As a father with two children in public school, my wife and I know firsthand the painful cuts our children and their teachers have endured. Since 2008 nearly $1 billion has been taken out of Colorado classrooms every year compared to previous funding levels. Schools have been forced to abandon courses such as art, band, and physical education and more than half the districts in the state have 4-day school weeks. Meanwhile, our remaining teachers have come under increasing fire, struggle with low wages, and are expected to manage ever-growing classroom sizes. This is why funding public education has been one of my top priorities throughout my time in the legislature. Having served on the Appropriations, Finance, and Joint Budget Committees, I have worked hard to take care of our schools, teachers, and students. In 2019, I helped lead a $325M funding increase for schools including support for full-day Kindergarten. I was also proud to stand with teachers’ in 2019 as they advocated for better wages and support.
Environment and Energy
As someone who has spent over two decades working in the environmental and energy policy space, I recognize and understand the seriousness of our climate crisis, and have built a career around tackling this issue with urgency. Every day we witness the harmful effects of the changing climate that have a direct impact on tourism, jobs, and the immense natural beauty of our state. We must work together to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and I will continue to be a leader in proposing solutions. Some examples of legislation I’ve strongly supported and helped to pass include: HB19-1261, a bill that set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets state-wide and established a social cost of carbon; SB19-236, a bill that modernized the Public Utilities Commission by giving them the tools to address climate change, boosting renewable energy development, and closing coal-fired power plants; and HB19-1314, a bill that establishes the framework to assist fossil fuel communities in the transition to a clean energy economy to ensure that no one is left behind. In the future, I plan to address methane emissions, work to establish more comprehensive electric grid planning, and decarbonize building materials. In addition to my work on energy issues, I have spent much of my time in office tackling water and other environmental issues. Some examples of legislation I’ve strongly supported and worked to pass into law are: HB20-1037, a bill that authorizes the Colorado water conservation board to augment stream flows to preserve or improve the natural environment; HB20-1143, a bill that increased fines for environmental polluters; and HB18-1069 & HB18-1093, bills that authorized recycled water to be used for agriculture and sanitation. I am proud to have received awards from the Colorado Solar & Storage Coalition, Sierra Club, and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, and have been endorsed by Sierra Club, Conservation Colorado, and 314 Action Fund for my efforts in environmental and energy policy.
End TABOR and Protect our Constitution
Our government is handcuffed by the effects of TABOR, which was added to our constitution in 1992. The provisions make it difficult for the state to adjust to continuously changing economic conditions and reduce the revenue available that could be used to improve infrastructure and fund education. Simply put, time has shown that TABOR makes governing Colorado in a reasonable way extremely difficult. This is why I joined the lawsuit to repeal TABOR on my first day in office. All of our families have felt the negative consequences of TABOR for far too long. It’s time we get our government and our state back on track. Additionally, in the 2020 legislative session, we faced a $3.3 billion general fund deficit that forced us to make difficult decisions about where to cut and where to prioritize funding, and next year will likely be even worse. At a time when we should be making investments to bolster our public health systems, support frontline workers and small businesses, provide more resources for our teachers and students, and implement policies to protect our environment, we will have to make even more cuts to these vital programs. To address this issue--without raising taxes--I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort to put the Gallagher Repeal on the ballot. By voting to repeal, and thus freezing property tax assessment rates, we will protect close to $500 million annually for our schools, hospitals, fire districts, and community services. The repeal will not raise assessment rates for homeowners, and not burden small businesses and communities with a lopsided, outdated, tax system.
Woman’s rights are human rights, period. During my time in office, Republicans have repeatedly introduced bills to limit a woman’s authority over her own body, and I have repeatedly voted each one down. We cannot let conservative politicians come between a woman and her doctor. I’m proud to have served on the NARAL Men’s Leadership Council and I will continue to fight to protect a women’s right to choose. I have worked hard to not only uphold those rights now, but to also expand access to comprehensive birth control in Colorado. I support the continued funding of the long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) program. The program is proven to save the government money while reducing teen pregnancies, and helps to decrease the number of abortions in our state. Colorado is one of only eight states that do not guarantee protection from harassment and discrimination in the workplace, regardless of the size of the employee’s company. I support amending the Anti-Discrimination Act to ensure that all Coloradan’s are treated equally in the workplace. I will also support legislation to increase access to supportive services for women who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We must act now to address and end violence against women, protect access to safe and affordable healthcare, and ensure equal pay for equal work. I am proud to have received an “A” lifetime rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, and have been endorsed by Cobalt and Planned Parenthood.
Gun Violence Prevention
We have all witnessed the growing threat of gun violence in Colorado and around the country. There is nowhere else I would rather raise my two boys than in this beautiful state, but like many parents today, I worry about the safety of my children when they leave our home. Every day they work to free communities from the threat of gun violence. Too many innocent people have suffered; we cannot allow the NRA to continue to delay real action on common sense approaches to reducing gun violence. In 2019 I was proud to be a co-sponsor of HB19-1177, the landmark Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, and in 2020 was the prime sponsor of HB20-1355, a bill that would have required the safe storage of firearms. I am proud to be endorsed by both Moms Demand Action and Colorado Ceasefire for my efforts on gun control legislation.
Economic Growth and Equity
I believe Colorado is poised to be a leader in forming a more innovative and equitable society and I'm committed to helping create that future. My experience working in one of Colorado’s most leading-edge companies and working across the economic spectrum at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce gives me a solid background to pursue policies that will support innovative companies, small businesses in the state and foster economic growth. We must also work to restore fairness and opportunity as our economy grows. I have worked hard in my time in office on the Appropriations, Finance, and Joint Budget Committees to promote economic development and ensure every Coloradan has an equal chance at success. Some legislation I have supported to spur economic growth and equity include: SB20-205, a bill that guaranteed paid sick leave so that Coloradans can protect their co-workers, themselves, and their families, without fear of losing their income; SB20-222, a bill that provided $20 million in federal money directly to small businesses to help them quickly get back on their feet in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic; HB20-1410 a bill that provided $20 million in federal funds for direct housing assistance to aid those who have been unable to afford their rent or mortgage; SB20-207, a bill I sponsored that protects unemployment benefits to assist the thousands of Coloradans who have lost their jobs or have had reduced working hours as a result of the pandemic; and HB20-1420, a bill that closed Trump tax breaks for the wealthy, reinvested hundreds of millions in our K-12 education, and expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families Additionally, I am proud to have been endorsed by several labor unions and organizations, including Colorado WINS, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, SEIU Local 105, and the Colorado Contractors Association.
In 2015 the US Supreme Court finally recognized the constitutional right of every adult to marry the person that they love. However, the fight for equality is far from over. Everyday, the rights of our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community come under attack. The far-right and their representatives in the state legislature have proposed disturbing bills that seek to legalize discrimination. They are determined to legitimize bigotry. That type of lawmaking has no place in a modern, progressive society. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We need leaders who are not afraid to stand up to the far-right’s agenda and as your senator, I pledge to do just that. Some legislation I have been proud to support includes: SB20-221, a bill that bans the use of a panic defense unless a party can show its relevance to the court; HB19-1039 Jude’s Law, a bill that cuts through the red tape for transgender and non-binary Coloradans trying to update their gender, allowing them to have the identification documents that match who they are; HB19-1129, a bill that made Colorado the 18th state in the country to ban conversion therapy for minors; HB19-1120, a bill that opened the door for youth to talk to trained mental health professionals to minimize harm while they prepare to engage their families in their care; and HB18-1256, a bill that reauthorizes the Colorado Civil Rights Division and Commission, which exist to promote equal treatment of all people in Colorado and promote a more open and receptive environment in which to conduct business, live, and work. I am proud to have a 100% lifetime rating from One Colorado, have been endorsed by them multiple times in the past, and look forward to continuing to work with them and other advocacy organizations to achieve our shared goals.
Colorado will see a rapid increase in the number of senior citizens in the next 15 years. As the baby boomer generation retires, there will be a steady uptick in the demand for services from health care access to senior support care. We must plan now as a state to meet these needs and make sure our most vulnerable seniors are not slipping through the cracks. We need to support senior housing options and providing help to qualified seniors to stay in their homes, such as the non-profit InnovAge that supports Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). In my time in office, I have fought to maintain and improve the Senior Homestead Exemption, as well as secure funding for programs for our senior citizens during my tenure on the Joint Budget Committee.
Campaign Finance Reform and Gerrymandering
I support comprehensive campaign finance reform in the United States and will work hard as your representative to end the creation of gerrymandered seats in Colorado at the state and federal level. In 2018, I proudly and publicly supported Amendments Y & Z--two constitutional amendments passed at the ballot that establish independent commissions for both legislative and congressional redistricting. In 2019, as a Joint Budget Committee member, I fought for more funding for Colorado’s census, and have sought to provide transparency and guidance so that this count is as accurate as possible.
Racial Justice & Judicial Reform
Although America has achieved some progress over the last several decades when it comes to race and justice, the legacy of racism is deeply ingrained in our nation's societal structures. It continues to inflict suffering and to present constant hurdles for communities of color. It is our collective responsibility to take action and to stand up for our friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens; to fight until we achieve our nation’s stated commitment to truly equal rights, opportunities, and representation for all. Over the last several years, I have been engaging in a process of learning and more deeply understanding the impact of institutionalized racism in American, first and foremost within my own family. It has not always been easy to listen to my wife, my sons, and other members of my family share more candidly with me what it has been like to live as BIPOC individuals in America, to witness the subtle indignities and slights they confront so often even in the communities we call home. As a cisgender white man from rural, Western Kansas, I am newly committed to naming my privilege and recognizing how it has afforded me many opportunities that others have not had. I commit to more intentionally using my privilege to deconstruct the institutionalized and systemic advantages that have been embedded in American and Colorado law, and to be an ally each day I come to work at the Capitol, as well as in my own community. Legislation I have co-sponsored and strongly supported towards this end include: SB20-100, a bill that, after decades of hard work and advocacy, made Colorado the 28th state to abolish the death penalty; SB20-217, a bill that marked one of the most comprehensive police reform bills in the nation by abolishing qualified immunity, mandating body cameras, and preventing the re-hiring of corrupt officers; HB20-1031, a bill that recognizes the atrocities committed by Christopher Columbus and accordingly, removes Columbus Day as a recognized holiday in the state of Colorado; HB19-1192, a bill that ensures that our kids receive an education in history and government that includes the history, culture, and social contributions of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals within these minority groups, the contributions and persecution of religious minorities, and the intersectionality of significant social and cultural features within these communities; HB20-1048, a bill that prohibits any discrimination based on a person's traits that are historically associated with race; SB19-172, a bill that strengthens protections for at-risk people--including seniors, those with disabilities, and people of color--regarding abandonment and unlawful confinement by law enforcement; and HB19-1184, a bill that authorizes the Legislative Council to examine and conduct reports on how certain bills could affect communities of color and other historically marginalized and oppressed communities for consideration by lawmakers before voting
We must tackle our problems with a sense of urgency and with energy. I ask for your support in bringing fresh ideas and teamwork to the most pressing issues in our state.