2016 Legislative Session Recap
Read about the policies COLOR worked on during the last legislative session here.
COLOR works to engage and empower the Latino community to speak out about the policies that impact our community. We are committed to ensuring that Latinas and our families are able to make personal decisions, have access to affordable health services and that we are each able to live with dignity.
We work to address the disparate impact that systemic barriers create for individuals due to their economic situation, faith, race, gender, age, immigration status, physical abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity. We work with our community in coalition with allies and with elected officials to identify policy solutions that will allow us all to be safe and thrive.
These are some of the core issues that we are working to address:
• Health Access – We are committed to working to address health disparities and ensuring access to culturally competent health care regardless of income or immigration status.
• Reproductive Health and Bodily Autonomy – Each person should make their own decision about whether they are ready to parent. We believe that a full range of reproductive health services should be available and affordable including contraception, prenatal and maternity care and abortion.
• Supporting Pregnant Women – The right to parent is a basic human right and yet there are countless policies that either deny women of color and low-income the ability to make that decision or make it harder by withholding critical support. We work to eliminate policies that hamper the reproduction decisions of women of color. We also work to ensure that we can have healthy pregnancies.
• Young People’s Rights, Needs and Voices – Young people are capable of making decisions. We ensure that young people are treated with respect and autonomy and that each person has the information, services and supplies to manage their needs.
• Immigration – Our immigration system is broken. Families are being torn apart and immigrant communities are discriminated against in terms of jobs paying fair wages, equal opportunities to education, equal protections under the law, as well access to health coverage and other benefits and programs. We believe that it is way past time to take action to address these issues.
• Economic Justice – A large number of Latinas are living in poverty due to wage disparities, a lack of paid leave or living wages, as well as inadequate access to education and employment opportunity. We believe that our state and federal leaders should commit to moving policies that ensure the financial stability of families.
• Criminal Justice and Racial Justice – We need to work to address police violence and the way that racial profiling has impacted communities of color, but we also need to look at the impact of mass incarceration. As an organization representing Latinas and standing in solidarity with Black men and women in the fight to address racism, we are committed to moving polices that address structural racism and the systems that perpetuate discrimination and violence.
Utilizing Policy to Make Positive Change for Colorado
Supporting pregnant workers. We can do more to support women as they build their families by putting common sense legislation into place to ensure that people are provided with basic support in the workplace. We believe that pregnant workers should be provided with reasonable accommodations.
Expand eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). This program provides child care assistance to help families while they are in school or working. The problem is that the current eligibility criteria leaves many people who are struggling to get by without access to assistance. We need to provide adequate funding for this program so that we can expand eligibility levels and address the lengthy wait lists that exists in some Colorado counties. We must also ensure that parents in four-year degree programs are able to utilize the fund and complete their degrees.
Address the Cliff Effect. The Cliff Effect is used to describe the way that slight income increases can push people out of much needed public assistance programs. This is a serious concern for low-income families working towards self-sufficiency. Benefit cuts for assistance programs should be graduated so that increased earnings actually improve the financial situation for a family.
Eliminate restrictions on access to abortion at the state and federal level. We are committed to getting rid of state and local policies that interfere with personal decision making or that deny or interfere with access to information based on, current evidence-based scientific data and medical consensus. We are also working to support the federal EACH Woman Act, which helps to make sure that people can afford abortion care by eliminating the federal policies that deny health coverage for abortion in public insurance programs.
Colorado boasts one of the most comprehensive reproductive health coverage plans for women who use Medicaid benefits, but our state constitution bans access to Medicaid coverage for abortion. We are committed to eliminating the limitations at the state and federal level so people can make the best decision for themselves and their family and afford the health care they need.
Improve access to coverage for low-income Coloradans using Medicaid benefits. In spite of the tremendous gains made as a result of the Affordable Care Act, many people still have difficulty accessing comprehensive reproductive health and preventative services. The driving factor behind these disparities is cost. We must ensure that all women have access to the care they need. One way we can alleviate the current challenges is by raising the reimbursement rates for Medicaid to ensure availability of care and by working on policies that address the rising cost of health care.
Make sure young people have the information they need to protect their sexual health. Colorado state law does not require schools to teach comprehensive sexual education (CSE). In 2013, HB 1081 created a sexuality education grant program through the Department of Public Health and Environment. The legislature acknowledged the need to provide evidence-based, medically-accurate, and age appropriate sexual health curricula as a “right’ of youth. HB 1081 did not designate a statewide funding mechanism for the CSE program and most schools across the state have not fully implemented a CSE program.
We have heard from professionals in school districts across the state about the need to provide comprehensive sexual health education, but they struggle to secure adequate funding. The programs that are in place depend on a mixture of federal and private grant funds. We must work to fully fund comprehensive sexual education curricula in every school in our state.
Don’t allow professionals to refuse treatment or service based on their personal beliefs. Medical providers can – and in some instances have been instructed to – refuse certain medical services simply on the basis of ideology. Now we are seeing bills that allow people to refuse service in a business based on their religion. This is inappropriate and out of touch with Colorado values.
COLOR is committed to supporting forward thinking policies. We urge lawmakers to stand with women and families by advancing legislation that will help to meet the needs of Latinas and our community.