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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 17, 20188min2681

State Rep. Faith Winter has released a list of Colorado Latino leaders who are endorsing her candidacy for a state Senate seat in the northern metro area, including Ken Salazar, Polly Baca and other well-known Democrats.

Winter, D-Westminster, is taking on Republican incumbent Beth Martinez Humanik, as well as unaffiliated candidate Adam Matkowsky, who is a Thornton city councilman

“I enthusiastically support Rep. Faith Winter for the state Senate,” Polly Baca, a former state senator from Adams County, said in a statement. “She has been a strong supporter of legislation reflecting the values and principles we cherish in Adams County. She will be a great state Senator.”

Added Alberto Garcia, the former Westminster mayor pro-tem, “Rep. Faith Winter is committed to continuing to work with our diverse communities on issues impacting Latinos and Coloradans. Her track record shows that she is working hard for the people that she has represented, first on Westminster City Council and now as a state representative. Her record on promoting fairness and inclusion in all areas of her leadership is something I want to see her continue to do as our next state senator from District 24.”

Winter’s endorsers signed an open letter:

We represent Colorado’s growing Latino population. We represent families that have been on this land prior to Colorado being part of the United States. We represent first-generation college students. We represent DREAMers. The Latino population is growing in both economic and political power. We demand leaders that elevate the voices of Latinos and work in partnership with our communities. One of those leaders is Representative Faith Winter.

We all support Faith Winter for State Senate District 24. We believe that Faith is a strong partner for Latino communities and we are excited to support her.

Faith has a long history working with the Latino community. From the early days of her career registering Latino voters on campuses, to training at the first ever Latino Advocacy Day and partnering with the Latina Initiative to get more Latina’s to run for office, she has worked hard to ensure representation for our community.

As an elected official, Faith has time and time again shown up for the Latino community. From starting the Inclusionary Task Force in Westminster, to increasing affordable housing, to increasing small business support for Latino owned business, she has been an ally and advocate. As a State Representative, Faith is working hard to pass paid family leave, child care tax credits, and equal pay – all are legislation that would have an immediate, positive impact on the Latino community. She also uses her voice to stand up for DREAMers. Last year, she asked the Governor to pardon Ingrid Encalada Latorre in order to save her from being deported and keep her family together

Most importantly, Faith has been training women, including many Latina’s, to run for office across Adams County, the state of Colorado, and across the country. Because of her leadership, Latina’s are now serving on city councils and on school boards across our state. Faith is helping build the bench of Latina leaders that will lead our state now and well into the future.

Please join us in supporting Faith Winter for State Senate District 24

“I am grateful for the support of Latino Leaders across our great state,” Winter said in a statement. “I work hard to uplift the voices of our underrepresented Latino community, protect families, and be a strong ally in the state legislature. Part of being a strong ally is knowing that being an ally is a never-ending process. I will continue to work with, be an advocate for, and engage in conversations with our leaders in the Latino community when elected to the state Senate.”

Those signing the endorsement letter were:

  • Cristina Aguilar, community leader
  • Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver
  • Christine Alonzo, community leader
  • Dulce Anayasaenz, community leader
  • True Apodaca, community leader
  • Colorado Springs City Councilor Yolanda Avila
  • Former state Sen. Polly Baca
  • Patricia Barela-Rivera,community leader
  • Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City
  • Brianna Buntello, state House candidate
  • Yadira Caraveo, state House candidate
  • Denver school board member Angela Cobian
  • Westminster Mayor Pro-Tem Maria DeCambra
  • House Speaker Crisanta Duran
  • Wheat Ridge City Councilor Monica Duran, state House candidate
  • Northglenn City Councilor Julie Duran Mullica
  • Grace Lopez-Ramirez, community leader
  • Joan Lopez, clerk and recorder candidate
  • Denver City Councilor Paul Lopez
  • Alberto Garcia, former mayor pro-tem
  • Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo
  • Greeley City Councilor Rochelle Gailindo, state representative candidate
  • Julie Gonzales, state Senate candidate
  • Karla Gonzales-Garcia, community leader
  • Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, community leader
  • Dusti Gurule, community leader
  • State Senate Democratic Leader Lucia Guzman
  • Denise Maes, community leader
  • Englewood City Councilor Amy Martinez
  • Scott Martinez, community leader
  • Judith Marquez, community leader
  • Pat Moore, community leader
  • Ysenia Mora-Plata, community leader
  • Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City
  • Aurora City Councilor Crystal Murillo
  • Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver
  • Antonio Parès, community leader
  • Ray Rivera, community leader
  • Rosemary Rodriguez, former Denver city councilor and school board member
  • Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton
  • Ken Salazar, former secretary of the Interior, former U.S. senator and former state attorney general
  • Northglenn City Councilor Jordan Sauers
  • Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco
  • Former Sen. Jessie Ulibarri
  • Paola Urgiles, community leader
  • Rep. Donald Valdez, D-La Jara
  • Alvina Vasquez, community leader
  • Thornton City Councilor Val Vigil, former state representative

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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 6, 20186min737
Velma Donahue and her daughters Leila and Maya lead the Pledge of Allegiance with Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Senate chambers at the state Capitol in Denver. Her husband, Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue, killed by a careless driver when he was investigating a crash along Interstate 25 near Castle Rock on Nov. 25, 2016, was the inspiration for the Move Over for Cody Act. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

The Colorado Senate honored the family of the late Trooper Cody Donahue Monday after passing the Move Over for Cody Law last session. This year, lawmakers will consider a bill to help sustain insurance for the families of fallen officers.

While law enforcement officers are in mind, Senate Bill 148 also would extend insurance coverage for up to one year for any state employee killed while doing his or her job.

Donahue was working at an accident scene near Castle Rock, when he was hit by a food truck that allegedly had room to move to another lane. Last year lawmakers passed a law that toughened the punishment on those who don’t slow down and move over for first-responders and parked utility vehicles.

Donahue’s widow, Velma Donahue, and daughters Maya and Leila led the Pledge of Allegiance in the Senate Monday.

Afterward, she talked to Colorado Politics about the value of the proposed benefits for future families like hers. Her husband was killed on Nov. 25, 2016, and after Dec. 1, his wife and daughters were uninsured.

“I felt punched in the gut,” she said. “The funeral hadn’t even been completed yet.”

A change in the law is vital, she said, to give grieving families time to get their life  back in order after losing the family member who provided their insurance.

“It was devastating,” she said. “I was so scared. I thought. ‘Oh my God, what if something happens before I get this going?’ I didn’t even know what to do.”

The bill will get its first hearing Thursday afternoon before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It enjoys capable bipartisan sponsorship: Sens. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, with Reps. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, and Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs.

Humenik said the state has lost six employees on the job in the last five years, and the issue isn’t about finances as much as compassion for those who serve the citizens and ultimately sacrificing their lives for that service.

“This allows time to take some of the stress off the families, so they don’t have to think about this kind of business, about what to do next with their insurance, This gives them a year to figure that out.”

After leading the pledge Monday, Donahue’s wife and sister, Erin Donahue-Paynter, were lauded for their advocacy, which Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, called a “heroic, honorable and effective” effort to pass the Move Over for Cody Law last year.

Lawrence said of public servants on the roadside: “They’re watching out for us, and it’s important we need to watch out for them.

Another sponsor of the traffic law, Kim Ransom, R-Littleton, said she has become a friend to Velma Donahue; Ransom’s husband also was killed in a traffic accident, she said.

“I think this is a special follow-up for what the Donahues have been through,” Ransom said Monday morning.

The Senate presented the family with a framed display of all five pages of the legislation and the pen the governor used to sign it into law.

House Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, examines a framed copy of the 2017 Move Over for Cody Act in Senate chambers at the state Capitol in Denver on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue, the inspiration for the law, was killed by a careless driver on Nov. 25, 2016, while pulled over to investigate a crash along Interstate 25. Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, along with state Reps. Kim Ransom, R-Parker, and Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, presented the law, including a pen used to sign it by Gov. John Hickenlooper, to Donahue’s widow, Velma Donahue, and their daughters Leila and Maya. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 5, 20187min596

Middle-income families who shell out thousands of dollars every year for child care could get a little help from the state under a bill that is expected to show up in the Colorado House Monday.

The measure, which doesn’t yet have an assigned number, will be sponsored by Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, and Rep. Faith Winter, a Thornton Democrat.

Winter told of her own experience in looking for affordable, quality child care, once taking a week to scout out facilities. She said she and her husband worked two jobs: one to make ends meet and the other to pay for child care so they could work.

The bill would give families with incomes of up to $150,000 a state tax credit for child care, worth up to $400. Combined with an existing federal tax credit, those families could end up with an extra $1,000 in their wallets every year.

*The state already provides a child care tax credit for families with incomes of $60,000 per year or less, although the credit covers only a portion of child care expenses. HB 1208 would increase the amount of child care credit families with incomes of $60,000 or less would be able to claim, and for the first time, families with incomes between $60,000 and $150,000 also would be able to claim that state tax credit.

If passed, the extra tax credits would cost the state about $14 million in lost revenue; Winter estimated about 40,000 families per year could take advantage of the credit.

The bill’s biggest challenge will come from the Senate, where it has gained a Republican sponsor: Sen. Beth Martinez-Humenik of Thornton. Although she is vice-chair of the health and human services committee, which might be considered a more friendly committee, the bill is mostly likely to head to the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee because it involves taxes. Should it clear that committee, it would likely next go to Senate Finance, perhaps its biggest challenge.

One advantage the bill has in the Republican-controlled Senate: Martinez-Humenik, whose seat is considered the most endangered in the Republican caucus. She’s up for re-election in the fall, and Republicans are likely to look favorably on bills that they believe will help her, and them, keep that one-seat majority.

This week, Winter and Rep. Matt Gray of Broomfield are also taking on the House Democrats’ top priority bill: House Bill 1001. It’s nearly identical to a measure pushed by House Democrats a year ago, and which died in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee last May.

Winter explained that nearly one in four mothers go back to work two weeks after giving birth, but child care facilities don’t take babies that young, putting pressure on those families to find alternative arrangements.

HB 1001 would set up a family and medical leave insurance program in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. That insurance program would provide partial wage replacement for individuals who need to take off work to take care of their own serious health issues, care for a new child, or care for a family member with a serious health condition.

The measure would be paid for through monthly premiums on employee wages of up to .99 percent, eventually bringing in more than $550 million by 2020-21. Its upfront costs in the first year are estimated at around $31 million.

Opponents claim the measure will drive up the cost of doing business in Colorado as well as growing government when it isn’t needed. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock told Colorado Politics that the measure adds regulations and that will raise costs, such as in compliance. “It’s the opposite of what the sponsors intend to do,” he said. Families are hurting because of rising costs; this will acerbate that, he added.

Not a single Republican in either chamber voted for the 2017 version, and finding any, especially in the Republican-dominated Senate, that will back it in an election year may be its biggest challenge.

One issue with the bill is that every employee will pay into the program, even for companies that already offer a medical leave program.

State Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who is unaffiliated but usually caucuses with Democrats, also opposes HB 1001. She told Colorado Politics if a company wants to do it as a benefit to attract people, “more power to them.” In addition, her employees told her they don’t need to have money taken out of their paychecks for a program they may never use. “And who are we to say we’re so smart that we can do it better than people can do it themselves?”

Neha Mahajan of 9 to 5, the national nonprofit that is backing the bill, told Colorado Politics that the program would supplement existing medical leave programs that pay 66 percent of an employee’s salary, boosting the pay from 66 percent to 100 percent. It would also extend leave from 12 weeks in most programs to 16 weeks.

HB 1001 will be heard Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

 

Correction: to note that families with incomes below $60,000 would be able to claim a larger credit; a previous version said they were ineligible.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 30, 201811min640

More than 150 politicos of all stripes packed the historic Carriage House at the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion in Denver Wednesday night for a session-opening shindig thrown by Colorado Politics. Republicans rubbed shoulders with Democrats, toasting the young political news website and the nearly 120-year-old publication it incorporated last year.