Sep 12, 2019

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CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

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CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

Legislator’s love for her community reflected in her economic justice work

by | Sep 12, 2019

Note: Colorado Center on Law and Policy will honor Rep. Dominique Jackson with a Champions of Economic Justice Award during the sixth annual Pathways from Poverty Breakfast on Oct. 17. This year’s keynote speaker will be Mehrsa Baradaran, Esq., professor of law at University of California Irvine. Seats are limited, so register now

Rep. Dominique Jackson didn’t aspire to run for public office while growing up. Raised in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood in the 1960’s, the second-term Colorado District 42 legislator is intimately familiar with the struggles that she now works to mitigate statewide — especially in the realm of housing and economic security.

In fact, as a teenager, Jackson spent time being homeless, walking the streets of Denver and Aurora. That firsthand experience with poverty, she says, has made her viscerally understand what it means to live in a constant state of fear, panic and pain. “Life came quickly when I was growing up,” Jackson said. “I was mistreated by my landlord and ended up facing big housing challenges.”

“I realized that you can’t study for school, you can’t cook, you can’t bathe, can’t do anything without a stable and safe place to life that you can afford,” she recalled. “And honestly, until you walk in someone else’s shoes or go through that, you don’t have an understanding of those challenges.”

Because she has walked in those exact shoes, however, Jackson’s career as a legislator has been characterized by her deep understanding and compassion for those who struggle. This past year, Jackson championed House Bill 1118, researched and co-led by Colorado Center on Law and Policy and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, this bill gives tenants 10 days of notice prior to an eviction, up seven days from the previous notice period of just three days. Jackson worked tirelessly on the House floor to convince her colleagues that the bill was not only worthwhile, but fair, just and equitable.

Jackson’s passion for legislative work mirrors her community of Aurora. Her summers are spent giving back to the community and enjoying everything it has to offer. For example, in just one day this summer, Jackson started by giving away backpacks for kids going back to school, then attended the Aurora Pride Festival, then visited the African Market, then visited the Asian Pacific Development Center.

“My community is beautiful,” Jackson says earnestly. “There are more than 130-plus languages spoken at our public schools alone. We’re a beautiful community of people from all walks of life and socioeconomic levels that coexist together wonderfully. There’s no place like it.”

However, after three legislative sessions, Jackson has established herself in the House as someone who cares fully about the whole state, not just her own district. “This is my state. I care about the agricultural community deeply, the mountain and recreational communities deeply. Everyone is just trying to find an affordable place to live and that is something true in both rural and urban areas.”

To get a better sense of our state’s priorities, Jackson has taken the time to meet with people where they are statewide. In this way, she has figured out what and where certain issues matter most. From these visits, she’s gleaned concerns about the lack of hospitals in many rural communities, the tough transition to clean energy jobs, and the fear that comes from having dealt with a natural disaster.

“The essence of the issues is the same everywhere,” she said. “Every community just needs a different set of solutions and resources to address them, but as a Colorado community, we all struggle with the same things.”

Jackson feels passionately that every person in the legislature –from lobbyists, staff and community members — works together to create and pass every piece of legislation.

“We can all be on different sides, but as long as we try and talk to each other, we can find bits and pieces to make everyone understand,” she said. “All of us admire everyone else for the ability to do what we’re able to do. I don’t think many people understand how bipartisan our legislature truly is.”

Rep. Jackson sits on two House committees and the legislative council, so she understands the intersectionality of different issues. Her proudest moment from this past session was the Climate Action Plan bill (HB 1251), which she sponsored alongside Speaker of the House KC Becker.

“To have worked on a piece of legislation that will hopefully positively impact people’s lives long after I’m gone from the legislature is beautiful,” she said.

Yet, legislation alone doesn’t solve every issue.

“A win feels great, but that moment is really fleeting, and you have to immediately turn around and deal with something else. You give people the ladder, the rungs in the ladder are going to have to be built by everyone else. I’m not the expert here – the answers always rest in the community. Always.”

Outside of the legislature, Jackson is deeply committed to her own family. This summer, in fact, Jackson celebrated her husband’s remission from cancer. “My mother and my husband are my touchstones,” she says. “They keep me grounded outside the legislature.”

It’s no surprise that Representative Jackson is the 2019 legislative recipient of CCLP’s annual Champion of Economic Justice Award. To hear Jackson’s acceptance remarks, and to get a deeper look into groundbreaking economic and racial justice issues, RSVP now for our Pathways from Poverty Breakfast this October.

– By Duranya Freeman

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.