Peter Marcus

Fate of oil bills rests with Guv

The Colorado Statesman

The legislature this week made significant progress advancing several key pieces of legislation addressing the energy sector. Proposals include increasing fines, reducing conflicts of interest on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, stricter accident reporting requirements, creating a statewide groundwater testing program, beefing up inspections at wells, and raising the rural renewable energy standard.

Setting rules for recreational marijuana has been a trip

The Colorado Statesman

Blazing a trail for marijuana legalization in Colorado is proving to be an exercise in patience and political gamesmanship, as lawmakers work to balance an onslaught of lobbying and pressure from legislative colleagues.

The odd journey this week of setting rules and regulations for the recreational legalization of the flower that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, saw bills move to set more than 25 percent in taxes, limiting grow operations and restricting access of cannabis-related publications to minors.

Democratic-backed elections reform bill heads to Guv

Republicans cry foul, call bill a sham
The Colorado Statesman

The Senate on Thursday backed sweeping elections reform legislation that has polarized the legislature, resulting in marathon debate that kicked off Tuesday when Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, moved for the entire 126 pages to be read at length.

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed House Bill 1303 by a party-line vote of 20-15, despite the stall tactic. Amendments were later approved by the House, which sent the bill to Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, for his signature.

Republican legislators storm out of House

The Colorado Statesman

A near midnight-hour debate Friday on taxing marijuana turned into a House kerfuffle when majority Democrats interrupted remarks by Republican Rep. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs in order to save 13 bills on the calendar, causing the GOP to storm out of the chamber in protest.

Highs and lows with pot bills

Legislators weed through bills amidst speculation about repeal
The Colorado Statesman

There were extreme highs and lows this week as the legislature began debating three bills aimed at regulating and taxing the budding recreational marijuana industry in Colorado, while also contemplating offering voters a crack at repealing the constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis just last November.

House rifles through final gun legislation

The Colorado Statesman

The great legislative gun debate of 2013 has nearly concluded, with a less than explosive ending to one of the most controversial policy issues facing the legislature this year.

The House on Monday voted 36-28, with one lawmaker excused, backing Senate Bill 197, which would require domestic violence offenders and people with restraining orders to surrender their firearms. Reps. Beth McCann, D-Denver, and Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, sponsored the measure.

General Assembly gets down to business

The Colorado Statesman

The legislature this week debated several bills aimed at the business community, covering controversial topics including workplace discrimination and unemployment benefits during a lockout.

House Bill 1136, sponsored by Sens. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Reps. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, would allow plaintiffs in discrimination lawsuits against smaller companies to seek greater payouts.

Sweeping bill for election reform passes

The Colorado Statesman

One of the most partisan bills facing the legislature did not disappoint this week as the House on Friday backed the controversial sweeping elections reform measure. The lower chamber’s vote came after more than 80 citizens packed a legislative committee room on Monday during a cold spring snowstorm to voice their opinions on the polarizing proposal.

Debate on renewables heats up

Raising renewal energy standard raises ire among Republicans
The Colorado Statesman

UPDATED: This story has been updated to reflect an amendment to House Bill 1269

The energy conversation in Colorado was dominated this week by a lengthy debate in the legislature on raising the renewable energy requirement for rural electric cooperatives.

Senate Bill 252, sponsored by Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, would raise the state’s rural renewable energy standard to 25 percent.

Bill approved to overhaul procurement laws

The Colorado Statesman

The Democratic-controlled House on Friday night gave preliminary approval to an aggressive jobs bill that seeks a significant overhaul to state contracting procurement laws.

House Bill 1292, sponsored by Reps. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, and Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, would require state agencies to weigh overall “best value” in their consideration of competitive bids on state contracts. The measure would move away from a strictly price analysis.