Irene Aguilar Archives - Colorado Politics
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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 13, 20185min260
State Rep. Brittany Pettersen was pleased after Gov. John Hickenlooper finished his State of the State address Thursday. He, Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran agreed with her: Something must be done about Colorado’s opioid abuse epidemic. Each of the leaders made finding answers a priority. “We really have all of our […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 29, 20173min15500

Hazel Gibson has officially kicked off her campaign for the state Senate District 32 seat in Denver, she tells Colorado Politics.

“I’m running for state Senate to strengthen our community, advocate for our most vulnerable and protect our Colorado way of life,” she told us. “Every day new people flock to our community to build a better life. As our community continues to grow I want to make sure that Denver remains the same great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Gibson worked in audiology for 12 years, before becoming a full-time mother to her two kids. Her 3-year-old was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum, she said. Gibson was raised by a single mom and was the first in her family to get a college degree. Her struggles with the system weren’t over yet, however.

“The uphill battles people deal with while trying to get access to basic human necessities is exhausting,” Gibson said on her campaign website. “I didn’t have insurance until I was in my late 20’s. I had to pay out of pocket for all medications and doctor visits. I was lucky to be able to use Planned Parenthood for yearly cancer screenings.”

She told Colorado Politics, “I am running for Senate because I believe every child — regardless of who they are or where they come from — deserves a chance to succeed.”

She cites a healthy environment, access to quality healthcare, education funding, affordable housing and safe communities as her chief priorities.

Gibson enters a crowded primary field in the race to replace Sen. Irene Aguilar, who is term-limoted. The other Democrats are Zach Neumann, Robert Rodriguez, Peter Smith, Risa White and Lance Wright. No Republicans have yet entered the race, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The seat in south-central Denver is safely Democratic. Aguilar won with over two-thirds of the vote in 2014 and more than 70 percent in 2012, after serving a partial term after Chris Romer he stepped down to run, unsuccessfully, for Denver mayor.


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Sen. Irene AguilarSen. Irene AguilarMay 22, 20178min2500

Measures brought before the Colorado General Assembly in this legislative session have shown that the contentious national debate on immigration has been jolting our state’s politics as well. As the federal government has shifted its policies to penalize so-called sanctuary cities and aggressively deport immigrants, we’ve seen conflicting bills introduced here on whether our state and cities should cooperate with the government to enforce immigration laws.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanApril 7, 20175min1660
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Colorado’s population in 1992 was 3.5 million. Census projections put the state’s population in 2017 at 5.5 million. In 1992, 812,308 citizens — 53.68 percent of voters — said yes to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and 700,906 citizens — 46.32 percent of voters — said no.

Not to make too fine a point, but the 1.5 million 1992 voters on TABOR would comprise 27 percent of today’s population. And many of those 1.5 million people are no longer living in Colorado. Yet here we are, 25 years later, juggling TABOR limitations at the Capitol.

As background, the state in 1992 was in a deep recession from the oil and real estate bust of the 1980s. Front Range citizens especially were in an economic pit.

Downtown Denver was a dump: no Coors Field, no Pepsi Center, no new Mile High Stadium, no new Auraria Campus, no lightrail, no fancy Union Station, no pedestrian bridge over to the Highlands, no condos in LoDo or RiNo, downtown shopping fleeing to the suburbs, and prominent Denver retail names gone bankrupt.

Colorado Springs was hit hard as its real estate expansion of the ’80s died. Banks were on the brink of going out of business across the state.

After the anti-tax 1992 TABOR vote, Denver metro citizens did a 180-degree reverse and voted to build Denver International Airport. Then citizens voted for Coors Field and Mile High Stadium. With help from Gov. Bill Owens, RTD got a tax for light rail.

These investments set the stage for Colorado’s current economic vibrancy. The investments occurred based on a good feature of TABOR — let the people decide what projects and programs merit their money. Yet TABOR’s bad features, still in place, are wreaking havoc on the state’s budget.

Senator Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, was among five legislators who voted against SB-254, the budget appropriations Long Bill. He’s asking people to take a long view back and forward: “It’s a vote to raise the TABOR issue once again. We’re not funding our schools, oil and gas inspectors, renewable energy, or filling in gaps from cuts from D.C.”

It’s esoteric for newcomers to know that Colorado’s current budget is based on the 2009-2010 recession years due to TABOR. “Unlike other states, because of TABOR’s ratchet down effect, Colorado doesn’t get to make up for downturns and come back,” says Kerr.

When the state gins up more tax revenues, as it has, the budget base doesn’t move up. Its budget level continues at the 2009-2010 recession point, forcing refunds of extra tax dollars.

The Hospital Provider Reimbursement Fee portrays the problem. The health care fees, considered a tax, push state revenues above TABOR limits. The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee put up SB17-256 to reduce provider fees by $264 million, which causes an additional $264 million loss in federal matching funds.

The provider fee reimburses hospitals for delivering care to people who can’t pay. Without the fee, some hospitals, particularly in rural counties, don’t have enough money to operate. When those hospitals close, uninsured and insured alike lose care.

Four Democratic Senators, Irene Aguilar, Kerry Donovan, Matt Jones and Andy Kerr, and Republican Sen. Owen Hill, voted against the budget Long Bill. Also affected by TABOR is the ongoing $880 million annual negative factor that lowers public K-12 education spending. House members get to vote next.

So the question is, when will today’s citizens get the chance to vote on tax policy for today?


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Brian HeubergerBrian HeubergerMarch 31, 20176min1850

A bill that enables doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to PTSD patients has gained momentum in the Legislature this year, passing the Senate with broad support on a 34-1 vote and now pressing forward with similar agreement in the House. Sponsored by state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and state Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Boulder, SB 17 would add PTSD to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in Colorado, permitting patients diagnosed with PTSD to treat their symptoms. Colorado would join more than 20 states — plus Washington, D.C., and two U.S. territories — which permit medical marijuana use to treat PTSD.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicMarch 13, 201710min1410

This week we take up where the thud-like introduction of the transportation-funding <a href="https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb17-1242" target="_blank">House Bill 1242</a> left off. Conservatives remain unimpressed. Sponsors, House Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, and Senate President Kevin Gratham, Canon City Republican, will work to make their trial balloon seem less like the Hindenburg, to <a href="https://www.coloradostatesman.com/republicans-conservative-groups-rip-proposal-send-transportation-tax-hike-voters/" target="_blank">borrow a phrase</a> from Littleton Republican Sen. Tim Neville. Supporters of the bill have eight weeks to win over the building. Here’s a GOP source hoping for the best but fearing the worst: “Maybe it’s term limits, but they say deals used to be arrived at in this building through the process of moving a bill through the chambers. Now it’s about backroom handshakes that lead to a bill and, basically, the dealmaking is done. People are lined up for or against. It either passes or fails.” Here’s some of what else is happening this week. As always, the schedule is subject to change.