Legislative News

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.

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.

Quest for online sales tax revenue is ongoing

Legislative bills will address online collection
The Colorado Statesman Sports Department

Next week, the House will take another stab at finding a way to go after the sales and use taxes the state is owed, but can’t collect, from those who purchase goods and services online. At least two, and possibly three bills, all dealing with the issue in different ways, are going to be part of a lengthy hearing in the House Finance Committee on Wednesday, April 24.

New school finance act still to be played out in full House

The Colorado Statesman

Despite more than 28 hours of committee hearings, debates and dozens of amendments, the new school finance act, Senate Bill 13-213, may still have a long way to go.

The bill came out of the Senate on April 7 on a party-line 20-15 vote. On April 15, the bill went through another seven hours of debate in the House Education Committee, which passed it on a 7-6 party-line vote. SB 213 has yet to garner even one Republican vote.

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.

Renewables bill fuels big controversy

Rural electric associations, GOP senators, testify against measure
The Colorado Statesman

Legislation to boost the state’s renewable energy standards for certain rural electric utilities is moving through the state Senate this week. But the bill drew howls of protest from the utilities amid concerns it could hike electricity bills for seniors, state facilities and farmers by millions of dollars annually. Friday, the bill was the subject of an eight-hour filibuster, as Senate Republicans tried in vain to garner votes from a few Democrats who might be willing to vote against their Senate President.