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Hickenlooper talks jobs, immigration and Las Vegas

October 4, 2017 Updated: October 4, 2017 at 7:41 pm
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photo - Gov. John Hickenlooper and much of his Cabinet talked about jobs, healthcare, immigration and Las Vegas at a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Commerce City Civic Center. (Photo by Joey Bunch, ColoradoPolitics.com)
Gov. John Hickenlooper and much of his Cabinet talked about jobs, healthcare, immigration and Las Vegas at a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Commerce City Civic Center. (Photo by Joey Bunch, ColoradoPolitics.com) 

Gov. John Hickenlooper and much of his Cabinet talked about jobs, healthcare, immigration and Las Vegas at a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Commerce City Civic Center.

"As a state we're doing great, all the gross indictors say so," Hickenlooper told the crowd of about 250.

Hickenlooper added that not everyone is enjoying that prosperity, however, an issue he hopes to address in his last 14 months before he is term-limited out of office.

Colorado has been one of the top 5 states for job creation since 2012, according to numerous reports.

"That doesn't count for much if it's not giving everyone a fair shot," the governor said.

Infrastucture is a great need to allow the state to grow, but legisaltors in the last session could not agree on allowing a vote.

Hickenlooper said he thought a sales tax would have passed to pay for roads, bridges and transit statewide, if residents had been given the chance to decide.

He also said he hoped to make strides to improve schools, to make sure every kid "gets a shot at a great eduction."

Hickenlooper said he wants to give Colorado a cleaner environment,and increasingly affordable renewable energy will help make that possible.

The governor also said now is the time for leaders and citizens to speak up about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which President Trump said he would phase out in six months.

"I think now is the time for action and for people to communicate in forceful terms with our members in Congress," Hickennlooper said.

He added, "Most of the kids this is the only home they've ever known, and it's hard to imagine sending them back to a home they've never known."

Several people asked for the govenor's help on immigration issues.

"I don't think it's that hard, but it's so hard in this day and age to get Congress do do anything," the governor said.

Hickenlooper defended his decision not to pardon Ingrid Encalada Latorre, the Peruvian mother of two children who took sanctuary in a Denver church for five months to avoid deportation.

Latorre was convicted of felony identity theft, whose victim "went through Hell," said Hickenlooper, who said he met with the victim before making a decision.

"It's one of the hardest things I've had to deal with," Hickenlooper said.

The governor talked about labor laws that allow cash payments, which some employers abuse to cheat workers, an issue that brought out dozens of protetesters.

"Paying people under the table is not acceptable," the governor told the protesters.

He said it was difficult to catch offenders, and cash payments are not illegal in most cases. Protesters called it an "underground economy."

Hickenlooper opened the 90-minute town hall by expressing sympathy for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, recalling Colorado's experience with the Aurora theater shooting in 2012.

"It affects everyone in a community," Hickenlooper said. "Our hearts and prayers are with everyone out in Las Vegas."

Hickenlooper was joined by Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, who doubles as the state's chief operating officer.

Lynne said while attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act had failed, the Childrens Health Insurannce Program, or CHIP, is in peril to care for the children of low-income families in Colorado.

"We have another very real threat in front of us," Lynne said.

Hickenlooper and Lynne held a town hall on healthcare in Aurora in August, as Hickenlooper was beginning his push with Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich on a bipartisan plan to present the Congress. A month after the town hall, Lynne announced her plan to run for governor.

Lynne was an executive with Kaiser Permanente before Hickenlooper chose her for the job last year.

"Health care is a right, not a privilege," Hickenlooper said to applause in Aurora in August. "But before you clap too loudly, we are spending more and more of our resources on health care. We as a society have to come together and make hard choices."

In April the duo held a town hall meeting in Lamar to talk about agriculture, higher education, transportation, economic development and other concerns in southeast Colorado. Hickenlooper held a town hall with Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, along with Rep. Scott Tipton, after touring the Gold King Mine spill in southwest Colorado in August.

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