Legislative News

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.

Colorado on its way to collect online sales tax

The Colorado Statesman

The General Assembly is close to finding a way to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax that Colorado consumers don’t pay when they buy from certain online retailers.

In the past week, the House and Senate have worked on three bills that would put Colorado in a position to simplify its tax structure and make it part of a federal solution to the online sales tax dilemma.

Anti-discrimination bill roils up small businesses

The Colorado Statesman

Small business owners and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) are pinning their last best hope on killing an anti-discrimination bill with Gov. John Hickenlooper. But the bill’s Senate sponsor believes otherwise.

On Tuesday, Tony Gagliardi, Colorado state director for NFIB, assembled several small business owners and legislators to make his case for a veto on House Bill 13-1136. The bill removes an exemption from discrimination lawsuits for businesses with 15 or fewer employees. HB 1136 was sent to the governor last Friday.

Colorado ASSET bill deemed a real asset to state’s undocumented students (finally!)

The Colorado Statesman

Moments after cheers of “Sí, se puede!” — “Yes, we can!” — filled a packed hall on the Auraria campus on Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill to provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented students at state colleges and universities, capping a decade-long effort to pass the legislation.

“Holy smokes,” Hickenlooper said to the hundreds of students, educators, immigration-rights activists and business leaders as he took the stage at the signing ceremony. “Are you guys fired up?”

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.

Water issues flow in this year’s legislative stream

The Colorado Statesman

The 2013 legislative session has been the busiest in recent years on the issue of water, particularly on how the state can conserve in a time of drought.

The work for the 2013 legislators began last summer, with the annual interim water resources review committee. The group of 10 legislators traveled the state last summer and fall, hearing about water conservation and legal issues on water rights. The end result was a recommendation for eight measures for 2013: two joint resolutions and six bills. Three other proposed bills were not approved by the entire com-mittee, but members of the committee sponsored two of those bills anyway.