Oct 18, 2022 - News

How the 8th District candidates' legislative records compare

Photo illustration of state Rep. Yadira Caraveo and state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer with a halftone dividing line

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos courtesy of the campaigns of Rep. Yadira Caraveo and state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer

Unlike the case in many races, the two candidates vying for the new 8th Congressional District voted on the same issues as state lawmakers, providing a clear contrast for voters.

Why it matters: Their votes offer a glimpse at where the candidates stand and what they might prioritize in Washington.

Driving the news: Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo and Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer split largely on a partisan basis in their years at the statehouse, though they voted the same way on several occasions.

  • Caraveo has served since January 2019, while Kirkmeyer has served since 2021.

Here's a look at several prominent bills and where the candidates stood on measures that advanced through the Democratic-controlled Colorado legislature.

On criminal justice:
  • Caraveo supported a 2019 law that reduced criminal penalties for possession of drugs, including fentanyl, and this year backed House Bill 1326 to reverse the policy and allow felony charges for smaller amounts of the substance. Kirkmeyer didn't serve in the legislature in 2019. She opposed the 2022 law because it didn't go far enough to increase penalties for fentanyl possession.
  • When it came to providing millions more for police, both lawmakers supported Senate Bill 145 to provide $30.5 million in grant programs for state law enforcement. The budget provided millions more for policing, but most Republicans in the Legislature, including Kirkmeyer, voted against the annual spending bill.
On education:
  • Both supported House Bill 1330, which provides $49 million for colleges and schools for students seeking to complete their education or vocational training to improve their chances of getting higher wages. Kirkmeyer was a sponsor for this bill.
  • Both supported House Bill 22-1010, which created a refundable tax credit for early childhood educators earning up to $75,000, giving them between $750 to $1,500 for teachers depending on their classification. Kirkmeyer was a prime sponsor for this bill.
On health care issues:
  • Caraveo co-sponsored House Bill 1279 earlier this year to codify abortion access--a key issue this election year-- in Colorado. Kirkmeyer, who opposes abortions in most instances, voted no on the bill.
  • Colorado voters approved a paid family leave program in 2020 and Caraveo served as a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 251 in 2021 to provide money to help launch the program. Kirkmeyer voted no.
On the environment:
  • Kirkmeyer voted no on House Bill 1244 earlier this year, which requires the state to target additional pollutants recognized by the federal government but not directly regulated by it, according to CPR News. Caraveo supported the bill.

What they're saying: "Education equals opportunities, so these bills were important for that reason," Kirkmeyer told Axios Denver about bills she supported. "Being able to move our state forward and being able to work across the aisle in the manner that I've been able to is just important."

The other side: "I'm proud of my efforts that have cut prescription drug costs, provided paid family medical leave, and ended unfair tax cuts for the wealthiest among us to help unburden hardworking families," Caraveo said in a statement.

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