Women's March in Denver, 2018

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Dear Friends,

The first two calendar weeks of the 2018 session are complete, and it’s been an interesting and hectic time since the session began on January 10. This letter will touch on a few especially relevant events in my experience, but please know there is so much more going on at the Capitol, since state legislators have already introduced nearly 300 bills or resolutions so far on a wide variety of topics.

I hope you enjoy the letter, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or comments!

Edie Hooton
Colorado State Representative, House District 10
(303) 588-7494

First Bills Introduced!

My first two sponsored bills of the session have been introduced, and they both have their first committee hearings scheduled.

Two Bills Up in the Early Going

I’ve had two of my sponsored bills formally introduced so far, though several others are drafted and waiting for introduction. The first, Task Force for Youth Experiencing Homelessness (House Bill 18-1021), would as the title suggests establish a task force to tackle the heartbreaking issue of youth homelessness in Colorado. It’s possible that youth homelessness could be a temporary problem for some, but it can also put the safety of young people at risk, threaten their health and physical development, or even lead to long-lasting emotional trauma. A humane society ought to do everything possible to prevent youth homelessness.

The task force would consist of 21 members. This would include state officials such as representatives from the Division of Housing, Attorney General’s Office, Office of Adult and Juvenile Justice, and Division of Child Welfare; representatives from human services agencies that deal with youth homelessness; and at least two individuals who have experienced youth homelessness. This bill has been assigned to the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee, and its first hearing has been scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 30.

My second introduced bill, Climate Leadership Awards Program (HB 18-1080), would create a statewide awards program for organizations and individuals doing stellar work in the fight against climate change. Colorado already has an executive branch position dedicated to climate change issues, and this official would oversee the awards program to be established with this bill.

Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and Colorado could suffer from its impacts – through issues including wildfire and othe natural disasters, diminished water supplies, and even changes in our ski seasons. We ought to recognize Coloradans who are leading our effort to minimize or reverse potential problems, and that’s why I’m running this bill. There will be no additional state funding devoted to the program, and the bill authorizes funding to be obtained through gifts, grants, and donations if necessary. It has been assigned to the House Transportation and Energy Committee, and its first hearing is scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Opening Day Excitement

All eyes and ears were focused on Opening Day speeches and the Governor’s State of the State address.

Opening Speeches: Aspiration for the Session

The first week of every session brings speeches from legislative leaders and, of course, the Governor’s State of the State address. Early session speeches tend to be positive and aspirational, with calls to envision what we can accomplish as a team during our 120-day session. They also set the tone for what each caucus (House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats) hopes to prioritize and accomplish during the session.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s State of the State: Teamwork Past and Present

It hardly seems possible, but Governor John Hickenlooper is in his final year in office and gave his final State of the State address on Jan. 11. He recalled the peaks and valleys of Colorado’s past eight years – it’s easy to forget that he took office in 2011 while we were still struggling as a result of the Great Recession – and he talked about challenges he hopes the state will overcome as he rides off into the sunset.

It was especially gratifying to hear Gov. Hickenlooper’s review of Colorado’s recent successes. This includes slashing our unemployment rate, expanding rural broadband access, increasing our rates of health care coverage, getting our Hospital Provider Fee out from under TABOR, reducing our abortion rate, improving our electric vehicle infrastructure network, and so much more. Of course, we still have work to do, and Gov. Hickenlooper both recognized how teamwork helped us get the job done in the past and implored us to continue with our spirit of collaboration into the future.

“Popular culture has tried to sell us a tall tale that Colorado’s history is only about rugged individualism and conflict. But cooperation has always been the defining part of our DNA,” said Gov. Hickenlooper during the State of the State.

The whole speech is worth a read or listen if you missed it – just click here to watch the video or click here to read the transcript.

Speaker Duran: The Intolerable Can’t Be Tolerated

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran also issued a call for collaboration, which is good since as a state legislature, we must tackle problems no matter the voter registration numbers of a given city, county, or region. In her opening day speech, Duran gave significant time to the challenges of providing adequate health care in rural areas, in part since many rural residents must travel great distances to visit a doctor.

The Speaker challenged her colleagues to find solutions to problems such as substandard education and transportation funding, affordable housing difficulties, opioid abuse and addiction,  and long-term viability of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA), among other issues. She also gave special emphasis to current concerns about sexual harassment and inequality in our society.

“The hurdles of harassment and discrimination faced by women, people of color and people with disabilities should have been leveled a long time ago, but it is crystal clear that these challenges persist today…Let our actions show that the intolerable will be tolerated no more,” said Duran during her speech.

Again, you can read her entire speech by clicking here, or watch the video by clicking here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

From left: Rep. Jessie Danielson, Rep. Mike Foote, Sen. Rhonda Fields, Rep. Jeni Arndt, Sen. Lucia Guzman, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and me on the House floor.

MLK Day: We’ve Still Got Work to Do

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day – this year on Jan. 15 – is always important in Boulder and at the Capitol, as we reflect on the great civil rights leader and how much we still have to do to put an end to racism and promote equality. I participated in events in Boulder, where we were inspired by remarks from a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, sang songs together, and listened to speeches from local officials. For example, Nikhil Mankahar with the City of Boulder’s Human Rights Commission gave a thoughtful speech about the realities of being a nonwhite native of Boulder, which is largely white.

At the Capitol, we spent Jan. 12 discussing Dr. King’s work and passing Senate Joint Resolution 18-002, Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday. The day was full of heartfelt speeches from the diverse members of the General Assembly, but Dr. King was one of the most quotable members of modern society, and I hope people will consider this quote of his that was included in the resolution as we move forward.

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

First Town Hall Meeting

We had a lively discussion on consumer protection and state issues at our first town hall meeting of the 2018 session!

Town Hall: Consumer Protection and New Bills

We held our first town hall meeting of the 2018 session Monday, Jan. 15 at Sanitas Brewing in Boulder. I joined Boulder legislators House Majority Leader KC Becker and Senator Steve Fenberg to speak about our early session bills, and to field questions and comments from attendees. Also, Danny Katz, Director of Colorado Public Interest Group (CoPIRG), gave a presentation on consumer protection, answered questions, and provided informational handouts on this vitally important topic.

For a very thorough account of what happened at the town hall, just click here for the story from The Nation Report!

Dreamers: Part of Our Future

The Colorado House passed a resolution asking Congress to support Dreamers like Lluvia (above center).

State House Passes Pro-Dreamer Resolution

The state legislature has the authority to pass resolutions asking Congress for action, and the Colorado House did just that on Friday, Jan. 19. With great controversy at the federal level over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), we passed House Resolution 18-1004, in short urging our congressional delegation to “support efforts to immediately find a collaborative and rational approach to passing a permanent legislative solution that allows Dreamers to secure legal status.”

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran and Rep. Adrienne Benavidez were the prime sponsors of the resolution, and speeches given during the floor session were powerful and moving. We can do so much better as a society than threatening people who were born here and know no other home with deportation. I’m glad we passed the resolution, but of course the ball is in Congress’ hands.

I also recently had the opportunity to meet Lluvia (pictured at center above), a DACA recipient and a first-year medical student at CU. Kate Ricklin (pictured at left) is the mother of her best friend who saw Lluvia’s potential and helped her navigate the higher education system. It is so important to know Dreamers as people, not just as a category or demographic, and I honor and support both Lluvia and Kate for their perseverance and commitment to supporting the potential that makes our country great!

Casey Middle School Day at the Capitol

A great group from Casey Middle School visited the Capitol for a memorable field trip!

Casey Middle School Learns How Legislating is Done

I was honored to host a recent Day at the Capitol for Casey Middle School from Boulder. The students demonstrated great passion for understanding the mechanics of how legislation is made and adopted, and had admirable curiosity about the inside baseball on how government works. I give special thanks to Casey teachers Cary Hoste and Ian Schwartz for organizing this field trip and enhancing their students’ interest in how they can personally affect change. I sleep better at night knowing we can safely pass the torch to our next generation of leaders!

If you have a group that would like to tour the Capitol, here’s a link to get started: http://leg.colorado.gov/content/book-tour.

Women’s March: Quite the Crowd!

State legislators were among the many thousands at the Women’s March. From left: me, Rep. Jessie Danielson and her daughter Isabel, Rep. Jovan Melton, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, and Rep. Mike Weissman.

Women’s March: So Many Have So Much to Say

I joined thousands upon thousands of concerned Coloradans on Jan. 20 at the second Women’s March in Denver. It was incredibly inspiring to walk alongside so many people – women and men – who care deeply about a better future for this nation. People carried signs expressing a wide variety of opinions regarding issues such as equal rights and pay equity for women, support for Dreamers, opposition to the actions and statements of President Trump, and much more. Following the march, people gathered in Civic Center Park for a series of heartfelt speeches.

Many of my colleagues in the General Assembly attended the march, and there was a strong political element present throughout the day. We’re entering the 2018 midterm election cycle, and it’s important to remember that we can’t get change if people desiring change don’t get out and vote. Still, one of my favorite signs at the march came from a young girl, saying, “In 9 years, I vote!” It’s a great reminder that all of us must be in it for the long haul!

2018: Attorney General Race and More

I joined House Majority Leader KC Becker and about 180 people for the Democratic Women of Boulder County’s Attorney General debate in Boulder.

2018 Election Cycle: Let’s Get Involved!

The 2018 election cycle is in full swing, and all signs point toward a very interesting political season ahead. Both Democrats and Republicans have a big field of candidates running for Governor of Colorado, and the Democratic Women of Boulder County just hosted a lively debate between Democratic candidates for Attorney General – hosted by Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, a former AG candidate himself. I’d like to give a big shout-out to DWBC President Tracy Zaik and Vice President Phyllis Reiner for organizing the event, and about 180 people had the chance to learn more about candidates for the vitally important AG’s office.

Key dates in this cycle – the political party precinct caucuses will be held on March 6, and the final day of the primary election is June 26 (mail ballots and polling centers allow people to vote early). Let’s do whatever it takes to get informed and make intelligent decisions on candidates who could have real influence over our lives during the next two or four years!

Let’s Keep In Touch!

As you can see, there is a lot to talk about, and the session will only get more interesting as it moves along.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 (o), (303) 588-7494 (c)