The 2017 Legislative Session has come to a close after a wild ride. While we accomplished many things, such as achieving construction defects reform and reclassifying the hospital provider fee, other key bills such as paid family leave and greater oil and gas protections failed. Here is a look at the highs and lows of the 2017 session.
A bipartisan transportation package, ultimately killed in the Senate Finance committee, would have asked voters to decide whether or not to increase sales tax to fund transportation projects throughout the state. Proponents pointed to a growing population, crumbling roads and a constricted state budget as to why we need more transportation funding. Others opposed a tax hike and urged a reprioritization of the state budget. Then, an attempt to bring paid family and medical leave to Colorado passed the House, but died in the Senate “kill committee.” I hope to see this issue raised again next year, and that a compromise can be reached in order to support Colorado families. Finally, several oil and gas bills were unsuccessful. An attempt to mandate oil and gas facilities be 1,000 feet away from schools met an untimely end, along with legislation to more closely regulate forced pooling and map flowlines. My amendment to the state budget to provide an additional air monitor for oil and gas sites was stripped out by the budget committee. I will continue to look for common sense solutions to the challenges oil and gas development poses to our community.
After several years of failed negotiations, a compromise on construction defects reform passed. The bill requires the approval of a majority of members of a HOA before the HOA board can initiate legal proceedings against a general contractor. Sponsors of the bill say that this is a step towards encouraging the construction of more condos and affordable housing options. Plus, a bill to reclassify the hospital provider fee from under the TABOR cap passed in a nail-biting finish. It will prevent massive cuts to hospitals, and provide funding for schools and roads around the state. I applaud the sponsors of this bipartisan compromise for the countless hours spent negotiating this important issue. My proudest accomplishment of the session was the passage of my bill to decriminalize failure to pay a traffic ticket. Currently, if a person fails to pay a traffic ticket on time or fails to appear in court for the ticket, that person's driver's license can be suspended. Suspending a person's license can result in that person being unable to lawfully drive to work or take their kids to school. This bill repeals the use of license suspension as a penalty, and is a step towards decriminalizing poverty in Colorado.
I want to say thank you to everyone that took the time to stay active in their government this session. Your phone calls, emails, and letters helped me be a better Representative. I also enjoyed chatting with you at town hall meetings, in my office, and watching you testify in committee. During the interim, please be sure to continue to send me your ideas and concerns about our community. Don't be afraid to stay in touch.