By Carolyn Bninski
What happens at the state legislature between January and May affects you on a daily basis. Some of the things the state legislature decides is how your state taxes are used, the amount of taxes you and the wealthy pay, tax breaks for large corporations, how Colorado addresses climate change, funding for health, education, social services, public transportation, and renewable energy, whether your landlord is required to make certain repairs, and who gets put in jail. These are just a few of the issues that the state legislature passes laws about.
Therefore it is in your interest to let your state legislators know how you want them to address the issues you care about most. You can find out how to contact your state legislators at www.congress.org. All you have to do is type in your zip code and you’ll be provided with the information. You can also attend hearings and speak at the State Capitol in Denver, and attend your legislators’ town hall meetings in your community.
Below are a few issues that you may want to weigh in on.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a dangerous method for extracting oil and gas from shale. Fracking contaminates surface and ground water, releases carcinogenic chemicals into the air, causes earthquakes and makes people sick. According to a recent report by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, natural gas and oil production is also the second-biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gases after power plants.
Protect Our Colorado (www.protectourcolorado.org), a large coalition of anti-fracking organiztions, is urging people to contact their state legislature and ask for an immediate moratorium on fracking.
In the area of health care, State Senator Irene Aguilar will introduce a non-partisan bill “to enable Colorado residents to vote on the formation of the Colorado Health Care Cooperative which would provide comprehensive health care to all Coloradans” (http://www.healthcareforallforless.org/). This is a bill that is well worth supporting.
You can also ask your legislator to support tax and other policies that narrow income inequality in the state, now ranked 8th for the fastest growing income disparity. One solution would be a progressive income tax (as we have federally), rather than the present flat income tax. To follow Colorado budget issues, go to http://cclponline.org
Don’t sit on the sidelines. Contact the legislature today with your concerns.
Carolyn Bninski works with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (Carolyn@rmpjc.org or 303-444-6981 ext. 2).