This week we take up where the thud-like introduction of the transportation-funding House Bill 1242 left off. Conservatives remain unimpressed. Sponsors House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senate President Kevin Gratham will work to make their trial balloon seem less like the Hindenburg, to borrow a phrase from Littleton Republican Sen. Tim Neville.
Supporters of the bill have eight weeks to win over the building. Here’s a GOP source hoping for the best but fearing the worst: “Maybe it’s term limits, but they say deals used to be arrived at in this building in the process of moving a bill through the chambers. Now it’s about backroom handshakes that lead to a bill and, basically, people are lined up for or against. It either passes or fails. The dealmaking is done.”
Here’s some of what else is happening this week. As always, the schedule is subject to change.
The Senate and House chambers will consider Resolution 16, which asks members to green light a memorial for the north west corner of the Capitol grounds that honors the indian victims of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre. The massacre was another of the terrible chapters in the long struggle for control of the Great Plains. It was the direct product of a surprise attack orchestrated by Colonel John Chivington, whose men killed between 70 and 163 people, about two-thirds of whom were women and children. The victims’ bodies were mutilated and burned. The sculpture features an anguished figure on the ground, hands stretched into the air surrounded by symbols of the victims and of future generations affected by the event. The resolution in the Senate is sponsored by Republicans Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa and Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction.
In the Senate, SB 71 is scheduled for second reading. Sponsor Jack Tate, a Centennial Republican, is proposing to trim back early voting period requirements for voter service centers, a cost-saving measure generally backed by county clerks. The floor reading, whenever it comes, is make or break for the bill. Democrats mainly want to balance the proposed cutbacks in voting hours at the less-busy beginning of the voting period with more hours in the very-busy last days of the voting period. Tate last week said he would put amendments proposed in committee before stakeholders and, depending on responses, might consider accepting them on the floor. The bill doesn’t yet have a sponsor in the Democratic-controlled House. If it arrives in the lower chamber un-amended, it is very likely to meet a swift end. (*Update: The bill was laid over for consideration to Friday, March 17.)
Rep. Jonathan Singer will shepherd his “Pot for PTSD” bill through a second reading in the House. Senate Bill 17, sponsored in the upper chamber by medical doctor Irene Aguilar, a Denver Democrat, will likely pass. It’s a big deal for Colorado vets suffering PTSD who have feared skirting the law by using marijuana without a diagnosis that will make it legal for them to access the drug and grant protection against bureaucratic negative ramifications, such as losing their military health benefits.
Bipartisan campus free speech Senate Bill 62 heads to the floor of the House for a second reading. This bill responds mostly to conservative concerns that expression is being limited by “politically correct” university administrations. But the ACLU and Democrats in both chamber have embraced the bill under the mantra that more speech is always better, or same idea but with a twist: More speech is the best revenge.
In the Senate Judiciary committee, Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, will present House Bill 1038, which prohibits corporal punishment in public schools and child care facilities. It’s the spare the rod bill.
Daylight Saving Time House Bill 1226 will be heard in the House agriculture committee. Reps. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat, and Phil Covarrubias, a Brighton Republican, propose making Daylight Saving Time the year-round standard time in the state. The catch: Voters have to approve the change and at least some of the other states in the mountain time zone also have to adopt their own versions of the plan.
The House judiciary committee will hear Senate Bill 125, which would provide lump sum payment to exonerated convicts. As it is now, the wrongly convicted are set free and given a settlement that is paid in monthly installments. But they have no credit. They can’t borrow money against their settlement payments. It’s hard to get back on their feet. The bill won bipartisan support in the Senate. One witness won a bipartisan apology from committee members, who lamented his wrongful conviction of a terrible crime and his continuing struggles.
The Senate judiciary committee will take up House Bill 1035, which would make it legal for sexual assault stalking victims to break their leases. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Weld County Sheriff-turned Sen. John Cooke; it was sponsored in the House by Rep. Dominique Jackson, an Aurora Democrat. The bill is bipartisan, as is frustration that this is a problem that even needs solving.
On deck at the House Kill Committee:
One of the bills promoted by state treasurer and perhaps future-Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton. Senate Bill 158 would replace required members of the Public Employee Retirement Association board. It would remake the balance of the board, removing some public employees and adding more financial experts. The bill is sponsored by Republicans Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Dan Nordberg.
Senate Bill 120 is not going to make it through this hearing. Democrats are on high alert for signs in the state of Trumpism. The bill would require all police officers to be citizens, not green card holders. Resident U.S. military veterans would be exempted from the rule.
The House business affairs committee will hear House Bill 1214, sponsored by Rep. James Coleman, a Denver Democrat, and Sen. Tate. The bill would encourage employee ownership of small businesses. Some see this kind of proposal as a bipartisan way to begin to reward employees in an economy that for years mainly has served consumers and business owners.
The House judiciary committee will hear Rep. Joe Salazar, Ralph Carr civil rights bill. The newly declared attorney general candidate, introduce his big-splash “sanctuary” bill up for its first vote. The bill is meant to guard against any policies pushed by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that attempt to detain or monitor Americans and residents based on religion, ethnicity, or immigration or citizenship status.
It’s anything can happen day. Who might decide to announce their statewide or federal candidacy?