With the legislative session underway, Democrats Senator Rachel Zenzinger and newly elected Representative Brianna Titone gave their constituents a way to get to know how it works and what bills to …
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65 House of Representatives
41 Democrats in the House
24 Republicans in the House
19 Democrats in the Senate
16 Republicans in the Senate
120 days of legislative session
For schedules, bills, to watch and listen to floor action, visit leg.colorado.gov.
Rep. Briana Titone
Sen. Rachel Zenzinger
With the legislative session underway, Democrats Senator Rachel Zenzinger and newly elected Representative Brianna Titone gave their constituents a way to get to know how it works and what bills to expect from them this year at a legislative preview open house held Jan. 12 at the Standley Lake Library in Arvada.
At the time of the open house, Zenzinger — who is returning to the Senate floor representing District 19 in Jefferson County — had three of five bills read.
Two of those focused on education. The first, an education loan forgiveness program which attempts to address the teacher shortage in Colorado.
SB19-003 will provide up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness per year, up to five years to new teachers and teachers committed to filling a teacher-shortage area.
The other education bill, SB19-039, will address inter-district transportation of students — an attempt to correct a bill passed last year that aimed at providing foster children additional dollars so that if they are placed in a home not zoned for their current school, they can get transported back to their home school.
Zenzinger explained that before the bill went to the governor’s desk, another bill got amended into it which said it was for all students, not just foster students and that districts would have to cover the cost of transporting students to other districts.
“The districts were not happy,” Zenzinger said.
The bill was signed into law and then challenged in court and overruled. This new bill will clean up the language in the one passed last year to reflect the court ruling that it should only apply to foster children.
Another of Zenzinger’s bill deals with cleaning up the disclosure electioneering communications laws. Current law requires that if an organization or individual spends more than $1,000 in electioneering communications, it needs to say who paid for it. However, this is only a law 30 before the primary and 60 days before the general election.
“We’ve already said this is a good idea,” Zenzinger said. “However, when we moved the primary from August to June, we created a window where the law doesn’t apply. We feel it’s important that if we have a certain set of ruled those rules should be consistent no matter what.”
Still to come, Zenzinger plans to enter two bills. One would allow community schools to be an option listed is a school is seeking innovation status with the state. The community schools model is meant to help struggling schools that need a little bit extra.
Zenzinger gave an example of a high school that has a lot of young parenting students who aren’t coming to school anymore because of the challenges of being a teenage parent. A way of implementing the community schools model would be to partner with a local day care to have something on-site and students can get credit by coming in and spending time in the daycare to learn what it’s like to be an early childhood education provider.
“It’s where they fill a need by creating partnerships with the community,” Zenzinger said.
The other bill would address check engine lights and emissions tests. Currently if the check engine light of a car is on when it is brought in for an emissions test, the test is not conducted and the car automatically fails.
“Yes, sometimes that is an indicator that there is a problem with you emission — but not always,” Zenzinger said. “Sometimes it’s an electrical shortage, sometimes you didn’t put you gas cap on right. Sometime’s your tire pressure is low.”
Zenzinger said it undermines the value of an emissions test if a vehicle fails. The bill says the check engine light cannot be the sole reason a vehicles fails an emissions test.
MORE: Education committee clears Kraft-Tharp’s SHOP act
In Titone’s first year, she represents House District 27 in Jefferson County. As of the Jan. 12 event, one of her five bills had been read.
HB19-1050 encourages the use of xeriscape — landscaping requiring minimal watering. The bill piggybacks on one passed a few years ago that allowed people living in home owner associations to request to plant low-water landscaping in their yards. But the bill didn’t apply to those living in metro districts.
“We need to do our part to save water,” Titone said. “We’re just making sure we include everyone in this.”
Two of Titone’s other proposed bills also deal with housing. One focuses on insuring a law allowing licensing of management properties for HOA’s doesn’t sunset. The other deals with making rental application fees more affordable. The later would make it so apartment complexes cannot overcharge on rental applications.
“Most people are aware we have an affordable housing shortage right now,” Titone said. “If an apartment complex has one empty spot and they have 20 people applying, they are making a lot of money on something that doesn’t cost that much.”
Titone said she wants to make sure people who are applying to rent are only charged what it costs to do the service that needs to be done. In addition, if the potential renter is denied, she wants them to be able to know why.
“We really feel that this is going to help a lot against discrimination in renting,” Titone said. “We really feel that this id the moral thing to do especially with the housing situation we have in Colorado.”
Another potential bill from Titone deals with continuing the consumer insurance council, an advocacy group that represents various communities that have interest in all types of insurance.
The final bill deals with municipal broadband and taking away hurdles involved in providing internet to underserved communities.
“Net neutrality was taken away from us at the federal level and the way they made the rule, the states cannot preempt it,” Titone said. “What we can do in lieu of net neutrality is work on competition.”
Zenzinger, Titone and Representative Tracy Kraft-Tarp hold a Town Hall meeting every third Saturday of the month.
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