Colorado Legislature

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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.

HART VAN DENBURG / COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO

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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A bill that would increase the penalty for texting while driving is gaining traction in Colorado after friends of a couple killed in an accident caused by texting and driving testified at the state capitol.

As The Denver Post reports, friends of Brian and Jacque Lehner, who were killed when a woman who was driving drunk and texting on her phone struck the couple’s motorcycle, told lawmakers Wednesday that it’s time to stiffen the penalties for doing so.

Residents of Colorado will need to provide proof of ownership for certain recreational vehicles to meet a new requirement enacted by the Colorado Legislature to assure that stolen vehicles are not being bought or sold.

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Marijuana sales taxes could rise as much as 50 percent if the Colorado Legislature approves a measure proposed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday to help bridge the gap in school funding.

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As Democratic lawmakers in Colorado push back against the GOP’s attempt to repeal Obamacare, some Coloradans who benefited from it are wondering what it will be replaced with.

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In his State of the State address Thursday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed boosting rural access to high-speed Internet.

To boost economic development in rural areas, one of the governor’s proposals is to create an office focused on expanding broadband Internet access to the 30 percent or so rural households in the state that don’t have it, with an overall goal of ensuring that 100 percent of rural houses have it by 2020.

50states.com

The Colorado Legislature begins the 2017 term today with what The Denver Post describes as a daunting to-do list and divided chambers.

The issues facing this year’s Legislature include questions on how to improve the state’s roads, how to put more dollars in the classroom and how to boost the state’s economy.

As they seek compromise on how to best tackle these areas, The Denver Post reports, there are 10 issues facing lawmakers during the 2017 session.

Colorado Independent

During the 2015-16 session of the Colorado House of Representatives, Democrats held a 3-seat advantage over Republicans.

That could change tonight. Here are some Colorado house elections you should be keeping an eye on tonight, according to The Colorado Independent.

In Broomfield’s District 33, Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera has reached her term limit. The seat has flipped between Democrats and Republicans three times in the past four elections.

Joey Bunch / Denver Post

A women’s organization in Colorado has drawn the attention of The Denver Post for giving its highest marks to Democrats. On a recent scorecard of Colorado legislators, the Women’s Lobby of Colorado gave almost every Democrat a score of 100.

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The Colorado legislative session ended last week, and it was a period of missed opportunities, says Colorado Public Radio. The two parties agreed on what the problems facing Coloradans were. The trouble is, they couldn’t agree on the solutions. The result: the state’s residents still face many issues going forward.

National Conference of State Legislatures / fivethirtyeight

Are higher-paid legislators better at running their states? There are two schools of thought. Many experts believe when it comes to state government, you get what you pay for. Conversely, states where lawmakers bring in higher salaries have often been linked with corruption. Even so, states like Texas with a very low legislative income are certainly not free from corruption. And low pay can limit state representation to the wealthy.

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A raft of new laws went into effect in Colorado last week, reports Fox 31 Denver.

One major law will mean money in the pockets of the state’s lowest-paid workers. The minimum wage jumped eight cents, to $8.31. The minimum for tipped workers is now up from $5.21 to $5.29. However, this is a small raise compared to the $15 wage some workers had asked for. The new rate is merely part of a state mandate that the minimum wage be adjusted for inflation each year.

In Integrity Rankings, Every State Scores Poorly

Nov 16, 2015
Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity has released its 2015 State Integrity Investigation, reports The Rural Blog. The rankings are based on various measures of legislative integrity, transparency, and accountability. And the news isn’t good. No state scored higher than a C overall.

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The Denver Post reported the Colorado Legislature will open the legislative session facing these issues:

  • Education.  How to finance education with the failure of Amendment 66.  With significant reserves in the state education fund, lawmakers could use this pot of money to initiate some of the bill's more popular elements, such as a rolling student count system rather than a single count day for purposes of school funding. A financial transparency website that tracks money to the individual school level also proved popular.
  • Flood recovery.  September's floods impacted 24 counties and killed 10 people. To date, millions of dollars in state and federal money have gone toward the disaster recovery.
  • Gun Battles.  Republicans will attempt to "reform, rescind or revise" some of the gun bills.