Legislative Briefs: 4.13.12
ROCKIES LICENSE PLATES COMING SOON
With Opening Day held last Monday for the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill at the stadium creating an official Colorado Rockies license plate.
House Bill 1295, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, creates a onetime charitable donation of $52.80 for drivers looking to add the license plate to their vehicle. Users can make their donation to the Colorado Rockies Baseball Foundation, a charitable organization, which helps underprivileged and at-risk youth. In addition to the one-time charitable donation drivers must pay for the license plate, two onetime motor vehicle fees for $25 will also apply.
“I can’t think of a better way for this bill to become a law,” Priola said Monday after the signing. “Rockies fans and Coloradans with a notion for philanthropy all have something to celebrate today.”
Fans looking for the special license plate will have to wait until January 2013 to obtain them. That’s when the Department of Revenue may begin issuing the special license plate.
“This bill allows every Rockies fan to show off Colorado’s ‘baseball with altitude’ spirit,” added Priola. “Go Rockies!”
ALTERNATIVE FUEL BILL MOVES
A bill aimed at increasing access to alternative fuels for alternative fuel vehicles unanimously passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 1258, sponsored by Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, and Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, would require public utilities to make reasonable efforts to provide service connections for alternative fuel vehicle charging facilities. The measure aims to make it easier for businesses to provide charging stations for customers by reducing regulations for businesses looking to provide charging stations or fuel stations.
“Alternative fuel vehicles are not only responsible choices for our environment, but they’re fiscally smart as well,” said Jahn. “It’s important that we continue working to remove any existing barriers for businesses wanting to provide charging stations and increase access to alternative fuels for consumers.”
The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
DEMS’ JOBS BILL TO HOUSE
Democrats cheered Wednesday as the centerpiece of their jobs bills for the legislative session passed the Senate.
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, passed the Senate on a Democratic party-line vote of 19-16. The measure would offer a preference to companies seeking state contracts when those companies agree to employ 90 percent Colorado workers for the job, certify that they are providing those workers with quality benefits and offer access to a federally qualified apprenticeship training program.
“As lawmakers, regardless of party, we have a moral obligation to work for the betterment of our constituents, to improve the state’s economy and to get Coloradans back to work,” said Hudak. “Over the last two years, we have spent close to $800 million to pay people in other states to do work for Colorado. This is a common sense bill that will work to reinvest our state taxpayers’ money within our borders, employ workers here, and reenergize local economies.”
Republicans have raised concerns over costs to state agencies and the effectiveness of the legislation. Similar proposals have failed in previous legislative sessions over the cost concerns.
The bill now moves to the Republican-controlled House where it is likely to die before even making it out of committee.
BUY AMERICAN BILL INITIAL SUPPORT
The Senate on Thursday gave initial approval to a measure that would offer an incentive to companies bidding on state contracts to purchase American-made goods.
Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver, would provide a 1 percent incentive for companies bidding on state contracts expected to cost more than $250,000. To be eligible for the preference companies would need to agree to purchase products including assembled materials, supplies, provisions and equipment that are manufactured in the United States. The goods would need to be in sufficient supply, of equal quality and not exceed the cost of the same product made outside of the United States by more than 5 percent.
“Getting Coloradans back to work is our number one priority this session, and this important bill will help us create new jobs,” said Foster. “By providing an incentive for companies to purchase American made products we can support industries here and boost our recovering economy.”
FALLEN HEROES LICENSE PLATE TO GUV
The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would create a special license plate to honor Colorado’s fallen law enforcement officers.
House Bill 1023, sponsored by Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, passed the Senate on a vote of 33-2.
The fallen heroes license plate would be available to all Coloradans who must first donate $50 to the Colorado chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors and pay two $25 dollar fees to cover Department of Motor Vehicle costs. The plate should be available for purchase in January of next year.
“It is appropriate that we honor those who have given their lives while working to protect and serve us,” said King. “This license plate will be a small reminder to all of us of the ultimate sacrifice our fallen law enforcement men and women have made.”
The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.
SPEECH PATHOLOGY BILL MOVES
A bill that would require speech language pathologists to obtain state certification from the Department of Regulatory Agencies passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
House Bill 1303, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and Rep. Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, would require speech pathologists to have successfully completed a masters or higher education degree in communication sciences from an accredited college or university, complete a clinical fellowship and pass a national exam.
HB 1303 only applies to speech language pathologists who work outside of a school setting. Speech language pathologists who work in schools are already certified by the Department of Education.
The mandate would begin in July 2013.
The Senate Education Committee backed the measure by a vote of 6-1. The measure now moves to Finance.
“Colorado is the last state in the nation to certify speech language pathologists,” stated Spence. “This bill will ensure that patients who are going through speech therapy, receive the quality care they deserve.”
FETAL HOMICIDE BILL KILLED
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday killed so-called “fetal homicide” legislation over concerns that the measure would have created personhood in Colorado.
House Bill 1130, sponsored by Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, and Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs, would have recognized a new crime by people who kill or injure an unborn child while committing a crime against the mother. The measure would have given prosecutors the ability to charge a defendant, who causes the unlawful death of an unborn child, with murder.
“This is a sad blind spot in our law. Thirty-five other states, and even the U.S. government have laws similar to HB 1130,” stated Mitchell. “It’s unfortunate that the committee failed to see the importance of this bill.”
Democrats and pro-choice groups raised concerns that the measure would have created personhood, thus affording constitutional rights to unborn children, and therefore banning abortion.
GOV’T ACCOUNTABILITY BILL TO SENATE
The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Wednesday unanimously backed a bill that would require the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to submit an annual report to the state that details the programs that are managed by their office.
Senate Bill 166, sponsored by Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, would increase government accountability and help identify and strengthen economic opportunities for Colorado businesses and their employees, according to sponsors.
“This bill will give the state the ability to measure the success rate of the programs administered by the Office of Economic Development and show the positive effect these programs have on Colorado’s economy,” said Roberts.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
NEW LOTTERY BALLOT PROPOSAL MOVES
Senate Concurrent Resolution 2, sponsored by Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, would create the new lottery, with proceeds from the sales of the lottery tickets going to veterans’ assistance programs in Colorado.
“This measure will provide Colorado veterans programs with the additional monetary resources that they need to continue to help those who have fought for our freedom,” said King.
SCR 2 needs to pass the Senate and House with at least a two-thirds vote in both chambers, before it goes on the November ballot.
ONLINE UNIVERSITY BILL SIGNED
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday signed a bill aimed at clarifying the supervision of an online public university associated with the Colorado State University system.
House Bill 1220, sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, will formally link the supervision of the public online university CSU-Global to the CSU system. The bill makes several clarifying and conforming changes to statute to put the online university under the supervision of the CSU Board of Governors. Becker’s measure also adds two nonvoting, advisory members to the CSU Board — one member from the CSU-Global faculty, and another from the student body.
“This bill helps increase access to higher education in Colorado,” said Becker. “CSU-Global offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate level degrees that will give people the education and training they need to compete in today’s job market.”
Becker’s measure will go into effect on August 8.
ANIMAL IMPOUNDMENT BILL SIGNED
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday signed a bill into law that will relieve animal owners from perceived unnecessary impoundment fees and save local governments and humane societies thousands of dollars, according to sponsors.
House Bill 1125, sponsored by Rep. Robert Ramirez, R-Westminster, aims to reduce the costs associated with animal impoundment and extend the right of due process
“As a animal lover, I understand the need to protect the rights of animals and animal owners,” said Ramirez.
Under current law, owners of impounded animals may request a hearing to question the reasonableness and fairness of impounding costs. HB 1125 expands the purpose of these hearings to include the establishment of probable cause for impoundment. The measure maintains existing payment requirements for the impoundment of animals. However, it provides for a return of care payments when the defendant is found innocent of the charges for which their animal is impounded.
“This bill was designed for two reasons,” said Ramirez. “The first is to ensure that the property rights of animal owners are not violated. The other is to reduce costs for municipalities and state agencies surrounding lengthy impoundment periods.”
HB 1125 requires impoundment hearings to take place within 10 days of the owner’s request. Hearing deadlines seek to limit impounding costs incurred from hearing delays, and extend the right of due process to the owners.
The bill will go into effect on Sept. 1.
DEPUTY DA APPOINTED TO DISTRICT JUDGE
Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Thursday the appointment of Michelle Amico to serve as a district court judge in the 18th Judicial District.
Amico will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert H. Russell.
Amico, of Littleton, currently serves as the Chief Deputy District Attorney with the Denver District Attorney’s office. In her career with the District Attorney’s Office, she has acted as a prosecutor and directed the Family Violence Unit, County Court Division, District Court, Juvenile Division, Gang Unit and Intake Division.
Amico’s judicial appointment is effective May 31, 2012.