Democrats made big changes to a bill to fill a $32 billion hole in the state's pension plan for public employees Monday in a partisan fight that's likely to play out more before the session adjourns in three weeks.
TREASURER HUNT ... There are six Republicans running for state treasurer, and if current trends continue, primary voters could have nearly that many to choose from in June. Two of the candidates — Denver businessman Brian Watson and state Rep. Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park — have turned in petitions, which are awaiting verification but were both gathered with the assistance of top-notch firms, so chances are decent they'll both make the ballot.
State Rep. Polly Lawrence, a Douglas County Republican running for Colorado state treasurer, turned in nearly 20,000 petition signatures Monday to secure a spot on the June primary ballot, her campaign said.
When former Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton decided to change his party affiliation Friday afternoon, it may have changed a lot more for him than that. According to several sources, it may have disqualified him for the state treasurer's race that he so vigorously tried to hold onto during Friday's expulsion debate.
Since 1989, the Colorado Women’s Legislative Breakfast has met annually to focus on issues affecting women, young girls and families in Colorado. On Wednesday, the group will host a bipartisan panel of legislators to dissect the weighty topic, “Disrupting Power Dynamics.” A press release promises panelists will answer questions from the audience and discuss key legislation in the state House.
Also on the agenda:
Keynote Speaker Brenda Hill will share her extensive experience in advocating to end violence against women and children through her work at the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health, the South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Sacred Circle: National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women. Brenda will bring both her personal and professional perspectives, adding a positive and dynamic piece to the conversation.
Colorado lawmakers began laying the bricks of a firewall for consumers who might be victims of identity theft as a result of such breaches as the Equifax hack last year. They started with children and at-risk adults.
Most children don’t have credit histories, and often their clean credit is used in “family fraud,” by someone who knows the child or at-risk adult
The State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to pass House Bill 1233, sponsored by House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Republican Rep. Polly Lawrence.
“Securing personal information is a growing priority for adults,” parent Jessica Duke told the committee. “And it should be for children, too.”
Reps. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, and Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, voted against the bill “for today,” because they want to be sure the legislation doesn’t create a credit report for a child simply by a parent asking the credit reporting agency if one exists.
The bill appears broadly supported, however.
The legislative effort this session is driven by the last year’s Equifax data breach. Hackers gained access to 145 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses, a trove for identity thieves to create phony credit accounts. At least four bills are expected this session, in response.
The Duran-Lawrence bill would allow parents or guardians to freeze, at no charge, credit reports opened in the name of a child 16 and younger or an at-risk adult. Children’s Social Security numbers can be stolen from schools, doctor’s offices or even cell phone accounts.
“This bill gives parents a lock and a key for their children and dependants’ credit,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado consumer advocacy group CoPIRG. “Most importantly that lock and key are free of charge. Parents and guardians should not have to pay to protect their children and dependants from problems they didn’t create.”
Equifax already is waiving any fees to place a credit freeze on its credit reports until June 30.
Rich Jones of the Denver-based Bell Policy Center was pleased to see the bill includes older Coloradans, who have a designated financial guardian.
“We think given the aging of our population here in Colorado, a growing number of people are going to need some of that protection,” Jones said.
Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, sought to give consumers more protection over their data by requiring consent. He cited the power and, clearly, the vulnerability of bureaus such as Equifax. House Bill 1063 wasn’t voted on Wednesday, as Williams sought more time to amend it.
A half-dozen opponents said it was too broadly written and would create unintended consequences, including making it harder to do employee background checks and impeding earnest consumers’ ability to get credit.
“Our concern is the consumers who have the most to hide will hide the most,” Eric Ellman of the Consumer Data Industry Association told the committee.
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.