 120-day legislative session, area legislators met with community members in an event on Saturday organized by the League of Women Voters, Boulder County.

Participants were asked to list their top three priorities for the session.  Almost all listed housing, education and transportation as priorities yet outlined their district’s particular needs.

Senator and Senate President Steve Fenberg made the connection between housing, “more of it” and transportation and hoped to focus on “finally getting fast rail not only in our region but as part of a larger statewide system.”

Fast rail has been a sore spot among Boulder County residents who in 2004 voted to be taxed for a FasTracks light rail system yet never received the service from the Regional Transportation District (RTD).

Representative Jennifer Parenti (HD 19) agreed that transportation issues would be a top priority and added that local transportation would take a priority too since “You have to make sure there is local transportation when they get there.”

Parenti who represents Erie, Frederick, Firestone, and Longmont also listed housing, protecting democracy and securing rights such as gay rights and abortions rights.

Protecting democracy was an issue that arose among organizers, legislators, and community.  Some acknowledged that the event might have been strategically planned for January 6, the 2-year anniversary of the US Capital insurrection.

Parenti assured that there were upcoming bills planned to ascertain the idea of democracy in Colorado. Parenti also listed taxes, and skyrocketing insurance premiums as priority issues and that while additional housing is a focus that “we’re not sacrificing quality as we do it because that just costs people more in the long run.”

Protecting democracy also arose as an issue for Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis (SD 19), “We’ve done so much to make sure everyone can vote and made it as easy as possible.  We’ll continue that work for sure.”

Jaquez Lewis added gun safety, housing, and healthcare as top priorities.  She reminded her campaign promise in 2018 to work on preventing gun violence and that every year she has sponsored or co-sponsored gun safety bills as she will this year.

Jaquez Lewis, a pharmacist plans to work on the cost of prescription medications, “There isn’t a week that goes by that either a  former patient that I work with or a constituent, they always contact me about, I cant afford this medication.”

Along with Representative Judy Amabile Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) will be part of their housing bills again this year.  Amabile acknowledged having built one in her own backyard  but was forced to shut it down by local Boulder enforcement codes.  This can put a strain on those needing affordable housing and who risk living on the street without that  option.

Amabile will introduce a statewide minimal jail standards bill that if passed will impact both those who work in and those who are held in jails to be treated with minimal standards.  These standards refer to requirements to perform assessments of a jail’s physical facilities and its written policies for example. This is a first in Colorado to focus legislation on facility conditions and operations.

Amabile is also working on a social media bill that should help parents approach social media use in a “healthy way.”

Representative Junie Joseph (HD 10) will also address children in her bills.  She listed two early childhood bills as well as bills to protect immigrant families such as language access bills.

She referenced Florida as a place where banning books has been the practice and said that “In Colorado we’re lucky that we have a very progressive state and Governor but nevertheless we have to make sure that all kids are protected and is a place where everyone can learn.”

As a Boulder renter, Joseph has experienced the high cost of housing and pointed to the need to also address transportation, climate change, and climate resiliency as part of a housing solution.

Along with other candidates, Joseph supports protecting democracy by way of assuring candidate’s authenticity and attempting to prevent the use of AI-Artificial Intelligence threatening a clean and fair election.

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