Senator Steve Fenberg | Newsletters
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Newsletters

10 Feb These bills are on the move!

 

 

Bills Moving Forward

 

 

Several of my bills have been moving quickly this past week, but not without a bit of debate under their wings!

I’m grateful for all those who came out to testify in favor of my legislation so far. Your personal stories are always the best illustration as to why we need to improve our air quality, tackle student debt, and address the power imbalance that often exists between big corporations and regular people.

Whether it’s to add transparency to forced arbitration, mandate the use of biodiesel, or reduce the risk of wildfires, my staff and I have been busy making sure that these bills make it through the legislative process.

 

 

Upcoming Bills

 

This Thursday, another one of my bills, Senate Bill 4, is up in committee. This bill, called Get On Your Feet, is part of my effort to address the crippling amount of student loan debt in Colorado. The Get On Your Feet program will provide loan repayment assistance up to two years for college graduates who are enrolled in an income based repayment program.
 

As the session continues to heat up, I’ll be hosting more opportunities to meet up to discuss legislation and hear your thoughts. Here’s the upcoming town hall in case you want to put it on your calendar:

Manhattan Middle School | Sun Feb 23rd @ 10:30am – 12:00pm

All of the details will be on my website and on the Facebook event. Be on the lookout for more dates to be announced.

 

 

The legislative session has only just begun and we have a lot of work ahead of us. In the coming weeks, I’ll be unveiling my next set of legislative priorities regarding air quality improvement, health care, and several other items. Please do not hesitate to reach out about a bill you care about or an issue that is important to you.

Onward,

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05 Feb Things Just Got Real

 

 

 

Last week was when the 2020 legislative session started to feel real. Several very important bills have made it through committee and are now at various stages of being voted on by the full Senate. Whether it’s protecting air quality, reforming how corporate interest groups rig the justice system, or making big historic changes like repealing the death penalty, it sure feels like the session is well underway.

 

 

 

Mandating biodiesel at gas stations

Senate Bill 38 will require that all diesel sold in the state of Colorado will include at least 10% biodiesel. Biodiesel can reduce emissions by 70% and particulates by 50% compared to diesel, which has a big impact on ozone levels and general air quality. Given that Colorado has among the top 10 worst air quality in the country, this is the least we can do. A lot more action on addressing air quality to come in a few weeks.

Read the Bill

 

Reforming Forced Arbitration

I’ve introduced a bill to make big changes to how corporations rig the court and judicial systems against consumers and employees. Just about every single day, each of us sign a contract or click “accept” on a user agreement that locks us into unfair, forced terms that essentially waive our legal rights. Senate Bill 93 aims to provide basic fairness and transparency in the use of forced arbitration by ensuring that arbitrators (i.e. private judges) don’t have conflicts of interest over the cases they’re deciding. Without these protections, corporations and employers often hire the arbitrator that they know will always rule in their favor. This bill has made it through committee and will be debated on the Senate floor this week.

Read the Bill

 

Repealing the Death Penalty

Colorado just got closer than ever to repealing the death penalty. After a long, difficult, but important debate, Senate Bill 100 has passed the Senate and is now onto the House. The death penalty disproportionately affects people of color, and is far more expensive than the alternative sentence such as life without parole. But, most importantly, I believe the state should not be in the business of executing people.

Read the Bill

 

 

As always, please feel free to reach out with any comments, questions or ideas you may have. You can always call me at 303-866-4872 or email at steve@stevefenberg.org.

Onward,

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2020 State Senator Steve Fenberg, All rights reserved.

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Denver, CO 80203

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17 Jan First Week of 2020 Session

9 days down. 111 to go!

Time is already flying here at the Capitol with over 100 bills introduced in the State Senate. Over the next few weeks these bills will be headed to committees to get vetted. Be sure to keep an eye out for my weekly newsletter and social media to stay updated. We’ll also be announcing town halls shortly.

Here’s a brief look at the bills I introduced during our first week of session:

 

My First Four Bills

Eliminating Student Debt
My first bill, Senate Bill 4, would provide up to two years of loan payments for graduates of Colorado public universities who are enrolled in an income-based repayment plan. Titled “Get on Your Feet,” this legislation seeks to ease the burden of student loans that many Coloradans face as they’re entering the workforce and beginning their careers.

Read the Bill


Requiring Biodiesel in CO

Senate Bill 38 creates a statewide requirement for all diesel sold in Colorado to be blended with biodiesel. This will reduce the carbon and particulate output of diesel vehicles, which will help reduce ozone in the metro-area and improve air quality. This is just the first of several bills this session related to improving air quality.

Read the Bill


Reducing Wildfire Risks

My next bill, Senate Bill 18, creates a grant program for local governments and organizations doing outreach to homeless communities who are living on or near public lands. The outreach to this hard-to-reach community will include information about accessing basic homeless services, but also about reducing the potential for creating dangerous wildfires.

Read the Bill


Reforming Forced Arbitration

Senate Bill 93 aims to provide basic fairness and transparency in the use of forced arbitration. These arbitration requirements are ubiquitous in employment contracts and in many user agreements for basic things like software downloads, ticket purchases, real estate, etc. This legislation doesn’t outlaw arbitration, but simply gives Coloradans the same basic assurances of ethics and transparency that they would expect in a court.

Read the Bill
 

As always, please feel free to reach out with any comments, questions or ideas you may have. You can always call me at 303-866-4872 or email at steve@stevefenberg.org.

Onward,

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08 Jan Opening Week 2020

 

As the last decade rounded the corner, I knew my life was going to forever change. I was about to meet one of the most important people in my entire life. After months of waiting, my wife and I welcomed our baby girl, Isadora Yael Fenberg, into the world at 1:40pm on December 30th.

As I embark on another legislative session, which begins today, it’s clear to me that my world has changed a bit. I’ve changed. Now I’m a father.

 Now it’s personal. 

I’m more motivated than ever to fight for Colorado’s–and Isa’s–future. And, although this might be the sleep deprivation talking, I’m increasingly optimistic (and impatient!) when it comes to creating that future.

For example, I want Isa and other kids in Colorado to be able to play outside all summer long, not just on days when there isn’t a high ozone alert. That’s why I’ll be introducing legislation and fighting to aggressively clean up Colorado’s air quality. This includes funding for increased inspections of emitters, better engagement with the scientific community in policymaking, deeper and more continuous air monitoring for methane and cancer-causing emissions, and cleaning up dirty diesel emissions that cause ozone.

It also means giving local communities more control over the chemicals that are released into our air, land, and water. Currently, it’s illegal for a local government to have any oversight over where and when dangerous chemicals from pesticides are used. This session, I hope to change that. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and recreate in the same streams, so we should be more responsible about how each of our actions impact the health and safety of the larger community.

And, of course, there is still much work to be done on the existential threat of climate change. There will be several pieces of legislation this year to continue to take action on climate, but one that I’m very excited about is a bill that will provide incentives for homeowners, builders, and commercial property owners to phase out their use of natural gas for home heating. The technology for heat pumps and on-demand water heaters are here and we need to rapidly deploy them to replace outdated technologies that rely on fossil fuels for our daily living.

Of course, these are just a few issues. Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll be sharing more about the Senate Dems’ bold agenda. There are so many important issues that I and the Democratic caucus will be working on over the next 120 days–bringing down the cost of health care, providing student debt relief, and addressing our growing mental health crisis, just to name a few.

Time to get to work. Who needs to sleep??

 

Onward,

 

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08 May What we just accomlished

 

Today was the final day of the 2019 legislative session. We set out with an ambitious agenda, and I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished for Coloradans over the past 120 days. It’s impossible to adequately summarize the session’s accomplishments in a single email, but here are a few of the greatest hits. We passed over 400 bills this year and I’m proud to say that 95% of them had bi-partisan support.

  • We enacted a reinsurance bill which will assist health insurers in paying high-cost insurance claims. By reducing system-wide costs and paying for a portion of high-cost claims, we can reduce premiums for all Coloradans.
  • We’ve increased transparency regarding medical billing to protect consumers from things like surprise bills from out of network providers.
  • We increased access to programs and services for those in need of treatment for opioid and substance use disorders.
  • We expanded dental services to pregnant women covered under the children’s basic health plan.
  • We’ve authorized the state to investigate a public health care option for all Coloradans.
  • We’ve authorized a pilot program for cooperative medical insurance programs in rural areas.
  • We created the Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare.
  • We’ve authorized the state to import prescription drugs from Canada, which will increase cost savings for Colorado consumers.

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later

We’re all pretty exhausted from session. I’m looking forward to taking a break for a few days, but stay tuned for updates on an end of session town hall with Speaker Becker and Representative Hooten. And as always, feel free to reach out with any questions you may have or issues that are important to you. I’ll be working all summer to identify and develop priorities for next session and would love to hear from you.

Onward,
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01 May The final week of session

 

The final week of the legislative session is upon us, but there are still a ton of big bills we need to get across the finish line. Here’s a quick preview of a few priorities that are left in the Senate as we race to the finish on Friday at midnight.

Climate Action Plan
HB1261, the Colorado Climate Action Plan, will come up for a vote in the Senate this week. It creates a path for massive carbon reductions economy-wide and is a huge step for Colorado in combating the climate crisis.
Comprehensive Sex Education
We believe every student in Colorado deserves access to accurate information regarding their health and wellbeing — including complete information about consent, birth control and pregnancy, abstinence, and how students can protect themselves from STDs. Read the bill HERE.
Health Care Affordability
We’re debating two bills to lower the cost of health care. HB19-1174 seeks to protect consumers by increasing transparency regarding medical billing, specifically surprise bills from out of network providers. HB19-1168 would allow the state to assist health insurers in paying high-cost insurance claims. By reducing system-wide costs and paying for a portion of high-cost claims, we can reduce premiums for all Coloradans.
College Savings for Kids
My bill to automatically open a college savings account for every child born or adopted in Colorado has one final vote! Our goal is to help alleviate the financial burden of higher education by helping families save for education from day one.
Protecting Mobile Home Owners
Through HB1309, we’re working to address the abuses mobile home owners experience. This bill establishes a way to enforce the Mobile Home Park Safety Act and increases protections for property owners.

–>

Youth Suicide Prevention
Colorado has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the country and this must change. In an effort to reduce barriers to help, my bill, HB1120, lowers the age that children can access therapy provided by mental health professionals without parental consent and expands mental health education.

Time to finish strong

We’ve accomplished a ton so far this session–from sweeping oil and gas reforms, to campaign finance, to providing full day kindergarten for every family in the state. There’s a lot to be proud of so far, but there’s always still more work to do. Let’s make sure we end on Friday without leaving anything on the field.

If you’re interested, you can livestream the floor proceedings online and follow along.

Go to the Legislature Website »

Onward,
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01 May Putting a price on carbon

 

Putting a Price on Carbon

The Public Utilities Commission isn’t something many of us pay close attention to. And I get it; the regulation of public utilities isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. But some of the changes we’re making this year are really crucial in our efforts to address climate change. My bill, SB236, reforms the Public Utilities Commission in the following ways:
  • Establishes a “cost of carbon” to better evaluate the real cost of where we get our current and future energy to power our state
  • Requires utilities to build out the electricity system to allow for and better take advantage of distributed renewable energy such as solar and storage


Last week, the Senate passed a $30.5 billion state budget package, which includes $300 million new money for transportation. That’s $300 million for things like mass transit projects, maintenance, and reducing traffic congestion across the state.


The legislature passed my bill to help establish the Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare. The Lt. Governor, a cancer survivor and policymaker with extensive experience in healthcare policy, will lead the office. Her job will literally be to examine how to save you money on healthcare.

 

Restoring Voting Rights for Felons

I’m incredibly proud that my bill, HB1266, to restore voting rights for parolees and those who are done being incarcerated for a felony passed out of committee. This bill will be on the Senate floor this week and is an important step towards making our democratic process more inclusive and fair.

Believe it or not, there are only 10 days left in session this year, but we still have a lot of work to do. Stay tuned for updates on the progress we make in the final days.

Onward,

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12 Apr Ending a Legacy of Shame

 

“Both hate and empathy are taught. You decide what side you want to be on.” -Lindsay

Friends,
I have sponsored legislation to ban gay conversion therapy for minors every year that I’ve been at the Capitol. And until now, we’d seen it killed by Republicans every year.But if there is one thing our LGBTQ friends understand, it’s how to persevere. Every year, hundreds of Coloradans have come to the Capitol to share their stories. Many of them are painful depictions of traumatic and emotionally damaging experiences.

“Conversion therapy left me with a legacy of unnecessary shame, lost years, wasted money, and deep pain.” -Francis

This is the year we will finally put an end to the use of this despicable practice on minors.

Conversion therapy is not backed by science and it has caused harm to far too many kids in our state. There is nothing to be “fixed” in LGBTQ youth. They should not feel ashamed of who they are. Colorado is a colorful state, and all are welcome here.

“As a survivor, I’m asking you to change the message that the state of Colorado is sending to our LGBTQ youth, their families, and the licensed professionals who serve them. By supporting this legislation, you will protect thousands of youth from very real harm and send a powerful message that they are beautiful just the way they are.”- Sam

I’m incredibly proud that my bill to ban gay conversion therapy officially passed out of the legislature last week with bi-partisan support, and the bill is now headed to Governor Polis’s desk. Something tells me he’ll sign it into law.
As always, please feel free to reach out with any comments, questions or ideas you may have. You can always call me at 303-866-4872 or email at steve@stevefenberg.org.

Onward,

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20 Mar Colorado Kids Are #BornPerfect

 

Friends,

A lot is happening at the Capitol every day, and I want to take a few minutes to share some of the highlights of the past few weeks.

The Senate passed the most sweeping oil and gas regulations our state has seen in over 60 years! My bill, SB181, puts the health and safety of Coloradans first and clarifies that the role of the COGCC is to regulate, not foster, the industry. It empowers local governments to take control over what is happening in their backyards and equips them with the tools they need to stand up for their community’s best interests. The bill is now being heard in the House, so please contact your Representative to voice your support!

The Employee Information Student Loan Repayment Programs bill was signed into law last Friday. I introduced the bill with Senator Tammy Story as part of my effort to address the large amount of student loan debt in Colorado. The bill will increase the access that state employees have to information about federal loan repayment and loan forgiveness programs.
The Digital Token Act, a bill that clarifies regulations surrounding cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies, has been signed into law. I’m excited about this step towards promoting innovation and growth within the cryptocurrency and blockchain community in Colorado.

On Monday, my bill to Prohibit Conversion Therapy for a Minor passed out of committee in the Senate for the first time in Colorado history. Being gay is not an illness and it does not need to be fixed. Colorado kids are #bornperfect. I’m proud to sponsor this legislation for the third time, and am confident this will be the year we finally stop licensed counselors in Colorado from using such harmful tactics on our kids.

Other Notable Bills That Are Rollin’ Right Along

Regulate Student Education Loan Servicers (SB19-002)– Passed out of the Senate Appropriations committee, and heads to the Senate floor later this week.

Medical Marijuana Condition Autism (HB19-1028)Passed Senate Second Reading

Youth Mental Health Education and Suicide Prevention (HB19-1120)Referred to House Appropriations committee

As always, please feel free to reach out with any comments, questions or ideas you may have. You can always call me at 303-866-4872 or email at steve@stevefenberg.org.

Onward,

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20 Mar Sweeping Oil & Gas Reforms Introduced

 

Friends,

 

Today I introduced a bill that will finally bring change to the way the oil and gas industry operates in Colorado. For too long, the legislature has stood in the way of common sense reforms that would keep communities safe and protect the Colorado we love. It’s been over 60 years since meaningful changes have been made to our oil and gas laws, and our communities have been forced to bear the steep consequences.

 

We’ve spent hundreds of hours meeting with experts, studying what other states do, visiting impacted communities, and dissecting policy proposals to create the smartest approach possible.

 

Here’s a rundown of our top priorities:

 

1. Put health and safety first: Clarify the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is to regulate oil & gas activities, NOT to foster the development of oil & gas.

 

2. Empower local communities: Give local governments the power to regulate oil and gas operations, and clarify local governments can go beyond state regulations.

 

3. Protect the environment from oil and gas drilling: Strengthen protections for wildlife, direct air quality experts to adopt common sense rules to reduce harmful emissions including methane, and fix and prevent abandoned orphan wells.

 

4. Protect property owners form forced pooling: Increase the threshold required to “force pool” mineral interest owners. Current law requires permission from just one mineral right owner. We’re changing that to at least a majority of mineral rights owners.

 

For the policy wonks out there, you can read the full bill HERE.

Introducing this bill is only the beginning. The oil and gas industry is prepared to spend millions of dollars to kill this bill. But I’m committed to getting it across the finish line, and I need your help. The bill will be heard in committee Tuesday, March 5th at 1:30pm. Please come show your support!

Onward,

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