Opinion

Noonan: Mulligan legislation has poor success record at Capitol

Author: Paula Noonan - May 21, 2016 - Updated: May 21, 2016

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Paula NoonanPaula Noonan

Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, chastised Gov. John Hickenlooper and Capitol leadership at a recent luncheon for a poor record of accomplishment in the 2016 General Assembly. She wants legislators to take another crack at reclassifying the hospital provider fee and reforming construction defects law, two issues that got stuck in the 120-day session. But while the governor is reportedly considering whether to call legislators back for a special session, it’s unlikely that a session do-over will unstick the stuck.

Let’s take a look at mulligan legislation considered again this year by lawmakers.

Occasionally, a bill does get passed on its return trip. The Define Tuition Status Unaccompanied Homeless Youth bill passed in 2016 when Sen. Owen Hill, a Colorado Springs Republican who also signed on as a sponsor of the bill, voted yes to move the legislation out of the Senate education committee, where it had died in 2015.

But that’s the rare exception. (Keep in mind, bills cost about $20,000 apiece to run, at least the first time through, so these can be costly exercises in making a point without accomplishing anything.)

The Republican Nevilles, father Tim in the Senate and son Patrick in the House, are big on do-over message bills. “Rights” are their specialty. In 2015 the Nevilles sponsored SB15-285, a Women’s Right to Accurate Health Care. Sen. Beth Martinez-Humenik, a Republican, killed that bill in committee. A bill with the same title, HB16-1218, sponsored by Tim Neville in the Senate and state Rep. Lori Saine in the House, went down 7-6 in a House committee vote in 2016.

The Nevilles sponsored the Parents’ Bill of Rights and the State Freedom of Conscience Protection Act, both repeat losers in 2015 and 2016. The Concealed Handgun Carry in Public Schools bills, HB15-1168 and HB16-1204, also lost.

Democrats have their “rights” bills too. The Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Jovan Melton of Aurora and Joe Salazar of Thornton, went down two years in a row, killed by two different House committees when two Democrats voted against the bills in each committee. Gender Identification on Birth Certificates, sponsored by Adams County Democrats Rep. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Jesse Ulibarri lost twice in front of the same committee. Three end-of-life options bills died over two years in one House committee, one Senate committee and on the House floor.

Bills tinkering with the tax code also show up again and again. Conservation easement tax mitigation bills have a multi-year history. The legislation tries to unscrew the tax hit based on fraudulent easement appraisals during the run up to the Great Recession.

The Conservation Easement Tax Credit Landowner Relief bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jon Becker and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, lost in House Appropriations in 2016. The Assist Conservation Easement Tax Credit Buyers bill, sponsored by Sen. John Kefalas, lost in Senate Finance in 2015. Back in 2010, the Conservation Easement Credit Validity bill lost in House Finance. Colorado’s Department of Revenue should resolve these cases to take the need for these bills off the books.

Bills to repeal limits on ammunition magazines, sponsored by Republican Reps. Steve Humphrey and Lori Saine and Sen. Vickie Marble, have multiple year histories. So do the Protect Human Life at Conception bills sponsored by Humphrey and Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg. HB15-1041 made abortion a class-three felony. HB16-1113 went for a class-one felony.

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.