KEEPING HOAS TRANSPARENT
Legislation aimed at making homeowners associations more transparent unanimously passed the House Local Government Committee last Monday on a 9-0 vote.
House Bill 1237, sponsored by Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, would clarify language in current statutes pertaining to homeowners associations by defining what records are public to homeowners and requiring HOAs to provide those records when a homeowner requests.
“This is a win-win piece of legislation with no opposition,” Williams said. “This is good for consumers and good for homeowners associations. Homeowners have a right to the records of their homeowners associations, and this bill provides clarity, transparency and efficiency to the governance of HOAs.”
The bill is supported by the Community Associations Institute, a trade group for HOA managers.
The legislation is awaiting a hearing by the full House.
BPA BABY BILL DIES IN COMMITTEE
A bill that would have banned the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in the making of baby products failed in the House Economic and Business Development Committee last Tuesday.
House Bill 1174, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, would have banned the sale of baby bottles and pacifiers made with BPA in Colorado. Eleven other states have signed a ban similar into law. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group supported the bill.
“The goal of this bill was to prevent Colorado's youngest children from ingesting a potentially dangerous toxin,” Kagan said. “With other states implementing bans, it is important to ensure Colorado does not become a dumping ground for potentially harmful BPA products and to provide some assurance to Colorado parents.”
The bill failed on an 8-4 vote.
UNEMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION BILL DIES
Legislation that would have prohibited employers from discriminating against the unemployed was killed by Republicans Tuesday in the House Economic and Business Development Committee.
House Bill 1134, sponsored by Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, would have prohibited a practice by some employers that post job openings that prohibit unemployed applicants from applying.
“Unemployment is an epidemic and no business group opposed this bill so I am perplexed as to why the Republicans voted against it,” Pabon said. “This bill is a good bill that will give an unemployed person an opportunity to apply for a job opening. Prohibiting unemployment discrimination fosters an environment that is geared toward getting unemployed Coloradans back in the work force.”
FUNDING FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTERS MOVES
A cornerstone of House Democrats’ 2012 jobs package advanced last Tuesday when a bill to bolster funding for a successful small business program received bipartisan support in the House Economic and Business Development Committee.
The panel voted 10-3 to advance House Bill 1129 by Rep. Max Tyler to the Appropriations Committee.
The bill would seek an extra $300,000 for the state’s network of Small Business Development Centers, which leverage local and federal matching funds to provide instruction and consulting to help turn entrepreneurs’ big ideas into businesses that are thriving and hiring.
“With a staff of four and a general fund appropriation of less than $85,000, the centers served over 5,500 businesses, created 1,700 new jobs, over 3,600 jobs retained and assisted in more than $132 million in small business capital formation, and this was in 2011,” Tyler told the committee.
PREFERENCES FOR HIRING COLORADANS FAILS
A bill that would have provided preference to Colorado companies who employ Colorado workers and veterans failed Wednesday in the House State Affairs Committee on a Republican party-line vote.
House Bill 1113, sponsored by Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, would have promoted a preference for companies who hire Coloradans first when bidding for state contracts. The legislation, similar to the Democrats’ Senate Bill 1, also added an additional preference if the company employed Coloradan veterans.
“It is a good return on investment when we use taxpayer money for job creation,” Lee said. “This bill would have created good paying jobs in Colorado. This bill would have also provided all the men and women returning home from serving in our military a better opportunity for jobs and encouraged them to stay in Colorado.”
LEAVE MY GUNS ALONE BILL TO BE HEARD IN SENATE
House Republicans on Thursday sent a bill to the Senate that would prohibit the seizure of firearms during a declared state of emergency.
House Bill 1064, sponsored by House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, aims to protect the Second Amendment rights of Coloradans, according to Stephens.
“The right to bear arms for law-abiding citizens must never be violated,” said Stephens. “Our Second Amendment rights help guarantee protection against violence to ourselves, our families and property.”
BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY RELIEF TO SENATE
The House on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation that would offer Colorado business owners relief from the business personal property tax.
House Bill 1029, sponsored by Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, would allow local governments, including counties, to exempt up to 100 percent of locally assessed business personal property taxes.
“The Save Colorado Jobs Act encourages businesses to grow,” said Holbert. “It respects the authority of local governments and works to keep jobs in Colorado while accelerating our economic recovery.”
FOOD REMAINS EXEMPT FROM STATE SALES TAX
The House on Wednesday unanimously passed Senate legislation aimed at ensuring that food meant for home consumption remains eligible for a Colorado state sales tax exemption regardless of how the food is marketed.
Senate Bill 94, sponsored in the House by Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, and in the Senate by Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, would clarify that any “convenience food” that is prepared for immediate consumption, like hot food sold at restaurants, is taxable.
Recently, some municipalities in Colorado have attempted to levy taxes on foods for domestic consumption because they have been marketed as “convenience foods.” Szabo’s measure ends this overreaching practice.
“Undermining current tax law at the expense of struggling families and working individuals is wrong,” said Szabo. “This bill safeguards Colorado families and food vendors from over-taxation.”
The Senate on Thursday concurred with House the amendment.
DEMS ANGRY OVER GOP KILLING JOBS BILL
Democrats were frustrated last Wednesday after Republicans killed legislation that would have promoted adult literacy and increased vocational certification.
House Bill 1227, sponsored by Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, would have implemented a pilot program that would have integrated basic education and skills training.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the legislation on a Republican party-line vote.
‘This bill would have provided an opportunity for more Coloradans to get the skills they need to get back to work,” Young said. “I’m disappointed a common-sense bill that would have made a difference and cost the state no money failed on a party-line vote. I’m doing my best to present good legislation that represents my constituents, but it seems there may be underlying factors preventing my good bills from passing committees.”
VOTER PHOTO ID MOVES
A controversial piece of legislation that would require voters to provide photo identification in order to vote was backed by Republicans on Wednesday following support from conservative Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
Supporters tout House Bill 1111, sponsored by Reps. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, and Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, as a means to ensure voter confidence and security.
“This bill will standardize and clarify how we identify voters in an election,” said Szabo. “It brings certainty to our election process and ensures only those who are eligible can vote.”
House Bill 1111 passed the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on a Republican party-line vote and now moves to the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
IMPROVING CHILD SAFETY
The House Economic and Business Development Committee on Thursday unanimously backed legislation aimed at improving the safety of children in neighborhood youth organizations.
House Bill 1228, sponsored by Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, would expand the list of methods a neighborhood youth organization can use to satisfy the criminal history check requirement for all employees. Each method would be required to determine whether the potential employee has been convicted of felony child abuse or unlawful sexual behavior. Anyone with such a history would not be allowed to be employed by the organization.
“Every parent holds the expectation that their children are safe and protected when they visit a neighborhood youth organization,” said DelGrosso, R-Loveland. “This bill helps meet those expectations.”
DelGrosso’s measure now moves to the House floor for further consideration.
BUILDING CODE CLARIFICATION MOVES
The House Health and Environment Committee on Thursday backed a bill that would clarify the application and interpretation of building codes in Colorado.
House Bill 1268, sponsored by Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, would clarify the application and interpretation of building codes in Colorado by eliminating overlapping inspection and review processes. It would consolidate government oversight, reduce state expenditures, streamline inspections and reviews and save businesses from unnecessary costs, according to supporters.
The measure passed the House Health and Environment Committee on a bipartisan vote of 9-3. It now heads to appropriations.
“Satisfying building and inspection codes shouldn’t be a confusing or damaging process for our state’s job creators,” said Acree. “This bill continues to ensure the safety of health care facilities, but streamlines their inspection and review process while saving money for both business owners and taxpayers”
DEMOCRATS ANGRY OVER RADON BILL
Democrats were upset Thursday after Republicans killed legislation that supporters say would have protected more Coloradans from radon gas hazards in homes.
House Bill 1165, sponsored by Rep. Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, would have required that the seller of a home conduct a test for radon and disclose the results of that test to a prospective buyer.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the legislation by a 5-4 Republican party-line vote.
“We want homebuyers to know what they’re buying,” Schafer said. “After that, it’s up to buyers and sellers to come to terms.”
TRAINING FOR THE UNEMPLOYED MOVES
The House Economic and Business Development Committee backed a bill on Thursday that aims to invest money into workforce and entrepreneurial training for the unemployed.
House Bill 1272, sponsored by Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, would invest $8 million into enhanced unemployment benefits for unemployed people who want workforce or entrepreneurial training for a high-demand occupation.
The House Economic and Business Development Committee backed the legislation with a bipartisan vote of 7-4.
“This bill is an innovative and creative approach to ensuring we are doing everything possible to get Coloradans back to work,” Duran said. “People who are unemployed want to get back to work, but they need the skills for jobs in high demand. This program will guarantee they are getting that training.”
The bill now moves to finance.
YOU BETTER STOP!
The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday killed legislation that would have banned the use of red light cameras and photo radar in Colorado.
Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, would have prohibited authorities from using red light cameras to issue traffic tickets.
The Senate Transportation Committee killed the bill on a vote of 5-2.
Opponents, mostly law enforcement, said the system works to increase safety at dangerous intersections where officers are unable to constantly patrol. But Renfroe sees photo-red-lights as simply a way for local governments to raise revenue.
“Citizens overwhelmingly do not want big government using cameras, it’s too bad we could not move the bill forward,” said Renfroe. “Cities should be focused on improving safety not on generating more revenue.”
REGULATING PROFESSIONALS AND OCCUPATIONS
The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Wednesday unanimously backed a House bill that would require the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to take a slower approach when deciding to regulate professionals.
House Bill 1015, sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, in the Senate, and by Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, in the House, would require regulation proponents to submit a proposal to DORA by Dec. 1, and would require DORA to issue a sunrise report by Oct. 15. It also would take away DORA’s ability to skip the sunrise review in all circumstances except when the profession or occupation poses an imminent threat.
HB 1015 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
PRENATAL HEALTH CARE TO THE GOVERNOR
A bill aimed at providing improvements in prenatal health care and lowering the number of infants born with the lifelong effects of prenatal substance exposure won unanimous approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday and then by the full Senate on Friday.
House Bill 1100, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and in the House by Rep. Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, would prohibit drug use information obtained during pregnancy testing or prenatal screening from being admissible in criminal proceedings.
“Pregnancy can dramatically increase the effectiveness of treatment interventions, since the woman tends to be highly motivated to protect her unborn child,” Aguilar said in her testimony before the Judiciary Committee. “We need to increase the screening and identification of substance use during this time to protect children in Colorado.”
HB 1100 now heads to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.
WESTERN TIGER SALAMANDER KEEPS CRAWLING
The Senate, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Thursday backed legislation that would designate the Western Tiger Salamander as Colorado’s state amphibian.
House Bill 1147, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver, and in the House by Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, was proposed to Williams by students from local Denver schools.
“It’s wonderful to see our young people develop legislation, work together to get it passed and have the opportunity to learn about their government in the process,” said Foster. “This is a great educational experience for these children, and I’m happy to carry this bill on behalf of Denver students.”
Western Tiger Salamanders live in all 64 of Colorado’s counties, and scientists estimate that they may have lived in the region for as long as 1 million years. Colorado already has a state fish, insect and reptile.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
ENDING ‘PRICE DISCRIMINATION’ AT HOSPITALS
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday unanimously backed legislation that aims to solve the problem of so-called “price discrimination” at hospitals.
Senate Bill 134, sponsored by Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, would require hospitals to be transparent about their financial assistance and charity programs, to screen the uninsured for eligibility for discount programs, to discount services for qualified patients based on their income, to protect the uninsured from price discrimination by limiting charges to the hospitals’ lowest negotiated private payer price, to offer reasonable payment plans, and to ensure that patients have been provided these options before being sent to collections.
“The goal of The Hospital Payment Assistance Program is to provide a way for hard-working, uninsured Coloradans to responsibly pay a fair price for their medical care,” Aguilar said. “And equally importantly, the bill calls for steps to ensure that all Coloradans know this program exists so that they don’t endanger their health and livelihood out of fear of bankruptcy.”
The bill now heads to appropriations.