Colorado General Assembly Archives - Colorado Politics
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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 18, 20183min2780

With one day to spare, (whew!) Gov. John Hickenlooper Thursday signed into law the first bill passed by the 2018 General Assembly, a measure to help Colorado nurses.

The new law would allow Colorado’s 78,000 nurses to participate in a 25-state compact that allows them to work across state lines. The compact had a deadline of Friday; without action Colorado nurses would have been limited to just four states that hadn’t passed a revised compact.

The bill, Senate Bill 27, started out in the Senate last Thursday, won final approval on a 33-0 vote on Friday, preliminary approval in the House Tuesday and a 58-2 vote on Wednesday. It’s not quite the record – bills can get through both chambers in as little as three days – but for an early session bill it’s quite the feat.

“But the speed with which Senator Jim Smallwood’s SB-27 flew through the Statehouse had heads spinning and showed how quickly lawmakers can move when they absolutely must,” the Senate GOP said in a statement Wednesday. Smallwood, a Parker Republican, teamed up with Sen. Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat, to get the bill started. In the House, the measure was sponsored by Rep. Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican, and Rep. Tracy Kraft Tharp, an Arvada Democrat.
“Nurses are the unsung heroes of our medical community, and this legislation allows those licensed in the State of Colorado to practice outside of our state without the need for redundant, costly, and unnecessary licenses in other states,” Smallwood said. “SB-27 will facilitate telehealth nursing services, online education, and will even allow our nurses to assist other states in times of natural disaster.”
UPDATED: the Colorado Hospital Association also weighed in on the governor’s action. “Health care was once again the beneficiary of bipartisan efforts working to ensure that Colorado’s health care system remains strong and effective,” said Steven Summer, CHA President and CEO in a statement Thursday.  “It is due to efforts like the [Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact] that Colorado continues to serve as a national model in how legislators can reach across the aisle to ensure patients and communities continue to have access to outstanding health care”.
Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City said he is optimistic that this won’t be the last time lawmakers find speedy solutions to Colorado problems.

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 17, 20184min5740

You won’t find Bob Hope or Bing Crosby but Americans for Prosperity are urging Colorado lawmakers to take the “Road to Freedom,” the conservative organization’s legislative agenda.

Colorado Politics scored an early review of the AFP’s positions on energy, education, transportation and the  Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

You can read the document by clicking here.

“We made great strides in 2017 defending TABOR and advancing policies that promote economic freedom,” Jesse Mallory, AFP’s state director and the former Colorado Senate Republicans’ chief of staff, said in a statement.

“Legislators must show fiscal discipline and prioritize our transportation needs over pet projects and extraneous spending. Attempting to push through a tax increase after such a large increase in the state budget would be insincere, For the sake of Coloradans seeking to enter jobs that require licensing credentials, I urge the General Assembly to revamp our occupational licensing practices, keep energy affordable for working families, expand educational freedom, and protect TABOR from further attacks.”

Here are the highlight of the priority list, in AFP’s words:

Energy
Colorado’s energy policy should ensure energy remains reliable and affordable. The legislature must protect the rights of landowners and allow citizens to develop natural resources instead of imposing restrictive bans. The legislature must also not allow government to pick winners and losers in the industry by doling out corporate welfare and hand-outs to specific companies. That eliminates competition and drives up the cost of energy for Coloradans living paycheck to paycheck. The state should also end its Renewable Energy Standard, which drives up electric rates for residents.

Educational Freedom
Colorado’s parents are eager for more educational freedom. But compared with its neighbors, our state is falling behind. That said, Colorado is on the front lines of the battle for educational freedom, especially at the local level. We will fight back against any bills that seek to limit educational choices for families and children and hold elected officials accountable to protect the right to equally funded and accessible educational choices for families.

TABOR
Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) is a crown jewel of state policy and has been one of the primary reasons the state’s economy is among the strongest in the country, despite lacking other advantages like a right-to-work law or no income tax. TABOR has empowered voters to keep government spending in check, which has enabled the private sector to flourish. Despite constant attack from special interests and politicians who seek to raise taxes and expand bureaucracy, lawmakers must stand firm in their support for limited government and defend TABOR.

Transportation
Over the years, the Colorado legislature has not prioritized funding for our growing transportation needs. Unfortunately, transportation continues to be crowded out in the budget by rapidly growing entitlement programs like Medicaid. The legislature should not ask the voters for a tax increase to fund roads while the state budget continues grow year after year. Instead, they should fund our transportation needs using existing funds. Moreover, the state can enact numerous regulatory and labor reforms to ease the burden of bureaucracy and make each dollar go further – to ensure that Coloradans’ tax dollars are being spent on asphalt and pavement rather than red tape or inflated union contracts.


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 14, 20183min2570

Here are the legislative committee hearings of note for the week ahead in the Colorado Capitol. Committee schedules are subject to change. The daily schedule is available on the legislature’s website.

Monday

The General Assembly is closed on Monday, Jan. 15 for observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; many lawmakers will be participating in the Denver Marade, which begins at Denver’s City Park at 10:45 a.m.

Tuesday

House Finance, 8 a.m. LSB-A

Senate Bill 18-027; allowing nurses to travel in and out of state, background here. This is likely to be the first bill signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2018.

Wednesday

Senate Health & Human Services Committee Upon Adjournment SCR 354

Senate Bill 18-020 to allow registered psychotherapists to perform auricular acudetox, a form of acupuncture used for detox.

Senate Bill 18-050, to allow staff of free-standing emergency rooms to participate in the state’s safe haven law, which allows them to take temporary custody of infants 72 hours old or younger from parent(s).

Thursday

Joint Health and Human Services, 1:30 p.m. Room 271

Presentation on waiting lists for services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Public testimony on waiting lists for services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee, 1:30 p.m. SCR 357

Senate Bill 18-038 to allow the use of reclaimed domestic wastewater to irrigate industrial hemp.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 12, 20183min6010

Democrat Barrett Rothe jumped in the state House District 43 race this week to unseat Republican incumbent Kevin Van Winkle in the Highlands Ranch district.

Rothe is a healthcare industry consultant who is unopposed, so far, in the Democratic primary. Unity Party candidate Scott Wagner also is in the race. Wagner ran as a Democrat last year and got 39.4 percent against Van Winkle, the highest total for a Democrat since Van Winkle was elected to his first two-year term in 2014.

Rothe ran as an unaffiliated candidate for the state Senate District 14 seat in Fort Collins in 2012, a race won by current incumbent John Kefalas, a Democrat.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to connect with voters over the next year,” Rothe said in a statement. “The people in Highlands Ranch deserve a thoughtful debate and a representative that will work for families and small-businesses, not the fringe groups that control their politicians today.”

Rothe called the March 6 caucuses his first test.

“We’re going to work hard to get people to the caucuses,” he said, “Democrats and Republicans are frustrated across the country, none more so than Colorado, and we want everyone in our district to take their frustrations to the caucuses in March, the primaries in June, and then the ballot in November.”

He noted that unaffiliated voters, the stage’s largest bloc, will be allowed to cast ballots in the June primary for the first time, and that favors moderate candidates.

“Both parties would be wise to rethink their strategies in our state,” he stated. “House District 43 in particular is ground zero for frustrated, moderate voters getting hit hardest by the anti-middle class policies coming from Washington, D.C. It’s going to be a year worth watching the seats taken for granted by Republicans.”

Rothe has an undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s in public administration from the University of Colorado Denver. He and his wife, Annelise, own a floral company in Highlands Ranch.

He also has a great website.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 7, 20185min4400

State Senate President Kevin Grantham faces term limits after the next session, but he plays off questions about his political ambitions, assuming he has any.

With the legislative session set to begin Wednesday, he prefers to talk about transportation, fixing state employees’ retirement plans, protecting the energy industry and handing off leadership to another Republican majority in November.

“I’ve got plenty to worry about for the next four months,” he said in an interview at the Waffle Wagon restaurant in Canon City.

And after the session?

“I’ve got four grandkids here in town, so that will keep me plenty busy,” he said.

Until he bangs the gavel in mid-May to close the session, Grantham’s chief concerns are those that face every Coloradan, he said.

Last year, his first as Senate president, Grantham came in ready to make deals. He co-sponsored a bill with Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran that would have asked voters to decide on a sales tax increase for transportation. Ultimately Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee killed the bill, because of the tax hike.

“I think they don’t want to talk about roads,” Grantham said of Democrats. “They want to hold roads hostage for their precious transit. I tried to strike a deal last year that would take care of both. I couldn’t get that across the finish line.

“But we still have to deal with the crisis that is roads right now. I’m still willing to sit down and talk to these folks, but when you have a gift (the expected revenue surplus) all packaged up for ya that is the $100 million, $200 million, whatever, not counting the potential savings coming in from the Washington, D.C., tax cuts and the surplus we might see from that, if it doesn’t happen now under these circumstances, then when?”

He also expects an offense and defense around the energy issue again this session. Energy development promises to be one of the questions candidates will encounter this year. Senate Republicans are siding with the industry, which faces enough regulations, they contend.

Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville, the Democratic caucus leader on environmental issues, is promising bills to give local communities more say-so in regulating future oil and gas wells. Those bills will die before a Republican-led committee, guaranteed.

“We like cars that drive, we like homes that get heated and it’s an important industry for everyone in this state — not just the economy but the practical aspect of what the industry does for us — so the constant barrage of attacks on them will be met with that in mind,” Grantham said.

Republicans will again try to shift the focus of a reauthorized Colorado Energy Office from renewable energy to promote all forms of power equally. A partisan intense debate left the office without funding last session.

“We’ll probably run something similar to what we had last year,” Grantham said.

He has some agreement with John Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor. In his budget proposal for next year, Hickenlooper asks state employees to pay more into their pensions to help fill in a shortfall the fund faces over the next 30 years.

The Public Employees Retirement Association wants taxpayers to chip in on the gap, as well.

“I think the governor’s solutions or recommendations are an improvement over what PERA recommended,” Grantham said. “I think at the end of the day if we end up only with the governor’s suggestions, we’re better off.
“We haven’t fixed it, but we’re better off. But you might see some more bold suggestions coming from members of our caucus, but this is all part of the legislative process.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 7, 20186min145
A rosy December revenue forecast gave lawmakers reason to believe they quite possibly will have an extra $300 million to spend in the legislative session that starts Wednesday, and that’s just one of their problems. The General Assembly gavels in Wednesday, and for the ensuing 120 days 100 lawmakers will debate about 700 bills and […]

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