#Coleg Week 9: Concerning gay conversion, early voting, rolling coal, pot for PTSD, and more
Author: John Tomasic - March 6, 2017 - Updated: March 7, 2017
Happy halfway mark. On Wednesday, lawmakers will arrive at this year’s legislative session midpoint. Many of the House and Senate minority party bills doomed to die in committee have lived their brief and sometimes newsmaking lives. Now many of the bills doomed to die at the hands of the opposite chamber majority party will meet their swift ends. Then soon will appear this year’s “long bill” budget proposal. And then, on the long bill’s tail, will come the big compromise proposal on transportation funding… and anything else lawmakers feel pressure or overdue obligation or last gasp whimsy to move on at last.
Note as ever that almost everything about the legislative schedule is subject to change, at almost any time.
Facing its last hurrah in the House and speeding toward the Senate is HB-1156 by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, the bill that would ban anti-gay conversion therapy as practiced by a licensed mental health care provider. In other words, it would put conversion “treatment” solidly into the realm of cures such as ye old beloved snake oil. The bill this year has won bipartisan support, including the support voiced on Twitter of former state Senate Minority Leader and onetime GOP candidate for governor Josh Penry.
To which House Minority Caucus Chair Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, added the obvious political context.
How many Republicans in the House will come out for the bill? More important: Will there be a Senate Republican in leadership who will argue that the bill should at least make it to the floor for a vote?
The Joint Agriculture Committee will meet at 7:30 a.m. to discuss the “Annual Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests,” presented by the Colorado State Forest Service. What is the state of our forests and, in a world where the Pine Bark beetle runs riot like a late-July upslope blaze, what are our forests trying to tell us about how best to manage them?
In Senate State Affairs, Sen. Don Coram, R-Durango, will introduce HB 1102, co-sponsored by Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins. The bill would prohibit the proud American practice known as “rolling coal,” which is the thing you do when you adjust your enormous vehicle’s diesel exhaust system so that it blows black soot into the air and down the windpipes of conscientious bicyclists and Prius pilots and kids on the sidewalk nearby, which you do, you know, for kicks, as if your mechanic were Ted Nugent.
The committee will take remote testimony, which with any luck will make the hearing worth the price of admission.
Also in Senate State Affairs, Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, may bring back his election administration bills, already laid over twice, as interested parties try to come to agreement. SB 71 seeks to save county clerks time and money by eliminating the first week of election season voting center operations. The question: What will clerks do for voters in exchange? Maybe extend open hours in the busy last week of voting?
Tate is also considering amendments to his SB 138 election watchers bill, a bipartisan proposal sponsored with Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette. Election watcher activists think the bill does too much to limit the oversight they are tasked with providing.
Testimony on both Tate bills has been heard by the committee so this week’s hearings are for action only. What happens Wednesday, whether or not the bills are amended, will be a good sign of how the bills may fare in the Democratic-controlled House.
In the House State Affairs committee, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, will present SB 17, which would allow the state to sell medical marijuana for stress disorders. The designation would allow military veterans suffering forms of PTSD to obtain prescriptions without risking negative bureaucratic ramifications.
House State Affairs will also hear SB 62, the campus free speech bill sponsored by Steve Humphrey, R-Severance, and Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village. Is the bill about free speech or protecting the Milo Yiannopouloses of the world… or both? In the Senate, the bill won wide bipartisan support.
The Senate’s Select Committee on Energy and the Environment will meet for a presentation on post-nuclear era nuclear energy by Michael Hagood, the Idaho National Laboratory’s director of program development. The Republican-controlled committee is collecting information to help draft evidence-based energy policies in the Trump era. So far, the committee has generated few of the sparks many thought it might throw off this session, which is probably a good sign.
The House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 1122, Rep. Daneya Esgar’s “Gender Identification On Birth Certificates” bill, which aims to take a small overdue bureaucratic step toward making life easier for transgender Coloradans.
The Senate Finance committee will hear HB 1012, sponsored by Pueblo Democrats Rep. Esgar and Sen Leroy Garcia, which would gift the state with license plates celebrating the damn-fine much-loved Pueblo chile, whose “pungency ranges between 5,000 and 20,000 Scoville Heat Units,” making them “comparable to moderate jalapeno peppers and usually a little warmer than cayenne peppers” — as if you didn’t know that, as if you didn’t know your own bed!
Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, may or may not be tending a mountain town bread bar. There will be long lawmaker drives uphill into the sun.