Zenzinger focuses on economy, education

Sen. Rachel Zenzinger

Working at the state Capitol this legislative session has been quite the educational experience for Sen. Rachel Zenzinger.

Representing Senate District 19, which covers parts of Arvada and Westminster, Zenzinger pushes to have a positive impact on Colorado through her bills, while also taking the time to listen and learn from those around her.

“I think the best legislators acknowledge that they can’t possibly know all aspects of every issue, but the best ones are willing to take the time to listen and learn,” she said.

Although Zenzinger has about 10 bills she feels confident will make a significant impact, she said there are three in particular that have the most potential. Senate Bill 98, which was signed into law on April 7, helps protect elders from abuse. The bill establishes a new crime called “criminal exploitation of at-risk elders” which modifies mandatory elder-abuse reporting requirements and requires that local law enforcement is the first to be notified, rather than the district attorney.

House Bill 1079, sponsored by Zenzinger, helps make capital more readily available to businesses and has also been signed into law. The bill allows Colorado businesses to raise $5 million from limited registration public offerings, up from $1 million.

Senate Bill 124, currently being heard by the House, is the School Turnaround Leadership Development program, which creates an early childhood quality incentive program to enhance early childhood education. As the prime sponsor, Zenzinger said the bill helps schools under scrutiny improve performance.

“Heading into the session, I decided I wanted to focus on education, the economy, and the well-being of elders,” she said. “Coincidentally, they all begin with the letter E, so it became a sort of rallying cry, to improve the three E’s. Of course, my professional background is in education, so I felt like I could have the biggest impact there.”

To keep up with the hectic schedule at the Statehouse, Zenzinger relies heavily on the overall energy in the atmosphere and her adrenaline. She said she continues to remind herself of the big picture- representing her constituents in Senate District 19. To stay connected to her community, Zenzinger hosts regular town hall meetings, coffee meetings and she attends as many community events as her calendar allows.

“Sometimes members of the constituency come down to the capitol, and I have enjoyed having people shadow me,” she said. “But for the most part, I know the real people in charge, the ones I answer to, are outside the capitol, outside Denver, relying upon me to do the right thing for them at all times in the senate.”