With more than 600 bills introduced in the Colorado statehouse this year, Douglas County’s representatives stayed busy throughout the 2023 legislative session.
All four of the county’s representatives, Rep. Brandi Bradley, R-Douglas County, Rep. Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock, Rep. Anthony Hartsook (R-Parker) and Rep. Bob Marshall, D-Highlands Ranch, were first-year legislators who all together passed 24 bills.
Here’s a look at what each legislator did:
Rep. Bob Marshall
As the only Democrat from Douglas County, Marshall introduced legislation for veterans’ issues, teacher pay, increasing county commissioner numbers, and restricting law enforcement from political activities in uniform.
Marshall said he’s proud to have been able to shepherd a bill that will expand property tax exemption for veterans with disabilities.
“That was kind of a lay-up once I brought it up,” Marshall said. “To me, it was about equity and respect.”
He also highlighted that he fought for a budget supplement that would fund veterans’ groups that honor fallen soldiers with things like flags for their families.
“We rolled the (joint budget committee), which I didn’t realize was such a big thing,” Marshall said.
Of his introduced legislation, Marshall said he is disappointed that his bills to provide a teacher stipend for classroom supplies, to increase county commissioner boards in large counties from three to five seats, and to restrict uniformed law enforcement from participating in certain political activities were not successful this session.
“I didn’t realize how hard a lot of this stuff is,” he said. “With hindsight and now knowing how the whole process works, I’m actually pretty impressed with what I did.”
Marshall said he plans to bring the law enforcement and county commissioner bills, or something similar, back to the statehouse next session. He added that he’s considering bringing legislation to align metro district election schedules with state elections.
Rep. Brandi Bradley
Legislation sponsored by Bradley ranged from healthcare bills, such as prohibiting minors from COVID vaccines without parental consent and requiring higher education facilities to keep epi-pens on hand, to land use and education.
Bradley said her biggest accomplishments regarding legislation this year were passing bills to allow Chatfield State Park to collect use fees to maintain water quality, put epi-pens in higher education facilities, and prohibition on selling over-the-counter diet pills to people under 18.
She also highlighted a bill that will address child support payments.
“We passed some great bipartisan legislation,” Bradley said.
As a member of the minority party in the statehouse, Bradley said one of her biggest frustrations this session is the budgeting priorities.
“The most disappointing thing is the way we spend money and we don’t put toward the people who need it the most, like our teachers and our kids,” she said.
Of her legislation that was not successful this year, Bradley said she had really hoped to pass her bills preventing minors from getting the COVID vaccine without parental consent, and to restrict trans athletes from competing as their identified gender.
However, she said she doesn’t plan to bring the bills back next year.
One bill that Bradley does plan to retry focuses on preventing certain foreign governments, such as China and Russia, from owning farmland or water rights. She said other legislation she’s considering for the next session looks at school safety and mental health.
“How can we as a state look at funding (school resource officers) in every school and getting better mental health resources in our schools,” Bradley said.
Rep. Lisa Frizell
With a background as Douglas County’s former assessor, Frizell sponsored several bills aimed at property tax reduction and affordable housing, as well as some legislation on healthcare and education.
Two of Frizell’s successful bills will allow municipalities and counties to reduce their property tax rates to provide homeowners with some relief and creates property tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations purchasing land for affordable housing.
“I’m very proud of (the tax exemption) because we did a lot of stakeholding on that,” Frizell said, adding that she worked with Habitat for Humanity and community land trusts. “I would love to see us really launch off of this and have more conversation in the House and the Senate.”
However, Frizell also introduced legislation that would have capped this year’s property tax increase, but the bill didn’t pass because of different plans from Gov. Jared Polis to address skyrocketing property taxes this year.
“I’m disappointed the majority party did not take my property tax bill seriously,” she said. “This is something that we should have come together on. This is a bipartisan issue.”
Next year, Frizell hopes to build on her affordable housing success and introduce legislation to incentivize special districts, like school and fire districts, to offer land for affordable housing projects.
She said she doesn’t currently plan to bring back any of her failed bills from this session.
Rep. Anthony Hartsook
Hartsook introduced legislation targeting healthcare, small businesses, and veterans in his first session.
When he reflects on his efforts, Hartsook said he’s proud of passing bills that will require health insurance to cover prosthetic devices for recreational use and to lower healthcare fees for small businesses.
“In the military, I was used to seeing veterans who lost limbs in combat have both a work prosthetic and an activity one and the fact that that wasn’t available to kids was dumbfounding to me,” he said. “So I was very proud to sponsor that legislation and help kids get out there and live life and have fun.”
One bill he sponsored this year that Hartsook plans to bring back would limit the governor’s executive authority powers in an emergency, such as during the covid pandemic.
“If the governor thinks (a situation) is so bad then he should call the legislature back into session and tell us to find a solution and then we could do our jobs representing the people,” he said.
Another bill Hartsook would like to re-introduce would require health insurance to cover biomarker testing to help patients determine treatment.
Hartsook said he’s considering other legislation around healthcare fees in the future but wants to allow for market adjustment to this year’s changes first.