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State

Colorado state news and state government coverage from our correspondents on the Front Range. 

Friday was the last day for Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign, veto or let bills become law without his signature. He only vetoed two bills passed during the legislative session, and the final bill he signed was controversial.

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Colorado is ramping up efforts to try and prevent marijuana from being diverted to the black market. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two bi-partisan bills into law Thursday.

An audit released this week shows the Colorado Office of Film Television Media failed to properly award incentives for a number of projects.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a host of bills into law on Monday, including a measure to increase the fine for rolling coal.

One of the biggest trade shows in the outdoor industry is still looking for a new home after the Outdoor Industry Association decided to leave Utah after two decades. Colorado has thrown its hat in the ring as a new potential site for the event, which brings together many of the world’s largest outdoor companies.

“One of the things we’re going to have to focus on is how a blended economy really works,” said Luis Benitez, head of Colorado’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry.   

One of the most significant pieces of legislation to come out of this year’s legislative session was signed into law Tuesday. Senate Bill 267 avoided deep cuts to hospitals and put about 2 billion dollars into road funding. 

 

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the state’s roughly $26 billion budget into law on Friday. 

CDOT will need ten times the $1.88 billion dollars awarded this legislative session for infrastructure projects around the state, says executive director Shailen Bhatt. That money was approved by lawmakers in a last minute deal after a sweeping transportation bill failed at the statehouse last month

Bente Birkeland

State lawmakers may come back to the capitol sooner than expected. Gov. John Hickenlooper is considering calling a special legislative session to, among other things, address transportation funding.

Despite some setbacks, Colorado lawmakers are praising the now completed 2017 legislative session. Lawmakers avoided major funding cuts to hospitals and took a step toward jump-starting condominium developments. But they failed to send a measure to voters that sought to raise the state’s sales tax to fund road infrastructure repair.

Bente Birkeland spoke with Democratic Speaker of the House Chrisanta Duran about some of the major pieces of legislation that passed through the Democratic House and Republican Senate.

A last-minute bill to require oil and gas companies to map information on all of their flow lines and gathering lines is making its way through the statehouse. It’s in response to a house explosion that killed two people in Firestone.

Colorado’s annual legislative session ends Wednesday, May 10. Several hundred bills have already passed this year. But some major items still remain. Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Nic Garcia at Chalkbeat Colorado about what’s left to do.

Colorado energy regulators are trying to quell the public’s fears after a house built near an oil and gas well exploded, killing two men. The explosion happened in the small community of Firestone, thirty miles north of Denver, where oil and gas wells are common.  State officials are still investigating the explosion and don’t know what caused it.

Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com about the tragedy and what it could mean for future oil and gas legislation.

If lawmakers won’t address the issue of transportation, several groups say they will -- through a ballot initiative asking Colorado voters to raise taxes to improve roads, bridges and transit projects.

One of the most important advocates of the plan to increase taxes in the legislature was an unlikely ally --the Senate’s top Republican. But he couldn’t prevent members of his own party from defeating House Bill 1242 at the end of April.

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Wednesday is the deadline to pass the state’s budget for the next fiscal year. Lawmakers have not yet met to finalize the plan. This delay could put the legislature in a tight spot in the final days of session.

Earlier this month, Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Nick Coltrain won the First Amendment Award at the Society for Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies for a battle with Colorado State University. He wanted to know if there were inequities in pay between men and women -- and discovered there were, but only after a lot of work. The school provided him with a printout of all the information -- 150 pages of an Excel spreadsheet --  rather than the files themselves.

A bipartisan measure to give people in rural Colorado financial help to cover high health insurance costs failed in a state Senate committee this week.

Colorado’s $28.6 billion budget is nearing the end of its legislative journey.

Each year, the six-member, bipartisan Joint Budget Committee crafts a balanced budget before sending it to the House and Senate for amendments. The JBC then has to reconcile those changes.

But in most cases, they go back to the original budget they spend months writing.

This year, the the House and Senate have added about 30 amendments to the so-called “long bill”.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is term limited and the race to succeed him in 2018 is already underway. Some big names have recently announced their campaigns and much earlier than usual. The moves could impact one of the biggest agenda items still facing lawmakers during this year’s legislative session – transportation funding.

Ed Sealover, a reporter for The Denver Business Journal, and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com, spoke to Bente Birkeland about the race.

Colorado’s budget handily passed the state Senate on March 29. It has bipartisan support and increased four percent compared to the previous year. In many ways the debate was a microcosm of the entire legislative session. It showed lawmakers working together, complex policy issues,  partisan fights and political statements. It is balanced, as required by the state constitution, but reflects how Colorado lacks enough money to fully fund schools, health care and roads.

Many lawmakers are not happy with how the bill turned out.

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