As executive orders and tweets rain down from Washington, DC, many of us engaged in state-based research and advocacy are being asked how all of this will affect our work. The dizzying action in Washington, D.C. has only raised the stakes for what we do here. The bottom line: we still have a state to build and we need your voice to build it!
While the changes at the federal level are going to have far-reaching influence on policy here in Colorado, it’s important to remember that what happens at our Capitol and in local communities impacts our day-to-day rights, freedoms, and protections in many tangible ways. I want to highlight proposed legislation from the Bell and Colorado research and advocacy organizations like ours that could make a big impact.
When the Trump Administration weakens regulations like the "fiduciary rule" and entities like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, state laws and regulations become some of the only backstops we have to ensure we don't get ripped off and sold out. This week, lawmakers in the Senate Judiciary Committee will be deciding whether to renew our State’s Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and how to protect consumers from unscrupulous debt-buyers.
While Congress debates what to do about Social Security and whether to cut benefits, we are proposing state-based remedies for our retirement crisis. The Bell’s soon-to-be introduced retirement legislation would help every Coloradan easily enroll in an Individual Retirement Account. Six states have implemented similar common-sense solutions. The Colorado Secure Savings Plan would give young people the opportunity to build wealth even as they move from job to job while reducing the number of retirees who have to live out their final years in poverty.
Tax policies can make a big difference for families working to save for college. A proposal by the Colorado Fiscal Institute would give families putting money into their 529 savings accounts an even greater deduction than they get now by capping the deduction that very wealthy families are able to get.
While there’s little that Congress can do to mitigate the effects our tight housing market is having on working families, we have options to consider here at home. The Colorado Center for Law and Policy is advancing a bill to extend the notification period for landlords informing their tenants of higher rents from seven to 28 days.
Post-election, paid family leave policies are unlikely to get the national attention we had hoped for. But Colorado 9 to 5 is advancing a state measure this year called the Colorado FAMLI Act to set up a partial wage replacement benefits pool for Colorado workers.
Finally, if Congress makes dramatic cuts to federal programs like TANF, Medicaid and Medicare, states will have to step up and fill the funding void. Unless Coloradans are able to invest in our state, we won't be unable to control our own destiny. This year, legislators are discussing changes to TABOR, revenue solutions for our transportation systems, and much more.
As you prioritize your advocacy in the coming months, remember that we still are building this beautiful state of ours. As you head downtown for your next protest, turn your gaze toward our gold-domed capitol and ask how you can speak loudly both here and on national policy debates as well.