By State Rep. Alex Valdez
Do you remember where you were on Jan. 9? I was at the Capitol … but I can explain myself! My name is Alex Valdez, and I am honored to serve as state representative to House District 5.
Though I often get confused emails meant for District 5’s congressman, I have a way better job being the local voice for Denver’s Civic Center, Elyria, Lincoln Park, Globeville and Lower Downtown. I was apprehensive about opening with a cheap two-years too-late joke as national headlines make me grimace too. But don’t worry, this is solely community news, thanks to The G.E.S. Gazette.
After perusing through their arts and culture opportunities, I stopped by the editor’s note, which recognized readers asking to hear more about the work in the Capitol. We began Jan. 9, and as I walked up the snow-covered steps of the Capitol, I was well-rested and excited to start another impactful session. In about 120 days, both the Senate and the House work to pass hundreds of bills! A shockingly short delivery time, but time is of the essence with Coloradans’ rights and lives at stake.
About halfway through the session, on March 1, Luis Garcia, age 16, was taken off life support after suffering fatal gunshot wounds close to campus. East High School mourned a beloved peer and a great soccer player. On March 2, the Capitol was confronted by the roar of students unwilling to let the death of a classmate remain another ignored tragedy. The process of passing this year’s gun safety bills has not been quiet. While unveiling proposed legislation, a fire alarm rang in ears and forced all to evacuate. There have been countless hours of talk and filibustering on this topic.
My email was flooded with Coloradans in opposition and support. Conversations from news outlets and social media about March’s events were heavy. But the chatter was deafened by the voices of students and teachers missing school on account of recurring gun violence. Gun violence is not a new issue.
That is why I’m proud of this session’s gun safety measures. SB23-168: Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Judicial System, SB23-169: Increasing Minimum Age to Purchase Firearms, and SB23-170: Extreme Risk Protection Order Petitions. Here in the House, we know that gun reform is not the only issue compromising Coloradans’ lives, and we have been pushing for critical environmental, health care and housing reform. For a bill to be enacted, it must be carried through the House and the Senate.
However, community members’ involvement, aka “stakeholders,” is essential to ensuring the bill truly serves us all. I have had diverse stakeholding, from those struggling to afford extenuating rental fees, the switch to eco-friendly housing and energy opportunities, and groups representing underserved communities limited in their ability to advocate. HB23-1068 is on the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, and I am excited to deliver direct savings for renters by limiting expensive pet rent and pet fees.
After a few changes, I am glad to have the opportunity to clarify some concerns I have received before this bill passes. This bill limits pet rent to a maximum of 1.5% of your monthly fee, so $1,500 a month equals about $22 a month! The pet deposit is limited to a refundable $300, the lower range of average deposits. Seventy percent of charging happens at home, and it is crucial to create housing that will meet our sustainable future needs. My office has worked to address this with HB23- 1233, which will require EV charging stations in multifamily housing. I have also been working to deliver a couple of bipartisan bills, such as HB23-1260, which will draw down about $5.5 billion and revitalize well-paying manufacturing jobs, advanced industry and STEM education in Colorado.
Communities need a voice in change happening and an actionable part. A few of my bills will offer this choice by continuing the funds for community-led public safety programs, community solar garden energy participation, and the option for nonplastic alternatives in retail stores. I hope this update gave you a better idea of movement here in the Legislature.
If you have time, the general assembly website is a great way to learn about participating in the legislative process, watching sessions and committees, and of course, information about my bills.
Alex Valdez was first elected to north Denver’s state House District 5 in 2019