Early Childhood Education/Public Education:
Whether or not a child goes to preschool or kindergarten can shape the course of their entire academic career. A large and growing body of research has demonstrated that early childhood education is one of the best investments Colorado can make to help every child succeed. Working on early childhood education can narrow the third grade achievement gap, lower the high school dropout rate, improve Colorado’s economic productivity, and even curb the teen pregnancy rate. If we want to get serious about lifting kids out of poverty, we have to ensure that everyone, not just the wealthy, has access to early childhood education. I am determined to securing full-day kindergarten for all and half-day preschool for all who want it.
As your representative I will push for incremental, yet critical improvements that other states have provided for a generation, such as universal kindergarten. As the education community endeavors to craft a referendum that funds early childhood education in a way that works for students, parents, and teachers, taxpayers; I will look out for your interests and shape the conversation to reflect our progressive values.
Colorado must invest in our neighborhood schools to strengthen our communities. I will help prioritize resources to reduce class sizes and make sure every child is guaranteed the right to a strong public education. Education is a right, not a privilege. That is why I will fight to stop the spread of vouchers and the privatization of our public schools.
Equality is more than marriage. Colorado has come a long way since passing Amendment 2 legalizing discrimination of gay people in 1992, which was later found unconstitutional. Senator Pat Steadman and Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino successfully passed a civil unions bill last year granting legal protections to same sex couples. Nothing can compare to the jubilation felt across Colorado on October 6, 2014, when the United States Supreme Court denied review of two federal legal cases that found denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry unconstitutional.
Despite finally achieving full marriage equality, our trans* friends and families still have serious challenges in both the legal and health care systems. I want to do what I can to help our trans* friends and families affirm their identities. That's why I will fight to ease changing legal documents to reflect chosen name and true gender. I will also fight insurance companies to learn that gender confirmation surgery is not cosmetic, it is necessary.
I know that this is the youngest house district in the state and that my family is not the only one struggling with student loan debt. Freeing young people from student loan debt can only help the economy. I’ve been studying a program out of Oregon that eliminates student loans for students going to state schools, and instead, has students pay back 3% of their income to the state after they graduate and enter the workforce. I will fight for more accessibility and reduced higher education costs.
Colorado has made great progress in pulling itself out of the recession. But the recovery has not helped everyone equally. While Colorado’s youth is now more likely to find a job, many of our older population are having trouble returning to the jobs they once had. We need to tackle long-term unemployment. I understand that not everyone has recovered. I am committed to finding solutions that will put all Coloradans back to work.
I will invest in our seniors so they have the opportunity to live at home as long as they choose. It's important to protect our seniors' right to choose where they live. Our senior population is growing and I will promote efforts to assist seniors in their desire to remain in their homes. Additionally, I believe our seniors have the right to die with dignity. It's time for Colorado to step up and join other states across the country that understand someone's decision to die with dignity is an important right.
I will protect PERA to make sure it's solvent for Colorado's public employees to retire with the money they earned.
Transportation is a central component of everything we do. I love that in Denver, we have combined with the innovative Denver B-Cycle program and a growing network of car-sharing services. We are laying the foundation of a sustainable, transit-oriented future in Colorado. I’m looking forward to the redevelopment of Union Station into a regional transportation hub because it will be critical to creating sustainable, walkable communities throughout the Denver metro area. As your state representative, I will work to make our state's transportation system works for transit riders, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike.
It is unacceptable to me that America has the highest prison population of any free nation on Earth. The destructive cycle of poverty, low educational outcomes, unemployment, and prison must be broken. When elected to the statehouse, I will ensure that only those who represent a genuine danger to society are locked behind bars. Taxpayer dollars should not be invested in private prisons.
Also, there are 49 individuals serving life sentences without the option of parole for crimes they committed as juveniles. In 2006, Colorado changed the law so if someone is sentenced to life for a crime committed as a juvenile they must be up for parole after serving at least 40 years. Unfortunately, the law isn't retroactive and doesn't help the 49 people currently serving life for crimes committed as juveniles. I believe we need to look at the statute to make sure it applies fairly to all.
Climate change is real and caused largely by humanity. That's why I'm supportive of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission's groundbreaking new oil and gas rules that directly regulate methane emissions (a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as destructive as CO2) for the first time. As your state representative, I will defend the renewable energy standard that protects air quality in Denver and throughout Colorado. I will ensure that our energy laws recognize the importance of using Colorado’s sources like wind and solar power. Our localities need the power to ban the practice of fracking if they choose to. Local control is one way to help protect Colorado’s communities from the problems with fracking. I support local control.
The ballot initiative is one of the last vestiges of true democracy. However, one of its unintended consequence is that Colorado has become a laboratory for out-of-state special interests to fund ballot measures that aren't right for Colorado. It has also given us a system of overlapping and contradictory fiscal formulas that have hamstrung our elected representatives' ability to solve problems in an effective way, including TABOR.
I'm strongly against the mechanisms in TABOR that prevent the General Assembly from responsibly raising revenue. TABOR is complicated and I hope the case before the 10th Circuit is successful because the General Assembly needs their constitutional right to exercise their ability to raise revenue.
Gun Safety Reform
I’m a strong advocate for stricter gun laws and safer communities. Colorado has been deeply impacted by acts of violence from individuals with access to automatic weapons and unlimited amounts of ammunition. The reforms passed by the legislature in 2013 were common sense and will help keep our communities safe. However, there’s more work to be done. I believe College campuses should be a place for learning and a safe haven for our students. That’s why I will fight to keep concealed carry permits off our college campuses.
I strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy, because it's a fundamental human right and reproductive freedom is protected by the United States Constitution. Government needs to stay out of health care decisions made between a woman and her physician. I will fight to keep access to birth control so all women have the power to make the choices best for them. I will make sure low-income women can afford birth control and family planning services. Investing in sex education that works will be a top priority, so our kids are getting the right type of education.