Looking back on a productive session
Whew! What a busy session. In just 120 legislative days, we 100 elected legislators of the 72nd General Assembly introduced 598 bills for consideration and passed 447 of them.
(These include the bills planning and passing our $32 billion state budget: with more than $6 billion for K-12 education, up 3.3 percent from last year; nearly $5 billion for higher education, up 6.2 percent from last year; and more than $2 billion for transportation and infrastructure, up 17.2 percent from last year.)
We passed these 447 bills to protect and enhance the Colorado way of life; to expand economic opportunity and build a fair economy; to invest in Colorado’s future with increased funding for K-12 and higher education; to lower the costs of healthcare; to protect Colorado’s environment; to address the opioid crisis; to deliver transportation solutions; to stand up for rural Colorado; and to support open and transparent government, fair campaigns and access to the ballot.
I myself sponsored several bills this year, including:
• HB19-1013, extending for 8 years (until 2028) the income tax credit available to low-income families (having a taxable income of less than $25,000) who pay out-of-pocket for child care expenses. The credit covers 25 percent of what they paid for child care expenses, up to a maximum credit of $500 for a family with just one child under 13 years old, or up to $1,000 for a family with two or more children under 13.
• HB19-1085, raising the amount of grant money available to low-income seniors and people with disabilities, which helps pay for property taxes, rent, and heating and fuel costs. These grants, which hadn’t increased since 2014, are raised 5 percent and indexed to inflation, to continue rising as costs rise. The bill also raises the cap on how much money someone can earn while still qualifying for these grants, helping more low-income people receive this assistance.
• HB19-1276, creating a ninth-grade success grant program. This awards money grants to schools and districts with higher-than-average dropout rates, to pay for programs that will help their ninth-grade students stay in school for their entire high school careers.
• HB19-1279, prohibiting the use during testing and training exercises of firefighting foams containing toxic PFA substances, requiring the manufacturers of firefighting personal protective equipment (clothing and gear) to disclose when those products are treated with toxic PFA substances to be more fire resistant and banning the sale of firefighting foams containing toxic PFA substances to local fire departments in 2021.
I also served as the House sponsor for several bills that started in the Senate, including:
• SB19-065, creating a statewide, self-financed program of peer-to-peer and professional assistance, helping those EMS paramedics dealing with the many stresses of their job.
• SB19-151, extending the life of the Emergency Planning Subcommittee, which is designed to “predict, prevent, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from those threats posing the greatest risk to Colorado.” This subcommittee protects Coloradans.
• SB19-231, creating and awarding second chance scholarships of up to $10,000 each for people formerly committed to the Division of Youth Services, and who are now pursuing their higher education.
Most of my bills passed with bipartisan support. HB19-1279 passed nearly unanimously out of both chambers!
As these bills show, my legislative priorities help my constituents: low-income families, senior citizens, people with disabilities, people of color, students and first responders. This is exactly what legislators are elected to do.
We’re between sessions now. But on Jan. 8, 2020, we’ll reconvene to legislate for another 120 days. To reach me, email email@example.com or call 303-866-3069.
State Rep. Tony Exum represents Colorado’s 17th district, which includes Southeast Colorado Springs.