Tapping Bold Ideas For Colorado’s 2019 Legislative Session
By state Sen. Angela Williams, Special to the GPHN
Colorado faces some serious challenges. Our roads are congested. Health care is too expensive. Our education system is underfunded and our achievement gap for students of color is too wide. The economy is improving, but too many Coloradans still feel like they can’t get ahead.
On Nov. 6, voters decided that it was time to elect leaders with an ambitious agenda and bold ideas. They decided that it was time for a party committed to ensuring that every hardworking Coloradan has equal access to opportunity – no matter what part of the state you live in – to lead the way.
In the coming weeks, Democrats will hammer out the details of our legislative agenda. However, I want to share with you a few of my priorities for the 2019 legislative session – which convenes on Jan. 4 – to help give everyone in our district and our state more equal access to opportunity.
I am working to address a number of other issues facing working families in Colorado, like housing and healthcare. Soaring drug prices are a serious issue in our state and across the country, and I believe that Coloradans deserve to know these price increases happen. Drug price transparency laws will create an opportunity for us to coordinate and develop systems to capture and report drug price data, holding drug manufacturers accountable for unnecessary price increases.
One of my top priorities is improving the business climate in our state and helping small businesses thrive. To do that, I am working to pass several pieces of legislation that would develop paid family and medical leave, spur entrepreneurship among our youth, and address inequity in government contracts and the cannabis industry.
One of my top priorities this legislative session is to develop a paid family and medical leave program, which failed under a Republican majority last session. To ensure that we get the best policy, I am meeting with businesses and organizations across the state to try and find a solution that works for low-wage employees and the business community, particularly small businesses.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy and we need to encourage our children to undertake entrepreneurial opportunities, not discourage them with archaic, over-regulatory guidelines. That is why I think it is so important to pass the “Lemonade Stand Bill,” a piece of legislation that would allow minors to operate a business on a limited basis without approval from local government.
Businesses owned by minorities, women, and LGBTQ individuals are some of the fastest growing in the state, but these businesses have also been some of the most underutilized in government contracts.
To fix this disparity and expand opportunity, we need to pass a Business Opportunity Study. This study would allow the legislature to examine the state procurement contract process, determine whether or not there are disparities between the participation of minority-owned businesses, and change the process to empower those businesses to compete.
People of color are also missing out on opportunities in the burgeoning cannabis industry. They are the most harmed by cannabis criminalization and we need to change that trend. That is why I will work to pass the Cannabis Equity Act, legislation that will offer assistance to help those most affected by cannabis criminalization to enter the multi-billion dollar industry as entrepreneurs or employers with high-quality, good paying jobs.
With the new Democratic trifecta in the Capitol, I am confident that we will be able to deliver these legislative priorities, as well as others that will help hardworking Coloradans get ahead. We’ve got a lot to do, but Democrats are ready to get to work.
Angela Williams represents District 33, which includes Park Hill, in the Colorado State Senate. She can be contacted at 303-866-4864.