Only midway through her second term representing House District 5 in central Denver, Crisanta Duran is chairwoman of the legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee. The bicameral committee executes a core function of the state government — to prepare its annual budget, which by law must be balanced.
Rep. Duran’s signal achievement during the 2013 session was enactment of a law making the in-state tuition rate at state colleges and universities in Colorado available to all students, regardless of immigration status, who graduate from high school in Colorado after attending for at least three years. To qualify, students who lack legal immigration status would also have to seek United States citizenship.
She also sponsored a high-profile bill revamping sex education in the public schools, with the goal of helping prevent unintended pregnancy in teens and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Rep. Duran’s bill extending benefits for unemployed Coloradans while they learn new workforce or entrepreneurial skills was one of the few jobs bills from either party to make it through the Republican-controlled House in 2012.
Rep. Duran graduated from Arvada West High School with honors and earned a scholarship to attend the University of Denver, where she earned a B.A. with a double major in public policy and Spanish. She went on to law school at the University of Colorado, where she was elected president of the Student Bar Association and the Latino Law Student Association.
After graduating from law school, she went to work for the 21,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, where she fought for better-paying jobs and access to quality healthcare. Rep. Duran currently has her own legal practice.
Rep. Duran has been president of the Colorado Young Democrats, served on the boards of La Raza and Democrats Work, and held posts in Women for Obama and the Latino Vote Steering Committee, Progressive Majority, and New Era Colorado. She was a delegate to the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions.
Recently she has received awards from the Colorado Alliance for Retired Americans, Metropolitan State University of Denver, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization, the Denver Women’s Commission, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Planned Parenthood, the Denver Democrats, the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, the University of Colorado Alumni and Health Care for All of Colorado.