State legislators honored by Women’s Lobby

Three earn perfect marks for voting records on women-focused priority bills

Three legislators in the Colorado State House of Representatives were honored by the Women’s Lobby of Colorado for a perfect voting record on priority issues affecting women in the state.
State Reps. Jerry Frangas, D-Denver, Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, and Su Ryden, D-Aurora, earned a perfect score from the Women’s Lobby for the votes they cast on 13 bills representing a range of women’s issues. There were no Senate members receiving a perfect score this year. A legislative scorecard, tracking the votes of Colorado legislators, revealed how legislators weighed in on women’s issues during the 2010 session.

Lorena Garcia, right, introduces state Rep. Su Ryden to the audience at the Women’s Lobby of Colorado event celebrating Women, Politics, and Art at the Soiled Dove Underground on Aug. 24. Ryden was one of three legislators honored for a perfect voting record on priority issues affecting women.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
Exhibiting artist Bill Gian of Evergreen and board organizer Joy Athanasiou join with another couple, painted by Gian.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
Emily Arell and Katherine Strode greet visitors to the Women’s Lobby of Colorado’s art event at the Soiled Dove.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
Exhibiting artists Pat Finley and Terese Coco partake in fine friendship and food.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
Board member Jacy Montoya-Price is the proud mama of 2-month-old Hugo, who is experiencing his first art exhibit this evening.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
Budding art connoisseur Lilly Lovato of Denver studies a catalog at artist Bill Gian’s display.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman
State Rep. Joe Miklosi, left, chats with Women’s Lobby of Colorado supporter Jake Williams.
Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman

The three lawmakers were honored at the Women’s Lobby annual event celebrating Women, Politics, and Art (WoPo) at the Soiled Dove Underground on August 24. The event also featured multi-media art showcased by women about women and the political issues they face. Local artists and musical acts contributed to the ambience of the evening for the mostly women audience. 

This is the second consecutive year the Women’s Lobby has compiled legislative scores on women’s issues. Each member of the state legislature was scored on bills that were considered priority issues by the Women’s Lobby of Colorado, its member organizations, or coalition partners.

Among the legislation supported by Frangas, Pace, and Ryden were bills which: capped interest rates on payday loans, created gender equity in private insurance rates, provided insurance coverage for maternity care and mammograms, removed barriers for obtaining ID documents, established work share programs, prohibited the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, established a commission on pay equity, and promoted state earned income tax credits for families living at the poverty standard. While 40 per cent of votes on issues of concern to women were bi-partisan, slightly more than half did divide along party lines. Male legislators continued to lag behind women legislators in voting on women’s issues however. The average score for male legislators averaged 61 percent — 16 percent less than the average score for female legislators which was 77 percent. 

“We still have a ways to go to make women’s issues a top priority for all elected officials,” said Chaer Robert, co-chair of the issues committee for the Women’s Lobby.

Eleven bills supported by the Women’s Lobby of Colorado were signed into law. Two other bills, which supported safe cosmetics and paid employee accrued sick time, died in committee. Robert claims passage of House Bill 1008, sponsored by Rep. Sue Schafer, as one of the Women’s Lobby greatest accomplishments in the 2010 session. Robert, who testified in support of the bill said, “The Women’s Lobby fought to ensure that insurance companies will no longer be allowed to charge women more than men for the exact same health insurance policies for individuals. Being a woman can no longer be considered a pre-existing condition and women in the individual insurance market will save up to 40 percent on their health insurance policies.” 

The legislator with the lowest rating on women’s issues was state Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, with a score of 8 percent. Rep. Kent Lambert, also a Republican from El Paso County, had the lowest voting rating in the House, with a score of 23 percent.     

The Women’s Lobby of Colorado seeks to provide better opportunities for women in our state by ensuring that public policies reflect gender equity and justice. By consistently maintaining a daily lobbying presence at Colorado’s capitol, the all-volunteer organization has kept the needs of women front and center in the state’s public policy debates for more than a decade.

The Lobby is comprised of about a dozen and a half organizations, including 9to5, National Association of Working Women; Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights; the Colorado Bar Association; Denver Women’s Commission; Girls Inc. of Metro Denver; League of Women Voters of Colorado; NARAL ProChoice of Colorado; Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; The White House Project, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, and others.

To view the 2010 legislative Scorecard, go to the group’s website, www.coloradowomenslobby.org.