Legislative News

Gun bills trigger explosive testimony

Five of seven controversial gun bills get initial approval in state Senate
The Colorado Statesman

The most emotionally explosive week yet at the state legislature concerning gun control ended with only five of seven bills in a Democratic legislative package receiving initial approval by the Senate late Friday night.

Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, stunned observers when he decided to kill his own measure, Senate Bill 196, which would have held manufacturers and sellers of assault weapons liable for violent incidents that take place with those weapons.

House committee passes bill to curb driving under influence of marijuana

The Colorado Statesman

The latest effort to set a standard for driving under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, may finally draw enough support to pass.

Legislators have tried several times previously, including during last year’s special session, to set a limit of 5 nanograms (ng) as a standard for determining when a marijuana user is under the influence while operating a motor vehicle.

This year, the sponsors of House Bill 13-1114, Reps. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, are trying a different approach.

Latest effort to expand beer into supermarkets fizzles out

Sponsor acknowledges bill had gone flat
The Colorado Statesman

Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, had hoped that his beer bill this year would ferment into a balanced approach to allow full-strength craft beer in supermarkets and convenience stores, while expanding the number of liquor licenses allowed. But when it became apparent that his measure had gone flat, he simply decided to kill it.

Priola on Tuesday acknowledged that he did not have the support of the 11 members who sit on the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee. Rather than waste the committee’s time on House Bill 1178, he asked to spike it.

Arapahoe County Dems already giddy about 2014

CD candidate Romanoff already on the stump
The Colorado Statesman

Arapahoe County Democrats had plenty to celebrate at the party’s biennial reorganizational meeting on Monday at Cherry Creek High School.

Not only did the traditionally Republican county continue its tilt toward Democrats — President Barack Obama won the bellwether county by 10 points over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and Democrats retook the state House in part by ousting an Aurora Republican — but what some are already anticipating could be the most hotly contested congressional race in the country next year is taking shape there.

Pro-civil unions Republicans want to rebrand party image

The Colorado Statesman

A group of Republicans who support civil unions are pressing GOP lawmakers to back a bill to establish them in Colorado before the party permanently brands itself among younger voters as intolerant.

That was one message expressed on Monday afternoon at a Coloradans for Freedom gathering at the Colt & Gray restaurant in Denver. The group met to toast this session’s near certain passage of Senate Bill 11 and make a case that it isn’t too late for state Republicans to get on board — though some warned that the deadline is looming.

Children’s Caucus hears about drug use among state’s youth

The Colorado Statesman

Lawmakers on Monday heard from child welfare, law enforcement and health care experts on how drugs are endangering Colorado’s children in light of the recent passage of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in the state.

The first presentation this year to the Colorado Children’s Caucus — a bipartisan gathering of lawmakers concerned with issues facing Colorado youth — turned into less of a discussion on marijuana, and more about the child welfare system.

Volunteer lobbyists aim to teach legislators

The Colorado Statesman

Clad in bright, lime-green T-shirts, some 200 volunteers fanned out across the Capitol on Wednesday to deliver a message to lawmakers: Don’t adjourn without a plan to fix how Colorado funds education.

The 2013: Year of the Student Project, organized by school-funding advocacy group Great Education Colorado, recruited parents, students, teachers and business owners to distribute packets that included the plea backed by a petition and letters inquiring about legislators’ positions on school funding.

House opens with historic new leadership as Ferrandino takes over as Speaker

The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado House elected state Rep. Mark Ferrandino as its first gay speaker on Wednesday as a new Democratic maj-ority took over the gavel amid calls for cooperation and comity on the opening day of the 69th General Assembly.

“This is the greatest honor of my life, and I am humbled to stand here before you today,” said the Denver Democrat, whose family — including his husband, Greg Wertsch — sat in the front row of a packed House chamber. Ferrandino’s niece and nephew, Abbey and Owen McWhirter, led the assembled lawmakers, staff and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Morse’s meandering opening day speech creates a stir

The Colorado Statesman

Newly designated Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, opened the legislative session with an unscripted “top secret” speech in which he shared an underlying message of working together for the greater good. But getting to that point took a winding 18-minute journey into Morse’s past days as a paramedic, during which he described a horrific traffic accident that left a father holding the IV bags as he watched his son perish.

Governor, legislators key into business issues at Capitol

The Colorado Statesman

The governor and legislative leaders unveiled their business agendas for the session that began on Wednesday. Legislation addressing research, economic development and job creation remains the focus for Democrats, while Republicans continue to look towards easing regulatory burdens and doing “no harm.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, kicked off the flurry of business activity during a news conference Monday in which he announced a bipartisan bill that seeks to accelerate research and development activities through $15 million in state funding.