Legislative News

Shared sacrifice and managing expectations

Colorado’s pension fund still has a long way to go
The Colorado Statesman

Pension financing experts say it will take “shared sacrifice” in order to solve the crisis of unfunded liabilities facing current and future retirees.

Greg Smith, executive director of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, said Colorado coined the term “shared sacrifice” when it began its push for PERA reform in 2009.

The state faces at least $23 billion in unfunded pension responsibilities, much of which was exacerbated by an economic downturn that began in 2008, sinking investments and causing pension managers to scramble for a solution.

School funding push a ‘success’ in the end

The Colorado Statesman

After months of wrangling over a spending package for K-12 education, all sides of the debate came together for a signing ceremony on Wednesday in which stakeholders were able to put the contentious legislative session aside to bask in the reflected glory of dramatically increased education funds.

Gov. John Hickenlooper joined lawmakers, lobbyists, school leaders and teachers at Ponderosa Elementary in Aurora where students watched the governor sign two education spending bills.

Senate: Less contentious than last year

The Colorado Statesman

After a rocky start, Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle were able to put aside contention and differences to conduct a bipartisan legislative session with shared values, including funding education and recovering from recent natural disasters and the economic downturn.

House: More productive than partisan

The Colorado Statesman

House leaders from both sides of the aisle pointed to a productive legislative session in which they traded the political jabs from last year for a session focused on recovery from recent natural disasters and making investments in economic development, jobs and education.

Turmoil in Democrats’ own caucus

Keeping everyone corralled is hard with a majority of only one
The Colorado Statesman

As the gavel came down Wednesday and sine die was declared on the 2014 legislative session, Democrats continued to squirm over bad blood within their political family after several lawmakers on the left battled it out over controversial bills.

The contention was first highlighted in the Senate last month when Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk, sponsored a measure that aimed to protect reproductive health care rights.

Local control efforts moving ahead for now

The Colorado Statesman

Proponents of a series of proposed ballot initiatives that would authorize local governments to ban hydraulic fracturing are moving ahead after negotiations around a legislative fix failed.

Coloradans For Local Control had watched the negotiations carefully; they are proposing ballot questions that would authorize local control over oil and gas development, potentially expanding fracking bans in some towns, cities and counties.

HUMMERS

Faux poker game at Capitol brings down the house
The Colorado Statesman

Cross-dressing Republicans; a country-themed dig at the Senate; and a catfight that has been a long time coming — all this and more in a typical day at the state Capitol. And despite a few production difficulties and some off-key singing, the House minority pulled off their annual theatrical payback on the majority.

“Hummers” is the traditional series of songs and skits that offer some levity in an effort to poke fun at the majority party. This year, House Republicans piled it on, hopeful that in the interim they will be able to take back the majority.

Construction-defects legislation introduced

The Colorado Statesman

With only a week left in the legislative session, lawmakers last Wednesday night formally introduced one of the most controversial pieces of legislation, a measure that aims to curb construction-defects lawsuits in an effort to spur the development of affordable housing.

The measure has been a long time coming, with negotiations on Senate Bill 220 dating back to late last summer; the issue itself has been brewing for years at the Capitol, with previous legislative attempts failing.

Labor, business unite over workers’ comp bill

The Colorado Statesman

Business and labor shared a rare Kumbaya moment over workers’ compensation reform this week, with both sides of the debate agreeing that the experience should be used as a template for how to bring two sides together on a polarizing subject.

When House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, last year asked Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver — the chair of the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee — to carry a workers’ compensation reform bill, unions and business owners began to dig their respective trenches.

Former Sen. Wattenberg was a true ‘cowboy’s cowboy’

The Colorado Statesman

Former Sen. Dave Wattenberg was remembered by the Colorado legislature on April 25 for being a “cowboy’s cowboy” — a lawmaker with a wonderful sense of humor who believed that policy fights should end on the chamber floor to make way for a stiff drink and a few laughs with colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

Wattenberg died on Jan. 20, 2014. He was 73 years old.