Denver, CO – Today, the 2019 legislative session adjourned after four months of Democratic leadership delivering for Colorado families. For the first time since 2013, Democrats held majorities in both the Senate and the House, allowing legislators to make progress on the most important issues facing Coloradans. The solutions made healthcare more affordable, invested in education, and ensured Coloradans are more financially secure as the cost of living continues to rise.
Roughly 95 percent of the more than 500 bills introduced during the 2019 legislative session had bipartisan sponsorship or passed with bipartisan support.
“I am proud of all that we accomplished this session for Colorado families and in the manner in which we did it, by working across the aisle to find common ground,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia. “The sheer number of bills that passed with bipartisan support illustrates the fact that we were willing to work with anyone, regardless of party, to lower the cost of healthcare, invest in education, and help hardworking Coloradans get ahead financially.”
“This was a historic session for delivering on healthcare affordability, economic security, and education,” said Majority Leader Steve Fenberg. “I have no doubt that Coloradans all across the state will be better off because of what we accomplished this session.”
Nobody should have to choose between paying their bills and getting the healthcare they need. That is why the Colorado Senate Democrats worked hard to make sure every Coloradan has affordable, accessible healthcare and that those struggling with mental health and addiction can get the help they need. The Colorado Senate Democrats were able to address the high cost of healthcare by:
- Helping Coloradans who are struggling with addiction get the treatment they need by expanding the medication-assisted (MAT) treatment pilot program to some of the highest need counties in the state. [SB19-001]
- Passing legislation to encourage consumers to negotiate rates on a collective basis directly with providers. [SB19-004]
- Creating a reinsurance program that could reduce health insurance premiums in Colorado by almost 23 percent. [HB19-1168]
- Ending the practice of surprise billing to allow Coloradans to get the care they need at an affordable price. [HB19-1174]
- Passing legislation to hold hospitals accountable for lowering costs by requiring them to annually report costs and spending. [HB19-1001]
- Working towards the creation of a state-backed public option by leveraging existing state infrastructure. [HB19-1004]
- Increasing access to mental health professionals in schools and making it easier for kids to get confidential therapy services and mental health education resources. [SB19-010 and HB19-1120]
- Creating a plan to allow consumers to import prescription medications from Canada to help Coloradans afford high cost prescription drugs. [SB19-005]
- Capping the total copay for insulin, a lifesaving drug for people with diabetes in Colorado. [HB19-1216]
- Working to prevent Coloradans from developing substance use disorders. [SB19-228]
To give every kid a strong start, the Colorado Senate Democrats fought to increase funding for education, worked hard to pass legislation that supports both students and teachers, and fought so Coloradans can pursue a college degree without being saddled with debt for the rest of their lives. Some key education accomplishments include:
- Funding full-day kindergarten to ensure that all children, not just those whose parents can afford it, have access to it. [HB19-1262]
- Passing legislation to regulate aggressive student loan servicers and tackle Colorado’s student debt crisis. [SB19-002]
- Addressing Colorado’s rural teacher shortage by increasing stipend amounts for participants in teacher preparation programs who agree to teach in rural schools. [SB19-009]
- Increasing loan forgiveness for educators who teach specific subject areas and an in high-need communities. [SB19-003]
- Increasing K-12 education funding by $325.9 million dollars, including $175 million dollars to implement full-day Kindergarten and an additional $77 million to buy-down the budget stabilization factor. [SB19-207]
- Holding tuition flat at state institutions of higher education. [SB19-207]
ECONOMIC SECURITY ACCOMPLISHMENTS
As the cost of living continues to rise and Coloradans feel like it is getting harder to get ahead, the Colorado Senate Democrats worked to make sure that people are paid what they are worth and helped Coloradans afford to live in the communities they want to call home. Key economic security accomplishments include:
- Passing legislation to close the gender wage gap and level the playing field so women are paid the same as men for the same work. [SB19-085]
- Passing a Paid Family Leave implementation plan so that all Coloradans can get the time off they need to be there for their families without losing a paycheck. [SB19-188]
- Protecting Colorado renters by passing legislation to make sure they are charged fairly for application fees, to ensure that tenants who are spending money on rent have a safe place to call home, and to increase the amount of time they have to cure lease violations. [HB19-1170, HB19-1106, and HB19-1118]
- Passing a bill to incentivize developers to build more affordable housing units to address the rising housing costs in Colorado. [HB19-1319]
- Fighting to give renters more protections when it comes to disagreements with their landlords by passing a bill to help provide legal counsel to Coloradans who are facing eviction. [SB19-180]
- Establishing the Colorado Secure Savings Plan Board to study ways to help increase retirement savings for hardworking Coloradans. [SB19-173]
- Passing a bipartisan, balanced budget that will provide $300 million in transportation funding to invest in our state’s infrastructure. [SB19-207]
In addition to delivering on these key promises, the Colorado Senate Democrats also succeeded in passing long overdue oil and gas reforms, bipartisan criminal justice reforms, reducing the influence of money in politics, expanding and protecting the right to vote, and passing a commonsense gun safety measure that will save lives.
For more information on the Colorado Senate Democrats’ 2019 legislative accomplishments, please visit https://senatedems.co/.