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Colorado Legislative Roundup

 

With a new Governor, progressive legislative leaders in Colorado marked a new day by enacting a range of legislation benefiting working families in the state.

Extending Civil Rights to Gay Citizens

This session, the Iowa legislature broke a long standing stalemate and added sexual orientation to its civil rights laws. SF 427 makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, public accomodation, credit, housing and education based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.  In passing the bill, the Iowa legislature simply extended the protections they offer to everyone else to gay and transgender citizens.  As House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "This was not some sort of liberal social agenda.  This is just saying that under housing and employment, people shouldn't be discriminated against because of their real or perceived sexual orientation." 

Overcoming Racial Discrimination

Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin.  The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:

Wringing Costs Out of the Health Care System

We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse.  The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.

Preventing Hospital Debt Among the Uninsured

With debt collection for medical bills a lead cause of bankruptcy for families without health insurance, Families USA, in a new brief, highlight a range of policies states have enacted in recent years to protect the uninsured and underinsured. 

Gay Adoption Gains, Children Win

This week, an Arkansas bill to ban gay adoption collapsed in the House, after passing the state Senate earlier this month.  In New Hampshire, the state House overwhelmingly passed a bill affirming the right of gay couples to jointly adopt children.  Earlier this month, the Colorado House approved a similar "second-parent adoption" bill in a bipartisan vote.

 

"National Popular Vote" Fix for Electoral College Passes MD Senate

Yesterday, the Maryland Senate approved legislation that would grant Maryland's 10 Electoral College votes to the Presidential candidate receiving the most votes nationally, rather than to the winner of the state-- a system that would go into effect if enough other states approve similar legislation to guarantee the Presidency to the candidate winning the popular vote nationally.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) Advance in the States

As we first highlighted in our Dispatch last December, renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) are a great way to stimulate renewable energy development.  By requiring that a certain percentage of a state's electricity come from renewable energy, RPS jump starts economic development and job creation.

Oil and Gas Drilling: Not the Way to Preserve the Roan Plateau

Over a dozen groups have filed protests against a plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to open up the top of Colorado's Roan Plateau to leases for drilling, which could be put up for bid as early as November.  Oil and gas drilling already takes place on the plateau, but federal land managers have chosen to open the top of the Roan Plateau for drilling without waiting until resources at the bottom of the plateau are tapped.  Oil in the undeveloped plateau could supply the U.S. with all of 5.8 hours worth of its oil needs.  Gas in the undeveloped Plateau could supply the U.S. demand for a little over a month.  All this in exchange for permanently scarring the unique landscape and rendering it unfit for hunting and recreation.  And, more unsettling, is that the BLM recognizes the ecological and recreational importance of the area.  A recent BLM study found that streams on the Plateau would meet the requirements to be designated as part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System by Congress.  The BLM Draft Management Plan recognizes that several areas within the Plateau met the criteria to be designated as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.

National Leaders Gather to Fight Voter Deception

As we highlighted in our November dispatch, voter deception reared its ugly head again in the 2006 election: