Jared Polis session scorecard 2019

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EDUCATION

    Offer free, full-day kindergarten statewide

  • Details

    Polis made it a priority, and the legislature delivered with a bill to provide state-funded, full-day kindergarten. Once he signs the bill, the program will start in August and see broader implementation in 2020. It's not free though — the bill for taxpayers is $174 million the first year and $184 million in year two.

    Add thousands of preschool seats in schools

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    The addition of new state money for full-day kindergarten is expected to make existing dollars available for as many as 3,000 preschool slots, but it's dependent on how local districts implement the plan. A separate Polis effort to eliminate the full 8,200-seat shortage failed to win approval.

    Provide student-loan relief for teachers in high-need areas

  • Details

    Teachers who work in rural areas or teach hard-to-staff subjects can receive as much as $25,000 to help pay off student loans. The program outlined in Senate Bill 3, which the governor is expected to sign, is limited to 100 teachers a year.

    Increase teacher pay

  • Details

    Teacher salaries are set in Colorado by local school districts, not at the state level. The governor and lawmakers do play a role, however, by appropriating money to the districts. Polis supported more money for education -- including $100 million more to lessen the debt owed through the negative factor. But lawmakers didn't attach any strings to make sure it went to teacher salaries.

    Provide greater transparency for college loans and consumer protection for borrowers

  • Details

    A bill sent to the governor will require student education loan providers to pay a licensing fee and establish a new ombudsman in the attorney general's office to help resolve complaints.

    Increase behavioral-health resources for schools

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    Mental health in schools was a topic of multiple bills. House Bill 1017 will address mental health needs of students in kindergarten through fifth grade, while Senate Bill 10 will help districts hire more social workers.

    Reduce high school dropout rates and improve graduation rates

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    A measure backed by Polis to create a program to help ninth graders graduate in the districts where drop-out rates are highest failed to win support in the final days of the legislative session. But another bill to encourage concurrent enrollment to earn college credit while in high school may help address the state's troubling graduation rate.

HEALTH CARE

    Provide more treatment for mental illness and addiction, rather than jail time

  • Details

    Colorado lawmakers passed a number of measures to boost spending on mental illness and drug treatment programs that include, but advocates say more is needed.

    Create a parental leave program for all state employees

  • Details

    Polis made this a priority in his budget request, but lawmakers rejected the $3.1 million program, in part because of the cost and because of discussion about a different proposed program for most workers in Colorado.

    Establish a statewide paid family and medical leave program

  • Details

    Mired in questions and cost disputes, lawmakers could not agree to implement a paid family leave program. Instead, the state will study the idea further ahead of the 2020 session.

    Create the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care

  • Details

    Polis created this office with an executive order in January, and lawmakers agreed to provide his office with additional money for staff members.

    Reduce patient costs for hospital stays and expenses

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    In addressing surprise billing, lawmakers capped how much an out-of-netwok doctor or hospital can charge patients starting in January. It's one of a handful of measures that could reduce costs -- but more time is needed to see if they have an effect.

    Improve health care price transparency

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    Hospitals must now provide the state with new information about the costs of expenditures and uncompensated care, which lawmakers say could lead to savings for consumers.

    Use market forces to produce savings

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    Polis advocated for legislation to allow communities to create health care cooperatives, like the one being used in Summit County, in order to negotiate better prices on servies.

    Provide additional prevention and treatment options for those addicted to opioids

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    Under Senate Bill 8, Colorado will spend more money on treatment and prevention, and make grants to address addiction.

    Lower health care costs on the Western Slope

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    Polis supports reshuffling the insurance zones that determine health care costs, but no progress was made on that front. Still, efforts to allow health care cooperatives are intended to help Western Slope families.

    Empower Division of Insurance to protect consumers

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    Mirroring a promise from the campaign trail, Polis only made partial progress on this issue. He could give the agency more investigative authority but didn't. However, in March, he did sign a bill authorizing state audits of the health insurance exchange, which represents a step toward greater oversight of premium hikes and benefits."

    Establish a reinsurance program

  • Details

    It took a good bit of effort, but Polis and lawmakers found a source of money to provide insurance to insurance companies -- a move that will help them cover the highest-cost people. It still needs federal approval."

    Import prescription drugs from Canada for a lower price

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    Lawmakers approved legislation to allow the importation of some prescription drugs from Canada. It still needs approval by the federal government, but Polis is optimistic based on his talks with the Trump administration.

    Move closer to universal health care coverage

  • Details

    House Bill 1004 will start the process of creating a state-backed insurance plan, but it needs federal approval before taking effect. Polis also believes the reinsurance program will boost health care coverage, but the effects remain to be seen.

    Reduce the cost of health care

  • Details

    This is one of Polis' ultimate goals with all the health care legislation he supported this session, but it's one that will take time to measure.

ECONOMY & TAXES

    Promote the outdoor recreation economy.

  • Details

    No significant measures were taken this session to boost the scope of the state's outdoor recreation office or its budget.

    Reduce barriers to employee ownership of companies.

  • Details

    Polis signed an executive order to create a commission that will study how to boost employee-owned companies, but there was not legislation this session on the topic.

    Increase wages for Colorado workers in agriculture and other sectors

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    The legislature approved an equal pay measure, another to allow some local governments to increase their minimum wage above the state level, and pay a prevailing wage for state construction projects starting in fiscal year 2022. But it will take time to see if these measures increase wages in various sectors.

    Boost access to capital investments for farmers through the Rural Colorado Venture Capital Fund

  • Details

    There was no movement on how the venture capital fund prioritized its investments this session.

    Provide a transition and new job opportunities for fossil fuel industry employees

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    House Bill 1314 created an office to study how to transition former coal workers into new jobs and develop a plan that may provide benefits to such workers. But more effort and money is needed to implement that forthcoming plan.

    Protect rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain.

  • Details

    A bill to allow about 29,000 state employees to collectively bargain failed. Polis and an organization that represents state employees said said they would meet before next session to find common ground.

    Eliminate tax "loopholes" and lower income tax rate

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    Polis made eliminating special interest tax breaks one of his top four legislative priorities. The new revenue would have gone toward an income tax cut, but Democratic lawmakers balked and didn't introduce a bill on the topic.

    Decouple the state's tax code from federal tax law.

  • Details

    No major legislation to separate Colorado from the federal tax law backed by President Donald Trump made progress this session. One failed measure attempted to exclude state tax deductions for contributions to a 529 college savings accounts that are used for K-12 school expenses

ENVIRONMENT

    Defend public lands.

  • Details

    Polis opposes efforts to shrink federal public lands, but it's not clear what -- if anything -- he is doing at the state level and whether any legislation is necessary.

    Address climate change

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    Colorado lawmakers approved a handful of measures to address climate change, including setting goals to reduce https://coloradosun.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2019/05/green-check.pnghouse gas emissions 26% by 2025; 50% by 2030; and 90% by 2050.

    Reach 100% renewable energy by 2040.

  • Details

    The reauthorization of the state's Public Utilities Commission includes language intended to move Colorado toward more renewable energy, but it's unclear whether the state will reach the goal by 2040.

    Modernize the state's electrical grid.

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    Senate Bill 236 will require the state Public Utilities Commission to create new rules regarding renewable energy produced by consumers and look at joining regional transmission organizations.

    Save people money on energy

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    Polis believes renewable energy will save people money because it costs less to produce. It is addressed in the PUC bill but whether it saves people money remains uncertain.

    Streamline regulations around renewable energy.

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    In this area, the governor and lawmakers made it easier to start community solar gardens by removing some requirements and streamlined rules regarding the retirement of coal-fired power plants.

    Take action to address conflicts with oil and gas drilling

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    Senate Bill 181, backed by Polis and Democratic leaders, overhauled how oil and gas drilling is regulated in Colorado, giving more power to local governments and requiring tougher state regulations.

OTHER

    Fund the Colorado Water Plan.

  • Details

    The state budget package includes $10 million to implement the state's water plan regarding storage and conservation. But it's merely a downpayment and much more money is needed to fully fund the plan's goals.

    Get bipartisan support for a revenue source for transportation

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    Voters will decide in November whether to remove the state's revenue limits under TABOR. The legislation approved the ballot question that directs a third of any additional revenue to transportation. It received only one Republican vote in the legislature, making it barely bipartisan. And it won't generate enough money to meet the state's needs.

    Cut red tape surrounding creation of municipal broadband services.

  • Details

    Polis has voiced support for repealing the requirement that local governments go to the ballot in order to create municipal-run broadband. He sees it as a way to expand access. But the issue didn't make progress in the legislative session.

    Address discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system.

  • Details

    Criminal justice was one of the major areas of change this session, where Polis and lawmakers worked to keep people from being jailed if they can't pay a cash bail and reduced drug possession crimes to misdemeanors in most cases.

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