Virtual Town Hall showcases Action Fund’s impact at the State Legislature
Voces Unidas Action Fund would like to thank the central-mountain lawmakers currently serving in the Colorado State Legislature who took part in our March 1 Online Town Hall meeting, including Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie (HD13), Rep. Elizabeth Velasco (HD57), Rep. Meghan Lukens (HD26), and Sen. Dylan Roberts (SD8).
We were both excited and appreciative for the opportunity to hear directly from our elected representatives and to be able to open a safe space for questions about policies that are important to members of the Latino community. Legislators addressed several of our priority issues throughout the hour-long discussion, updating some 65 registered participants from throughout the central mountain region on the status of multiple bills making their way through the chamber as we approach the halfway point in the 120-day session.
“Since taking office and certainly since the start of the legislative session in January, all of us in the House have been focused on the things we heard about as we visited with voters and constituents in the months leading up to the election,” Speaker McCluskie said. “Affordability, being able to live in the communities where you work, being able to take care of your family and live the Colorado dream, that continues to be a priority for all of us.”
Affordability, and affordable housing in particular, emerged as a top priority among survey participants informing our 2022 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda (CLPA), and we were pleased to hear that our organizing efforts have made an impact on lawmakers already this session. One of our priority bills, HB-1115 (co-sponsored by Rep. Velasco), which calls for the repeal of prohibition on local residential rent control, successfully passed through the House of Representatives just prior to the town hall meeting, thanks in part to a “yes” votes from Speaker McCluskie and Reps. Lukens and Velasco.
“Thanks to Voces Unidas for all your work on the bill. I recognize it’s a priority bill for you, and I’ve learned a lot from conversations with you,” Rep. Lukens said. “Having those conversations helped me as a new legislator feel empowered to vote yes on this controversial bill, especially in the midst of quite a lot of pushback from other groups. So I wanted to say, this is why advocacy is so important, and it works. And thank you for helping us all navigate that.”
Like the CLPA, the wide-ranging town hall discussion helped emphasize that we are not a monolith, and our community is impacted by every policy issue, ranging from affordability to education, the environment, mental health, transportation and gun violence prevention, among others. With a nod to a bill recently introduced by Rep. Velasco, one other issue that resonated with both panelists and the audience was water quality, specifically access to clean drinking water in mobile home parks.
“I’m very proud to bring up this legislation to make sure that everyone has clean water,” Rep. Velasco said of the bill that will be read on the House floor sometime in the next few days.
“It’s a crisis, a priority, and I really appreciate that Voces Unidas is raising it as one of their focal points and I’m really excited that we have a champion in Rep. Velasco to do more work on this front,” added Speaker McCluskie.
We’ll have more details of Rep. Velasco’s water quality bill to come. Meanwhile, be sure to watch the recording of our online town hall and keep up with all our legislative priorities at https://www.vocesunidasaction.org/policy.