In 1893, Colorado became the second state in the country to allow women to vote (the first by popular vote). Women throughout our history have led Colorado and helped shape our state into the place it is today. And we know that electing women to public office results in laws that benefit women and families. Studies have shown women are more likely to sponsor bills in areas like civil rights, health, and education.
In 1894, the first three women legislators in the nation were elected to Colorado’s state legislature. Among them, Representative Carrie C. Holly was the first woman to introduce a bill. This bill, which became law after a contentious road through the Capitol, raised the age of consent for girls from 16 to 18. This is just one historic example, and in the 124 years since, women leaders in Colorado have improved our public schools, expanded health care, grown Colorado’s economy, and worked to protect our beautiful state. There currently are only six women serving as United States Governors. There have only ever been 39 women who have served as governors across our country. And here in Colorado, we have never had a woman governor.
Throughout my career I have worked to improve the lives of Colorado’s families and children in Colorado. As governor, I will continue to fight for working families. Here is how.
Paid Family Leave
Eighty-eight percent of Coloradans do not have paid leave to care for a seriously ill relative, welcome a new baby to their family, or recover from a personal illness. 43% of Coloradans do not have any paid sick time at all. The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not offer paid family leave. With Republicans in Washington still unwilling to fund the Child Health Insurance Program, it is clear that states will have to lead to improve working conditions for families. As governor, I will work to create a paid family leave program so that all Coloradans have the ability to care for a loved one and welcome a new child to the family. During my time as CFO and Deputy Mayor of Denver I pushed a proposal to provide paid leave for city employees. As governor, I will support legislation that creates a family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage-replacement benefits for people who need to care for a new child, care for a sick family member, or recover from an illness themselves.
In Colorado, women are paid 81 cents for every dollar men earn. The wage gap is even larger for women of color. Black women are paid 64 cents, Latinas are paid 54 cents, and Asian women are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to white men. This inequity is found all across the state and has been growing wider for women of color. It is unacceptable. As the CFO of Denver, I conducted a review of the staff who reported to me to ensure that we were paying people fairly for their work. When I found inequalities, I adjusted salaries to be equal. As governor, I plan to do the same. I will begin my term by conducting a review of equal pay conditions at the state and make adjustments as necessary.
In addition to advocating for family friendly legislation like paid family leave, I will support legislation addressing the pay equity gap. Colorado should:
- Reinstitute something similar to the Colorado Pay Equity Commission to study the problem and support employers and employees in understanding the pay equity gap.
- Ensure that all state contractors are in compliance with equal pay standards.
- Ensure that women are not discriminated against in the job application process by preventing employers from seeking salary history information unless the employer had provided a salary range for the open position. This prevents discriminatory payments from following a women throughout her career.
Local Preemption of Minimum Wage
Colorado voters overwhelmingly took a huge step forward with the passage of Amendment 70 which will raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. However, we know that cost of living varies dramatically in different parts of the state. Local communities should be allowed to vote to raise the minimum wage in their towns and cities. As governor, I will push for legislation that overturns the prohibition of local governments enacting minimum wage laws. A majority of minimum wage workers in Colorado are women. This is an issue of local control and economic justice. We must allow Colorado voters and communities the freedom to raise their minimum wage.
Preventing Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Assault
Everyone deserves a life free from sexual and gender violence and discrimination. One in five women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Nearly 1 in 2 women have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. One in six men experiences abusive sexual experiences before age 18. Half of transgender people are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. As Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement has made very clear – our current cultural norms and existing anti-harassment policies do not prevent widespread sexual harassment. Ending sexual harassment and exploitation requires shining a light, not only on abusers when they do harm, but also on the conditions that tolerate, or even encourage, abuse.
As Governor, I will support policies that follow these two principles:
- Changing the cultural norms that tolerate abuse
- Supporting survivors of harassment and abuse when they come forward, respect their choice on how to report, and protect their confidentiality.
Changing the Culture of Harassment at the Capitol:
Having a woman in the governor’s office means we won’t tolerate discrimination, sexual harassment or assault. As governor I will guarantee:
- Confidential reporting,
- A thorough investigation of all complaints,
- If there is wrongdoing, I will take strong action including publicly calling for the person to resign if necessary or if appropriate, terminating their employment.
As governor, I will conduct a survey of the conditions of sexual harassment and assault across all branches of state government. This information will help us update sexual harassment policies and enact a culture shift to prevent this behavior from continuing. We also need a nonpartisan, third party process that empowers legislators, employees across the three branches of government, interns and the general public access to safe reporting and thorough investigations.
Making College Campuses Safer:
One in five women experiences sexual assault while in college. The Trump Administration has rolled back important Title IX guidances issued to universities under the Obama administration. This action by the Trump Administration favors the accused by opening up opportunities for victim-shaming, allowing for investigations to drag on with no conclusion, and rescinding a victim’s right to appeal a decision. As governor, I will push for legislation that codifies the Obama-era guidance so we prevent the Trump administration from taking our state backwards and putting Colorado’s college students at risk.
Women in Colorado — and everywhere — need access to safe and effective sexual and reproductive healthcare, including access to the contraceptive method of their choice and abortion services.
I support a woman’s right to choose when and if she will continue her pregnancy. Reproductive rights are human rights and women must have autonomy over their bodies. Over 40 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court granted women this constitutional right in the historic Roe v. Wade case. This decision established that a woman’s Constitutional right to privacy covers her right to make personal medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion. Because of this landmark decision, women have had access to safe and legal abortion for most of my lifetime. Also for most of my lifetime, some have worked to limit women’s ability to make personal medical decisions. This has resulted in some women, mostly those with less means, having to deal with barriers to accessing the care they need.
Colorado has been a national leader in increasing the ability of women to plan for and decide when to become parents. Our state implemented a program that has made all contraceptive methods more widely available to women of all income levels, including long acting methods like IUDs and implants. Colorado’s investment in improving access to more types of birth control has reduced the the teen abortion rate by 64%, reduced unplanned pregnancies among teens by more than 50% and among those in their early 20s by a third.
Protecting and Expanding Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care
As governor, I will protect and expand access to sexual and reproductive health care. We cannot allow ideological extremists in DC to deny evidence and undermine public health successes by infringing upon a women’s right to choose in Colorado. If the federal constitutional guarantee that has been settled law for decades is overturned, it will be up to the states to protect that right. As governor, I will protect the right of all Coloradans to access the medical care they need — regardless of income — to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. I will oppose any legislation that attempts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care or abortion services. I will also fight to protect and improve Coloradans’ access to contraception.
Protecting and Expanding Coloradans’ Access to Contraception
Having the ability to choose to start a family when one is ready has social, economic, educational and health benefits for women and their families. Having access to contraception increases access to financial stability, higher education and career opportunities.
The Affordable Care Act included access to all forms of birth control as part of basic preventative health care, and without a copay. This allowed more women to choose what type of birth control works best for them. If Donald Trump succeeds in rolling the Affordable Care Act and its protections for women back, I will support legislation that protects this access in Colorado.
Even before the Affordable Care Act, Colorado passed legislation that prevents insurers from charging women more for the health coverage, and required insurers to cover contraception and maternity care. Women with private insurance are also now able to pick up a year of birth control at once. We can increase access by ensuring that all women have this opportunity, regardless of what type of insurance they have.
We must fight back. That is why I support policies that make sense, will help more people, and support access to sexual and reproductive health care for everyone.