The regular session of the 2017 Colorado General Assembly has come to an end, and I’d like to extend my thanks to you for the opportunity to serve yet another legislative session as one of your representatives at the Colorado state Capitol, proudly working on behalf of the great people of House District 14.
You likely know by now, conservatives are in the minority in the House of Representatives where I serve, and Colorado’s government was divided once again this year with Republicans controlling the state Senate while Democrats control the House and the Governor’s office. Nevertheless, I believe I was able to achieve some accomplishments this year on behalf of my district and the state of Colorado — measures that are based in common sense, limited government and financial restraint.
In this email newsletter, I’d like to provide you with a brief recap of the legislative session and outline some of those accomplishments. After all, I believe one of my most important duties as your representative is staying in regular, close communication with you.
As always, if I can provide you with any assistance, or answer any questions you might have, my office is always open. All my contact information is at the end of this newsletter for your convenience. And I hope I say it to you often enough: Thank you for entrusting me with this opportunity to serve you in our state government as your representative — it is truly an honor and a privilege, and a position I do not take lightly.
Because this is a citizen Legislature, and this is not my full-time job — nor should it be! — I hope you will consider supporting my efforts to continue fighting for our liberty, for government transparency, and a government with limited powers as our founders intended it. If there is any way you can help support my campaign re-election efforts, I would greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps!
As I’ve stated before in my monthly newsletters, I aim to deliver a relevant snapshot of how I’m working to serve you in House District 14 and some of the things that caught my attention as potential issues that need to be addressed in our state government. So here is my report on some of the bills I introduced and succeeded in passing this legislative session on behalf of our shared, conservative values. I also have outlined some of the bills that failed due to the Democrats killing them, issues I have not given up on and plan on continuing to fight for.
Some Of Our Big Wins This Session:
Helping Create Better Partnerships Between Our Community and Our Military Men and Women
Surprised that Colorado has received low scores from national organizations and the Pentagon due to a lack of any tangible support for our military, I drafted a bill with state Rep. Terri Carver to enable military installations and their neighboring communities to cut costs and increase efficiencies by sharing services with our local governments.
By directing the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help facilitate cooperative, intergovernmental agreements between military installations and local governments, we not only assist our men and women in uniform, but also help our state and local governments cut costs and save taxpayer dollars — a true win-win for Coloradans and just the type of common sense government reform we need.
I’m pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognized that fact and passed it unanimously out of the House of Representatives on February 13. The bill was signed into law by the governor.
The Healthy Families and Military Preparedness Act
My last bill introduced this session passed with unanimous support! The Healthy Families and Military Preparedness Act establishes better coordination of child welfare services between the state and the military, thus ensuring our service members have access to the best support and resources Colorado has to offer. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us to support those who have given so much of themselves to protect our country and defend our Constitution.
I’m excited that this bill was passed unanimously in the Senate and 64-1 in the House. It was sent to the governor for his signature just last week.
Not only will our military benefit from this common-sense legislation, but our children — Colorado’s most precious resources and our future as a state and nation — will benefit from these added protections as well.
Reforming Child Welfare
One of the things I have dedicated my service to, whether it’s through fighting human trafficking or reforming our Department of Human Services, is the health and safety of our children. I was honored to once again join a group of bipartisan lawmakers dedicated to updating how we provide child welfare in Colorado — a system that has been in desperate need of reform.
We must always strive to find new ways to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and this bill accomplishes just that.
The new law will help our child welfare workers deal with skyrocketing caseloads in ways that are most beneficial to our children, giving them the best outcomes possible and helping propel our most vulnerable toward the best possible futures.
Listening to testimony from child welfare case workers, I’ve heard some of the most gut wrenching stories. We cannot and should not ignore the horrors that the neediest among us endure day-to-day right here at home in our state.
Read more about the challenges some of our kids face here. I’m sure you will agree that we must do all we can — with all the resources we have — to help them. This new law will be an excellent step in that direction and I am hopeful our most vulnerable kids will see some relief from its passage.
Renaming Cimarron Bridge in Colorado Springs after World War II hero, Lt. James Downing
Whenever given the chance to honor a hero who served our country with such distinction and sacrifice in our armed forces, I jump at the opportunity. One such opportunity arose this session in the case of World War II hero Lt. Jim Downing, who enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 19, serving as a Gunner’s Mate 1st Class and postmaster aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, while hosting breakfast for several servicemen at their home on Pearl Harbor, Lt. Downing, his wife, and his guests heard the sound of explosions in the distance, and then an anti-aircraft shell landed right outside their home, exploding a large crater 25 feet across. Realizing they were under attack, Lt. Downing and his fellow servicemen immediately raced to their ships, among which Lt. Downing's ship, the U.S.S. West Virginia, had been hit in quick succession by nine Japanese torpedoes, and was in flames and sinking by the time he arrived. Running into danger, Lt. Downing slid down the gun barrel of another ship, the U.S.S. Tennessee, to board the U.S.S. West Virginia, where he fought to keep the fires from spreading to live ammunition lockers and save his fellow servicemen. Upon seeing the dead and wounded, Lt. Downing quickly began memorizing the names of his fellow servicemen, and later wrote personal letters to their families to let them know that he was with them in their final moments.
It is men and women like these who deserve our utmost respect for their sacrifices and heroism.
I was pleased to offer a House Joint Resolution on the floor of the House of Representatives to recognize Lt. Downing and his family and thank them for all they have done for our nation. The resolution renamed the I-25 Cimarron Bridge in Colorado Springs in Downing’s honor.
Needless to say, it was quite a moving event. See some great news coverage from the floor of the House of Representatives here.
Supporting Colorado’s Vibrant Craft Brewing Industry
I’m always searching for ways to reduce burdensome regulations on small business. Colorado’s growing craft brewing industry is made up of some incredibly entrepreneurial people who in many cases have put their life savings on the line to start their own small businesses. Needless to say, it’s not the government’s place to punish these individuals with baseless, bureaucratic fines and penalties.
I ran a bi-partisan bill, SB 17-134, to reduce and limit the regulatory burden on these start-ups and small businesses, legislation that I believe will help not only this industry, but Colorado’s economy as a whole.
I’m pleased to report this bill supporting our state’s vibrant craft brewing industry passed the House with unanimous support and was signed by the governor, becoming law.
Read more about the bill here.
Keeping Government Employees Accountable — Take Home Vehicles
I believe one of our biggest responsibilities as your citizen legislators is to keep a careful watch on government bureaucracy. This year has been precisely one of those times. A recent state audit found that approximately 1,000 Colorado state employees have the benefit of take-home government vehicles — at a cost to the taxpayers of $1.5 million per year. You read that right — $1,500,000 per year. And it turns out, many of those state employees don’t meet the lawful requirements to have those vehicles in the first place.
I was successful in introducing and passing a bill to dramatically increase the requirements and oversight for being granted a take-home vehicle as a state government employee. This legislation was a great first step in making sure the take-home vehicle program in Colorado’s government does not continue to be abused. Now we will closely monitor our state agencies to make sure they are in total compliance with the new law, potentially saving Colorado taxpayers millions in wasteful spending each year.
I’m thankful I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the state’s Audit Committee, giving me a firsthand view of the waste and fraud that occurs in our state government. This has given me an educated opportunity to fix some of these often outrageous problems that our government bureaucracy has only inflicted on itself, and as a result, us as taxpaying citizens.
Historic Aircraft Sales and Use Tax Exemption
This bill creates a sales-and-use tax exemption for historic aircraft that are on loan to a Colorado museum, and that are made available for public display, demonstration, educational or museum promotional purposes. Some of the most significant aircraft in the world are owned by private collectors, and currently, any aircraft that is permanently relocated to Colorado is subject to sales and use tax. This potential tax liability poses a significant barrier for collectors who are thinking about relocating their historic aircraft to Colorado. The historic aircraft would be available for educational programs, including history, science, technology, engineering and math. Success! The bill was signed into law by the governor.
Losses This Session:
As I pointed out earlier in this newsletter, conservatives aren’t in the majority in Colorado state government. As a result, it’s no wonder many of our common-sense policies that address waste, overspending and that push to uphold moral principles were shot down by the Democrats in control.
Here are a few of the policies that were squashed this year — some before they even had a chance to be fully vetted. Rest assured, the fight is not over. I plan to continue moving forward on these proposals next session and don’t plan on giving up until they become successful policy changes for our state.
We must also continue to work hard to elect conservative leaders in this upcoming election — including to the governor’s office — so we can move our government back in the right direction. I hope I’ll be able to work alongside you soon to secure those wins for our state.
Making PERA More Accountable
You’ve likely heard me talk about this before. Colorado’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association is estimated to have close to $30 billion in unfunded liabilities — yes, that is billion with a capital B in liabilities that are not met. This massive liability could leave us as the taxpayers on the hook and could quite literally destroy our state budget.
I have fought to address this issue head on with several pieces of legislation, the first of which would have changed the composition of the PERA board to avoid conflicts of interest.
The Democrat majority allowed none of those measures to pass this session. Clearly, it’s imperative we continue to fight this battle to secure our state’s financial solvency for future generations to come.
Abortion Pill Reversal Legislation
If you know me well, you know I will always stand for policies that advocate the sanctity of life and defend the innocent unborn. I also want to protect freedom of information — in this case a woman’s right to being given unbiased, correct information about her health care choices.
After reading several stories about women being given false medical information on abortion reversal pills, I introduced a bill to make sure abortion clinics are providing women with medically accurate and unbiased advice if a woman requests information about reversing an abortion pill regimen she has begun.
Recently, a courageous woman named Amy Mendoza came forward and told me a story about having second thoughts on her decision to begin taking abortion pills to end her pregnancy. She told me how she had heard her son’s heartbeat and what an emotional experience that was for her. She recalled seeing something about successful abortion reversals on social media and searched online to find a way to save her son’s life. She managed to find a health center that was able to reverse her abortion successfully, and today, she has a beautiful, healthy boy. Amy told me of the joy her son, Cruz, brings her today. “Every time I look at him, I’m just so thankful,” she said.
With stories like Amy’s in hand, my bill sought to require abortion clinics to fully inform women about abortion pill reversals. Armed with accurate information, my hope was that more courageous women like Amy would have an opportunity to make the right choice and defend the lives of their unborn children.
Read one of the news reports on our bill and how these amazing women came forward to testify about their personal stories here.
Unfortunately, House Democrats chose to work against women and their right to be fully informed about all of their health care options and killed our bill after six hours of testimony.
Rest assured, my fight on this issue and on behalf of women like Amy is far from over.
Allowing Military Members Under 21-Years-Old to Carry Concealed
I strongly believe that those who so selflessly serve our country and have been trained to fight in wartime deserve the right to obtain concealed weapons permits — period.
If they are old enough to serve in our military, they should be old enough to lawfully carry concealed in Colorado — plain and simple. Under current law, a person must be 21 years of age or older to obtain a concealed handgun permit. There are no exceptions to military personnel. That’s why I sponsored a bill with Sen. John Cooke to give our men and women in uniform — all of them — the ability to apply for and obtain concealed weapons permits in Colorado if they are 18 years of age or older and on active duty or honorably discharged from any branch of the U.S. military, including the National Guard.
This bill passed in the Republican Senate but was later sent to the “kill committee” in the House by the Democrat majority where it was quietly dispatched, not allowing it to come to the House floor for full debate and a full vote.
Happenings at the Capitol:
National Day of Prayer
It was an honor to participate in the National Day of Prayer ceremony on the steps of our state Capitol. God has blessed this great nation of ours. My prayer was that day — and every day — that we can continue to earn those blessings by returning to the principles of a God-fearing nation — the same principles our founders realized were the only path to freedom, liberty and the success of a nation-state.
Hosting USOC and Olympic athletes at the Capitol
I had the privilege of hosting representatives and athletes from the U.S. Olympic Committee at the Capitol. It is truly an honor to represent Olympic City USA!
Speaking at AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C.
I had the honor of addressing AIPAC's annual policy conference on Colorado's efforts to combat the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Because of my legislation with Sens. Owen Hill, Dominick Moreno, Leroy Garcia and Rep. Lang Sias, our state is considered a national leader in this important fight!
ICYMI: My editorial on Fighting Against Bad Business Bills
In case you missed it, please take a minute and read my guest column for the Colorado Springs Gazette. Once again this past session, the Democrats' anti-business agenda was in full force, and I didn’t hold back in calling them out on it.
Read the full editorial here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for making an effort in your busy life to stay interested and involved in your government. Staying engaged is half the fight. As always, I’m here for you, so please know you can contact me at any time — day or night — at email@example.com, or on my personal cell at 719-357-6768, and let me know how my office can work to make your life better.
It has been an honor to continue serving you in House District 14. Thank you for the opportunity. Take care and keep an eye out for more updates coming soon!
Colorado House of Representatives
House District 14
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