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a rendering of the colorado capitol building with 2024 legislative session written over it

A Sneak Peek at the 2024 Legislative Session

// January 18, 2024

Housing Is Top Of Mind, But We Can’t Overlook Other Issues Hindering Economic Mobility

Child Care Can Eat Up to 30 Percent of a Family’s Budget

The high cost of living, especially housing, is on the mind of nearly all Coloradoans. From renters and homeowners worried about property taxes, to front-line workers desperately seeking housing so they can live in the communities they work in, to child care centers wondering about their long-term viability in the face of rising commercial property taxes. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in his 2024 State of the State address last week to kick off the 120-day legislative session, said, “There’s a sense of hopelessness and despair around housing that’s on par, in some ways, with how people feel about the divisiveness of our national politics.”

The General Assembly is hoping to make a dent in that despair with affordable housing solutions. Likewise, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado will follow bills that bolster renters’ rights and affordable housing and look for opportunities to advocate where housing and gender, racial, and economic equity intersect. 

The pandemic relief spigot has been turned off

A complicating factor in increasing affordable housing is that legislators won’t have big pots of federal pandemic relief money to spend, as they did in recent sessions. According to Frontline Public Affairs, WFCO lobbying partner, “Although some previously awarded money remains to be distributed, the pandemic relief spigot has been turned off.”

The limited budget will impact not only our state’s ability to create more housing for Coloradans, but also other critical bills intending to promote the economic mobility of women and their families, such as increasing access to child care. 

Although some previously awarded money remains to be distributed, the pandemic relief spigot has been turned off. – Frontline Public Affairs

“Beyond housing, child care is the top expense squeezing Colorado families,” said Alison Friedman Phillips, WFCO director of programs, policy, and advocacy. “For families who earn the lowest incomes it’s nearly impossible to pay for child care. We must ensure that they have support and accessing it isn’t cumbersome.”

WFCO grantee partner, Bell Policy Center, identified in 2022 that child care expenses can eat up to 30 percent of a family’s income

Promoting equitable access to high-quality child care

Each year, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado lobbies for three bills. Our public policy committee voted to make one of the bills Promoting Equitable Access to High-Quality Child Care. The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to low-income parents/caregivers who are working, searching for employment or are in job training, as well as those enrolled in the Colorado Works Program who need child care services. Administrative burdens are significant obstacles to individuals and families seeking support and access to programs for which they are eligible, such as CCCAP. The bill will:

  • Simplify the application process
  • Make it easier for families who are eligible to access CCCAP immediately
  • Implement accessibility practices including expanding eligibility

If you’d like to learn more or provide feedback on the bill please contact Alison Friedman Phillips.

We’re evaluating other bills that level the playing field for all Colorado women

Our policy team and committee have not yet determined other priority bills for lobbying at this point in the session, but we do know that we will take active support of Justice for Black Coloradans, a bill to create a task force to study the impact of racial discrimination in Colorado due to state practices and policies. With data, policies and initiatives can be pinpointed to counteract the damaging economic effects of systemic racism. If passed, History Colorado will lead the effort that is expected to take up to three years.

Other issues The Women’s Foundation of Colorado will follow and determine where action is needed include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), maternal health equity, and resources to support domestic violence and abuse survivors, to name a few. 

Introducing new (and old) resources for supporters

The Women’s Foundation is introducing and bringing back several resources for supporters to follow our progress and take action with us this session.

We’re excited to share a new advocacy tool that features real-time legislative tracking alerts and a platform to take action directly from our website. You can also sign up to follow our bills through the House and Senate as they are introduced.

A virtual training over your lunch hour – Feb. 15 

Additionally, registration is now open for our first 90-minute virtual Advocating4Impact training on February 15. We’ll provide an overview of the session, where the bills we support stand, and host a panel of advocates, including:

  • Debra Brown, executive director of Good Business Colorado, about what’s on the mind of small businesses
  • Sade Cooper, CEO of CHIC – a WFCO grantee partner, on Justice for Black Coloradans 
  • Jack Regenbogen, deputy executive director at Colorado Poverty Law Project, on renters rights and affordable housing

Advocacy Day at the Capitol – March 12

Additionally, for the first time since 2020, we’re bringing back Advocacy Day at the Capitol for supporters to learn, advocate, and ignite change. Join our policy experts and staff the morning of March 12. You will get a chance to be under the dome, build your advocacy acumen, and connect with other folks who care about advancing gender, racial, and economic equity. Of note – because it’s an election year, legislators want to hear directly from constituents and get to know you. It’s a great time to spend a few hours with your guides at WFCO learning how to use your voice effectively and confidently on the issues that matter to you.

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