Senator Steve Fenberg | Uncategorized
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04 Aug Summer, so far.

 

Hard to believe it’s already August! While I and the Senate Dems have had a relatively low-profile the last couple of months, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. We’ve stayed busy establishing interim committees, getting 2021 bills implemented, and monitoring the new developments of COVID-19.

Read on for updates on summer so far in Senate District 18 and across Colorado…

New Appointments to American Rescue Plan Committees

House and Senate leadership recently made appointments to two of the three task forces that will make recommendations on how the state will spend the remainder of the American Rescue Plan funds. These two committees are charged specifically with making transformational investments in solving our affordable housing crisis and our behavioral/mental health crisis across our state. No pressure, friends…

This is a major step forward towards spending the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding we received in May. It’s a big deal.

You can find a complete list of lawmaker appointments here, and a complete list of experts serving on each task force here.

 

COVID-19 Update

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread around our state and community, the CDC has recommended that, as a precaution, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Our best defense against new variants and community spread is to increase our vaccine rates so transmission decreases and breakthrough cases become even rarer. Find out everything you need to know about how to get a free, safe vaccine here.

Have questions about Colorado’s ongoing COVID-19 response? Reach out to my office at steve@stevefenberg.org.

 

Boulder News

  • Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commission is on a statewide tour to gather feedback about the proposed congressional and legislative district maps. If you have thoughts you’d like to share on the draft maps, the Boulder public comment hearing will be on Wednesday, August 11th at 7:00pm, located at CU’s Center for Academic Success and Engagement in the auditorium on the 4th floor. Find info on remote participation here.
  • There are only two more Boulder Bands on the Bricks concerts this summer! August 4thand August 11th will close out this year’s summer concert series. Learn more here.
  • Boulder recently rolled out a new feature on its website that allows you to search and explore all of Boulder’s hiking trails! You can find and sort trails by length, difficulty and closure status. Check it out here!

 

Action Alert

Right now, the US Senate is deciding what to do about climate change. They can go big or stay small.

Now’s the time to email Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet to tell them to go big with a price on carbon. Then, give them a call as well.

Check out this FAQ for more details.

 

 

Child Tax Credits Hit Mailboxes

The first round of Child Tax Credits hit mailboxes & bank accounts last month! That means parents of 1 million Colorado kids have started receiving a monthly check of up to $300 per child!

The Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan is the largest Child Tax Credit ever and provides historic relief to most working families. A huge thanks goes out to Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who has been a longtime champion of this policy and was essential in getting it included in the American Rescue Plan.

If you’re eligible & filed taxes in 2019 or 2020 you should be automatically receiving payments. If you didn’t see a payment come through last month and you believe you should have, you can sign up here.

 

Sans Souci Residents Buy Mobile Home Park

The culmination of years of advocacy and policy work finally resulted the Sans Souci community purchasing the land their mobile homes sit on.

Residents of mobile home parks like Sans Souci understand their needs better than anyone else. Returning the power to their hands to make decisions on their own behalf grants new freedoms and greater stability.

Learn more about their purchase here.

 

 

Between everything that’s been going on since session ended I’ve been able to squeeze in some much needed time with family. Most of it spent trying to keep up with Isa, who – at 19 months – is always on the move.

Never a dull moment.

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01 Jul New Laws of the Land

 

We’re a few weeks out from the last day of the 2021 legislative session. Which means Gov. Polis is wrapping up a whirlwind statewide tour to get the legislature’s 502 new bills signed into law!

It’s been great to attend a handful of these signings to celebrate the culmination of so much hard work from colleagues, advocates, and many, many stakeholders.

A few signing highlights below, along with a full list of my bills that have been signed by the Governor.

 

 

I was honored to be joined by Boulder leaders for the signing of SB 256, Local Regulation of Firearms.

With the passage of this bill, Boulder will soon be able to reinstate their assault weapons ban that was overturned just days before the King Soopers shooting.

 

 

 

 

I joined Sen. Winter, Rep. Gray, and Speaker Garnett at Floyd Hill on I-70 for the signing of the historic legislation that is SB 260, Sustainability of the Transportation System. Floyd Hill is an infamous bottleneck zone of    I-70 that will see a major renovation made possible by the funding in thi
s bill.

I’m so proud of how this legislation is going to bring Colorado’s transportation system into the 21st century. It’s been a long time coming.

 

 

 

On a very foggy day (I was promised a panoramic view of the mountains…) I joined Reps. Will and Tipper at Golden Gate Canyon State Park for the signing of SB 249, which creates the new, discounted Keep Colorado Wild Pass.

This pass is one of the most impactful things we can do to maintain the high quality of our state parks, while opening up access to all Coloradans, regardless of income.

 

 

And a full list of my bills that have
now been signed by Governor Polis:

  • SB 261 – making landmark improvements to Colorado’s distributed generation policies
  • SB 246 – incentivizing electrification of our homes and buildings
  • HB 1304 – laying the foundation for Universal Pre-K in Colorado
  • SB 291 – creating the economic recovery and relief cash fund to spend federal funding from the American Rescue Plan
  • SB 029 – providing in-state tuition to members of American Indian tribes with historical ties to Colorado
  • SB 250 – further modernizing Colorado’s elections system
  • SB 252 – creating a community revitalization grant program
  • HB 1323 – honoring King Soopers shooting victim Teri Leiker with a new Special Olympics license plate
  • HB 1290 – allocating additional funding to the Office of Just Transition
  • SB 166 – implementing new recommendations to the Wildfire Commission
  • SB 103 – continuing the Office of Consumer Counsel
  • HB 1071 – allowing municipalities to adopt Ranked Choice Voting
  • SB 244 – providing healthcare to legislative aides 
  • SB 113 – purchasing a state of the art wildfire fighting helicopter, the Firehawk
  • HB 1164 – making a fix to our school finance formula to create more equitable revenue streams between districts
  • SB 272 – funding many of the environmental bills passed this session

 

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in my slate of bills this session. Whether through testimony, advocacy work, an email or phone call, your voice helped shape progress this year.

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10 Jun ’21 is done! Here’s what we accomplished.

The 73rd General Assembly has adjourned sine die! Yesterday we officially wrapped on one of the most productive and consequential legislative sessions in recent memory.

After a touch and go start to the year (a pandemic and a few riots will do that), we had the great joy of working under the new federal leadership of President Biden. With determination, relief, and great hope, we got to work to pull Colorado out of the pandemic, and we set our sights on recovery.

Recovery meant getting vaccines in arms, loosening public health measures as it became safe to do so, and building Colorado back stronger than it was before the pandemic. Because we knew that returning to ‘normal’ wasn’t an option. We needed to come out of the pandemic more just and more equitable than before.

Armed with $800 million of state stimulus funding and $3.8 billion of federal recovery funds, we found ourselves in a position to actually move Colorado towards a more just future.

We moved quickly to deliver for the people of Colorado.

Our ‘Colorado Comeback’ consisted of about 30 bipartisan bills that make major, one-time investments in mental health resources, housing resources, infrastructure projects, and workforce development.

I also worked tirelessly alongside a broad coalition on a transportation bill that is an innovative, transformational solution to a broken transportation system. We couldn’t wait any longer to address our transportation needs, and although it may not be perfect, our 200 page solution gets at the root of our existing transportation needs, while future-proofing our transportation system for evolving uses.

And then, on March 22, Boulder experienced a tragedy that brought our community to a halt. We lost 10 lives in a horrific mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers, and my community made it known loud and clear – thoughts and prayers weren’t going to cut it. We needed action.

I quickly got to work to put together a package of gun violence prevention legislation that builds on what Colorado has already in place, and takes us even further towards sincere safety.

Through it all, we have emerged stronger – as individuals, as Boulder, as Colorado. The hard work from so many folks has turned into progress that is systemic, bold, and lasting.
I truly believe that Colorado is emerging from the pandemic stronger, more resilient and more equitable. 

I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments this session – and they were many.

 

Just a few highlights:

Want to hear even more? Join us Monday, June 14th at 6:00 PM for a virtual town hall where we’ll highlight our accomplishments and take your questions! You can register for the event her
e
.

So, now what?

After a couple days of rest, we’ll get back to work on our plan to spend the federal stimulus funding Colorado received from the American Rescue Plan. Bipartisan interim committees will meet throughout the summer and fall to explore the smartest ways to invest that funding in mental and behavioral health programs, affordable housing solutions, workforce development, and much more.
The work continues.
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07 Jun The Final Days of Session

It’s day 112 of the 2021 legislative session.

We’ve officially rounded third base and are in the homestretch.
But… so. much. work. happens in the homestretch.

Things have been moving quickly on a handful of my bills. Check out what’s been going on in Majority Leader Land™:

  • HB21-1304, to establish universal Pre-K in Colorado passed the Senate unanimously! This legislation lays the foundation for how Colorado will fund, coordinate, and address accessible early childhood education.
  • HB21-1164, making a fix to our school funding system, recently got the go ahead from the Colorado Supreme Court! For months, we patiently waited to hear the fate of our bill to create more equitable revenue streams – and finally the Court’s decision was made official!
  • HB21-1290, allocating millions of dollars to the Office of Just Transition, will allow us to protect workers in communities that are transitioning from fossil fuel dependency to new clean energy projects.

 

From the Caucus:

Senate Dems have also been making a whole lot of progress in these final few weeks of session. All of the following bills have passed the Senate, and will either head to the House for final votes, or head to the Governor’s desk for signature:

  • We unanimously passed a package of bills to create spending plans for the $3.8 billion of federal aid we received from the American Rescue Plan. More to come on this, but now we’ve officially charted our path forward.
  • SB21-087, establishing an Agricultural Workers’ Bill of Rights, grants new rights to workers on everything from wages to union organizing.
  • SB21-176, codifies protections for Colorado workers against unsafe and inappropriate workplace conditions.
  • SB21-273, a pre-trial reform bill, seeks to stop our destructive cycles of over-policing and restore trust in the criminal justice system.
  • A trio of life-saving gun violence prevention bills:
    • HB21-1298, strengthens background checks to include violent misdemeanors as a prohibitor for firearm purchases.
    • HB21-1299, establishing the Office of Gun Violence Prevention,which will provide education on Colorado’s existing gun safety laws and research root causes of gun violence in our state.
    • HB21-1255, requires those facing domestic violence protection orders to report their firearms.
  • A package of tax reform bills:
    • HB21-1311 & HB21-1312, both of which will close tax loopholes for corporations, keeping money in the pockets of Colorado families, workers, and small businesses.

 

We’re almost home, folks.

Although we originally hoped to wrap things up by end of May, there’s still too much good stuff to get done. We still need to take further action on solidifying our state’s climate action goals, to help families and small businesses continuing to struggle financially, make our tax system more fair and progressive, and advance voting rights.

So, the plan is to keep working as long as it takes to get it all done – until we’re cut off by the constitutional 120 day deadline that falls on June 12th, that is.

And as we wrap up, I’m relying on only my most trusted advisors. Namely, my daughter Isa.

If only you knew the policy debates we get into…

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25 May How Colorado will spend billions in federal funding 💸


Yesterday, members of the Colorado legislature were joined by Governor Polis, members of our congressional delegation and other state leaders to announce our plans to spend billions of dollars in federal funding.

Just two months ago, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, putting sweeping relief into action. The stimulus plan has already provided direct relief to most Americans, routed funding to safely reopen schools, and put in place a temporary child tax credit.

Also in the package – $3.8 billion to jumpstart the economy and address Colorado’s ongoing needs in the wake of the pandemic. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create bold, transformational change in our state.

After gathering the feedback from our statewide listening tour, we’ve focused our spending on a few key areas:

  • Funding affordable housing solutions
  • Combating our mental and behavioral health crises
  • Fortifying our state budget to prepare us for Colorado’s next challenges
  • And investing in workforce development to give Coloradans the skills they need to thrive in our recovering economy

This unprecedented amount of federal funding gives us the opportunity to make sure Colorado builds back stronger by investing in what makes Colorado special: our people, our small businesses, our quality of life, and our public lands.

I’m grateful to members of our federal delegation for helping secure this much-needed funding for the people of Colorado.

I’m grateful to staffers and my colleagues at the Capitol who have spent countless hours preparing a plan to build Colorado back stronger.

And I’m so grateful to the people of Colorado for guiding our work and helping us understand the issues impacting you the most.

 

We’re in the dog days of the 2021 legislative session. With only a few days 

left, there are still a handful of major, transformational policies that we’ll be taking action on this week.

We’ve already gotten a lot done this year, and there’s still more progress to be made on climate, gun violence, health care, and many other issues. I’m excited to share it all with you when session wraps.

Keep an eye out for my end of session wrap-up and upcoming end of session events.

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19 May In the Homestretch: Long Days, Late Nights, & Lots of Progress

It’s been another busy week at the Capitol! Long days, late nights, and ultimately, a lot of progress.

On Monday we passed one of my priority bills, Sustainability of the Transportation System, out of the Senate. We also advanced SB21-256, Local Regulation of Firearms, and will be sending it on to the House for further consideration.

Here’s a status report on my bills currently moving through the Senate:

The Keep Colorado Wild Annual Pass, a new discounted state parks pass, will increase accessibility to our public lands for ALL Coloradans. It passed out of the Senate and now moves to the House for further consideration!

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11 May So much happening: Transportation, elections, guns, public lands, and much more.

 

The past several weeks have truly been a whirlwind. I’m definitely feeling the full weight of session, as several of my priority bills have started moving forward. I’ll forgive you if you haven’t been able to keep up with all that’s been going on…

Here’s a quick round-up of where
several priority bills currently stand:

TRANSPORTATION

SB21-260 was introduced in the Senate earlier this week, and will be heard in Finance committee on Monday!

We set out to craft this major transportation package with three goals in mind:

  1. Saving Coloradans money and time spent on the roads.
  2. Creating a transportation system that supports a dynamic economy while improving air quality.
  3. Establishing a sustainable funding source for Colorado’s transportation system.

After 100s of hours of stakeholding, we’re proud to finally put forward this long-term, transformative plan for Colorado’s transportation system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL REGULATION OF FIREARMS

SB21-256 will be heard in committee next Tuesday, May 11th. If you’d like to provide testimony in person, remotely, or written, you can sign up in advance here.

This is the bill that repeals the state preemption that currently bars local governments from implementing their own firearm regulations. For example, this legislation will allow Boulder to reinstate their local assault weapons ban that was recently overturned.

 

KEEP COLORADO WILD PASS

SB21-249 passed through the Agriculture & Natural Resources committee and has two more committees go to before it’s on the Senate floor in a few weeks!

The Keep Colorado Wild Pass – a new, discounted state parks pass – will make our A+ state parks system more accessible to all Coloradans.

Over the past year, our state parks have been struggling to keep up with increased use and growing demand. The Keep CO Wild Pass will generate much needed revenue to make investments in our public lands, outdoor recreation and safety, and wildlife conservation – so everyone can continue to enjoy the great outdoors for generations to come.

 

 

ELECTIONS & VOTING

SB21-250 passed through committee this week and will be heard on the Senate floor soon!

We already know that Colorado is a national role model for secure, accessible, and fair elections. Even so, each year we take a look at our voting system to identify any adjustments and improvements that are needed to make our election system even better.

So as we see states like Georgia and Florida severely limit voting rights, here in Colorado we’re doing the opposite. This bill modernizes our voter registration system, improves drop boxes and Voting Service and Polling Centers, and ensures voting is free from partisan interference.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM

HB21-1304 was introduced in the House this week!

Last November voters overwhelmingly agreed to support universal access to high-quality preschool – demonstrating a real commitment to equitable child care in Colorado. This legislation will create the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, which will include the new universal Pre-K program.

 

BENEFICIAL ELECTRIFICATION

SB21-246 passed through committee and will be heard on the Senate floor soon!

Upgrading all of our buildings and homes to be able to run on clean electricity would mean a huge reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions. How huge? Fully electrifying by 2050 is expected to result in net emissions reductions of 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – equal to taking 1.7 million passenger vehicles off the road!

This bill is a key step forward in getting Colorado on the right track towards full electrification!

As you can tell, I’m in for a busy final month of session. I have so appreciated all of your engagement over the past few months, and look forward to continuing to hear from you in the coming weeks.

 

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30 Apr Gun Violence Prevention Bills Introduced

 

It’s been just over a month since ten lives were stolen from our community. These lives were stolen while at King Soopers – the very grocery store where my family and I do our shopping. These lives were stolen while they were working at their job, maybe helping a customer bag their groceries. Others may have been grabbing that last item to make a family dinner. These were small business owners, a police officer, mothers, fathers, and grandparents to-be.

We have lost too many loved ones to gun violence. It’s time to honor them with action.

That’s why we just introduced a package of gun violence prevention bills in response to the Boulder King Soopers shooting and our country’s gun violence epidemic as a whole.

When my colleagues and I were discussing the most effective ways to respond in this moment, we asked ourselves what can we do as policymakers to save the most lives. Grounded in that question, three policies quickly rose to the top.

 

Here’s what each of the bills will do:

 

  • SB21-256: Local Regulation Of Firearms, Senator Moreno is joining me as co-sponsor in the Senate – This bill repeals the state preemption that currently bars local governments from implementing their own firearm regulations. For example, this bill would hand the power back to the city of Boulder and allow them to reinstate their local assault weapons ban. Each community has the unique expertise to know what it takes to make them safe. And each community deserves the authority to enact laws that get them there.

 

  • HB21-1298: Expand Firearm Transfer Background Check Requirements, sponsored by Senators Gonzales & Pettersen – This bill prohibits a person who has been convicted of specific violent misdemeanor offenses from purchasing a firearm for 5 years. It also closes the Charleston loophole – which allows an individual who may not have otherwise passed a background check to obtain a firearm if the results of that background check take longer than three days to process.

 

  • HB21-1299: Office Of Gun Violence Prevention, sponsored by Senators Fields & Hansen – The bill establishes the Office of Gun Violence Prevention under the Department of Public Health and Environment. The Office will be responsible for conducting public education and outreach campaigns to inform Coloradans about existing gun laws, including Extreme Risk Protection Orders (i.e. Colorado’s Red Flag law). The Office will also fund proven community-based violence intervention programs focused on interrupting cycles of gun violence. Finally, the Office will research gun violence in Colorado and will create and maintain a database of their findings.

 

I firmly believe that each one of the bills we introduced today are incredibly effective, common-sense next steps for Colorado. I’m so proud to champion this package and I promise to do everything I can to see these bills across the finish line.

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08 Apr Bills, A Budget, And Baseball

Somehow we already find ourselves at the halfway point of the 2021 session. As we finalize the budget this week, we’re on track for a very busy second half of session.

Our budget funds all day-to-day operations of state government – everything from education to energy projects, from healthcare to hospitals. The $34 billion budget is truly a labor of love from our Joint Budget Committee to the state and people of Colorado, and it will ensure that no one is left behind during our recovery.

A few highlights:

    • $480 million to reduce the annual education shortfall – bolstering school funding levels for the next two years.
    • $380 million for future Public Employees’ Retirement Association Direct Distribution payments.
    • $20 million to create more than 500 new around-the-clock care slots for people with developmental disabilities. 
    • $327 million for state infrastructure and information technology projects. 
    • $13 million for the Wildfire Stimulus Package. 

 

Recent Senate Dems’ Bill Updates:

 

    • SB21-124: Changes to Felony Murder, passed out of the Senate.
      • Senator Lee’s bill revises Colorado law to ensure that a person who did not intend to, or personally commit, a murder is sentenced fairly and in proportion to their crime, rather than be held responsible for another person’s malicious actions.
    • HB21-1054: Housing Public Benefit Verification Requirement, with the Governor for signature.
      • Senator Gonzales’ bill will provide undocumented people access to state-funded housing assistance. It’s estimated that 180,000 undocumented people in Colorado will now have access to emergency pandemic housing assistance that they didn’t have before.
    • HB21-1075: Replace the Term Illegal Alien, with the Governor for signature.
      • Senator Gonzales’ bill removes the term “illegal alien” from the state statute regarding public contracts and replace it with the term “worker without authorization.”
    • HB21-1106: Safe Storage Of Firearms, passed committee and goes to the Senate floor.
      • Senators Hansen and Bridges’ bill helps reduce gun deaths by requiring that firearms be safely stored and out of children’s reach. This common sense legislation is an effective way to reduce the number of children needlessly dying from a firearm.

 

Additionally, we recently introduced another round of stimulus bills that address restaurant, event and agriculture industries, workforce development, and mental health. Relief is on the way.

 

What’s on the horizon?

 

A few weeks ago we rolled out the details of a bill to address Colorado’s transportation funding packages. We’re getting closer to introducing this critical piece of legislation, so keep an eye out for more details soon. In the meantime, I’d suggest reading up on Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan (and the growing possibility of a Front Range rail line!).

Gun reform policies are starting to take shape. Conversations are continuing as we discuss potential legislation to address gun violence in our communities. That being said, we’re not going to rush into any quick decisions. I want to
make sure any policy we introduce will have a meaningful impact for the people of Colorado, and will actually save lives. More to come soon.

 

The MLB All-Star Game was relocated from Atlanta to Denver in response to Georgia’s extremely restrictive voting laws. I’m a fan of baseball, but an even bigger fan of democracy. I’m proud to live in a state that can boast such a secure and accessible voting system. I’ll gladly take any chance to celebrate Colorado’s gold standard election system, especially while enjoying a beer at Coors Field.

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29 Mar All options on the table

 

Boulder is a community changed. The pain from this tragedy touches each of us in different ways. It’s okay be sad, to be anxious, to be angry. One week later, I’m still feeling all of it.

As we honor the victims of this tragedy and process this unique pain, there are ways to help and be helped. Below are mental health resources for those struggling with the events of the King Soopers shooting, and community funds to support the families of the ten lives we lost:

Mental Health Support:

    • You can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
    • If you are in crisis, call the crisis hotline at 1-844-493-8255, text TALK to 38255 or go directly to Mental Health Partners walk in center at 3180 Airport Road, Boulder.
    • The Boulder Valley School District’s trauma response team is supporting district students impacted. To receive support, fill out this form.
    • Tips for talking to children about violence can be found here.

Community funds:

    • Community Foundation Boulder County: Donate here.
    • Colorado Healing Fund: Donate here.
      • Funds go directly to victims and their families.
    • Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation: Donate here.
      • To support memorial services & the family of Officer Eric Talley.

 

What’s Next: All Options on the Table

 

Now, my colleagues and I need to lead. We need to have the hard conversations about what we can do to keep our communities safe. Last week, Senator Michael Bennet called on his colleagues to have an ounce of courage as they respond to this tragedy. I believe in my colleagues’ ability to have much more than an ounce of courage. At the state level, we are committed to having those hard conversations and doing everything we can to prevent the next tragedy like this one.

All options remain on the table, and I’ve been looking into the possibilities for the most aggressive, effective action, including banning certain weapons, prohibiting those with a violent past from obtaining guns, increased mental health investments, and repealing the state preemption on local gun laws.

While there isn’t any one policy solution to prevent all tragedies like this one, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue every possible option. Our neighbors’ lives depend on it.

In addition to policy at the state level, I urge the President and Congress to take swift action. A patchwork of state laws can only do so much. Our most effective solutions require federal action.

In case you missed it…

 

Last week I joined leaders from the local, state, and federal levels of government for a conversation on how we chart a path forward as a community. A recording of the event is here.

 

Boulder has had an impossibly tough week, and there will be many tough weeks to come. I’m so proud of how our community has come together to honor the victims of this tragedy, support their families and one another, and begin the long process of healing.

I’m recommitting myself in service to Boulder, and to Colorado. We can’t let this be yet another shooting where move on without taking action. I won’t let it be.

In solidarity,

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