Today as a country, we stand at a crossroads. The current political climate can leave us feeling angry, apathetic and ambivalent – sometimes all of these emotions, but as a citizenry built on a democratic system of government that is to be by the people and for the people, we cannot allow those emotions to keep us on the sidelines. The current fabric of our democracy is at stake and it is going to take all of us leaning into the goodness of who we are and who we believe we can be to move us forward to a place of equity, peace and justice. READ MORE
As someone who has worked alongside government leaders at every level, working to bring both solutions to problems and the diverse set of stakeholders to get them solved, I know how important good public policy can and should be. Public policy should be about people, period, because its impact touches people in very real ways. Every bill, rule, legislative solution and the like is filled with numbers that either represents people or the monetary resources that will either enable them to move forward with opportunity or be hindered. We need to ensure that good public policy creates opportunities for the flourishing of all people and not just those who have the resources to buy its favors.
This is why issues facing Colorado and our country are so important. For years I have been listening to people and not just those who look like me or agree with me but all kinds of people. What I have learned is that no person is concerned about only one issue because they do not live one issues lives. None of us lives one issue lives. We are connected to each other and the limitations we face today need to be called out so that we work together toward what unites us.
That has always been my desired outcome – bringing diverse voices together to work on what unites us. Our state is filled with thousands of amazing people who all want similar things. We can and must work together toward what unites us and build the communities that bring about the most amount of good. We cannot settle for the success of the few. We need to make every effort to work together toward solutions that will bring about justice and prosperity for all.
Congress has utterly failed to work together on immigration. Immigration is a critical part of the United States’ history and future. We will be unable to fix our broken system without building bipartisan solutions and efforts. Our country’s immigration laws are over 70 years old and every day we do not work together, we all suffer and the current administration wastes billions of our hard earned tax dollars on unlawful actions and wrongheaded enforcement. READ MORE
We need to work to update our outdated immigration laws & create a modern system that works for everyone. US citizens should have the basic right to have their family members here. US employers should be able to sponsor workers when they have legitimate need. A robust economy needs a robust workforce. By the year 2035, the US is estimated to increase our worker shortfall by 17 million people and we must have an immigration system that will adapt to our needs.
I will continue to fight for a path to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country. They are family members of US citizens, vital workers in our economy, our friends, our neighbors and an integral part of our communities.
We need modern, effective border governance. A physical wall along the southern border is archaic, expensive and an ineffective way to keep our country safe. Instead, we need a wall of technology incorporating biometric and satellite data, reporting visa overstays, and scanning our ports of entry to ensure that what is crossing our land borders and entering our harbors will keep our country safe.
We must respect US asylum laws and international treaties while governing our border. The current treatment of asylum seekers at our border is shameful. We need to end unnecessary detention, uphold the Flores Settlement agreement and immediately reverse the harm that separating families has done by reuniting families and ensuring that we no longer use this punitive, traumatizing practice. We can create an efficient process to screen individuals at our border while humanely addressing families seeking our help.
Migration issues are significantly impacting our country and our world. With nearly 71 million people displaced around the world, the United States must work with the global community to address both the economic and political instability of sending countries which force people to flee their homes in search of a better, safer life.
Climate change is an urgent reality that needs to be addressed as we work toward solutions in the 21 century. Aggressive policy goals that set standards for net zero emissions are the only way we will incentivize ourselves to make this a reality. We need to develop an environmental impact analysis much like we do a cost budget analysis for federal projects that we undertake. This serious approach to addressing our environmental impacts in a tangible way will help ensure that we minimize our climate impact as we work to support the growth of our future. READ MORE
Everyday Americans should be able to participate in reversing climate change and not be inhibited by their income. Renewable energy tax credits so people can invest in solar, wind and other renewable energy solutions as well as low flush toilets, light sources, etc. provide incentives that help create both individual ownership and benefit the overall community impact.
Coal is a form of fossil fuels that needs to be completely & aggressively phased out. Eliminating this industry needs to have a two pronged approach. First, those who work in the coal industry need to be trained for a new economy in their local communities. Second, we need to ensure that as one energy source phases out, one or more needs to replace it. We need to ensure that we have a “fact over fear” frame of mind as we explore additional clean energy options. Nuclear energy should be considered as a potential energy source in certain capacities.
Vehicle emissions are a primary driver to negative impacts on climate. We see it nearly every weekend as the traffic alongside the I-70 corridor throughout the mountains is congested. Those who both live in our state and make Colorado their travel destination need an alternative, high speed rail option from the airport to the mountain towns. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in relation to both climate sustainability and our tourism industry.
Read my Energy Park proposal here: https://michelleforcolorado.com/energypark/
Each year brings a wider gap between the rich and poor. Unless we work together toward equitable solutions, we will not be able to reverse this reality. Addressing inequity in education, healthcare, housing, fair wages, high speed internet and gender is not an option. READ MORE
The zip code to which you were born should not determine your future. We need to come together to ensure that each child is able to have access to a quality, public education that gives them the skills to be equipped for the 21st Century. This includes preschool funding, access to higher education through the expansion of pell grants, expansion of bachelor’s degrees at community colleges, equitable teacher pay, equitable funding for local, non-charter schools, trauma informed, restorative discipline practices, & school safety.
No one in the United States should be denied access from affordable, necessary healthcare. Healthcare is a right that all people deserve. We need to create a healthcare system in which everyone can participate. We must be committed to working to ensure the Affordable Care Act succeeds because we need a strong public healthcare option. We need to hold insurance companies accountable and ensure that they do not restrict meeting the needs of patients while financially benefiting from the pain & suffering of people. Doctors, not health insurance companies, should determine the needs of their patients.
Colorado’s booming economy is something that we should celebrate. As we continue to welcome new businesses and keep a hospitable posture toward others as they move to our state and work towards its betterment, we need to ensure that everyone has access to high quality housing that is affordable. The issue of quality affordable housing is not limited to our big cities but stretches all across our state and takes an out-of-balanced proportion of an individual’s income for housing. When Coloradans pay too much for housing, they often avoid paying for healthcare, healthy foods, and transportation – leading to medical issues and a lack of access to opportunity. Housing access is paramount to people’s and families’ abilities to grow and participate in all our communities have to offer.
Across Colorado, there is a lack of housing units affordable to the people who live and work in our communities. Over 272,000 low-income households in Colorado are in crisis, spending more than 50% of their income on housing costs. The affordable housing gap continues to widen, driven by stagnant income, a decreasing availability of rental housing, increased prevalence of gentrification and increased housing costs. For households earning 30% Area Median Income (AMI) or lower, six households compete for every affordable unit available. Nationally, we must safeguard, expand and improve affordable housing and community development programs for the benefit of people of modest means. This means strengthening and expanding programs including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, HUD HOME Investment Partnership Program, and supporting investments in housing as part of our nation’s infrastructure. The expansion of Section 8 rental assistance, stronger Fair Housing and racial equity enforcement and policies creating new funding resources for eviction prevention and legal assistance are important resources that will address this pressing equity issue.
Colorado’s robust and growing economy will be unable to thrive without a strong, fairly compensated workforce. Industries depend on a variety of skills at every level and we need to not only value the contribution of every laborer but compensate them fairly. As a government, we need to work to protect worker’s wages beyond compensation and include expanding educational opportunities and healthcare. The key to addressing the wealth gap while still growing our economy is through holistic investment in our workforce.
As we look toward the 21st century and strive to equip every Coloradan with the resources they need to move their individual lives forward, we must recognize the essential role that access to high speed internet plays. We need to make sure that every corner of our state and throughout our country has equal access and at an accessible price.
Women make up nearly half of the United States workforce and make less than $.80 to the $1 of a man. This gender pay gap is unacceptable. We need to ensure that women are compensated equally to men. Women are also underrepresented in important fields such as STEM occupations and of course Congress. We need to do everything we can as a society to work to support women who step into male dominated fields, knowing their contribution is essential to our future.
The United States has the highest incarceration rates in the world, and this disproportionately impacts people of color. The problem of mass incarceration is not limited to a few problems and easy, fixable solutions. It took us years of intentionally creating this system and unless we aggressively work as a country to reverse its harmful impacts at every level of government, we will continue to perpetuate our broken, racist system. READ MORE
We need to eliminate the for-profit prison industry. The Constitution places the responsibilities of punishment and incarceration — the most fundamental taking of liberty — on government alone. When the government moves that function to the marketplace, it infects the criminal justice system with perverse incentives that no longer give those incarcerated the guarantee of a fair and unbiased justice system. No one should be profiting from the mistakes of others, treating them as commodities nor should tax dollars be paid to corporations whose incentive is to keep people locked up. As a society we must seek to rehabilitate people and have them restored to society as quickly as possible.
Cash bail needs to be eliminated. People should be innocent until proven guilty and should not pay the higher price of incarceration simply because they are too poor to pay bail.
The War on Drugs had and continues to have devastating impacts on our country and has led to the incarceration of thousands of people. Drug scheduling needs to be reset and the mandatory minimums that correlate must be re-evaluated, giving more autonomy in sentencing to judges. Non-violent drug offenders should be moved toward restoration into society with felony charges expunged.
Additionally we must put concentrated efforts on the front end of the criminal justice system by working to establish better police enforcement practices. We continue to see a steady increase in the number of arrests being congruent with jail time. Our first line of enforcement needs better training and incentives to ensure that policing is both transparent and accountable.
Even with the suggested changes to our current laws, we would still have an over-incarceration problem. We need to address those with violence charges and look into more restorative justice practices to help heal both the victim and the perpetrator. Restorative justice court needs to be more common and restorative justice practices put into place so that true, holistic healing can take place.
Gun violence is killing people. Basic policy recommendations like universal background checks, red flag laws, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines are elementary but important ways to create the necessary barriers to those who would use guns to harm others. Gun owners who have guns for self protection, sportsmanship and hunting are not responsible for the gun violence we see across our country. READ MORE
As our country continues to be plagued by gun violence, we need to be willing to look at the ways we as a society neglect to address the root causes of violence, racism and mental health issues. In addition to working toward prevention of gun violence, we need to ensure that we have effective solutions in place to address the impacts of trauma that communities both directly and indirectly incur as a result of the harm.