Veteran State Representative KC Becker said that in her four years of experience the record attendance at a legislative town hall was about 70 and that “Tonight we are seeing a couple hundred.”
An energetic and engaged crowd met at the Rayback Collective in Boulder with three of their state legislators, Senator Steve Fenberg, and Representatives Edie Hooten and KC Becker who is House Majority Leader.
The three appeared positive in the wake of a Donald Trump presidency that has seen cabinet nominations, executive orders, and public statements that have outraged a national public enough to take to the streets, airports, social media, and to representatives’ offices. Edie Hooten told the crowd, “We’re managing the best we can.”
KC Becker warned, “There is some horrible stuff being done at the Capitol. Keep pushing the state forward in the direction we want it to go.”
Democrats have a 6-person advantage in the House and a 1-person disadvantage in the Senate.
Although all three encouraged the crowd to remain vigilant and engaged, KC Becker said that state laws are strong enough, that the state will probably not see major changes to laws involving personhood, marijuana, and gay rights including conversion therapy.
Legislators said that they are seeing the biggest attacks on immigration, women’s rights, environmental protections, healthcare, and election rules. For example, a bill has been introduced to require doctors to educate women about “abortion reversal,” a treatment that can reverse the effect of the abortion pill. Edie Hooten said that the bill is set to come to her committee with a majority of opponents to the bill, “It will not see the light of day.”
“Big ideological bills are not going to happen,” Representative Hooten continued while referring to gun rights and religious freedom bills. Hooten who sits on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee said that last week the committee defeated the Religious Freedom Act and that next week four gun rights bills will be seen, “I can assure you they are going nowhere.”
Hooten said that she is sponsoring a bill that will require candidates who are running for president and governor who win the primary election, be required to reveal income tax statements to be able to qualify for the general ballot, “You can’t be on the general ballot in Colorado if we succeed, without having full financial disclosure.” President Trump has refused to make public his tax returns despite public demand to do so, and despite a history and tradition of former presidents to be transparent about personal finances. Hooten’s announcement drew roaring applause from the crowd.
Senator Fenberg said that the past two weeks of a Trump presidency have been exhausting, “It can be frustrating to hear about executive orders.” But he encouraged the crowd to continue fighting, “The absolute number one thing we need to do is to not get exhausted. We need to keep representing the values that we have as Coloradans.”
Earlier this month Fenberg expressed to The Nation Report that voting rights would be a priority and although his bill to track voter wait times at elections was defeated last week, he was pleased to have forced a conversation on the issue. He intends to reintroduce something similar later this session, or next year.
Fenberg has introduced two bills regarding student debt and another that addresses an energy grid that is prepared for the future increase in solar power, energy storage, and technology. His student loan bill creates education programs for teachers, nonprofits, and others about loan forgiveness or lower debt repayments.
Referring to the crowd turnout to the meeting and the numbers in the streets, and at the Capitol steps, “This right here is going to impact our country for generations because we are fired up, and more mobilized, and more ready to fight than we ever would have been before. We’re going to outlast them and have a much bigger impact to actually be much stronger after this is over.”