Jan 11, 2023

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2023 Legislative Preview Event Recap

by | Jan 11, 2023

Colorado’s Legislative Session came early this year, and CCLP was ready for it! Right on the heels of the holidays CCLP hosted our 2023 Legislative Preview on January 4th. CCLP staff presented some of our legislative priorities for the antipoverty movement.  

Interim Executive Director, Bethany Pray, opened the event remarking on the wins from last year’s session, where we not only led on legislation, but were also staunch supporters of many bills. 

Chaer Robert kicked off the legislative conversation by discussing three types of bills that helped families across Colorado from last year’s legislative session: bills about services and programs, bills about tax policy changes, and bills around rights and the balance of power.  

Regarding the bills about service and programs, Ms. Robert discussed the recently established programs for critical needs, such as legal help for evictions, rental assistance, post-partum Medicaid coverage, healthcare affordability, and Healthy School Meals for All (the last of these being sent to voters by the legislature as a ballot proposal, which then passed in the November 2022 election.) Many of these programs were modified or expanded with the help of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding from the government. 

 As for bills about tax policy changes, Ms. Robert posed a few questions to the audience:  

  • Who should get tax breaks? 
  • What should people’s share of taxes be? 
  • What are the values we express through our tax policies? 

At CCLP, we hope to see a permanent change to our state’s rebates in the event of a TABOR surplus, which would give all Coloradans a flat rate amount, as we saw last year. This would make the rebates equal across Colorado, rather than reverting back to the old law which gives more money to those in higher tax brackets. Unfortunately, we also saw our state’s income tax rate drop to 4.4%. While some may see this as savings on their taxes, the state will lose out on $600 million in tax revenue, taking funding from vital programs that help Coloradans.  

Finally, Ms. Robert talked us through the previous bills around rights and balance of power. This included legislation for paid sick days, salary transparency in posted jobs, Clean Slate, protection of mobile park home residents, towing bill of rights, as well as hospital billing/collection requirements. We saw many of the elected officials new to the legislature this year run for office to put these values and protections into law. 

 

SNAP Employment and Training 

Moving on to this year’s legislative priorities, Program Consultant, Laura Ware, discussed the SNAP Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) bill. This bill expands training and support services for SNAP eligible individuals, expands funding for new and existing third-party partners, and renews funding for enhanced training, employment, and support services for two years. It will also focus on priority populations for individuals experiencing homelessness, single parents, justice-involved individuals, students, and long-term unemployment. 

 

Adult Education 

Ms. Robert went on to explain the need for the Adult Education bill, which was introduced in the Senate on the first day of session. Currently, around 3,000 Coloradans lack high school credentials or digital skills, which is adding to the difficulty of employers finding skilled workers. Without these necessary skills and education, many workers face lower job opportunities and lower wages. Ms. Robert shared that this bill would make changes to adult education to better serve adults with less than a 9th grade education, it would add digital literacy as a core function of adult education, and would allow community colleges to grant high school diplomas to their own students. This bill would provide the necessary skills and education the pandemic so clearly showed us what Coloradans need. 

 

Medical Debt 

Policy Fellows, Julia Char Gilbert and Charlie Kestler, presented our Medical Debt bill. They shared that healthcare is too unaffordable for far too many people and medical debt is the largest source of debt in the country – Coloradans hold $1.3 billion in medical debt in total. This burden is also not shared equally, they explained, as people of color, people with lower incomes, birthing people, young people, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately impacted by medical debt. Medical debt shows up on your credit report and can lower your credit score, which has far-reaching consequences and barriers with access to housing, employment, or economic opportunities. This bill will explore how to take on consumer reporting of medical debt and set up stronger consumer protections in this area. 

 

Tax credits for struggling families 

Finally, Ms. Robert ended with the EITC Expansion bill, which would increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the state child tax credit. With the bill already written, we are patiently awaiting its introduction into the legislature. 

 

Conclusion 

Our staff concluded the event by answering questions from the audience regarding our bills, including our approaches to these topics. But these four areas are certainly not the only ones that have piqued our interest this year. 2023 promises an exciting general session with many more opportunities to help Coloradans struggling with poverty.  Stay tuned for more information throughout the next few weeks and months on bills we’re working on, supporting/opposing, and the like.  

With that, bring on the 2023 Legislative Session! 

 

Didn’t get a chance to attend the event? Watch it on YouTube, here!

Check out CCLP’s legislative priorities for the 2023 legislative session, here!

Recent articles

Who gets the tax breaks in the 2023 Colorado Legislature?

Colorado is in a very odd situation.  Our legislators can’t raise taxes due to TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights). Those are decisions left to voters, who often favor only the taxes they themselves do not pay. On the other hand, both the voters and legislators can cut...

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