State Reps. Froelich and Sirota preview legislative priorities

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENT REPORTER

On January 11, HD3 State Rep. Meg Froelich and HD9 State Rep. Emily Sirota hosted a town hall in which they previewed the 2022 legislative session that began on January 12 and is scheduled to last 120 days. Sirota wanted people to know that, “Remote participation has been extended for this legislative session. Allowing citizens to testify remotely is extremely helpful. The more people who watch us, the better job we do.”

Emily Sirota has represented House District 9 in the state legislature since 2019.

Froelich, who is majority caucus co-chair, began with, “Two focuses of the Democratic caucus are housing and mental and behavioral health.” Also, in the area of energy and the environment, one of her committee assignments, she said, “We will be doing major work on air quality and on monitoring and modeling, so we can get a handle on our air pollution.” Froelich also plans to introduce a bill to plan one million trees across the state as a way to help the environment.

Both legislators said that they will be sponsors of a reproductive health equity bill in response to “the raft of draconian measures to curtail women’s access to reproductive health care.” Sirota sits on the health & insurance committee and the energy & environment committee, in addition to being vice-chair of the public & behavioral health & human services committee. She expects that there will be more bills dedicated to saving people money on health care, and, “We will also work on air quality, behavioral health, and affordable housing. We want to set limits for contributions to candidates for the school board at $2,500/individual per candidate per election cycle. We also want to find a way to raise the wages of early child care providers and we want to further support Pre-K and child care and help get the new state Department of Early Childhood Education running.”

Other bills that Froelich and Serota expect to see introduced during the session are one that would require that schools provide water filters and hydration stations to make sure that children don’t ingest lead at drinking fountains in schools, and another that for election workers “to protect those who work to run our free and fair elections by keeping their personal information private.”

Meg Froelich has represented House District 3 in the state legislature since 2019.

Froelich noted that, “Climate change is the biggest challenge we face as a nation and as a state,” adding, “Several legislators on the energy and environment committee are anxious to speak to the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGC) about some of their policies. Sirota added, “The COGC has not denied any requests for permits.” She also addressed the larger issue, saying, “The climate crisis requires global action. We will continue to do the work here in Colorado but we all need to continue to apply pressure at the federal level.” 

Moving on to health care, Sirota said, “In 2019, a bill passed to create a Health Care Cost Savings Analysis. The Colorado School of Public Health produced a report that said that a single-payer system in Colorado would cover more people and cost less than the current system. That report was finished and released a few months ago. There is still more work and study to do to see how it would be funded and what it would include.”

Froelich is a member of the transportation & local government committee. She shared, “We have been able to deploy some stimulus money toward the electrification of RTD vehicles. What we’re really trying to do is to move toward universal electrification from renewable resources. Our Office of Just Transitions is there to support coal workers in transitioning to jobs outside the fossil fuel industry. I would like to see oil and gas workers included. These are our brothers and sisters and they deserve to have a livelihood outside the oil and gas industry, just as do the coal workers.” Sirota agreed, adding, “Governor Polis has proposed funding electric school buses. He is also proposing a reduction in some fees.”

The other area the legislators said would get a lot of attention this session is housing. Froelich noted that, “There is a chronic shortage of workforce housing, including for mental and behavioral health workers. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make transformational change (due to available federal COVID relief funds) and our task force is getting advice from true experts.” She also pointed to the “need for supportive housing for behavioral and mental health patients.”

Turning to politics, Froelich pointed to changes coming to our area as a result of the work of the independent legislative redistricting commission of 2021. She noted that Greenwood Village is moving from HD3 to HD37, which will also include part of Centennial and Foxfield. That seat will have no incumbent in the November election because its current representative, Tom Sullivan, now lives in the new HD61. The new HD3 will include some or all of Cherry Hills Village, Englewood, Sheridan and southeast Denver. Froelich also noted that changes are coming because, “Six or eight people in the House are running for Senate, three are running for Congress and several are term-limited.”

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