Senator Steve Fenberg | Newsletters
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Newsletters

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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23 Feb FENBERG STATEMENT RE: TRUMP DOJ ATTACKING MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

Denver, CO — This afternoon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced the Trump Administration would be “taking action” against states that legalized recreational marijuana, going as far as outlandishly comparing legalization to the opioid epidemic. In 2012, Colorado passed Amendment 64 with over 55% in support to legalize recreational marijuana, which has resulted in a robust industry that has generated millions in revenue for schools. State Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, released the following statement in response:

“Whether it is building a wall or stripping protections for trans students, President Trump has already shown he’s willing to trample Colorado values to further his regressive agenda. Now, he’s going to use his Department of Justice to trample states’ rights? The people of Colorado voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana, and the federal government needs to respect the will of Coloradans. I call on my colleagues--especially my Republican colleagues--to join me in defending Colorado’s responsible marijuana regulations, the industry leaders who contribute to our economy, and the rights of everyday Coloradans.”

 

 

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15 Feb Week 4

February 15th, 2017

 

Earlier this week

The GOP killed my bill that would’ve raised awareness of federal student loan forgiveness programs. Senate Bill 17-147 would have provided our most valuable employees in the public sector, including school teachers, nonprofit leaders, and local government employees, with up-to-date, quality informational materials on getting their loans forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. And with zero cost to the state. We already provide information to public employees for health insurance and retirement savings plans, so why not include student loan forgiveness programs that the employee is likely eligible for?

We heard powerful testimony from a variety of folks, including both current and former college students, public school teachers, and school administrators. Even without a single group opposing or testifying against the bill, it died along a party-line vote with the GOP majority choosing party over people.

 

We can’t stop here

The bill may be defeated for now, but the crisis of student debt remains. And that’s why I’m working with colleagues in the House of Representatives to introduce another bill to help Coloradans with the burden of student debt. I hope you’ll stand with me in calling on other legislators to get this bill over to the senate for a fair hearing! More to come on that soon.

To stay engaged on this issue, and others that you care about most (don’t forget the bills to repeal the Colorado Health Exchange and to rollback early voting options), sign up for my text message text updates. We’ll do all the work on our end to make it as easy as possible for you to stay engaged in what’s going on and how you can get involved.

 

In other news

Today I will have the chance to vote yes on Colorado joining the National Popular Vote Agreement. This bill will allow Colorado to join with several other states in awarding our electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. I’ve received an incredible amount of emails and calls from both constituents and other concerned Coloradans in support of this bill. As a co-sponsor, I’m excited to stand with you all and support the National Popular Vote in Colorado. Tune in to the committee hearing this afternoon here.

Plus, tomorrow I’ll be voting no on a dangerous bill that would criminalize–with a class 6 felony–protests against oil & gas development. This bill goes too far and is counter to American values that respect the right to peaceful assembly.

 

To learn more about upcoming bills, don’t forget to sign up for text updates. Together, we’ll keep fighting to improve the lives of all Coloradans each step of the way.

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg

 

P.S. If you haven’t heard, our Attorney General just waged a frivolous lawsuit–with taxpayer dollars–against Boulder County. I stand with Boulder County and am calling on the Attorney General to stop using taxpayer dollars to do the bidding of the oil & gas industry.

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15 Feb FENBERG STATEMENT ON TODAY’S PERMIT-LESS CONCEALED CARRY BILL

Denver, Co — Today, the Senate Military, Veterans, and State Affairs Committee will consider yet another gun bill introduced by the Republican majority. Senate Bill 17-116 would remove the current permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Colorado.

 

“There’s a reason why we have a permitting process. This bill, supported by the NRA, would remove the process that helps keep our public spaces safe,” committee member State Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, stated.

 

Eighty-eight percent of Americans support requiring both safety training and a clean criminal record in order to carry concealed handguns in public. SB17-116 would remove both of these public safety regulations.

“Without permits, law enforcement no longer has any discretion over who can carry a loaded, concealed weapon, even if the carriers have a violent criminal history and have been determined as a danger to our communities,” said Senator Fenberg.

Efforts by the gun lobby have crossed state boundaries with 21 other states rejecting similar legislation in 2015. SB17-116 will be heard in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at 1:30PM this afternoon, Wednesday, February 15th.

 

 

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14 Feb SENATE GOP KILLS BILL TO CREATE AWARENESS RE: OPTIONS FOR STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS

Denver, Co — Yesterday, State Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, introduced a bill in committee to establish a streamlined process for the distribution of informational materials regarding federal student loan forgiveness programs. Under existing federal programs, college graduates with student loan debt can have their loans forgiven if they work in the public sector or for a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, the bill died along a party-line vote.

 

“With 70% of students graduating from Colorado public institutions with an average debt of $26,000, we need to step in and help provide Coloradans with basic information on how to handle this financial burden,” said Senator Fenberg.

 

SB17-147 would have required the Department of Personnel to develop basic informational materials about the federal student loan forgiveness program and distribute these materials to state and other public sector employees. The bill also directs employers such as universities, local and county governments, and school districts to pass on these materials to employees who can then become aware of their loan forgiveness options and have the information necessary to apply.

Senator Fenberg explained that “even though many of our state and public employees–including teachers–are eligible to have much of their loans forgiven, they’re often unaware of such options.”

During committee, one Colorado public school teacher spoke to her experience in which she would have qualified for both the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs if only she had known her options. Due to simply never being informed by her employer, she has exhausted her savings paying off her loans. If she had known that she was eligible earlier, she could have had thousands of dollars forgiven and saved that money for retirement or her children’s college.

University of Colorado recent graduate, Linsi Bowers, testified in support of the bill. Linsi stated that “student loan debt is the problem of my generation. To quote South African student Khaya Dlanga, ‘when you make education inaccessible, you make prosperity only possible for the already prosperous.’” She recognized that “Senate Bill 17-147 [would help] ensure that Coloradans like me who can’t afford higher education without taking out loans and who want to work in public service have the resources we need to responsibly pay off our loans, rather than letting the debt put us behind when we worked so hard to move forward.”

“Just like employers already provide information on health insurance plans, the bill would simply add information about existing student loan forgiveness programs to the list of what we notify employees about,” said Senator Fenberg.

Senator Fenberg will continue to pursue common sense legislation on student loan debt to ensure that the opportunities presented by higher education are not outweighed by the growing cost of it. This bill was cosponsored by Senators Donovan, Jones, Kagan, Kerr, Moreno and had support from St. Vrain Valley School District, Boulder Valley Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and New Era Colorado.

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07 Feb Week 3

February 7th, 2017

 

What a week!

Thanks again for attending my first town hall as your state senator! We experienced a record turnout for this type of event. I’m excited to do it again tonight and next month! You all provided me with a renewed energy to keep moving forward and actively fight for our values here at the Capitol.

 

Up next

Up next, my bill on energy storage will be heard in the Business, Labor, and Technology Committee tomorrow (Wednesday, February 8th) afternoon. As you know, the bill recognizes the right of utility customers to install and use their own energy storage systems. It encourages investment in renewable energy and the diversification of Colorado’s energy grid. The bill has gained traction, with support across the aisle, and will hopefully receive a fair shot in committee.

 

Get fired up

While the national political scene takes over much our attention, very similar activities are happening right here in Colorado. Does the senate bill to repeal our state health care exchange get you fired up? How about the house bills attacking women’s rights and promoting discrimination based on “religious freedom? Or, on a more positive note, a national popular vote agreement for the state? We may have the minority in the state senate, but we have the numbers on the ground. Stay involved by showing up to committee hearings, calling elected officials (not only me but also bill sponsors, committee members, swing voters, etc), attending rallies, organizing events, and continuing to fight the good fight at every step of the way.

 

Stay in the loop

I’ve received a few emails and phone calls from those of you who would like to opt-in to text message updates. If interested in receiving text alerts on upcoming bills, events, and actions, sign up here with your contact info. We’ll take care of the behind-the-scenes work and make it as easy as possible for you to show up and make your voice heard; all you have to do is sign up!

 

Onward,

Steve Fenberg
Senate District 18

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30 Jan Week 2

January 30th, 2017

 

A Rite of Passage…

Last week I experienced a rite of passage with my first bill dying in committee. The bill would have improved how our democratic process works in Colorado by measuring and tracking average wait times for voters at polling places. As a member of the committee, I had the chance to cast the first vote on my first bill. Unfortunately, the bill died along party lines, even though the bill had strong bipartisan support from both the Republican and Democratic parties of Colorado. I’m hoping to bring the concept back either later this session or next year. More on that later.

 

Two New Bills: Student Debt & Energy

I introduced two new bills this week, both on issues incredibly important to the future of our state. The first bill, SB17-147, seeks to help folks navigate the burden of student debt by assisting Coloradans who have student loans. The bill creates a program to proactively educate Coloradans who work as teachers, at nonprofits, for cities and counties, etc. and are eligible for either student loan forgiveness or lower debt repayments.

The other bill, SB17-145, I just introduced creates a plan for Colorado to build a 21st Century energy grid ready for innovation, such as increased solar power, distributed storage, and smart technologies. Think of this as analogous to installing fiberoptic cable as a way to plan for future high-tech industries. It’s good for the economy and the planet, and it will create more resilient communities throughout our state–all while saving us money by creating efficiencies and more cost-effective energy sources.

 

I’ll be working with House members to cosponsor more legislation for the Senate as the session continues. If you have any questions or input so far, please always feel free to send me a note, give my office a call at 303-866-4872, and visit my Facebook page for more information.

Onward,

Steve Fenberg
Senate District 18

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25 Jan TODAY: FENBERG TO PRESENT BILL MEASURING VOTER WAIT TIMES IN COMMITTEE

Denver, Co — Today, State Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, will present a bill in committee to establish a standardized process for measuring voter wait times in Colorado’s elections.

 

“Voter wait times are a big problem — but we don’t know how big of one because they either aren’t measured in a consistent manner, or not even measured at all in some cases,” said Senator Fenberg.

 

“This past election, our men and women in uniform at Fort Carson reportedly waited in line for up to three hours to cast their votes. That’s just not right.”

Fenberg also noted a more than 2-hour wait at CU-Boulder, and a 2.5-hour wait at some Adams County polling centers this past Election Day.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration established 30-minutes to be the maximum time a voter should have to wait in line to vote. The Commission recommended that county clerks measure and track wait times in order to make improvements over time. They have worked with MIT to develop simple and cost-effective tools to help election administrators measure wait times.

 

Through Senate Bill 17-037, Senator Fenberg seeks to improve the voting process across the state by:

  • requiring county clerks who represent 25,000 active voters or more to measure wait times at polling centers; and
  • giving county clerks discretion on how to measure wait times by stating they may do so “in the most administratively practicable and cost efficient manner” for their county.

 

“One can’t improve what one doesn’t measure,” said Fenberg“If we want to improve access to our democracy, and ensure everyone is able to participate without barriers, we need to make data-driven decisions.”

By measuring how long a voter has to wait before voting, county clerks can better respond to voter needs and more effectively distribute resources between and within Voter Service and Polling Centers. Arapahoe County already measures wait times, as do a few other counties, but on more of an ad-hoc basis. Arapahoe County’s system is automated to update the county’s public website with average wait times per voter center.

“If we can measure wait times at the DMV, a deli counter, and amusement parks, then we should be able to do it for the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Fenberg.

Senator Fenberg’s bill will be heard this afternoon in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at 1:30PM. The bill is supported by GOP Chairman Steve House, Common Cause, Disability Law Colorado, and the Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson.

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