Bill to ease some workers compensation penalties faces tough road

May 2 | Denver Business Journal

Colorado’s Division of Workers’ Compensation got some unwanted publicity for six-figure fines it administered to several small businesses that lacked workers comp insurance last summer, and the Colorado Court of Appeals rebuffed yet another fine early this year as being so excessive that it would be a constitutional violation.

So Colorado Department of Labor and Employment leaders worked with Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, to come up with a bill that would give division leaders discretion in the fines they currently are required to impose.

The bill would also set up a new fund, seeded by fines against bad-actor employers, that would cover costs for workers injured at a company that illegally did not offer them workers’ compensation insurance. (Read More)

No messin’ with meatloaf

June 6 | ArvadaPress

Dozens of local officials, Westminster networkers and residents of Covenant Village of Colorado converged on the sunny first day of June as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the Don’t Tax Grandma’s Meatloaf bill.

House Bill 16-1187 aims to help Colorado retirement communities control costs for residents by maintaining the sales tax exemption for meals served to residents of retirement communities. It was sponsored by Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, and Sen. Chris Holbert (R-Parker) and supported by LeadingAge Colorado, an organization that represents senior living and care providers. (Read More)

ReHire program gets new life

May 24 | Pueblo Chieftan

Colorado ReHire, the transitional employment program that assists individuals with barriers to employment re-enter the workforce, will continue at least until 2019.

A bill reauthorizing funding, sponsored in the state House by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper last week at Habitat for Humanity in Colorado Springs. (Read More)

Debate rages over holding mentally ill patients

May 3 | 9News

Colorado state lawmakers are debating an uncomfortable aspect of how mental health issues are handled in Colorado: Holding people in jail during episodes.

Jails are already being used for this purpose when authorities can’t find a psychiatric hospital beds. Lawmakers are debating the issue, in part, because sheriffs in the state found themselves on sketchy legal ground holding patients in jail beyond 24 hours. The bill has already passed the Senate and is now in the House. (Read More)

Leading mental health advocates recognized

April 19 | The Westminster Window

Gene Ciancio, son of a well-known area community advocate Mary Ciancio, believes good volunteers are more than just compassionate – they’re doers, not just talkers.

“Volunteers aren’t just tender-hearted do-gooders,” he told those in attendance at an April 13 award ceremony. “Volunteers provide vital services that would otherwise not be provided if our communities – federal, state and local – had to pay for those services.” (Read More)

State Successful at Reducing Unintended Pregnancies

April 18 | The Council of State Governments

Two years ago, Colorado reported success in dramatically reducing the state’s teen birth and abortion rates by 49 percent from 2009 to 2014 through a privately funded initiative that provided long-acting reversible contraception, known as LARCs. (Read More)

Governor signs Colorado Credit Union Governance Bill

April 18 | Credit Union Insight NAT

On Friday, April 15, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper held a ceremony as he signed SB 125: Credit Union Governance into law. The new law will give state chartered credit unions in Colorado the ability to compensate board members, as well as allow an audit committee to replace a supervisory committee. The new law goes into effect August 10, 2016. (Read More)

Jobs of the Future

April 18 | Colorado House Democrats

The House gave final approval today to four pieces of the General Assembly’s bipartisan jobs growth package.

“Colorado’s unemployment rate is 2.9 percent, ranking us third in the nation, and we are closing in on the lowest Colorado unemployment rate this century,” said Majority Leader Crisanta Duran. “That’s not good enough. We want to set a new record by ensuring all Coloradans have access to good-paying jobs.” (Read More)

Colorado workforce demand in focus

April 12 | Northglenn Thornton Sentinel

With the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, 3 percent, Colorado has made mountainous gains when it comes to economic development following the recession that struck in December 2007 and lingered for years. (Read More)

Job measures aim to work wonders

April 11 | Castle Rock News-Press

Colorado’s economy has had one of the best recoveries from the 2008 recession in the country, with an unemployment rate almost 2 percentage points lower than the national average. But that’s difficult to believe when one is still looking for a job. (Read More)

Program to ease work transition could be continued

March 22 | Littleton Independent

A bill reauthorizing a transitional work program to help veterans, people over 50 in poverty and noncustodial parent find permanent work is swiftly moving through the Colorado House.

“Unemployment is 3.2 percent right now, which is really exciting,” said Rep. Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), who is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo). (Read More)

 

Bill to Watch: HB 1290

March 22 | noodls

Despite declining unemployment rates, many Coloradans – particularly older workers who were displaced by the economic downturn of 2008 – still struggle to find good jobs because their skills and experiences have become outdated since the Great Recession shook up the job market. (Read More)

Colorado ReHire programs has helped 700 people find jobs

February 18, 2016 | Colorado Gazette

John Moore, 55, was delivering pizzas in Colorado Springs to support his freelance photography when his car broke down, he lost his job and his housing.

“The next thing you know you are homeless and it happens just like that,” Moore said, snapping his fingers.  (Read More)

Jefferson County schools have big stake in Colorado budget talks

February 16, 2016 | Lakewood Sentinel

Jefferson County schools receive more than $300 million from the state to help pay for education. This year, the district is actually getting $9.1 million more, which sounds good until considering that “full” school funding would actually give Jeffco and additional $71 million this year. (Read More)

Kerr and Kraft-Tharp Attempted to Give Jeffco Voters a Voice

January 31. 2016 | SupportJeffcoKids.org

Senator Andy Kerr and Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp attempted to give a voice to the voters of Jefferson County but partisan politics eliminated our voice! We were extremely disheartened to see a potential Bill be immediately sent to the kill committee last week. Senate Bill 16-101, sponsored by Senator Andy Kerr and House Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp, would have created a school board ethics commission. (Read More)

“Old News”

2015:

2 Million a year to see the future

February 15, 2015 | The Denver Post, Editorial Board

Colorado has been ravaged by large and unpredictable wildfires and floods in recent years that have left death and destruction in their wake.

If we could rewind time and know 12 hours in advance what some of these monsters were going to do, could some of that damage have been prevented? Could lives have been saved? (Read more)

Legislation could add hours for warnings on fires, floods

January 21, 2015 | The Denver Post

Colorado state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, is drumming up support for a $10 million effort to better forecast wildfires and floods, which could save hundreds times more in property losses from any one single event by giving evacuees, firefighters and other early responders a big head start. The cost of natural disasters is compounded by the lives and scenic beauty they consume.  (Read more)

Colorado proposes ‘revolutionary’ fire and flood warning system, but money’s an issue

January 21, 2015 | Denver Business Journal

Colorado leaders are looking to establish a “revolutionary” wildfire- and flood-prediction system that could give public-safety officials accurate assessments of the disasters’ movements 12 hours before they occur.

To fund the system, which was developed from 20 years of studies by the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Legislature would be required to pass a bill introduced Tuesday that would put $10 million to the project over the next five years. (Read more)

Kraft-Tharp Aims for Bipartisan Teamwork

January 15, 2015 | Colorado Community Media

Looking ahead, Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D) said she’s excited to work collaboratively with others in the 2015 legislative session.

“We have a Republican majority senate, Democratic majority house and a Democratic governor who wants to be working together,” she said. “I believe that’s going to totally change how the legislature culture works.” (Read more)

 2014:

Colorado Economic Development Commission approves incentives for 257 new jobs

July 9, 2014 | Denver Business Journal

ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions will expand its Greenwood Village workforce by some 250 employees, and two other technology companies could bring another 390 combined jobs to the Front Range.

That’s thanks in part to incentives approved Wednesday by the Colorado Economic Development Commission (EDC). (Read more)

Generic drug pricing bill is bipartisan effort

July 5, 2014 | The Pueblo Chieftan

The term “bipartisan cooperation” seems like an oxymoron these days, with the national political parties far apart on many issues and the legislative process gridlocked in Washington, D.C.

But, as our work in the Colorado General Assembly shows, it is possible for Democrats and Republicans to work together on issues for the benefit of all our constituents. (Read more)

Representative focuses on jobs, suicide prevention

April 15, 2014 | Our Colorado News- Westminster Window

Serving as the vice chair on the business, labor, economic and workforce development legislative committee, Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp’s focus this session is promoting business and economics in her district, which encompasses parts of Arvada and Westminster, and in the state. (Read more)

State lawmakers reach halfway point

March 11, 2014 | Our Colorado News- The Arvada Press

We reached the halfway point of the 2014 legislative session and things have been very busy under the gold dome. I have been encouraged by the bipartisan support for a large number of the bills being advanced this session, and I have enjoyed working with my fellow legislators from both sides of the aisle. (Read more)

 

 2013:

Success from the session: 4 bill-signings worth a mention

June 10, 2013 | The Bell Policy Center

The official end to an extraordinarily productive legislative session came last week, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the final pieces of legislation that landed on his desk.

We didn’t want to let the moment pass without mentioning four bills that received little attention but that will have a big impact on students with dreams of college, working families, retail businesses and their employees and our economy. (Read more)

 

With mental health legislation stalled in Congress, states act

June 2, 2013 | Politico

States looking to address gun violence are overhauling mental health laws — and sometimes exposing rifts over how to best address the small but serious threat of violence.

There’s not much controversy among advocates when it comes to restoring funding that states had slashed during the economic lean years. But changing policies on involuntary commitment, or requiring therapists to report potentially dangerous patients, are stirring fears that well-intentioned policies could increase stigma and deter the very people who most need treatment from getting it. (Read more)

 

Bills on Jobs Among Promises Kept

May 30, 2013 | Our Colorado News – Print Edition Only

Gov. Hickenlooper Visits Durango to Sign Export Funding Act

May 24, 2013 | Pagosa Daily Post

Gov. John Hickenlooper visited Durango yesterday, May 22, to sign a bill to help boost Colorado businesses and create jobs.

HB13-1193, the Advanced Industries Export Accelerator Act, was sponsored by Reps. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) and Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada). It provides matching seed money, up to $15,000, to help qualifying Colorado businesses develop export operations. The program would include training and consultation services through the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (Read more)

Colorado to fund export-aid program for small business

May 23, 2013 | Denver Business Journal

Small- and medium-sized Colorado businesses hoping to sell more goods in other countries will have a new opportunity to do so. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Thursday creating an export-aid program under the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

House Bill 1193, sponsored by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada and Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, will set aside $300,000 for each of the next two years to fund the program. (Read more)

Hickenlooper signs mental health bills

May 22, 2013 | Our Colorado News – Arvada Press

The mood was celebratory at the Jefferson Center for Mental Health on May 16 as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two mental health bills into law.

“The Jefferson Center is proud to host the signing for these bills,” said Harriet Hall, Center president and chief executive officer. “This is place where we truly believe that recovery is possible and treatment works.”

The governor signed SB13-266 — Coordinated Behavioral Health Crisis Response — and HB13-1296 — Civil Commitments Task Force — with sponsors Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley) and Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D-Blackhawk) on hand as well. (Read more)

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two mental health bills into law at Jefferson Center

May 17, 2013 | The Denver Post – Your Hub

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two historic mental health bills into law May 16. The ceremony was held at Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the nonprofit community mental health center which serves Jefferson, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties and a first responder in 1999 following the shootings at Columbine High School. Last year, Jefferson Center served more than 19,000 individuals.

In his remarks, the Hickenlooper stated that the importance of these bills was to make sure, “people with mental health problems can get immediate help for themselves and for their loved ones struggling with mental health issues or substance use.” (Read more)

Theater attack prompts new Colo. mental health law

May 16, 2013 | The Denver Post

Days after a gunman entered a suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 moviegoers and injuring 70 others, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado health officials began talking about revamping a state mental health system that had been devastated by budget cuts.

On Thursday, the Democratic governor signed into law an expansion of mental health services in response to July’s Aurora shootings. By early next year, the state plans to establish walk-in crisis centers around Colorado, a 24-hour mental health hotline, and mobile units to travel to rural areas where access to mental health services is limited. (Read more)

Hickenlooper signs job-creation bills

May 13, 2013 | The Denver Business Journal

The theme of Monday’s bill signings might have been “The Day of Job Creation,” in a week that will be filled with such signings from the just-completed Colorado legislative session.

In the morning, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the only two bills extending state tax credits to come out of the 2013 General Assembly. In the afternoon, he signed the measure that expands eligibility for Medicaid — a change that one report said will create more than 22,000 new jobs in the state in the next 13 years. (Read more)

Colorado bills go a long way toward improving mental health care

May 7, 2013 | The Denver Post – The Idea Log (Opinion)

Colorado is at a critical moment in moving toward meaningful mental health reform. Time is running out on this year’s legislative session and House Bill 1296 and HB 1306 hold the promise of new policies that will set in motion changes in how mental health is treated in our communities. The potential is high for reforms to begin in order to alter the culture of denial and avoidance, and neglect and minimization of the consequences of under-treated or untreated mental health problems in our communities. (Read more)

Mental health overhaul heads to Hickenlooper

May 6, 2013 | KDVR

Senate Bill 266 drew bipartisan support, passing the House on a final vote of 44-21 Monday morning. The governor’s office and health officials began discussions on plans to increase mental health services within days of the July theater shootings. (Read more)

Expansion of mental health services passes House

May 6th, 2013 | Associated Press via The Denver Post

A proposal to expand mental health services in Colorado by establishing a crisis response system passed the state House and heads to the governor’s desk. The governor’s office and health officials began discussions on plans to increase mental health services within days of the July theater shootings. (Read more)

Bill to revamp Colorado mental health crisis response moves forward

April 30, 2013 |The Denver Post

A bill that outlines how to spend $20 million to create a new statewide crisis response system for mental health continues to move forward in the state legislature. Senate Bill 266, passed out of the House Public Health Care and Human Services committee on a 9-4 vote Tuesday. (Read more)

Business issues come fast and furiously as Legislature enters final weeks

April 22, 2013 | Denver Business Journal

Things come fast and furious in these last three weeks of the 2013 Colorado legislative session. Just today, four bills affecting businesses received approval from the House or Senate, including efforts to let defensively locked-out union workers receive unemployment benefits and to expand a tax break currently given to aircraft manufacturers. (Read more)

Colorado clarifying involuntary hold laws

April 17, 2013 | Health Policy Solutions

Colorado is the only state in the country where three separate laws govern the actions of police, emergency doctors, mental health and substance abuse experts  when patients appear to be a danger to themselves or others and need to be held against their will for 72 hours.

A new law winding its way through the legislature,HB 13-1296,  for the first time defines key terms related to involuntary holds including “danger to self or others” and what it means to be “gravely disabled” because of a mental health crisis.  (Read more)

Violence and mental health

April 12, 2013 | The Denver Post

With legislation already passed this year or in the works, Colorado will be taking major steps forward in addressing mental health in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Aurora last year.

We’re pleased to see these actions but urge lawmakers to proceed carefully on any proposals that could allow mental health professionals the ability to determine whether someone should have a gun. (Read more)

Colorado House passes eco-devo changes

April 9, 2013 | Denver Business Journal

Two major changes could be coming to theColorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) under bills passed Tuesday by the state House of Representatives.

Legislators voted 37-25 to reform the 27-year-old enterprise zone program, which is aimed at spurring business in economically disadvantaged areas. (Read more)

Measure would extend work program

April 8, 2013 | Our Colorado News

State lawmakers have voted to renew a rarely used program that gives struggling businesses an alternative to laying off employees.

Senate Bill 157, which has passed both chambers of the Democratic-controlled General Assembly on party-line votes, would extend the Colorado Work Share Program indefinitely. The program gives businesses the opportunity to keep their workers at reduced hours, rather than laying them off altogether. (Read more)

Aircraft firms’ tax credit gets support

April 8, 2013 | Our Colorado News

A bill that would expand tax incentives for the purpose of new hires in the state’s aviation field is flying through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

House Bill 1080 modifies the 2005 Aircraft Manufacturer New Employee Tax Credit, which provides a one-time $1,200 tax credit for a new employee hired by an aircraft manufacturer. (Read more)

Helping Colorado Companies to Go Global

April 8, 2013 | Colorado House Democrats

The House gave voice-vote approval today to the Advanced Industries Export Accelerator Act, part of the House Democrats’ package of bills to accelerate the state’s economy and connect more Coloradans to good jobs. (Read more)

Colorado house passes aircraft-business tax break

April 5, 2013 | Denver Business Journal

A once-controversial tax break for companies that refurbish and repair airplanes flew through the Colorado House on Friday, receiving its final approval by a vote of 61-2.

House Bill 1080, sponsored by state Reps.Chris Holbert, R-Parker, and Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, extends an existing $1,200-per-employee tax credit that can be taken by aircraft manufacturing companies that hire new workers. (Read more)

Colorado proposal could help draw back plane-maintenance jobs

April 5, 2013 | Denver Business Journal

An aircraft tax-break bill that’s flying through the Colorado Legislature may be the key to getting Frontier Airlines to bring maintenance jobs back to Colorado. (Read more)

Aviation Bill Could Bring Jobs

April 3, 2013 | Our Colorado News

A bill co-sponsored by a state legislator from Parker passed the House and is expected to boost job creation.

Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, was the driving force behind House Bill 1080, which provides tax credits for aviation companies involved in maintenance, repair and modification of aircraft. Introduced in January along with co-sponsor Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, the bill was passed on April 5. (Read more)

Aviation Jobs Bill Advances in the House

April 3, 2013 | Avinoics Intelligence

The Colorado State House Republicans issued the following news:

The House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bipartisan bill this morning that could create hundreds of jobs in Colorado’s aviation industry at zero cost to the state. (Read more)

Colorado’s Work Share Program Passes House

April 2, 2013 | KOAA

SB13-157, sponsored in the House by Reps. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs) and Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), will continue The Colorado Work Share Program created in 2010. The program offers employers an alternative to employee layoffs, allowing them to reduce the work hours of a group of employees instead. Employees then share the remaining work and collect prorated unemployment benefits to offset the reduction in income. (Read more)

Saving Colorado Jobs

April 1, 2013 | Colorado House Democrats

“This program has saved jobs in Colorado. Period,” Rep. Kraft-Tharp said. “There are Colorado businesses throughout the state that have used this program to prevent layoffs of more of our workforce. Anything we can do to ensure Coloradans keep their jobs, we must do.” (Read more)

Political power of women and Latinos on the rise

March 1, 2013 | Colorado Statesman

The rise of Latino political power is a seismic change that took centuries to build, according to former Rep. Gloria Leyba, who spoke at Tuesday’s 24th Annual Colorado Women’s Legislative Breakfast. (Read more)

Resolution is a brief break from brawling

February 28, 2013 | Our Colorado News

On the heels of a contentious week in the General Assembly that involved some heavy-duty debate on — you guessed it — gun-control issues, there came a moment where even the hardest of the hard-nosed legislators shared some … um, love? (Read more)

Tanning bill would impose age limits 

February 27, 2013 | Our Colorado News

House Bill 1215 would prohibit children 14 and younger from using artificial tanning devices, unless they have permission from a doctor. (Read more)

Economy is our no. 1 Focus

February 5, 2013 | Our Colorado News

We’re proud to represent our communities and Jefferson County in the state House of Representatives, which reconvened on Jan. 9. During the 120-day legislative session we will be working hard to protect families and businesses in Jeffco and across Colorado. (Read more)

Legislation would help Colorado industries enter international markets

February 4, 2013 | Colorado Springs Business Journal

The Colorado House of Representatives is considering a bill that seeks to create a comprehensive international export development program for advanced industries. (Read more)

Legislation would boost Colorado exports

February 1, 2013 | Denver Business Journal

Colorado would give grants and training to growing state companies that want to begin or expand exporting under a measure that’s expected to be introduced as early as Friday afternoon in the state House. (Read more)

Town hall addresses mental health

January 22, 2013 | Our Colorado News

Scott Winter of Arvada was a loving family man — a husband, father and brother — who “treasured life,” until the anguishes of depression and anxiety caused him so much pain that he just couldn’t take it any more, according to his wife, Jane. (Read more)

Easiest Path to Mental Health Funding May Be Medicaid Expansion

January 18, 2013 | Stateline

The recent mass killings in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown have sparked public conversations about the deficiencies in state-run mental health systems across the United States. But few states are poised to spend their own money to reverse as much as a decade of budget cutbacks in those areas. (Read more)

Rookie lawmakers get big voices, little glamour

January 12, 2013 | News 9

Almost a third of Colorado’s 100 state lawmakers are true freshmen; never having served in the legislature before.  One from each side of the aisle volunteered to help us get a glimpse into the inner workings of the Capitol during the legislative session. (Read more)

Jeffco legislators eager to tackle jobs, education

January 9, 2013 | Denver Post – Your Hub

The Colorado legislature got to work Jan. 9, and state lawmakers from Arvada and Westminster said education funding and job creation are among their top priorities this session. (Read more)

Legislature to look at issues new, old

December 31, 2012 | Our Arvada News

While many issues will return to this year’s legislative session — such as stimulating the economy, creating jobs and funding education — some legislators say gun control and mental health may take center stage. (Read more)