Legislative News

Diversity reigns at legislature with a record

The Colorado Statesman

Friday night’s reception to celebrate diversity at the legislature was so well attended that the venue had to be moved to hold the over-flow crowd. Originally scheduled for a meeting room upstairs in the downtown bank building for an anticipated few dozen, it was instead moved to a larger room at the foot of two massive escalators that accommodated several hundred. And even then it was tough to navigate the crowd of politicos — many whom included elected officials and lobbyists — who gathered at the onset of the weekend to hail the victories made at the legislature.

Spouses and partners of new legislators learn about juggling work and private time

The Colorado Statesman

Life will become a maze of deadlines, attention and stress for 31 brand-new lawmakers who entered the Capitol on Jan. 9. But it will perhaps be their spouses and companions who face the most dramatic change over the 120 days of the next legislative session.

Several of these new lawmakers’ partners heard from experienced family members who have navigated the roller coaster that is public service. The orientation program on Dec. 13 sought to answer difficult questions about how to juggle both personal and work-related issues that can be overwhelming for those who are new to the Gold Dome.

Jobs still the focus at Capitol

The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislative leaders from both parties on Dec. 14 unveiled their agenda for the upcoming session that begins on Jan. 9. It includes efforts at raising funds for transportation, making improvements to health care and education, while sorting out regulations surrounding marijuana and the oil and gas industry. Measures from last session, including same-sex civil unions and reduced tuition rates for undocumented students, will also surface again in the upcoming Democratic-controlled session.

Outgoing lawmakers transition into ‘civilian’ life

The Colorado Statesman

For outgoing lawmakers who lost elections in 2012, the transition from public to civilian life is both sudden and uncertain. But five legislators interviewed by The Colorado Statesman say they are anticipating life outside the Gold Dome as they prepare their personal and business lives for a new chapter.

Legislators set for health(y) exchange of ideas

The Colorado Statesman

Lawmakers are likely to wage a divisive battle over health care in the upcoming legislative session that begins on Jan. 9. Issues over expanding Medicaid, asking voters to approve universal health care, and the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange currently top the list.

Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, is leading the ambitious health care agenda for Democrats. Her most contentious battle could be over expanding Medicaid, which Republicans are weary of doing without containing spending.

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Bills add new offenses, reforms to criminal justice system

The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed more than a dozen judicial bills this year that add new offenses, eliminate old offenses and bring reforms to the overall criminal justice system.

Perhaps the most controversial judicial bill was House Bill 1271, sponsored by Reps. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, and Beth McCann, D-Denver, and Sens. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and Tim Neville, R-Littleton. It requires a court hearing before prosecuting youth defendants as adults.

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Legislators get down to business with a package of bills

The Colorado Statesman

Of the dozens of bills sent to the governor by the Legislature this year, at least eight specifically addressed burdens faced by businesses in the state, including taxes, rules, fines and fees, while also simplifying business filings and reducing insurance costs.

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Republicans score ‘uniformly high’ on Chamber scorecard

The Colorado Statesman

Republicans outscored Democrats this year on the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce annual legislative scorecard.

The Republican caucus scored “uniformly high” with the lowest scoring member in the House — Rep. Glenn Vaad, R-Mead — earning a 69 percent, according to the Chamber. The lowest scoring Republican in the Senate was Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, with 77 percent.

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Bills streamline gov’t, invest in future and add oversight

The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed several bills this year to streamline government and save the state money, while making investments for the future and adding accountability and oversight.

On June 6, Hickenlooper signed a bill to modernize the state’s archaic personnel system. The bipartisan House Bill 1321, sponsored by Reps. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, and Glenn Vaad, R-Mead, and Sens. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, and Mike Johnston, D-Denver, establishes a merit-based pay system to replace the current pay-for-performance system created more than a decade ago.

2012 Legislative Wrap-up

CUT disheartened by $19 billion bipartisan state budget

The Colorado Statesman

The Colorado Union of Taxpayers, or CUT, gave the legislature an “F” this year for passing one of the largest budgets in recent years.

The organization, which advocates for limited government and low taxes, said the $19 billion budget that passed with historic bipartisan support is “disheartening while Colorado citizens are reeling from a depressed economy and their incomes have not kept pace with such increases.”

“As citizens must tighten their belts, they ask, ‘Where are the spending cuts from government?’” said Marty Neilson, president of CUT.