Gardner votes against recognizing human role in climate change
After campaigning successfully last year as a “different kind of Republican,” Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is under fire from conservationists for voting Wednesday against an amendment stating that humans contribute to climate change, something 69 percent of his constituents believe to be a fact. Fifteen Senate Republicans, including 2016 presidential contender Sen. Rand Paul, joined Democrats in backing the amendment, but not Gardner.
VA officials struggle to put price tag on cost of Aurora hospital
If only it were the $64,000 question. But more than a decade after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began plotting a new hospital in Aurora, no one — not the VA, not Congress, not even the contractor — knows how much the facility will cost once it’s finished. The only certainty is that the final price tag will smash the project’s initial estimate of $328 million. Less certain, but likely, is that the total cost ultimately will crack the $1 billion mark.
Buck votes to pass Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act
Increased severance tax revenue may go toward TABOR refunds
The Colorado Municipal League is concerned over what Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to do with severance tax revenue this year. In a letter to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee earlier this month, the governor’s office asked lawmakers to take some of the money out of expected severance tax revenue to protect other parts of the budget from additional funding they might not otherwise get because of constitutionally required taxpayer refunds. The taxes, which come from production of such minerals as oil and natural gas, go to fund a wide variety of things, not the least of which come back to counties and municipalities as direct payments to offset production impacts.
Republicans vote to end Pay Equity Commission
“Hard working women across Colorado deserve better than they got from the Republican Colorado Senate majority today,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, director of Progress Now. “We call on the General Assembly to immediately take up a new bill to continue the vital work of Pay Equity Commission to its conclusion. There is too much at stake for this short-sightedness.”
RELATED: Senate panel disbands Colorado pay-equity panel, angering labor groups
Senate Republicans get their say on civil unions, kill clarifying bill
Senate Republicans on Wednesday flexed their political muscle, killing a bill intended to clarify problems created by the legalization of civil unions in 2013 and the unexpected allowance of gay marriage a year later. A GOP-controlled committee voted 3-2 against a measure that Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman said was designed to stem “legal chaos” in case couples decide to divorce or one partner dies.
RELATED: Colorado rejects legal clarification for same-sex unions
RELATED: Civil unions fix killed in committee
RELATED: Republicans kill Democratic civil unions clean-up bill
Legislation could add hours for warnings on fires, floods
Colorado state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, is drumming up support for a $10 million effort to better forecast wildfires and floods, which could save hundreds times more in property losses from any one single event by giving evacuees, firefighters and other early responders a big head start. The cost of natural disasters is compounded by the lives and scenic beauty they consume.
Colorado GOP leaders reject funds for noncitizen driver’s license law
Colorado Republican lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a request to shore up the state’s cash-starved driver’s license program for those living in the country illegally. GOP members on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee took advantage of a momentary majority and voted against a plan to extend a supplemental funding proposal meant to keep the program’s five offices open. JBC member Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, said he voted against the legislation in 2013 and didn’t support the new request for money to expand it.
GOP lawmakers target executive bonuses at Colorado health exchange
Upset about lofty pay for executives at Colorado’s troubled health insurance exchange, Republican lawmakers Wednesday advanced a measure to strip Connect for Health’s authority to issue bonuses. The measure won approval by a 3-2 vote along partisan lines in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, one of the early signs of how the chamber’s shift to GOP control is making a difference.
RELATED: Colorado may order new health exchange review
RELATED: Health exchange could face audit
RELATED: First legislative attacks on Colorado health benefit exchange get OK
RELATED: Democrats join GOP behind bill to audit Colorado health insurance exchange
Legislators ease into talks on rewriting rules for medical pot
A hearing portended fireworks Tuesday afternoon in the Senate Finance Committee. Chairman Tim Neville, R-Littleton, started the two-hour discussion of regulating licenses for growers, sellers and vendors by calling medical marijuana “the granddaddy of them all” and “everyone’s favorite” topic. What is at stake as legislators this session re-examine the rules is how the business of medical marijuana continues independently of its recreational, heavily taxed counterpart. Legislative changes this session could strengthen or weaken requirements on the businesses and employees who get the pot all the way from the seeds to the patient.