2015 Session Underway

Sen. Heath and Rep. Singer talk with Channel 7 before the hearing on SB 15-048

Nearly one full month has passed in the 2015 legislative session, with mixed results to date, but hopes remaining for a productive session.

With split political control of our two legislative chambers, a fair number of bills are being approved or defeated on straight party-line votes. However, we are working on the broad issue of workforce development this year, which should be of bipartisan concern. So far, we've introduced two workforce bills that I'm sponsoring. HB 15-1157 would create a working group to address economic issues in highly distressed areas of Colorado. HB 15-1170 is designed to increase postsecondary education or workforce readiness upon high school graduation. I believe both bills stand a good chance of passing, and that's because we have a legitimate desire to keep Colorado's unemployment rate moving downward - the right direction for Coloradans and their families.

Unfortunately, a bill Rep. Jonathan Singer and I sponsored in the interest of child safety did not pass. SB 15-048 would have simply required criminal background checks for employees or volunteers with non-licensed private youth sports organizations, if they worked five days per month or more. Michelle Peterson, a Boulder County youth safety expert, brought the bill idea to me in late 2014. We assembled a large group of witnesses for the hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with overwhelming support given for the bill, but it was defeated on a straight party-line vote.

On another note, we held our first town hall meeting of the session on Jan. 24 at the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. About 45 people attended, and we held a lively discussion on a wide range of topics. Attendees asked questions or offered comments on issues such as TABOR refunds, PERA's long-term balance, controversial 2015 decisions in the Joint Budget Committee, school funding, the US 36 project, state tax credits, Xcel Energy, mental health, services for the disabled, and so much more.

Our next town hall will be held Saturday, Feb. 21, from 10:00 a.m. until about noon in Boulder City Council Chambers. As always, visit the General Assembly Web site, www.leg.state.co.us, for bill text, hearing schedules, contact information and more - or contact my office by phone or e-mail if you have questions or comments.

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