Alyssa Steinberger, Left, Talks In March With State House District 10 Candidate, Edie Hooton, At The Democratic Party's S County Assembly. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)
Alyssa Steinberger, left, talks in March with State House District 10 candidate, Edie Hooton, at the Democratic party's s county assembly. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

New Session: Big Issues on Tap

Dear Friends,

The 2018 Colorado General Assembly legislative session starts Wednesday, January 10. This will be my second session as a State Representative, and I’m extremely excited to get back into the hustle and bustle that the next four months will bring. In this New Year, I will always remember one overarching objective: if we do our jobs properly, we can pass legislation to make real improvements in the lives of Coloradans.

In this newsletter, I’ll touch on bills and key issues for the 2018 session; what I did between sessions; bills I sponsored that passed in 2017; and perhaps most importantly, how you can participate in your state government and our political system. I take my role as Representative of the people of House District 10 very seriously, and I look forward to working with you so we can make Colorado the best state possible.

Please feel free to let me know about your questions and concerns, whether it’s by phone, by e-mail, or in person. Our first town hall meeting of the session will be held Monday, January 15, 5:30-7pm, at Sanitas Brewing, 3550 Frontier Ave. in Boulder. We will certainly have a lot to talk about, and I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,
Edie Hooton
State Representative, Colorado House District 10
ediehooton@gmail.com
(303) 588-7494
www.ediehooton.com

Beginning Wednesday, Colorado legislators can once again introduce bills that could become law. I had a productive session in 2017, and I’m looking forward to having more bill signing ceremonies in 2018, like the event in this picture where Gov. Hickenlooper signed HB 17-1266 into law!

2018: Lots of Big State Issues

Let’s start with the big picture. It’s likely that we’ll see more than 600 bills this year, and we’ll debate some of our key challenges in the context of the state’s budget. Here are a few top issues we’ll be discussing as a team – and yes, there will be agreements and disagreements – in the months to come.

  • Housing: Boulder’s housing needs are well-publicized, but many parts of the rest of the state also have housing problems of their own. We will look at ways to enhance Colorado’s housing attainability in 2018.
  • Health Care and Human Services: I will once again serve on the Public Health Care and Human Services Committee in 2018. We’ve got a big job to do in this era of uncertainty over availability of health care and human services for Coloradans – and a significant number of people may need both.
  • What’s Happening in Washington: Federal decisions can impact American states, and there have been dramatic changes in how the federal government runs over the past year. For example, Gov. Hickenlooper was forced to ask for emergency state funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in December, since Congress had not yet allocated funds. State officials must be ready to adjust should Washington actions affect aspects of our lives in Colorado.
  • Funding for public education in Colorado has lagged national averages for decades. This is unacceptable, if only because we need good K-12 schools throughout the state, and higher education should never be available only to students from wealthy families.
  • Energy and Environment: We need to keep Colorado clean and safe, so we must seek ways to manage our energy demand, and make sure oil and gas operations are well-regulated and kept out of inappropriate locations.
  • Transportation: Expect robust debate this year about how to fund transportation improvements. Estimates say Colorado has transportation funding shortfalls in the billions of dollars, and we face challenges with mobility and congestion – thanks in part to our growing population.
  • PERA: The Public Employees’ Retirement Association will be in the news often this session, as we discuss ways to make sure PERA remains solvent in the long run.

My Five Bills

Each year, each state legislator is allowed to be a prime sponsor of five bills in their respective chamber (House or Senate). Normally, most legislators sign on as co-sponsors of additional bills as the session progresses, and some may also get permission from legislative leadership to be the prime sponsor of more than their five bills. Here is a brief description of the five House bills I plan to introduce at the start of the 2018 session.

  • Task Force for Youth Experiencing Homelessness: All forms of homelessness are troubling, but it’s especially bad when young people don’t have stable housing – and we should all know that this happens in Boulder County. Homelessness can be impactful to a young person’s healthy development on a number of levels, and in certain cases it’s hazardous to their safety. The task force would, in short, discuss and study issues and statistics, and suggest potential solutions to help keep young Coloradans safe and warm.
  • Universal Health Care Analysis and Impact Study: The purpose of this bill is to develop a comprehensive analysis and impact study to inform the discussion and possible development of a universal health care proposal. It would establish a project committee to oversee the request for proposals, selection of an economic analyst, and the development of the final report. Funding would depend on gifts, grants, and donations.
  • Limiting Fees Third Parties can Charge for Recording Documents: It’s common for firms to abuse new homeowners and elderly homeowners by charging them excessive fees to acquire records. This bill would limit those charges and help ensure that homeowners have the chance to understand that they can get the records themselves.
  • Climate Leadership Awards Program: Climate change threatens Colorado in a number of ways, including the possibilities of diminished water supplies, extreme weather events, drought, wildfires, and even the length of ski seasons. This bill would establish an awards program to recognize Colorado’s climate leaders.
  • Financial Disclosure Presidential Candidates: Should a candidate for President be able to withhold their tax returns? I don’t think so, and neither do most people I talk to. This bill would require candidates for President and Vice President to file tax returns for the last five years with the Secretary of State before allowing their names to be printed on the ballot.

BILLS IN THE CONCEPT STAGE (Possible introduction in mid-January)

  • Mobile Home Consumer Protection: Mobile homes provide badly needed affordable housing for thousands of Coloradans, but mobile home owners don’t own the land the home sits on so they may be at the mercy of park owners in case of disputes. This bill is designed to empower the consumer protection unit of our Attorney General’s Office, so they can investigate potential violations and enforce existing state laws protecting mobile home owners.
  • Opiate Dependency as a Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana: This bill would add “temporary acute pain” as a statutorily qualifying condition for prescribing medical marijuana in instances where a patient would otherwise be prescribed an opiate.

2017 Session: Productive and Effective

I was a freshman legislator in 2017, and it’s an understatement to say it was a heavy learning experience. However, I believe I had a productive session, between sponsoring bills that were signed into law, serving on the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee and the aforementioned Public Health Care and Human Services Committee, and evaluating and voting on the hundreds of bills we saw on the floor and in committee.

Here are brief descriptions of bills I sponsored that Gov. Hickenlooper signed into law last year:

House Bill 17-1015, Clarify Good Time Sentence Reductions in Jails: By clarifying and consolidating statutes regarding sentence reductions for county jail inmates, this law will allow sheriffs to have a standardized way of measuring good time across the state.

House Bill 17-1266, Seal Misdemeanor Marijuana Conviction Records: This law allows people who were convicted of misdemeanor marijuana use or possession offenses to petition for the sealing of criminal records, if their behavior would not have been a criminal offense if committed after the statewide legalization of marijuana in 2012.

Senate Bill 17-041, Higher Education Employment Contract Terms: This law allows state institutions of higher educate to better compete for athletic coaches, by exempting positions funded by revenues generated through auxiliary activities from contractual restrictions in current law.

Senate Bill 17-088, Participating Provider Network Selection Criteria: This law requires carriers to notify affected providers if they decide to terminate or place a participating provider in a tiered network at least 60 days before the decision’s implementation. This will provide protections for providers so they will not be dropped as easily from coverage, which can also negatively impact their patients.

It was a great honor to receive two legislative awards for my work in 2017:

  • 2017 Legislator of the Year Award from the University of Colorado in recognition of my bill that allows CU to significantly expand the number of multiple-year coaching contracts they can offer.
  • 2017 Legislator Recognition Award from the Colorado Medical Society honoring my leadership on managed care reform for physicians and their patients.

I am also proud to have earned a 100% legislative scorecard from the following organizations for my votes last session:

  • Conservation Colorado
  • One Colorado
  • NARAL Colorado
  • Planned Parenthood Colorado
  • ACLU
  • Colorado Values Score
  • Colorado Education Association
  • Colorado Senior Lobby
  • AARP
  • Women’s Lobby of Colorado
  • AFL-CIO
  • Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • Colorado Education Association

Interim Between Sessions: On The Road

Legislators spend most of their time at the Capitol during sessions, but once the session adjourns, we can get back with the constituents in our districts, and possibly travel to experience more of our beautiful state. I had two great opportunities to learn more about the issues facing rural Colorado during the interim, and the tours were great both for my personal perspective and for how they will guide my decisions as a legislator.

Rural Hospital Tour: As a member of the House Public Health Committee, I deliberate on issues that have far reaching impacts on providers, patients, hospitals and insurers.  I found the tour of rural hospitals this summer, which took me to Gunnison, Delta, and Montrose, to be incredibly valuable in understanding the unique challenges they face – higher percentages of Medicaid patients, much higher provider to patient ratio, higher costs, and very long distances to travel, just to name a few.  It was incredibly valuable to see first hand how efficient, creative, and cooperative these communities are in managing very limited resources and delivering high quality care.

Southeast Ranch and Farm Tour: When a fellow House member from La Junta invited me to do a tour of ranches and farms in her vast southeast Colorado district, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. It was a well-organized trip and I met many fellow Coloradans who come from families that have been ranching and farming for generations. They are solid, thoughtful people for whom I have great respect, and were patient in explaining the challenges they face: water rights, drought, shortages in recipients of H1 Visas, and challenges in pursuing installation of wind turbines and solar.

One of the things I endeavor to do at the Capitol is to reach across the aisle and work with my Republican colleagues.  In my mind, that is putting Colorado first.  While there are some ideological differences that may be very hard to overcome, there are many issues we work on together that don’t get bogged down on partisan lines.

I took the opportunity to travel for several beneficial forums and training sessions during the interim, none of which were paid for with tax dollars or special interest group funds.

  • Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Training in Pittsburgh.
  • State Innovation Exchange Workshops for state legislators in Washington DC. There were many options to choose from and this year I focused on Women’s Reproductive Justice, and Clean Energy in pursuit of Climate Justice.
  • National Conference of State Legislators in Boston where legislators from around the country presented in a panel forum their areas of expertise and legislation they’re working on.

Statutory Review Commission: I also serve on the state’s Statutory Review Commission, which is designed to examine existing state law and make recommendations for bills to fix problems such as redundancies or anachronisms. The Commission meets during the session and during interims. This year, we recommended 19 bills, and you can read them in the Nov. 15 Statutory Review Commission Annual Report.

Even with a split legislature, Colorado passed 421 bills in 2017

It might not always seem like it, but the Colorado General Assembly actually has some elements of a team environment. With split legislative chambers – Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate – we were still able to pass 421 bills during the 2017 session. Having a split legislature means neither Democrats nor Republicans can pass highly partisan bills, but we all know we need to keep the state running properly, and many of our needs can be addressed without heavy partisanship.  For the most part, bill sponsors from both parties must also seek sponsorship from a member of the other party, since without bipartisan support it’s less likely that a bill will pass. Colorado is leading the way in getting bipartisan legislation passed, and here are links to legislative data from other states for perspective.

Colorado: 421 (http://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/digest2017.pdf)
New York State: 166 (https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation)
Washington State: 355 (http://www.governor.wa.gov/office-governor/official-actions/bill-action)
Maine: 360 (https://legiscan.com/ME)
Alaska: 31 (http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Stats/30)

Caucus Day: March 6

Caucus!

Attending your political party caucus gets you involved with the 2018 election cycle at the grassroots level.
Colorado will use the political party caucus/assembly process once again in 2018, and I highly recommend participating if you’re so inclined. Caucus Day is Tuesday, March 6. Anyone wishing to participate in the process must have been registered with the Democratic or Republican parties by Jan. 8, 2018.Participants will attend caucus at a location based on the precinct they live in, and people can find their caucus location through their county political party organization. For the Boulder County Democrats, visit https://www.bocodems.org, and the Boulder County Republicans are at https://www.bocogop.org. Or, read this excellent long-form explanation of the process and what’s at stake from the Colorado Independent.

The caucus/assembly process can seem confusing at first, but there are basically only a few major activities:

  • Each caucus will elect precinct leaders and a secretary.
  • The caucus will discuss candidates running for office in 2018, and will do caucus elections or straw polls to determine the caucus’ preferences.
  • The caucus will elect a given number of delegates for the upcoming County Assemblies.
  • The County Assembly delegates will vote for political candidates, and each candidate for county office must earn at least 30 percent of delegates to automatically qualify for the primary election ballot.
  • County Assembly delegates may also be elected delegates for upcoming state and multi-county district assemblies, where candidates for statewide or district office must earn at least 30 percent of delegates to automatically qualify for the primary.
  • Candidates for office may also decide to forego the caucus/assembly process and instead gather petitions to get on the primary ballot.

There has been a bit of confusion around one issue – Colorado voters did pass Proposition 108 in 2016, allowing unaffiliated voters to vote in the primary election without affiliating, but this did not eliminate the caucus/assembly process. Caucus remains a great way to get involved at the grassroots level, meeting with your friends and neighbors in an important part of our political process. Again, I hope you’ll participate!

First Town Hall Meeting Jan. 15, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Sanitas Brewery

We The People

Town hall meetings are a great way for locals to get together and talk about the most important state issues of the day!
Not everyone can travel to Denver for hearings at the Capitol during the week. The Boulder County legislative delegation will hold regular town hall meetings in Boulder County during the session, where locals can interact directly with state legislators. These tend to be very informative meetings, both for constituents and for legislators as we learn more about each other. I will send out notifications for each meeting as soon as possible, and of course our first meeting is Jan. 15, 5:30-7:00 p.m., at Sanitas Brewing, 3550 Frontier Ave. in Boulder!

2018 Session: Let’s Work Together!

Colorado regular legislative sessions can last no longer than 120 calendar days. This year’s session starts on Jan. 10, and is scheduled to end by May 9. It is possible to adjourn a session before 120 days are up, but it’s proven highly unlikely due to the sheer volume we tackle every year. Also, the Governor is authorized to call a special session, as he did in October 2017 in an attempt to fix an oversight in Senate Bill 17-267. The General Assembly can only pass or amend state laws during a session, whether it’s a regular session or a special session.

Some people might believe legislators make all decisions in a vacuum, but the fact is every year legislators run bills or make amendments based on input from constituents. Here are a few ways that you can gain information to help guide your recommendations:

  • Contact My Office: During the legislative session, I will have one legislative aide and interns staffing my office. I’m often in meetings, on the House floor, or in committee hearings during business hours, but my aide and interns will do their best to help with your questions and concerns. We receive a large volume of calls and e-mail during session so it’s not always possible to turn things around immediately, but please be assured that we’re hustling to the best of our ability, and don’t hesitate to contact us again as often as you need. The office phone number is (303) 866-2915.
  • General Assembly Website: https://leg.colorado.gov: On this site, you can find the text of every bill once it’s been introduced; bill archives from past sessions; contact information for legislators; floor session and committee schedules; budget and audit documents; reference links to the Constitution and state statutes; and more.
  • Visit the Capitol: The State Capitol in Denver is open Mondays through Fridays (except certain holidays), opening at 7:30 a.m. All House and Senate floor sessions are open to the public. Also, all committee of reference hearings are open to the public, and you may sign up for public testimony if you have an opinion or relevant information to share. It’s an exciting place to be during the session, not to mention a beautiful historic building!

I am proud to serve you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at edie.hooton.house@state.co.us if you ever have any questions, concerns, or ideas on how to move Colorado forward.

All the best,

I want to hear from you!

Email: edie.hooton.house@state.co.us

                 Phone: 303-866-2915
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