Democrat Liz Rosenbaum is in the running to represent Colorado House District 21. Rosenbaum, a military wife and mother, is the founder of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition and is an outspoken critic of PFAS chemicals found in local drinking water supplies.
What is your top issue for the next legislative session, and how do you plan to fix it?
Rosenbaum: Protecting our health and rights. We need to change the statute of limitations for litigation from contaminations from 2 to 5 years. In the Fountain Valley communities, we have had to deal with over 5 major contaminations from industrial and federal polluters. Many of the health effects resulted in auto-immune diseases which take 3-5 years to diagnose (figure out) and then successfully treat. IF we have health insurance. This last contamination there was a rush to compile the necessary information and clients for a class-action lawsuit. Litigation is not always the answer. This is why I am also working on preventative measures to stop future contaminations. Before 2016 we did not have any laws to break, just short-timed litigation, and then waiting for the next round of pollutants. If you are injured in a motor vehicle crash, you have 3 years to file a lawsuit. It is time to do better for ourselves.
How can the legislature address the state's housing and cost of living issues?
Affordability Index uses the value of 100 to represent the position of someone earning a population's median income, with values above 100 indicating that an item is less likely to be affordable and values below 100 indicating that an item is more affordable. And this is the basis of reading the trends for affordable housing. Grocery store workers used to be able to afford a home loan here in El Paso County, and now this opportunity is completely gone because wages are not keeping up with the cost of living. Grants from the state are needed: Companies accepting grants from any government entity is and should be subjected to caps in monthly rent, and these types of affordable housing communities are critical for assisting people out of homelessness or other devastating situations so they can get onto a path of success. Having affordable housing mixed into other types of housing is shown to provide the best success for people moving into areas of struggle into success.
When a private company funds their own building of apartment complexes, townhomes, and housing developments, they will adjust the prices according to what people can afford in that specific area. The struggle for medium-priced homes is a result of many factors such as builders stopped building because it was harder to get local employees and immigrant construction workers were not available. Builders will build if there are buyers. We need to protect working families so they stay working safely (during COVID) and the free market will balance out. We need to entice companies to offer a living wage to our workers, so they can afford to live here. The Plan would be we need to get people back to safe work environments, able to afford health care, paid family leave, expendable incomes to save for a home's down payment and a grant for 1st time home buyers. We have done these programs before, and the results were very successful in Colorado. For example, Colorado housing and finance authority can offer forgivable 1st time home loan programs with low interest rates again like they did for Teachers and First Responders.
Right now we are good with low interest rates, but with people not being able to pay their mortgages this summer, foreclosings are increasing, current projections indicate an astounding rate of 37% of people are going to lose their homes, working families with children in schools are going to be homeless because of the four-month forbearance with the grace period gone, the entire amount is now due, families cannot accomplish these extreme costs. The missed payments need to be moved to the end of the mortgage as an extension. If we do nothing, our housing market crash will be larger than 2009 and we haven't recovered from that disaster yet.
Should COVID-19 be handled more at a local level or from a top-level approach in the state?
This pandemic should have never gotten to the point of 200,000 Americans losing their lives because of inaction at the federal government level. International news sources were already reporting in early January of a pandemic and our state didn’t have a stay at home order until March 13th. It is difficult for individual states to set up a response when the main federal government failed on day one. Our state’s saving grace were several critical life-saving decisions: Stay at home, Safer at home and the big outdoors, and Protect your neighbor. Wearing a mask in public is one of the simplest asks to protect our health and our vulnerable loved ones. Fortunately, the majority of Coloradans understood this and our state has been able to have the lowest infections and deaths compared to other states’ percentages. This school year is already starting out as a struggle, with extreme disadvantages to people who rely on dual incomes for their families and single-parent homes, access to broadband, students and staff on forced quarantine after only one week of school being in session, and not enough child care options even exist. Next legislative session is going to be a bigger struggle than 2010 ever was to us. And our kids will again, take the biggest hits and none of this is their fault.