LegislatureNewsState budget

With four weeks to go, hundreds of bills still await final action

Author: Marianne Goodland - April 11, 2018 - Updated: April 23, 2018

The Colorado Capitol building in Denver. (knowlesgallery, istockphoto)

Wednesday marks the beginning of the last four weeks of Colorado’s 2018 General Assembly session. That means “hurry-up” time, with 295 bills (out of 615) on the House and Senate docket still looking for final action — and at least one more to come.

The majority of those bills on final approach originated in the House. That includes three more measures introduced this week, on developmental disabilities (House Bill 18-1376) and employment issues (House Bills 1377 and 1378).

Those 295 bills include some of the major bills of the 2018 session:

  • Senate Bill 1, which currently would devote $250 million this year and next to wheedle away at the state’s $9 billion transportation projects wish list. The measure cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote on March 28 but is not yet scheduled for its first House hearing.
  • House Bill 1322, the 2018-19 state budget and five out of the 18 budget-balancing bills that go with the Long Appropriations Bill. The Joint Budget Committee, in its capacity as the conference committee, is scheduled to work on re-balancing the budget and coming up with a compromise version Wednesday afternoon. The General Assembly’s only constitutional duty is to pass a balanced budget.
  • House Bill 1256, the reauthorization of the Division of Civil Rights and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The measure, a sunset review, is scheduled for the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 18.
  • House Bill 1003 and Senate Bill 22, both which deal with the state’s opioid epidemic. Senate Bill 22 has been assigned to the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, but without a publicly scheduled date. House Bill 1003 has stalled in the House Appropriations Committee.
  • Senate Bill 3, which would change the mission of the Colorado Energy Office. The bill will be heard Wednesday afternoon in the House Transportation & Energy Committee.
  • Senate Bill 200, the fix to the underfunded Public Employees’ Retirement Association pension fund. The bill is scheduled for a Monday hearing in the House Finance Committee.

One bill that has yet to be introduced: The annual School Finance Act, which funds Colorado’s K-12 public schools for 2018-19. Lawmakers had hoped to have it introduced before the budget process started, but the measure’s final draft has stalled while funding for rural schools is being hammered out. Democratic Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood told Colorado Politics the school finance bill will be introduced Wednesday.

An interim committee has been working on a revamp of the school financing laws, but changes aren’t expected until the 2019 session. A bill backed by most of the state’s school superintendents, House Bill 1232, would create a new funding distribution formula. The bill is slated for the House Education Committee on April 18.

Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker said this week that because the budget bill started in the House this year, it left one less week for the Senate to work on the avalanche of bills headed from the House to the Senate in the session’s closing weeks. He commented Wednesday morning that he’s grateful for the Senate’s ability to pass bills listed in a consent calendar, which allows the Senate to mass approve bills that aren’t likely to draw much opposition or controversy.

As of the start of business Wednesday, the Senate has introduced 237 bills; the House has added 378. The House’s list includes all of the supplemental and budget bills for 2018.

While the deadline for bills was Monday, if the General Assembly behaves the way it usually does, you’ll see bills introduced right up until the final Monday of the session.

Remember, it only takes three days to pass a bill.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.