Senator Steve Fenberg | Newsletters
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Newsletters

09 May Week 15

Final Week of the Legislative Session

 

At the start of the week, I had eleven bills with each one at a different stage in the legislative process.

Now, after many committee hearings, a number of proposed amendments, hours of testimony, and countless debates, I’ve made it to the end of the week with one bill headed to the governor, another that passed the senate with bipartisan support, a few that passed out of committee, and several that died in committee.

 

 

On Monday, three of my bills were heard back-to-back and received a consistent party-line vote with the Republicans voting no.

House Bill 17-1310 would have made renting more accessible and affordablefor Coloradans by holding landlords and leasing companies accountable for the application fees they charge prospective tenants. With already limited affordable housing options, the bill would have helped individuals between housing put a roof over their heads without going into debt or falling behind financially.

House Bill 17-1260 would have applied the current laws for campaign contribution limits and rules on disclosure to county-level elected offices. Even with the support of county commissioners across the state, it died without much consideration by the Republican committee members.

House Bill 17-1320 would have made mental health resources, specifically talk therapy, more accessible to young adults by lowering the age of consent for outpatient psychotherapy. Colorado ranks 6th in the country for suicide, and if making a simple conversation with a mental health professional, like a school counselor, more available could save one life, I think it’s worth it. The Republicans didn’t and it died on a party-line vote.

 

In addition, I had a few bills heard in other committees.

House Bill 17-1259 would have closed a loophole in our campaign contributions laws. We need to uphold voter trust and increase transparency in our elections. Unfortunately, it died in committee on a party-line vote.

House Bill 17-1321, which would have ensured the sustainability of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife division, received hours of testimony in support, but died on a party-line vote. Our parks and wildlife are intrinsic to the state’s identity and way of life. Unfortunately, with the failure of the bill, some of our parks and reservoirs across the state are at risk of closing.

After being sent to the Finance committee with a death wish, House Bill 17-1227 passed with a 3-2 vote, but with new amendments that effectively gut the energy efficiency program. I hope the bill is changed on the senate floor next week to make sure the bill carries its original intent by extending the current energy efficiency standards and savings Coloradans millions of dollars.

 

 

Onward,

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Fenberg

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01 May Week 14

Playing Politics with 40,000 Jobs

 

“An Embarrassment to the Process”

With overwhelming support from both small businesses and large corporations across Colorado, my bipartisan bill, 17-1227, had the votes to pass the Senate Energy committee during its hearing this past Wednesday.

However, in a last-minute procedural move, the Republican leadership “re-routed” the bill out of the committee by sending it to the Finance committee where the Republican leadership knows they have the votes to kill it. 

By doing so, the Senate Republicans are threatening more than 40,000 Colorado jobs that rely on this program.

The bipartisan bill would have extended a 10-year-old program that requires utility companies to cut energy demand by 5% over the next decade, which not only saves Coloradans millions of dollars in energy costs each year but also contributes to tens of thousands of jobs. One of the supporters, the corporation Johns Manville, employs 500 Coloradans in Mesa County whose jobs rely on these energy management programs. Republican leadership put party politics before working families.

 

An Attack on Basic Rights

On a party-line vote, the Senate Republicans passed Senate Bill 17-281, which requires sanctuary cities to comply with federal policy on immigration, such as detaining undocumented persons in local jails. And if they don’t, the local officials like city council members and city employees can be held liable. What about local control?

I introduced an amendment that would have removed the loss of state funding for noncompliance; however, it was denied and if the bill were to pass in the House, so-called sanctuary cities would lose all state money, which puts our public safety, public health, roads, schools, etc. at risk.

 

I was joined by 4th graders from Friends’ School in Boulder this week! I learned some new jokes and how to put on a clip-on tie. Who knows, maybe one of them will fill my seat in the future.

I had the chance to speak at Colorado’s Go Code event at Google in Boulder this weekend. The program, housed at the Secretary of State’s office, brings tech developers together with our government to solve problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Two Weeks

Two of the bills that I’m running will be heard this Monday, May 1st in the Senate State Affairs committee.

The first, House Bill 17-1310, would hold leasing companies accountable by requiring that screening and application fees for prospective tenants actually reflect the true cost. In the House, it received hours of testimony in support and I hope that it’s given a fair hearing in State Affairs.

The second, House Bill 17-1260, places a limit on campaign contributions for county offices to make it consistent with other elected offices in the state. Even though it has support from county commissioners across the state, it passed the House on a party-line vote.

 

 

While this past week marking the loss of major bipartisan efforts, including the transportation funding bill, I hope that the next two weeks prove differently.

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

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24 Apr Week 13


 

United Against Hate

 

The Senate Democrats took a stand for Coloradans’ basic rights this week. It’s been great to see the Senate Democrats stand united, and to bring in a few of our colleagues from across the aisle to stand strong against hate. Senate Bill 17-283, which would have allowed private businesses to openly discriminate against customers whose beliefs they don’t agree with (remember the bakery case?), died on senate second reading. I’m proud of the Senate Democrats for taking down this discriminatory bill. As a state, we need to focus on moving forward, not backward, by defending, not stripping, the rights of all people.

 


 

The Senate Republicans introduced a bill at the start of session to repeal Colorado’s health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. It’s now up for second reading discussion and a vote this Monday, April 24th, and we have the chance to once again come together in opposition to this regressive bill.

Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans depend upon our state’s healthcare exchange to access their health insurance options.

If it were repealed, Coloradans would have less access to affordable and quality options and lose the transparency of these insurance options that we have now.

 

Share this post on Facebook to voice your opposition!

 


 

Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 

Yesterday, a bipartisan bill that I’m running was heard in the senate energy committee. House Bill 17-1227 requires utility companies to cut energy demand by 5% over the next several years. This bill helps ensure better demand-side management and greater energy efficiency investments across the state. This bill has received a hugely positive response from Colorado press and enthusiastic support from companies and industries since the program contributes to millions of dollars in energy savings for consumers each year.


 

We hit the 100 day mark this week. From what I’ve heard, the last few weeks of session are always the busiest with everything coming down to the last minute. Stay engaged by following me on Facebook and Twitter and by signing up to receive texts from my team for direct actions to make your voice heard!

 
 
 
 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

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17 Apr Week 12

The Final Push

Proud to report the governor signed HB17-1081, a bill I sponsored with Rep. Nordberg to make higher education more accessible to Olympic athletes in Colorado. Great to meet some of our state’s most successful Olympic athletes and the next generation of competitors!

In Committee Last Week

House Bill 17-1256
This bill would have simply clarified current statute that requires all new oil and gas operations to be at least 1,000 feet from school property. By making sure that drilling occurs at this distance from playgrounds, rather than just the schools’ front doors, this bill would have recognized our children’s health and safety without hurting the oil and gas industry. I voted yes on HB17-1256, but, unfortunately, it died in committee.

Senate Bill 17-283
At the start of the week, the state senate, with the support of the GOP, added LGBTQ people and people with disabilities to the anti-harassment statute to make it consistent with the anti-discrimination law. Then in Senate State Affairs committee, the Republicans flipped their stance with the introduction and passage of SB17-283, which basically makes it legal for private businesses to openly discriminate against the groups protected under these laws. This bill would legalize discrimination and protect businesses that deny service to anyone based on skin color, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and more. Why are we wasting our time on a bill that, one, cannot coexist with current statute and, two, we know won’t hold up in court? I voted NO in committee and will continue to voice my opposition when it comes to the senate floor.

 

Fixing Budget Cuts: SB17-267

The state budget cuts funding for the Hospital Provider Fee, which refers to the program enacted after the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA to help support rural hospitals. A bipartisan effort in the state legislature offers a viable alternative that creates a state-run enterprise to ensure continued funding without the revenue limits imposed by TABOR. SB17-267 supports rural hospitals, allocates money to rural schools, secures money for transportation projects with a focus on small counties, and frees up money that can now be used for schools, health care, and transportation. I will be a yes vote.

 

Senate Bill 17-284

Last week, SB17-284, which limits women’s access to accurate and comprehensive health care and undermines their right to seek an abortion, was heard on the senate floor. Considered one of the mostanti-choice bills Colorado has ever seenthe bill was killed by a 16-19 vote from the uniting effort of the Democratic caucus.

 

Town Hall Tomorrow!

I’ll be joining the students and faculty of CU Boulderto cover topics such as student debt, the economy, equal rights, and clean energy.

Tues, April 18th
6:30-8:00pm

CU Boulder
Butcher Auditorium
3415 Colorado Ave
Boulder, CO 80303

RSVP to the Facebook event!

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

 

 

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10 Apr Week 11

The Final Month

Of the Seventy-First General Assembly

 

While the floor was slow this week, the Senate State Affairs Committee proved to be exciting as usual with hearings for multiple important bills. Here’s the latest roundup:

The Good

 

Updating CO’s Anti-Harassment Law

HB17-1188 is a simple bill that accomplishes something we should’ve done a long time ago. This bill updates Colorado’s anti-harassment laws to include LGBTQ people and people with physical or mental disabilities. Nobody should be subjected to harassment or intimidation based on their sexual orientation or disability. This long overdue update to our law got out of the State Affairs Committee and is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.

Better Contraception Access

HB17-1186 requires health insurance plans to allow women to receive a 12-month supply of their birth control instead of just the standard 3-month supply. This common-sense bill increases access to contraceptives for all women, but it especially lessens the burden on those who may live in rural areas and have a difficult time getting to a pharmacy on a regular basis. Although it was a bit unexpected that this bill got out of State Affairs Committee, it passed with only one dissenting vote. Now onto the full Senate for a vote.

 

The Bad

 

An Attack on Abortion Access 

One of the most controversial and dangerous bills that has come before me this session was also heard in the State Affairs Committee this week. Introduced on Monday, assigned to committee by midnight, and then given a hearing within 24 hours, SB17-284 (or the so-called Women’s Reproductive Information Guarantee for Health & Transparency Act) passed on a party-line vote.

This bill significantly limits women’s access to comprehensive healthcare and compromises reproductive choices. Here’s what the bill does:

I voted no in committee against this anti-science bill and will continue to oppose this bill every step of the way.

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

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04 Apr Week 10

Budget Week comes to a close, for the Senate at least

 
The Senate debated over dozens of amendments on the budget bill until about midnight on Wednesday. While so much hard work has gone into this budget, we should never have to make the decisions that we’ve made over the past few days. We’re cutting funding for rural hospitals. We’re once again not adequately funding public schools. We’re not sufficiently investing in wildfire prevention. Or higher education. Or oil and gas inspections. Or the arts. Or our infrastructure.

Although we voted to approve the budget, I’m hopeful that over the next few weeks we will all resist the urge to go back to our partisan corners and instead work together to solve the state’s budget crisis by fixing the hospital provider fee, and putting our state on a more sustainable and moral path.

 

My Amendments to the Budget Bill

 
I introduced a number of amendments that focused on the needs of our district as well as the interests of our state. These included funding for wildfire response, pine beetle mitigation, science research that is threatened by the Trump administration for institutions like NREL, contraception funding, increased affordable housing, and more aggressive air quality monitoring for oil & gas operations near schools and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, most of these amendments were voted down on a party-line vote.

 

My first Bill signing!

 
Yesterday, the Governor signed my first bill into law as a state senator! As a sponsor to HB1076 (along with Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Jeni Arndt), Colorado now has better options for conserving and managing our vital water resources throughout our state. Next up, I’ll be joined by Representative Nordberg for the Governor’s signing of our olympic athletes’ higher education bill into law!
 

 

Aerospace day at the Capitol

Last week, I was joined by students from the University of Colorado’s Aerospace program. Did you know that CU receives the most funding from NASA out of any public state university?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Boulder High’s Boy’s Soccer

Congrats to Boulder High School’s Boys’ Soccer team for claiming the 5A state championship this season! Great to meet the team and Head Coach, Hardy Kalisher.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thanks again for your support this week and for tuning into the riveting 10 hour budget debate. Reminder that my next town hall will be Sunday, April 9th at 1:30pm at the Wildflower Pavilion in Lyons. I’ll be joined by Congressman Jared Polis and Representative Jonathan Singer. Hope to see you there!

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

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27 Mar Week 9

 

 

 

Here comes the budget…

Next week, the Senate will be busy with drafting and finalizing the state budget. Since November, the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee has been working tirelessly to create a proposal that fits the needs of both the state and each district within it. Now it’s our turn for the full Senate to make amendments and additions.

I’m told to expect late nights and long discussions as we tackle each major portion of the “long bill” (how we refer to the state budget when it’s being debated in the legislature). The budget considers not only mandatory but also discretionary spending, which includes funding for important state services and programs. As you know, the restrictions of TABOR remain binding and compromise our ability to adequately fund these services, like schools and hospitals. Too bad House Bill 17-1187, which would have given voters the opportunity to reform (and increase) how much money the state has to spend, died at the hands of the Republican majority in committee this past Monday.

 

House Bill 17-1156

After hours of testimony, my Republican colleagues killed my bill that would have banned “gay conversion” therapy on minors. For the 3rd time, GOP Senators chose party politics and prior assumptions over their duty to the state.

Listen to the testimony here>>

 

 

 

 

 
 

House Bill 17-1081

My bill to provide Olympic student athletes in-state tuition at Colorado colleges & universities passed Senate committee with a 5-0 vote! The bill encourages Olympians to attend public higher education institutions in our state.

Check out the bill here>>

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Senate Bill 17-071

On Tuesday, Senate Bill 17-071, which rolls back current early voting options, came to the floor for a second reading. I, along with a few of my colleagues, proposed numerous amendments that would have curbed the negative impact of this bill and helped ensure voter accessibility. I’ll continue to fight this bill as much as possible and, if it passes the Senate, then I hope the House will ensure that the bill is either heavily amended or voted down.

 
 
 
 
 

Thanks for helping fight the good fight this week by joining me at the Capitol to testify in committee and by calling & emailing the other committee members to show your support! To stay up-to-date on the bills that directly impact you and the issues you care about, join our team and receive text updates.

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

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23 Mar Senate Republicans Vote Down Ban on Harmful Gay Conversion “Therapy”

Denver, CO — This evening the Senate State Affairs committee considered hours of testimony on HB17-1156, which would ban the practice of “gay conversion” therapy on minors in Colorado. As the senate sponsor, Senator Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) stated, “this practice has been proven as not only ineffective but also extremely harmful to children and young adults who receive it. This bill wouldn’t stop a parent from taking their child to a religious institute for counseling; it would only stop a mental health care professional from performing a practice that’s been disproven, discredited, and denounced by mainstream society and medical groups.”

During committee testimony, numerous members of the medical field pointed out that the state should follow the judgment and guidance of the major medical associations that denounce any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. HB17-1156 replaces this practice of “gay conversion” with treatment centered around acceptance, support, and understanding.

Senator Fenberg released the following statement after the final committee vote:

“If LGBTQ+ orientations are not considered a mental illness by the medical world, then why do we treat it as such in Colorado law? I’d say that’s government overreach, not this bill. This bill takes the guidance of major medical professional groups and associations without taking away either parental discretion or hindering religiously-based options.

 

No matter how you feel about homosexuality, there’s no doubt conversion therapy is harmful. I’m disappointed by my Republican colleagues for choosing their previous assumptions over the facts presented to them during the hearing.”

 

As the testifiers repeatedly highlighted, the bill does not impact either religious or non-licensed counseling services and it does not compromise parental rights as parents can still solicit services from pastors, clergy, and others involved with religious ministry and instruction and practicing nonprofessional therapy. Even with the overwhelming support for this bill, the GOP majority in the committee killed the bill for the third year in a row.

 

 

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22 Mar Today: Gay Conversion Therapy Bill to be Heard Before Senate State Affairs Committee

Denver, CO — Today, House Bill 17-1156, which seeks to ban the performance of gay conversion therapy on minors by a licensed therapist, will be heard in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. Senator Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) serves as the senate sponsor for the bill and also sits on the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. As Senator Fenberg explains, “The bill protects LGBT youth by replacing the unproven and harmful practice of ‘gay conversion’ therapy with support and acceptance.”

This bill has been introduced twice before and has passed the House each time; however, for the past two years, it hasn’t made it past the Senate. This year, GOP Senate leadership assigned HB17-1156 to the “kill” committee where they intend for the bill to die.

“The opposition wrongly implies that LGBT people have a mental illness, which is just flat out wrong,” said Fenberg.“The practice of conversion therapy harms children and young adults and contributes to high rates of depression, low self-esteem, and even suicide.”

 

The bill has support from a number of medical professional groups, including the following:

  • Colorado Counseling Association
  • National Association of Social Workers (Colorado Chapter)
  • Colorado Psychological Association
  • Mental Health Colorado
  • Colorado Psychiatric Society
  • Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

 

HB17-1156 will be heard in Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee this afternoon at 1:30PM in SCR 357.

 

 

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21 Mar IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T “FIX” IT. SENATE GOP PASSES BILL RESTRICTING ACCESS TO THE BALLOT

Denver, CO — A national group released a study ranking Colorado in the top five states for voter turnout. What can be credited to Colorado’s success? “Colorado’s mail voting system, same-day voter registration and its online registration…”, as written in Colorado Politics.

 

This isn’t a mistake. Ever since Democrats led on 2013 legislation expand voter access, Colorado has again and again been rated among the tops in the nation in voter engagement and turnout, leading some states to actually look to Colorado in how to repeat this winning formula.

 

In other words, what Colorado is doing is working. Yet, a bill by Senate Republicans would mess with this winning formula by cutting the number of Voter Service & Polling Centers (VSPC) in larger counties in the first week of early voting. The bill would reduce options, despite the fact many Coloradans use VSPCs to register to vote, update their information, get a replacement mail-in ballot, or to even vote in-person.

 

After the bill passed on a party-line vote this evening, State Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, released the following statement in response to the bill’s passage:

 

“The right to vote is the bedrock of our country, and we should be striving every day to increase access to the ballot, and not decrease it. Since 2013, Colorado’s costs to run elections have actually gone down by 40%. So not only are we increasing access to vote — we’re saving money too. Colorado’s formula works, and we shouldn’t be messing with it by attempting to fix what’s not broken, and I’m very disappointed my Republicans colleagues simply don’t see that.”

 

 

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