The 2018 Legislative Session Begins!

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: January 12, 2018

legislators and parents in the opening festivities of the 2018 Colorado General Assembly

We were delighted to see so many #cokids joining legislators and parents in the opening festivities of the 2018 Colorado General Assembly. Let’s keep Colorado children in mind as we make policy! Photos published to Twitter by (clockwise from top left): @jessiedanielson, @lynn_bartels, @repjanetbuckner, @owenjhill.

The Colorado General Assembly convened this week with leaders in the House and Senate laying out their hopes for the 2018 legislative session. The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate acknowledged several wins for Coloradans from the previous session, including saving hospitals from more than $500 million in budget cuts and securing equitable funding for charter schools. They also discussed opportunities and priorities for this session, such as addressing the spike in addictions to opioids, PERA and its long-term solvency, transportation infrastructure, and intolerance for sexual harassment. Gov. John Hickenlooper also highlighted priorities in the State of the State Address this week, including PERA, inappropriate opioid use, K-12 education funding, equitable opportunities for all students, and health care costs.

We encourage you to read the opening remarks from leaders in both chambers to get a sense of their priorities:

John Hickenlooper State of the State Address

Senate President Kevin Grantham Remarks

Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman Remarks

House Speaker Crisanta Duran Remarks

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville Remarks

Again this year, the Senate is controlled by Republicans and the House is controlled by Democrats. That means legislation must have bipartisan votes and the support of Gov. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, to become law.

Each session, the Children’s Campaign tracks legislation that impacts the health and education of Colorado children. Many bills were introduced on the opening day; here are two bills that we strongly support this session:

HB18-1004 (Coleman & Wilson/Tate & Kefalas) Renewing the Child Care Contribution Credit

This bill would continue a credit that allows individuals and companies to make contributions to promote child care in Colorado and claim a refundable credit for up to 50 percent of the contribution. This credit is critical to providing quality child care options for children across Colorado, and in particular kids in families facing the most barriers to economic security.

SB18-013 (Fields & Gardner/Michaelson Jenet) Improving Access to Affordable School Lunch

This bill would eliminate the reduced-price lunch copay and expand access to school lunches at no charge for students who would otherwise be eligible for reduced-price lunch, to include students in sixth through eighth grade. Colorado has already eliminated this copay for students in preschool through 5th grade. Students who eat healthy meals at school are better able to learn, and improving access to school meals improves academic performance and student behavior. Pre-adolescence is a period of nutritional vulnerability; children in middle school require sufficient calories and a well-balanced diet for developmental growth. This policy would improve access to nutritious school lunches for thousands of students in Colorado.

We’ll be back every week throughout the session to bring you highlights of our analysis of proposed legislation. Check out our new website, where you can easily track bills along with us.

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2014, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an attorney in Denver in the areas of venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and business law, and commercial transactions. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.