Colorado Legislature

The Colorado Capitol was busy into the early hours of Wednesday morning, as hundreds of people came to weigh in on a sweeping overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations. The marathon 12-hour Senate hearing ended at 2:00 a.m. with the Democratic bill passing out of committee on a party-line vote.

When Jennifer Knowles helped her three sons set up a lemonade stand in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood last summer, she thought she was teaching them about the joys of running a small business.

But then someone called the police and the stand was shut down because the family didn’t have the right permit.

Flanked by sheriffs and gun safety advocates, Democratic lawmakers unveiled an extreme risk protection order bill — a measure aimed at reducing gun violence — at a press conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

"We're on the clock right now folks," Rep. Tom Sullivan (D), whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, said. "... If we keep talking about it, people are going to keep dying and this is a simple thing to do to save lives."

Colorado lawmakers are once again debating a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy for youth in the state. The practice seeks to change a gay or non-straight person's sexual orientation to heterosexual. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has said the practice does not work, can be harmful, and furthermore, that variations in sexual orientation and gender expression are normal.

Lawmakers in Colorado say they're seeing a growing number of cases where patients visit a hospital in their insurance network but unknowingly get treated by an out-of-network specialist or surgeon.

Then the patients get sent a surprise bill, and the worrying starts.

The biggest hearing of the 2019 legislative session to date — on the future of sex education in Colorado — brought hundreds of people to the state capitol Wednesday.

The emotional, and at times graphic, hearing wrapped up just before midnight, when the Democratic measure cleared the House Health and Insurance Committee on a party-line vote.

Last year, the town of Avon got little resistance from its residents when it asked them to approve a $3 tax on every pack of cigarettes sold in the town.

Town Council member Scott Prince said it was supported by more than 70 percent of voters.

"There was zero campaigning done on behalf of that tax measure," Prince said. "It really speaks volumes about the residents and how much people see the impacts of tobacco and cigarette products."

Health care is emerging as a top priority for both Democratic and Republicans at the State Capitol this session, and some of the proposed legislation is already packing hearing rooms.

One of the bills would add autism to a list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. Similar legislation was vetoed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper last year.

Colorado’s new legislative session is underway, with Democrats in charge of both chambers and the governor’s office. Blue control might be a game changer for health care legislation. Before, it was a stalemate. Democrats controlled the House and blocked Republican bills. The GOP controlled the Senate and blocked Democratic bills.

Colorado Democrats promised to pass paid family leave, address the rising cost of health care and pursue a gun control measure on Friday as they gaveled in a new legislative session.

New House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, called gun violence in the state an “epidemic” that needs to be addressed this session.

Democrats and Republicans didn’t waste any time choosing new leaders for the upcoming legislative session in Colorado.

It felt almost like a lively and cheerful family reunion when the growing Democratic House majority gathered in the Old State Library Thursday afternoon to promote KC Becker of Boulder to the position of House Speaker.

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On Tuesday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bills aimed at boosting consumer privacy protections and improving the state’s long-embattled driver’s license program for people living in the U.S. illegally.

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It was difficult enough when Velma Donahue lost her husband, Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue in 2016, but to make matters worse, when her daughter got sick a few days later, Donahue was informed that they no longer had health insurance.

Colorado Ill-Prepared For Economic Downturn

Dec 4, 2017
50states.com

Colorado is among the least prepared states in the country for the next recession.

As The Denver Post reports, a new analysis from Moody’s Analytics found that the state’s rainy day fund of $613 million is less than half the money needed for even a moderate economic downturn.

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The Colorado Legislature begins its special session this week – something Gov. John Hickenlooper said Republican lawmakers had turned into a “political circus.”

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A sales tax hike to improve Colorado roads will not make it to the ballot in November.

As The Denver Post reports, FixItCO, a coalition pushing for the sales tax hike, made the announcement last week, but the organization is pledging to renew its efforts for the 2018 election.

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Colorado schools will soon get funding to voluntarily test for lead in their drinking water.

As The Denver Post reports, House Bill 1306 received bipartisan backing and plenty of support from school and health officials. Lead in drinking water can lead to long-term health problems in children.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the measure into law last week.

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in not signing two measures, will in essence allow them to become law.

As The Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper’s decision not to sign the bills into is a rare move that he said is designed to protest actions by lawmakers to “veil a bill’s true cost to the taxpayers.”

Hickenlooper signs Colorado budget into law

May 28, 2017
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With a stroke of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pen, Colorado’s $26.8 billion budget that boosts school funding, averts cuts to hospitals and secures funding for a new state-led program to combat homelessness, was signed into law Friday.

As The Denver Post reports, the final version of the bill includes a $185 per-pupil increase in education funding and $15 million new spending on an affordable housing program aimed at helping the homeless,

Jim Beckel / The Oklahoman

It’s no secret that Republicans tend to win more elections on the High Plains than Democrats. But with the recent struggles in Donald Trump’s White House, the national media has been flooded with stories about how the GOP may be in trouble in next year’s midterm elections.

With that in mind, we decided to have a look at exactly what the balance of power looks like in our listening area.

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The 2017 Colorado legislative session is being called by many as one of the state’s most productive, thanks in part to a coalition of moderates in the state Senate.

RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Colorado Republicans have now pulled the plug on a bill that sought to repeal the state’s health care exchange, reports The Denver Post.

Meanwhile, rural hospitals received a bit of good news. The Colorado Legislature has passed a bill preventing $528 million in cuts to hospital funding. Some conservative lawmakers opposed the bill, as they say it will only lead to more spending and debt. Instead, they said the measure should have gone to the voters.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Legislation that would have given Colorado lawmakers the ability to increase hunting and fishing fees died in a Senate committee last week.

As The Denver Post reports, House Bill 1321 would have helped Colorado Parks and Wildlife raise money to  avoid reducing access to hunting and fishing areas, closing fish hatcheries, slashing license allotments and reducing conservation work.

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Colorado lawmakers Thursday announced Thursday an agreement to avoid massive cuts to the state’s hospitals.

As The Denver Post reports, the measure would reverse a planned $528 million cut to hospitals, while boosting funding to roads and schools.

Colorado budget bill heads to governor's desk

May 4, 2017
50states.com

Colorado’s $26.8 billion state budget bill headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk Wednesday after the Senate approved the final version on a 33-1 vote.

As The Denver Post reports, the Senate approved the final version of the budget despite reservations about a move to balance the budget by cutting $264 million from hospitals – a move that is worth double that once federal matching dollars are added.

The Denver Post

A ballot measure approved by Colorado voters in November is being challenged in federal court.

Colorado facing teaching shortage

Apr 19, 2017
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In Colorado, the teacher shortage is growing larger each year with rural districts struggling the most to fill teaching positions.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is in need of around 3,000 new teachers, but the graduation rate from teacher-preparation programs has declined by close to 25 percent over the past five years.

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Colorado lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday about the financial difficulties facing much of rural Colorado, which helped a bill aimed at preventing cuts to rural communities in the state pass its first test.

As The Denver Post reports, officials from rural schools, hospitals and business groups testified about the dire financial situation facing much of rural Colorado – a situation that they fear will only get worse in coming years.

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As The Denver Post reports, deteriorating, congested and unsafe roads and bridges are costing Colorado drivers a total of $6.8 billion.

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On Monday, a Republican lawmaker announced a bill that would allow victims of certain crimes committed by illegal immigrants to sue politicians who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

As The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/30/crime-victims-sue-politicians-sanctuary-cities/ reports, the proposal targets “sanctuary cities” like Denver, Boulder and Aurora, where police and other officials have said they won’t enforce federal immigration laws.

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