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.
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:
- Landmark health care legislation that:
- Smart solutions to fund our education system and take care of Colorado students:
- Made a fix to align school funding revenue caps with voters’ wishes, eliminated school funding shortfalls through the next two years, established a uniform early childhood education system, implemented media literacy in our schools, prohibited legacy preference in higher education acceptance, created regulatory processes for private student loan lenders.
- Bold, life-saving progress on gun violence prevention:
- Established the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, created requirements to report lost or stolen firearms and to safely store firearms, established a new protection order for those with domestic violence charges, added violent misdemeanors as a prohibitor for a firearm purchase, and removed the state preemption that prohibited local governments from enacting stricter gun laws than the state mandates.
- Huge investments in mental health programs:
- Implemented the 988 national suicide prevention lifeline network in Colorado, allocated funds for a free annual mental health wellness exam, and increased resources for youth mental health services.
- Meaningful progress on criminal justice reform:
- Restricted the use of ketamine in arrests, made improvements to a first-of-its-kind police accountability bill (SB20-217), limited the use of solitary confinement for incarcerated people, and shortened the window to schedule bail bonds to 48 hrs.
- Ongoing commitments to protecting our environment and combattingclimate change:
- Made landmark changes to advance distributed solar energy and storage, promoted electrification of our homes and buildings, created a state transmission authority – an essential upgrade to Colorado’s energy policy, and made progress on, and hold Colorado accountable to, carbon pollution reduction goals.
- Tax reform legislation to expand tax credits for middle and lower income families:
- Transformational investments in our state’s infrastructure:
- Passed a future-proofing transportation package that will fund our transportation system for decades to come, and allocated funding to a program aimed at revitalizing our main streets.
- Continued support for our public lands:
- Created a new discounted state parks pass called the Keep Colorado Wild Annual Pass, purchased a wildfire-fighting helicopter called Firehawk (!), and created a grant program to increase access and opportunity for underserved youth and their families to experience Colorado’s beautiful outdoors.
- Innovative solutions to affordable housing and renter’s rights:
- Further strengthening Colorado’s gold-standard voting system:
- Passed an elections clean-up bill to modernize our voter registration system and improve drop boxes, increased multilingual ballot access for voters, offered municipalities the option to adopt ranked choice voting in future elections, and defeated a handful of bad bills aimed at restricting access to the ballot box.