Marianne Goodland

Sagebrush rebellion rekindled in Colorado

The Colorado Statesman

Colorado’s legislature has jumped into the middle of the West’s renewed Sagebrush rebellion, with the state Senate this week debating whether Colorado should take a bigger hand in managing its federally-owned public lands.

But opponents fear what that would mean for everyone who uses them.

One year ago, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy squared off against agents of the federal Bureau of Land Management. Bundy refused to pay about $1 million in grazing fees for his cattle to graze on public land, fees that had accrued over a 20-year period.

Final budget is on governor's desk

The Colorado Statesman

It’s now up to Gov. John Hickenlooper to give his final say on the 2015-16 state budget.

The $26.4 billion budget, as contained in Senate Bill 15-234, got its final approval from the Senate Friday. The vote was to accept the compromise version proposed by the Joint Budget Committee, acting as the bill’s conference committee. The budget was re-passed on a 31-2 vote, with Sens. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder and Matt Jones, D-Louisville, voting no. The House had voted on the compromise on Thursday, re-passing the bill on a 45-20 vote.

House ‘Coup’ Fails

The Colorado Statesman

House Republicans attempted to challenge the authority of Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, on Wednesday morning. It was a procedural move that long-time Capitol observers said they’d never seen before.

The move came during the reading of the previous day’s House Journal. The Tuesday journal contained the report of the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee from its Monday marathon hearing.

Hullinghorst threatens remodel of defects bill

House could dump SB 177, offer substitute measure
The Colorado Statesman

With the major construction defects reform legislation now in the House, the heat is on the speaker of the House to put the bill into something other than the “kill committee.” And that pressure is mounting from both sides of the aisle.

But the House may turn the whole discussion on its head, by introducing its own bills on affordable housing and construction defects, possibly as soon as next week.

Budget heading back to JBC

The Colorado Statesman

The House finished its work on the 2015-16 budget Thursday, returning it to the Joint Budget Committee to work out differences with the Senate version.

But last-minute drama could have sent the budget back $20 million out of balance.

The annual budget bill passed on a 45-20 vote Thursday morning. Eleven Republicans voted for the 2015-16 budget along with the House’s 34 Democrats.

The day before, the House went on a bit of spending spree, approving a dozen amendments to the $26.4 billion budget.

Long bill hits House

The Colorado Statesman

Battle lines are being drawn in the House over the annual budget bill, with some of the same disagreements over priorities as was seen in the Senate last week.

The House Appropriations Committee this morning reviewed the Long Appropriations Bill, Senate Bill 15-234, and its accompanying 18 budget-balancing bills. All were approved and sent to the full House for debate.

Long Bill makes way out of Senate

The Colorado Statesman

Ten hours, almost 90 amendments, and in the end, a balanced budget left the state Senate Thursday on its way to the House.

The Senate, Thursday morning, voted 21-14 to approve the state’s $26.4 billion 2015-16 budget. The approval came after a marathon session that lasted until almost 11 p.m. the previous night. But the budget did not leave the Senate chamber without rancor from Democrats who claimed their priorities were ignored.

The budget changed little during Wednesday’s debate, despite dozens of efforts by both caucuses.

Law enforcement package on the move

The Colorado Statesman

The General Assembly this week took action on six bills that are part of the law enforcement “Rebuilding Trust” package. All but one passed, but it became clear Tuesday that law enforcement agencies are not on board with the whole package.

Severance tax is biggest fight so far in 2015-16 budget

The Colorado Statesman

The state Senate Monday issued its first votes on the 2015-16 state budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass the budget bill, Senate Bill 15-234; and a package of related budget bills.

The biggest budget fight may come from one of those related bills. SB 255 takes $20 million from the state’s severance tax fund and transfers it to the general fund. The bill passed on a 4-3 vote with bi-partisan opposition.

Wage Battle Begins

Minimum wage hike not expected to pass this session
The Colorado Statesman

Democrats this week began what is likely to be a multi-year effort to persuade fellow lawmakers and the public to support a hike in the minimum wage.

Monday, supporters held a rally on the west steps of the state Capitol, with a crowd numbering well over 250, to show support for two measures scheduled for hearing later that day.

House Concurrent Resolution 15-1001 seeks to raise Colorado’s current minimum wage of $8.23 per hour to $9.50 per hour, starting Jan. 1, 2017. The minimum wage would increase annually until it reaches $12.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020.