Reducing Emissions Across the Colorado Economy

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Colorado State Senator Chris Hansen introduced Senate Bill 23-016 which will help the state achieve emission reduction goals through a comprehensive approach addressing many sectors of the climate crisis. The bill activates every part of the economy to mitigate the climate crisis, incentivizing action from individuals, businesses, and state regulators. 

The bill advances bold greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals and provides incentives to reach them, such as a 33% tax incentive for individuals to transition to electric lawn equipment and a new authority of the energy and carbon management commission to promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Colorado. 

The bill also establishes a requirement of the Air Quality Control Commission to establish a first-of-its-kind fee/ton on GHGs, a requirement of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to consider and prioritize transmission line upgrades, and a requirement of the Public Employees Retirement Association to describe its climate-related investment risks, impacts, and strategies.

In addition, the legislation promotes renewable energy, including the recovery of wastewater thermal energy by allowing it to be included in utilities clean heat plans, a clause to prevent Home Owner Associations (HOAs) from disallowing heat pump systems, and a new fee for utilities if they are slow to interconnect distributed generation sources (e.g., rooftop solar systems).


The bill will be successful if Colorado is on track to meet its emission reduction targets measured against its next interim target (26% reduction from 2005 levels by 2025). Also, if the state reaches its EPA ozone attainment levels, if there is additional transmission capacity added to existing lines to create a more resilient grid, and if we see geothermal, heat pump, and CCS projects built throughout the state.

Middle Income Housing Authority (MIHA)

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Colorado Senator Jeff Bridges’ advanced legislation to created the Middle Income Housing Authority (MIHA), an innovative tool to drive the development of affordable housing for middle-income folks. Colorado faces an acute shortage of “missing middle” housing, housing that is many working families, such as nurses, teachers, and firefighters. The program provides market-based incentives to leverage private capital and minimizes government investments. 

By treating middle-income housing like the infrastructure investment it is, MIHA represents a significant shift in addressing affordable housing by using a market-oriented approach driven by public-private partnerships. By leveraging tax-free municipal bonds and social impact investors, MIHA reduces reliance on government financing and creates a sustainable and scalable model that reinvests all profits into additional affordable housing. 

MIHA aims to increase the supply of rental housing. While developers may get a higher return by building market-rate housing, they pay significant taxes on those returns. By allowing access to the same kinds of tax-free bonds used to finance other infrastructure investments, developers using tax-free bonds for MIHA projects will see roughly equal returns. This drives investment in middle-income housing without competing for government dollars that should go toward low-income housing subsidies.


Success will be measured by the number of affordable housing units built for middle-income earners, especially in our mountain resort communities and in gentrifying neighborhoods where long-established communities are being pushed out by increased housing costs. While currently focused on rental housing, the success of this unique financial model should allow for the construction of for-sale MIHA housing as well. Over the next two years the initial six projects representing several hundred new housing units will demonstrate what works best, where it works, and why it works. The long term goal is to show a measurable decrease in the number of middle-income individuals and families across Colorado who are cost burdened, alongside a measurable increase in the supply of housing units that are affordable for those families.

Connecticut Pension Reform

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

The Connecticut State Comptroller, Sean Scanlon, oversees the municipal pension plan covering workers in 107 of Connecticut’s 169 towns. To address major financial challenges that resulted in costs going up for towns and cities in the plan by 75% in the previous 5 years, the office convened a working group of Democrats, Republicans, labor, and management to tackle the issues. Over six weeks of in-person collaboration, the working group developed and reached an agreement on a series of win-win reforms that both labor and management could support and that would save millions this year and $740 million over the next 30 years.


Scanlon believes that the data and numbers will demonstrate the effort’s impact. Towns began realizing some savings on July 1, 2023 but the bulk of savings will begin in 2025 and happen over the next 30 years.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg Provides Mental Health Training to Address Trauma

Texas: San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is addressing violence and trauma by providing more mental health training in the community. In response to the growing need for mental health resources, the city partnered with the local college district to launch Compassionate USA to deliver free training for residents to provide support and resources to neighbors. The primary goal of Compassionate USA is to decrease violence while healing trauma. 

Delegate Brooke Lierman: New Infrastructure Plans Rolling Out

Following the signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, NewDEALers are poised to lead in directing investments to long-overdue projects that will impact the economic vitality of their communities. Many NewDEAL Leaders are already taking action on these priorities. Delegate Brooke Lierman’s Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act overcame a gubernatorial veto and is set to eliminate the state’s $2 billion public transportation maintenance backlog by spending nearly half a billion dollars each year for repairs and enhancements. In Nevada, Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft celebrated the groundbreaking of a long-awaited bridge project which first received federal funding in the 1990s. “This bridge is an important transportation element and it is also critical for emergency responders,” Naft said. Elsewhere, the Boston Council approved newly-elected Mayor Michelle Wu’s $8 million plan for three of the city’s bus lines to go fare-free, an important step towards making the city’s transportation equitable and accessible. The program will utilize federal funding, and early numbers suggest that ridership will be significantly boosted by the measure.

Senator Sarah McBride: New Bill Seeks to Set Digital Literacy Standards

A recent Stanford University survey of American high school students found that 96% lacked the skills to judge the reliability of online information. This sobering finding, combined with the increasing role misinformation has played in American political division, inspired NewDEALer Delaware Senator Sarah McBride to introduce legislation to require Delaware’s Department of Education to set “evidence-based media literacy standards” to be incorporated into learning plans. The legislation has passed both the House and the Senate and awaits the Governor’s signature. McBride hopes the new standards will allow “educators to really address these two significant, insidious problems: a mental health crisis exacerbated by online bullying and a democratic crisis fostered by disinformation, misinformation.” The new curriculum is intended to help students identify credible sources of information, foster positive social media behavior, and identify techniques of online manipulation. Read more about this important issue, and how Delaware is tackling it, here.

Mayor Justin Bibb: Cleveland’s Infrastructure

Over the last several weeks, NewDEAL Leader Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has announced a series of impactful investments in his community seeking to expand broadband access and revitalize large sections of his city. This week, Bibb announced a public-private partnership that would bring internet access to an estimated 29,000 homes over the next 18 months. Last week, he announced a $21 million investment of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for a Waterfront Activation Fund that will support nine projects along the city’s shores, and, in April, he announced plans to devote more of the city’s federal aid to turn “thousands of acres” of brownfields into development-ready land. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced infrastructure funds dedicated to the replacement of aging train and commuter rail cars. Read more about Mayor Bibb’s agenda here.

Senator Eddie Melton: Bipartisan Bill Revitalizes Gary, IN

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed SEA 434 – an innovative economic development bill sponsored and championed by NewDEAL Leader Indiana Senator Eddie Melton – into law this week. Senate Enrolled Act 434, which was introduced by Senator Melton back in January, matches new gaming revenue with local dollars for economic investments in the Lake County region. With these funds, the bill establishes the Lake County Convention and Economic Development Fund; creates the Blighted Property Demolition Fund to address the over 6,000 abandoned properties in the region; and invests in the revitalization of the Gary Metro Station to meet the goals of the state’s Double Tracking project. “SEA 434 represents new beginnings and opportunities for the people of Gary who have long been ready for change,” Senator Melton expressed at the bill’s signing. SEA 434 represents a pragmatic, bipartisan win for Melton and for all of Indiana, with the bill passing by a 49-1 vote.

Minority Leader Anthony Daniels: Historic Tax Reform Benefiting Alabama’s Workforce

NewDEAL Leader Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels has spearheaded key changes in Alabama’s tax structure. His groundbreaking legislation, was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, garnering 103 affirmative votes in the Republican supermajority state. House Bill 217 eliminates the state’s 5% income tax on overtime pay for Alabama’s hourly workers to not only incentivize overtime work but also provide an invaluable retention tool for businesses grappling with the tight labor market. Daniels praised the passage of the law, noting it as a crucial element of his ‘Plan for Prosperity’ — a strategic legislative agenda designed to uplift Alabamians amid economic uncertainty and inflation.

Mayor Aftab Pureval: New Cincinnati Budget Prioritizes Housing, Fiscal Responsibility

NewDEAL Leader Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval’s $523 million budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year was unanimously passed by the City Council. The budget invests in several housing initiatives, including rental assistance, eviction counsel, code enforcement, and a new pilot rental rehabilitation loan program. The budget also includes money for three groundbreaking programs aimed at realizing equitable financial opportunities for all residents: a medical debt relief program, a child savings account initiative, and a guaranteed income pilot program. Importantly, the city is planning for a future without federal assistance, eyeing additional revenue sources and responsible budget cuts that will ensure a smooth transition as COVID-era assistance ends. Read Mayor Pureval’s letter to the Council about his budget here.