Last week marked the halfway point in the 2014 session of the Colorado legislature. I wanted to take a moment to bring you up to speed on what’s happening at the State Capitol, because there’s lots of good news to share. I also want to thank every one of you who has taken action on legislation so far this year. It’s making a difference!
Fires, Floods and Disaster Relief. Already, several pieces of legislation recommended by experts after last year’s devastating fires and flooding in Colorado have been sent to Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk. These include bills for financial assistance for victims, new protections for homeowners in prescribed burn areas, and flexibility for local governments to pay for bridge and road repairs.
Jobs and the Economy. In 2013, the Colorado legislature passed the Advanced Industries Accelerator Act, which provides assistance to engineering and research and development-intensive industries–companies who create some of the best jobs. This year, progressives are working to expand this popular program, and make more education opportunities available to keep our state’s workforce competitive.
A key economic development bill is moving forward in the legislature to make sure that more Colorado working families can take advantage of child care tax credits. It’s not well known, but a glitch in current law means that many families making less than $25,000 a year–the families who most need help making ends meet–can’t get the federal tax credits for child care that families making more do receive. Studies show that assistance with child care is one of the most important tools to help women and families get back to work.
Education. Properly funding Colorado’s public schools and colleges is a challenge year after year, and unfortunately, we have yet to dig out of the huge hole in education funding created by the Great Recession. But this year, progressive leaders in the Colorado legislature are taking advantage of the recovering economy to put an additional $350 million into K-12 and higher education. There’s more to be done, but this is a step in the right direction–for what I consider to be the most important service we can offer to the next generation.
Protecting 2013’s Historic Gains. Last year, the Colorado legislature made truly historic progress on a wide variety of issues near and dear to progressives. We passed civil unions for committed gay and lesbian couples. We passed tuition equity to ensure all graduates of Colorado high schools can go to college affordably. We passed a bill to expand the use of clean, renewable energy in rural Colorado. We modernized Colorado’s election system to make it simpler to vote. And we passed landmark common-sense gun safety legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.
With your help, the attempts to repeal the progress made in the 2013 legislative session have been stopped cold. In legislative hearings, supporters of these good laws have vastly outnumbered those on the far right, defeating all attempts to take us backward.
So far this legislative session:
- ProgressNow Colorado members have sent over 30,000 emails to legislators on these important bills.
- ProgressNow Colorado has posted dozens of graphics, messages, and stories on Facebook getting the word out.
- ProgressNow Colorado staff testified in a committee hearing reading your comments on the record.
- And ProgressNow Colorado staff have sent hundreds of Tweets making sure accurate information was being reported and keeping you posted with real-time updates.
Today, it’s clear that the work we’re doing to leave Colorado better than we found it is succeeding. It’s always a fight, but the wins for fairness and opportunity that progressives have achieved in Colorado are worth it. As ugly as politics often are these days, there are moments when we can look back on what we’ve accomplished and realize that progressives really are making life better for everyone. And that makes it all worthwhile.
Thanks for standing with us this year–and for continuing to stand with us in the future.
PS. We’re on the front lines every day fighting for our shared progressive values. Help us keep working to make Colorado better with your donation.