2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION WRAP-UP – WORKING FOR YOU!
My report to you includes an overview of my priority bills, several of which passed and were signed into law. I also address efforts to make transportation funding a budget priority and to expedite I-25 widening from Monument to Castle Rock.
Mandatory Jail for Human Trafficking of Minors I was shocked to learn that Colorado law did not impose a mandatory jail sentence on human traffickers that profit from child sex slavery. My bill requires mandatory jail for a person convicted of human sex trafficking of a minor. Signed into law by the Governor.
Data Privacy: We must restore data privacy and individual control over personal information. I have consistently fought for legislative oversight and review of state government databases regarding:
- Is the government collecting personal data beyond what is necessary to do the government function?
- Who the government is sharing the data with, and
- Is the government doing sufficient cybersecurity to protect our data?
I cosponsored a bill to establish permanent legislative oversight for data privacy and cybersecurity so that we can get the answers to these important questions. Signed into law by the Governor.
Support Local School Districts and Parents – More Effective Student Testing For the 3rd year, I ran a bill to get Colorado out of PARCC testing, which has repeatedly failed to provide useful, timely data on individual student achievement. Many teachers, parents, and students regard the PARCC test as a waste of time. I was pleased to cosponsor a consensus bill that rid Colorado of the PARCC test in high schools, and authorized local school districts to give a college entrance exam preparation test (PSAT) in 9th grade instead. Signed into law by the Governor.
Community-Military Partnerships – Protecting Our Bases from Closure I worked closely with the Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Springs Chamber to draft legislation to encourage partnerships between local governments and military installations for cost-effective, shared government services. This is a win-win for taxpayers! In addition, these community partnerships are a key factor when the Dept. of Defense determines base realignments or closures. This bill helps protect our military bases–a huge economic driver in El Paso County. Signed into law by the Governor.
Consolidate Child Sexual Assault Charges in One Trial Another bill I sponsored allows a district attorney to combine the charges of sex assault on a child from multiple jurisdictions into one jurisdiction – so that the child victim does not have to go through numerous separate trials. Signed into law by the Governor.
Reduce Regulatory Burdens on Small Businesses: Small businesses are the engine that drives our economy and provides jobs. We must free these businesses from costly and unnecessary regulations to grow our economy and create jobs. For the 2nd year, I have sponsored a regulatory reform bill to reduce regulatory burdens on small businesses. Despite bipartisan sponsorship and support, the bill failed in committee. I will continue to reach across party lines to find common ground for reasonable regulatory reform.
Transportation funding: I was disappointed that we did not find a viable, bipartisan solution to fully fund state-wide high priority transportation projects. The one bill that passed with some transportation funding was SB 267. Unfortunately, SB 267 does not include sufficient funding to address our high priority projects statewide, nor does it identify which transportation projects will receive the limited funding. Here are my actions on transportation funding:
- I sponsored legislation to fully fund high priority transportation projects state-wide with a transportation bond issue, subject to voter approval. The bond would have been paid using existing state revenues. The specific projects were listed in the bill, and included the I-25 widening project between Monument and Castle Rock. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass.
- I offered an amendment to SB 267 to add $2 billion in transportation funding so that all the top priority transportation projects could be funded (using a voter-approved bond). Unfortunately, my amendment did not pass.
- I cosigned letters to Governor Hickenlooper and US Secretary of Transportation Chao to expedite the study process for the I-25 widening project from Monument to Castle Rock. These letters were successful in accelerating the study process and getting the project ready to receive construction funding.
- During the state budget debate, I supported numerous amendments to prioritize funding for transportation. These common-sense amendments again failed on a party-line vote.
We needed to fully fund state-wide high priority transportation projects and increase funding for transportation infrastructure maintenance. That did not happen.
I will continue to fight to make transportation a budget priority and to fully fund and expedite the expansion of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock!