• February Community Forum Recap – 2/18/17

    This past Saturday, Feb. 18, State Senator John Kefalas and CSU Democrats hosted the monthly Community Forum at Lory Student Center on CSU campus. The monthly forum has previously been hosted at coffee shops like DazBog on Mason, but due to the overwhelming response, Kefalas moved to a larger venue with more space for attendees.

    This month’s attendees found out about the forum through email, Facebook, and even the Sunday newspaper. Some of the younger attendees learned about the event through CSU Democrats, a student-led group comprised mostly of young Democrats.

    After a quick introduction for new attendees, Kefalas took questions from the audience.

    Questions From the Community

    How is legislation prioritized? Who decides how bills come to committee? How do you change that?

    • Speaker of the House or senate majority assigns the bill to committee depending on content. If it is a bill that it contentious, it may be sent to a committee that makes no other sense except to stall the bill. In the house, the Democrats are in the majority. In the Senate, the republicans are in majority. Both parties have attempted to stall bills in the past.
    • In Colorado, each representative has a limit of 5 bills they can introduce, although it can be more with exception or delayed bill status (for proper reason – would need to be bi partisan).
    • Colorado has a 120 day legislative session.
    • Nonpartisan individuals develop fiscal note to find out if bills have financial impact on residents before they go into appropriations.
    • We have limits, fiscal notes, single subject rule (prevents christmas tree bills), and gavel amendment (every bill introduced has to have a hearing – committee chairs cannot block bills from being heard) to keep bills on course and in line (safeguards).

    If the new congress cuts back on funding programs such as public broadcasting and national arts that people around the country are currently benefiting from, what can Colorado do at a state level to supplement?

    • A lot of pressure on congress and the president to reduce budget, creating a lot of concern about defunding national arts and public broadcasting.
    • One response is to donate to PBS and CPR.
    • Continue to contact federal legislators to express concerns, even when it seems futile. Show up at their town hall meetings.
    • Perhaps creating a “ColoradoCorp”, although it wouldn’t be able to happen this session. Any time something would have a fiscal impact, it takes longer to pass through.

    What changes could be made to Colorado HOA Information Office to make their efforts more effective when they are called on to resolve a dispute?

    • There have been quite a few bills over the last couple of years between the rights of HOA owners (2M+ homes part of HOA) and their HOA. Criticism is generally that HOA doesn’t have much enforcement to settle disputes.
    • Does it need statutory changes or money? Typically legislators are reluctant to add public FTE’s (federally trained employees).
    • Senate bill 0098 – Under current law there are provisions for mobile home owners to form HOA or coop. This bill said if folks did that, they could organize themselves and work with other community based organizations, trying to get mediation resolutions.
    • Direct people to ODR (Office of Dispute Resolution)—there are free services in each judicial district.

    What can be done to prevent the recently proposed bill allowing open carry without training from passing?

    • Bill was in committee last week, may be scheduled to be on senate floor next week
    • Go to committee hearings to testify, but remember that every bill deserves a full committee hearing.
    • Hold your representatives accountable.
    • Bills that are decisive will typically die in one chamber or another

    American Association of critical care nurses lobbied for ACA in 2010 (Senator Durban). Concerned about potential of repealing access to healthcare for people that can’t afford it. What can we do at the state level to try and protect people here?

    • Contact Senator Bennett in addition to Senator Gardner.
    • Heard on NPR: It appears that republicans are close to coming up with proposal for ACA replacements.
    • Health insurance premiums are a big deal on the private insurance side. Medicaid has had much slower growth because it’s for long terms care and disabilities. Has also been proven to be as cost-effective as any other model we’ve had.
    • Some might want to go back to high risk pools. Ex: Minnesota and other alternatives to high risk pools. In colorado, we had Cover Colorado prior to ACA. Notion of preexisting was selling point of ACA, cover colorado had a lot of subsidies, but preexisting was covered. Separating folks that have health care needs from the rest of the pool creates adverse risk issues and becomes problematic.
    • Ultimately, we need to see what is being proposed at the federal level.
    • Display that medicaid is effective and that we are focusing on reducing costs in colorado.
    • SB17-003 (repeal health exchange in co) status is “under consideration”. Bill will cost money, if it gets out of appropriations, it will be on the senate floor later.
      • If it passes out of senate, likely that it would not be successful in the house..
      • Senator Kevin Lumberg is the senate appropriations committee. Contact him to ask where would we come up with the $2M that it’s estimated it would cost to repeal the exchange, and remind him that there states where the cost has been upward of $23M.

    What can be done at the state level to safeguard against and counter efforts at the federal level to ensure that all students have access to public education?

    • State dollars wouldn’t be impacted by federal decisions.
    • At the federal level, we have to be talking to our federal legislators.
    • May have to reduce residential assessment rate (45/55 residential/commerical balance).
    • Public education is critical and we need to invest those dollars wisely.
    • Counter cyclical – years that folks are struggling more because of recessions or jobs lost, there’s typically greater need to fund public services, but money coming in is less because of less income tax dollars. That’s why it’s important to have rainy day fund. Because of TABOR, if we get over a certain limit or threshold, the government has to give the money back.
    • can’t say what to do about the federal stuff other than what he’s hearing. ultimately there’s going to be a big push to reduce the budget, and if the folks in power care about cutting spending in one area, it’s likely to get cut

    2020: Setting boundaries, any chance for that to be seen to a non-partisan committee instead of by politicians

    • Nonpartisan staff takes all criteria set in law and comes up with recommendations based on population maps, then goes to senate for bipartisan committee. if they can’t come to agreement, will go to courts, which is what happened last year.

    What are the chances of Colorado or Fort Collins moving to Instant-Runoff or Ranking Voting?

    • Senator John Kefalas stated that he is a strong advocate of IRV.
    • A recent campaign (led by Eric Fried) in Fort Follins as charter city to allow for city council elections to move to IRV was not successful.
    • Ideally, IRV would ensure a more level playing field for all candidates.
    • Approval voting means if there are more than 2, you can vote for as many as you like and then number of votes per candidate are tallied.
    • Prop 107 and 108 were passed, will move toward open primary, statutory changes. citizens groups go for constitutional changes because it cannot be changed a few months later in legislation. There is a prop now that would prevent changes to statutory changes for at least 3 years so that legislatures cannot flip-flop policy every time there is a new election.

    What can we do as a good compromise to take care of concerns of conservatives and their concerns as well as liberals to turn Colorado into a sanctuary state?

    • Salazaar is going to introduce a bill to make Colorado a sanctuary state.
      • John has a feeling that it has not been vetted properly among conservatives
    • We have to be able to talk to folks.
      • we’re seeing increases in hate crimes and anti-semitism
      • we have to find what brings us together
    • Remember that we are an immigrant based country.
    • What are the values that coloradans care about in terms of immigration? Have discussions based on this.

    Will the federal government be using national guard forces to engage in ICE activities?

    • Unknown status right now, currently this is just a story in the news that may or may not be accurate.