(Jan. 13) – The 2016 session of the state House of Representatives got off to a rousing start today with Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst using her opening day speech to issue a call for action on a variety of measures to promote fairness and equal opportunity for hard-working Coloradans.
“With a jobless rate of only 3.6 percent, we have an economy that’s the envy of 41 other states, and businesses in Colorado are enjoying record profits,” she said. “But we can do more.”
“We must have an economy that works for all who work hard, where everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules,” she added, citing the example of a proposed corporate tax dodgers loophole closure that “would bring about 150 million dollars back to Colorado and send it where it is needed most — our kids’ classrooms.”
Speaker Hullinghorst also called on the House to pass a measure to give Colorado “the ability to invest for the long-term prosperity of our state.”
“You will see a bill this year – a viable, constitutional bill – to give us flexibility under the TABOR cap by making the hospital provider fee an enterprise,” she said. “We should pass it while we try to reach agreement on a long-term budget solution that can be embraced by a majority of Colorado voters.”
As examples of the House Democrats’ commitment to “level the playing field for hard-working Coloradans,” Speaker Hullinghorst made these five bills the first to be formally introduced this session:
HB16-1001 (Buckner/Danielson) Equal Pay for State Contractors
Sets an example for the state by requiring companies that compete for contracts with the state to have written and enforced equal pay policies. Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental fairness issue, and equal wages for women means more money in the pockets of middle-class families.
HB16-1002 (Buckner) Parental Involvement
Ensures that working parents can take unpaid time off to attend parent-teacher conferences and other critical academic activities. Encourages parents to take a more active role in their children’s schooling, proven to be associated with higher academic achievement. Parents must provide their employers with at least a week’s notice and can take no more than six hours a month or 18 hours a year.
HB16-1003 (Young/Pettersen) Middle Class College Savings Act
529 college savings accounts help families save for higher educational opportunities, but these accounts disproportionately benefit the wealthy, not the middle class. This bill will reorient the benefits of 529 accounts to help middle-class families across Colorado save for a higher education without mountains of debt.
HB16-1004 (Winter/Arndt) Measurable Goals in State Climate Action Plan
Requires the state’s climate action plan to include measurable goals to reduce Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions. The governor will make an annual report on the progress to meet the goals. This crucial step will help Colorado do its fair share to combat climate change and push our state to be a leader in environmental protection.
HB16-1005 (Esgar/Danielson) Rain Barrels
Allows residents to store the rain off their roof in up to two 55-gallon rain barrels for use on gardens and lawns. Since 97 percent of the water that falls on a residential lot never makes it to a river or stream system, collecting rainwater does not threaten downstream water users. Colorado is the only state where this common-sense conservation measure is currently prohibited.