Senator Steve Fenberg | Newsletters
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Newsletters

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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17 Mar Week 8

March 17th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Town Hall Recap!

Thanks for coming out to my fifth town hall this past Wednesday! I appreciated the diverse questions and was excited to talk about some of my own bills as well as discuss the bigger issues we’re facing, including transportation and healthcare, as we move ahead in the session.

A big thanks to Sanitas Brewing for hosting and to Majority Leader KC Becker and Representative Edie Hooton for joining me. My next town hall is only a couple weeks away on Sunday, April 9th with Congressman Jared Polis, which will be taking place at the Wildflower Pavilion at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. Join us as we tackle both state and federal issues!

 

Coming Up This Week


Ban “gay conversion” therapy

My bill with Rep. Rosenthal to ban “gay conversion” therapy will be heard in State Affairs committee this Wednesday, March 22nd. GOP Senate leadership sent the bill here, which means it’s going to be an uphill battle to get it passed. If you can, come out to the Capitol on Wednesday at 1:30pm to make your voice heard and your support known. They’ve killed the bill the past two years, but we won’t let them off easily this time. This bill isn’t going down without a fight!

Joined by Grassroots St. Vrain (and Sen. Matt Jones) on the floor this week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reform TABOR

The bipartisan House Bill 17-1187 just passed the House and has already been assigned a Senate hearing date for this coming Monday. You guessed it, the bill is headed to State Affairs where the GOP majority expects it to die. I strongly support reforming TABOR and believe that this bill is one step in the right direction to more adequately fund our public schools, higher education, our roads, and so many basic services that desperately need more support.

Met with constituents on Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day!


 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

My bill passes!

It’s not all bad news! This week, I can now officially call myself a lawmaker with the passage of a bill on water conservation through both the House and Senate! As the Senate sponsor of the bipartisan House Bill 17-1076, Colorado now has more tools at its disposal to store, manage, and conserve the precious resource of water in our state.

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

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13 Mar Week 7

March 10th, 2017

 

It’s Time to Ban “Gay Conversion” Therapy

I’m excited to announce the passage of HB17-1156 through the House and that it’s now headed to the Senate! The bill prohibits licensed medical physicians from subjecting children and young adults to the harmful practice of “gay conversion” therapy. In order for the bill to come to a full vote on the Senate floor, it must pass through Senate committee first. The Senate President decides which committee each bill goes to, and in doing so, has the power to determine its fate. I hope you’ll email President Grantham and ask him to give HB17-1156 a fair committee hearing and to put it up for a full vote on the Senate floor. You can email him asking for a fair hearing here. For more actions on this bill and others, sign up for texts from my team!

 

Early Voting Rollback? No Thanks.

This week, Senate Bill 17-071 came before me on the State Affairs Committee. This bill significantly rolls back early voting options for voters across the state. Although reallocating resources to better serve voters is a reasonable idea, I will always oppose any efforts that reduce access for voters overall, which I believe this bill does. That’s why I introduced seven different amendments to ensure that adequate services would still be accessible to voters. Unfortunately, each one of these amendments died on a party-line vote. If the bill continues in its current form, I will oppose it and continue to work toward getting it to a good place. Democracy works better when we all show up and we need to focus on improving our elections rather than making it more difficult to vote.

Joined by Moms Demand Action at the Capitol this week.

 

Reforming the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

This week a bipartisan bill that will reform aspects of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) advanced out of the House. HB17-1187 will change the state tax revenue cap growth calculation. Basically, the current way we calculate our state’s revenue cap under TABOR has created a massive budget shortfall and has caused devastating cuts to schools, hospitals, roads, and other important programs. The bill changes the formula in TABOR to more accurately reflect the economic situation of Colorado residents, which will result in better investment in state services that fits our population’s needs. It sounds wonky, but it’s a big deal if we can get it passed!

Fourth Town Hall

 

On Wednesday, March 15th, I’m hosting my fourth town hall with Majority Leader KC Becker and Representative Edie Hooton.
Join us as we enter the 2nd half of the legislative session.

 

Sanitas Brewing Co.
3550 Frontier Ave, Boulder CO
Doors open @ 5:00 PM
Program begins @ 6:00 PM

RSVP on Facebook Here!

 

Coming Up

 

Next week, HB17-1001, which provides work leave for parents to attend their child’s school activities, comes up in the Senate State Affairs committee.
Parents shouldn’t fear the oss of their jobs if they attend parent-teacher meetings and other school-related activities for their child.
I strongly support this bill and hope that it will pass committee.

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

P.S. Thank you to everyone who attended the forums this past weekend with the League of Women Voters and at Frasier Meadows Retirement Community!

 

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03 Mar Week 6

March 3rd, 2017

 

Standing up for young Coloradans

As the Senate sponsor of House Bill 17-1156, I’m excited to announce its passage through House committee and onto the floor. HB17-1156 replaces the harmful practice of gay conversion therapy with acceptance and support. The bill prohibits medical physicians from subjecting children and young adults to the ineffective and degrading treatment, and in doing so, protects minors from the psychological and physical damages caused by this practice.

Unfortunately, the last two years this bill has passed the House and then been quickly killed by the GOP majority in the Senate. This year, we need to make sure that the bill not only passes the House but also receives a fair hearing in the Senate. We’ll keep you updated on when the bill comes to the Senate and how you can get involved to make your support known. For now, continue to reach out to friends and ask them to call and write their representatives. We won’t let the bill go down without a fight.

 

Supporting electric vehicles

Quick mention of a Senate bill that may have missed your radar. Senate Bill 17-188 would repeal the income tax credit for electric cars. It passed Senate committee this week, and will soon make it to the floor. The bill would basically remove the incentives the state provides to encourage Coloradans to rent and buy cleaner and more sustainable vehicles. Colorado has been labeled as the best place in America to buy an electric car and we need to continue our progress rather than roll it back.

 

Making public records public

In State Affairs committee this week, we heard a bill to improve transparency and make public records more accessible to Coloradans. Senate Bill 17-040 modernizes public access to government files by requiring the release of CORA (Colorado Open Record Act) requests in digital and electronic files rather than only providing the option of a printed version. It encourages greater government efficiency, transparency, and accountability. The bill has been shot down multiple times in previous years, but looks strong this year as it heads to the Senate floor.

 

Hosting a joint town hall

Unlike a few cardboard members of Congress that I know, I’m exciting to host another (my fourth!) town hall. Join me on Wednesday, March 15th at Sanitas Brewing Co. in Boulder. I’ll be joined by Majority Leader KC Becker and Representative Edie Hooton as we give a debrief of the session so far and open the space for your feedback and answer questions on the issues you care about. For more information visit my website and RSVP to the Facebook event!

 

Signing up for texts

Thanks to those who have signed up to receive texts from my team! We’ve received a ton of positive feedback on it and look forward to expanding it to more people. If you haven’t already, sign up to stay updated on what’s happening here at the Capitol, quickly and easily get your questions answered, and learn how you can plug in and help out. Or text ‘FENBERG’ to (720) 709-2567 to join the team!

 

Thanks for staying engaged and staying in the fight to protect Colorado’s values.

 

Onward,
Steve Fenberg

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24 Feb Week 5

February 24th, 2017

 

Discrimination? Sure. Marijuana? Nope.

Although the vast majority of my time is spent on state legislation and issues, this week has proven once again that we can’t escape the impacts of the Trump White House. This week, the Trump Administration repealed rules that protect transgender kids in schools under the auspices of states’ rights. In almost the same breath, they also signaled that they’re going to direct the Department of Justice to go after states who have legalized marijuana. Why do they believe in states’ rights when it comes to discrimination against transgender kids, but not when it comes to regulating marijuana?

The people of Colorado voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana, and the federal government needs to respect the will of Coloradans. Today, I publicly called on other legislators to join me in defending Colorado’s responsible marijuana regulations, the industry leaders who contribute to our economy, and the rights of everyday Coloradans.

 

National Popular Vote

This past week marks the most emails, calls, and letters I’ve received so far, and the vast majority of the thousands were to show support for the National Popular Vote Agreement in Colorado. As a co-sponsor of the bill, I was incredibly moved by the sheer volume of support and everyone’s persistence on what’s next after the bill died in committee. I hope to continue the conversation and possibly work move the effort to the 2018 ballot. More on this later.

 

Education

While I often mention student debt and affordable college as top priorities, I strongly support improving public education every step of the way. I’m a Senate co-sponsor of both SB17-107 to increase school arts programs and SB17-068 to provide elementary students with school counselors. Although they didn’t pass the Senate, I also supported SB17-029 to fund full-day kindergarten, and SB17-118 to provide prospective students transparent information on private occupational schools.

 

Gun sense

Three GOP-backed bills to erode common-sense gun laws have come before me in the Senate State Affairs committee. SB17-007 would remove the permit requirement for concealed carry of guns in public spaces, SB17-005 would arm our public school teachers without any consistency on training between districts, and SB17-116 would repeal the high-capacity ammunition limits put in place after the Aurora theater massacre. Fortunately, similar bills were introduced in the House and already shot down in committee, and we expect the same fate for these Senate bills.

 

Election access

A few bills have been introduced that would compromise our democracy by limiting voting access. As currently written, SB17-071 would rollback early voting options for voters by reducing the number of voter centers where voters can vote in-person, register to vote, drop off a ballot, or pick up a new ballot. Colorado has one of the most modern election systems and we can’t let misguided bills move us backward. I’m looking forward to working with the sponsor of this bill to attempt to get it to a place that increases voter access and fixes the long lines we’ve seen at polling places.

 

We’re going to be pushing out more action alerts and updates to our text message list next week. Be sure to sign up for these updates on all things happening at the Capitol. My team will do all the work to keep you in the loop about the issues you care about most.

Thank you for all that you do to stand up for our community’s values!

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

Senate District 18

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