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Colorado State Representative

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Representative Navarro’s Bill Signed By Governor- Equaling the Playing Field for Veterans

hb15 1136 signingGovernor Hickenlooper signed Representative Navarro’s much-anticipated House Bill 15-1136 into law today. The passing of HB15-1136 is a big win for veterans. It will provide necessary benefits for Colorado’s disabled service men and women without any added drawbacks or “catches” for our state as a whole.

House Bill 1136 will give disabled veterans the same benefits that are granted to disabled nonveteran citizens in regards to parking privileged license plates. Currently, disabled, civilian (or nonveteran) citizens are given the option of obtaining two parking privileged license plates and placards in order for them to utilize handicapped parking with two different vehicles. This benefit was granted to the Colorado general public last year as a part of House Bill 14-1029 sponsored by Representative Primavera. Astonishingly, in Primavera’s bill this benefit was only offered to disabled civilian citizens, and excluded disabled veterans. Vets who wish to receive the disabled veteran or “DV” insignia on their license plate along with their parking privileged identifier were strictly limited to one plate and placard.

Representative Navarro made it a point to resolve this issue, and veterans are now able to play on an equal playing field. The legislative journey that House Bills 1136 took in order to get to the Governor’s desk was filled with mostly smooth sailing and zero opposition. It passed every one of its assigned committees in the Senate and House unopposed, and it received unanimous votes for both third readings.

“This bill is a no brainer. It should be an assured part of our society that we give our veterans the best benefits, and certainly the same allotted to nonveterans. This bill is just further verification that veteran-care is a bipartisan concern for all Colorado legislators, and it is good to see the expression of value by the legislature coming to light with this enactment.” Representative Navarro commented on her bill as she and the Senate Sponsor, Senator Woods, waited to meet with the Governor for his official authorization.

Governor Hickenlooper Signs YOS Bill Into Law – A Win for Southern Colorado

This morning (May 1, 2015), Representative Navarro’s Youthful Offender System bill (SB15-182) made it to the final stage of the Colorado State Legislature.  The bill was officially signed by Governor Hickenlooper and is now formally enacted.

SB15-182 will provide the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections (DOC) the ability to transfer certain inmates, age 24 years old and younger from the Department of Corrections to the Youthful Offender System (YOS), in order for them to participate in age-appropriate rehabilitation.

The Youthful Offender System Bill’s House co-sponsor was Representative Esgar, and the Senate sponsors were Senators Corwder and Garcia.  All legislators from surrounding Pueblo areas joined together in a bipartisan agreement to give the DOC the power to give young innmates adequate rehibilitaion in an attempt to reduce recidivism among Colorado’s troubled youth.

“This bill is a big win for Southern Colorado as it gives the DOC flexability to transfer innmates they believe will benefit from the YOS more than the Department of Corrections. I am more than happy to see this bill make it all the way, and I'm glad we could effectively cross party-lines in order to make it happen,” Representative Navarro said soon after the signing.

The Youthful Offender System facility can hold up to 250 offenders, and is located in Pueblo on the grounds of the Colorado Mental Health Institute of Pueblo.  Representative Navarro is now looking forward to her next bill signing which will be held on Monday as the Governor enacts her Veteran’s License Plate Bill.

REP. NAVARRO TAPPED FOR NATIONAL COMMITTEE

Representative Navarro has been appointed to serve on the Labor and Economic Development Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for this 2015-2016 biennium.  The state of Colorado’s presiding officer in the NCLS assigned Representative Navarro to this position.

The NCLS has nine standing committees that have appointed committee members from each state. The purpose of these committees is to develop policy on state-federal issues to guide NCLS’s lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. The standing committees bring state legislators together from all parts of the country in order for them to collaborate on new legislation, and benefit from the experiences of other states in in order to shape public policy. The nine different committees include: Budget and Revenue, Communications, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor and Economic Development, Law and Criminal Justice, Legislative Effectiveness, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, and finally, Redistricting and Elections.

Representative Navarro, being a part of the Labor and Economic Development Committee, will have to report with her fellow committee members twice a year at NCSL Legislative Summit Forums. Committee members are asked to bring perspectives from their chambers on the issues that the committees are addressing. Committee members are sometimes recruited to testify before congressional committees on NCSL policy directives and resolutions, or meet with federal agencies to advocate on behalf of the NCSL's general consensus on an issue.

You can find out more information about the National Conference of State Legislatures at their website http://www.ncsl.org/. Included in this press release is the acceptance letter that Representative Navarro received from the NCSL.

Representative Navarro Hosts First Annual "Southern Colorado Day at the Capitol"

On April 27th Representative Navarro and other elected officials from surrounding districts will host the first annual “Southern Colorado Day” at the Colorado State Capitol. The objective of the event is to address and highlight important issues that impact the people of Southern Colorado (SOCO), and to celebrate the great attributes and rich culture that SOCO has to offer.

Special events of “Southern Colorado Day” begin with tributes in the House of Representatives and Senate, acknowledging all the counties, universities, and state parks located in the Southern Colorado region. The tributes say, “Colorado’s Western Spirit and history lives on in Southern Colorado”. The day will move on with more events that honor the grandeur, beauty and history of Southern Colorado. Presentations will be offered from 12pm to 4pm in the Old Supreme Court Chambers addressing important topics impacting SOCO. The presentations will focus on water issues, the budget process and funding, and education.

Representative Navarro said, “It is important to recognize and honor all of the great things Southern Colorado has to offer, and I want to give people the opportunity to hear about important issues concerning the Region. I am more than excited to see a whole day dedicated to the issues, beauty, history and rich culture of Southern Colorado.  It’s home to me, and I love my home and the people I am honored to represent.”

A Mixed Bag for the First 100 Days – Finish Strong

We have finally reached the 100th day of the 1st Session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly.  This has been a very prosperous legislative session, and you will see more about those events below.  I was able to successfully accomplish some good work for the people of Colorado, and that makes me very proud.  I am both grateful and honored to serve the people of House District 47, which includes Fremont, Otero, and Pueblo counties. 

There are many times during a session that I think it is too long, but not because the work isn’t rewarding.  Purely because it is my worry that every day the Colorado State Legislature is in session, the people of Colorado become more burdened with unnecessary laws and regulations that impede on their freedoms and make it more difficult to do business.  Although, we have seen a great deal of burdensome legislation this session, we have also made boundless amounts of progress; we have passed bills that will provide nothing but benefits for Coloradoans.

It is such a relief to have a State Senate controlled by a majority of Republicans.  It is only one seat, but that seat has made a difference.  Due to that Senate control, we have seen much more moderation from a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.  A balance of power is critical in protecting the people of Colorado.  The Senate has done an incredible job ensuring there are no “blank checks”; majorities matter and votes have consequences.  The budget is a wonderful example of pumping the breaks on unchecked, reckless spending.  Having served through the process of three budgets, this is the best I have seen so far.  Now that does not mean I am completely satisfied with it, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.  I was a 'no' vote due to what I perceive as unnecessary increases in spending; however, the Colorado State Senate did their job at “pumping the breaks”.

The following are a list of the bills, resolutions, and amendments that I sponsored and cosponsored in these first 100 days. They directly resolve problems and concerns from constituents within district 47, as well as all Coloradans statewide.  While there is a brief description of each bill listed, more information can always be found on the Colorado General Assembly website.

·       Veterans

HB 15-1136 - Gives veterans the option to get two handicap license plates and placards, instead of current legislation that limits them to only one license plate and placard. This balances the benefits given to veterans and non-veterans, because our veterans always deserve the best.

HJR 15-1008 - The U.S.S. Pueblo, named after the city of Pueblo, Colorado, was attacked and captured by the North Korean military on January 23, 1968.  Although, it is still commissioned by the U.S. Navy, currently it is being held captive in a museum in North Korea.  HJR15-1008 calls for the return of the U.S.S. Pueblo and designates January 23 as “U.S.S. Pueblo Day” in honor of its brave crew.

SJR 15-008 - Senate Joint Resolution 15-008 will establish a national medical treatment facility to diagnose, treat, and research conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic chemicals. They will be eligible for long-term medical treatment. Lastly, the bill requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Secretary of Defense to jointly conduct a national outreach and education campaign directed at service members, veterans and their families.  Our veterans have sacrificed too much not to be well taken care of!

·       At-Risk Youth

SB 15-182 - Provide the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections (DOC) the ability to transfer certain inmates, age 24 years old and younger from the Department of Corrections to the Youthful Offender System (YOS), in order for them to participate in age appropriate rehabilitation. If we can prevent recidivism, we should!

·       Domestic Violence

HB 15-1174 - Concerns the protection of personal information on the internet of individuals involved in the address protection programs, as well as protecting individuals affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  This bill helps to protect our law enforcement officers along with individuals affected by the aforementioned crimes. Crime prevention is just as effective as being tough on crime.

·       Roadways

SB 15-234 Amendment J.124 - The Amendment adds a footnote to part of the budget, directed at the Department of Transportation.  Stating it is the General Assembly’s intent that the Colorado Department of Transportation will work with local communities to study the economic development benefits of improving Highway 50 between the Kansas State line and Salida, CO.  This Amendment positively impacts the following counties:  Prowers, Bent, Otero, Pueblo, Fremont, and Chaffee counties. Amendment J.124 passed with a 46/19 vote and will be added to SB15-234.

·       Education

HB 15-1104 - This bill will provide eligible educators a state tax deduction of $250.00 per fiscal year on school supply expenses, in the instance that the tax deduction is not renewed at the federal level.  This bill will help protect our teachers by assuring them a deduction for their out-of-pocket expenses.  It is a win for both our educators and our students.

As we wrap things up here at the State Capitol, I cannot tell you how anxious I am to get back to my district.  There is no place like home, and I am always happy to be surrounded by the hardworking and honest people of District 47, where a rural way of life is preferred.  I look forward to what the General Assembly can accomplish next session; I intend to keep fighting the good fight for the great people of Colorado, and the constituents I represent.

Please take a look at some of the highlights I’ve experienced this session.  More information may be found here on my site.   As always, I like to remain accessible to the people of Colorado.  Please feel free to contact me at any time.  It is a pleasure to serve you.

It’s Not Our Money to Spend – You Earned It – You Spend It

The 2015 Colorado State Legislative Session brings a number of big issues to the forefront for the Legislature and the people of Colorado: energy development, the marijuana industry, gun restrictions; the list can go on and on with topics that will change the lives of many Coloradans. One topic that has just as much prominence, and has made a big wave among concerned legislators is the tax refund issue and TABOR.  If you read nothing further, please take this advice…HOLD ON TO YOUR WALLETS COLORADO TAX PAYERS.

The exact repayment figures and who would qualify remains unclear, but analysts estimate $137 million in TABOR refunds for the 2015 fiscal year. 

Many Democrats in the State Legislature aren’t realizing that there are some positives to TABOR.  I’m already hearing some on the other side of the aisle offering the tired rhetoric that TABOR makes it harder to restore budget cuts, but in reality, TABOR is a system that provides some benefits.  TABOR prevents government overspending, and frankly, I am appalled that there is even the consideration of not returning this money to the people of Colorado.  This is money that they are legally entitled to.

An economic viewpoint is, yes, the TABOR refunds will be taking surplus money from the government and giving it back to the people of Colorado. That does not mean that this money will not be put to use to benefit the state as it would if it was left in the hands of politicians. Most people will use this money to pay their bills, some will save it, and some will impulsively spend it. The increase of investing, saving, and consuming will expand the private sector and benefit Colorado’s economic growth. TABOR keeps the growth of the government in line with the growth of the private sector thus creating more economic stability, which in turn benefits everyone.

The people of Colorado enacted TABOR in 1992; therefore by law, it is money that belongs to the people of Colorado. There is always something that the government can spend excess money on, no matter the amount of money the state has control of.  Politicians will always find something to allocate it towards. The plain and simple fact of it is, the excess money is not the state’s money in the first place, and that money belongs to the tax payers of Colorado. It is our duty as fiscally responsible representatives of the people of the state of Colorado to honor the TABOR refund and honor the people of Colorado. The people who earned it know best how to spend it.
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