Capitol Update for March 22, 2012

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Senator Kevin Grantham - District 2

Today was the 72nd day of the 120-day legislative session.  Here is a brief update on some of what has happened since the mid-session update.


Update on 3 Important Bills

HB 12-1007 would have required that state administrative agencies perform regulatory analysis on all rules prior to a rule-making hearing.  It would also have required that the analysis include an assessment of the rule’s impact on jobs.  Under current law, an analysis is only performed if one is requested.  Unfortunately, this bill, like so many sensible bills this session, was killed.  The Senate Local Government Committee postponed the bill indefinitely on Tuesday with a party-line vote of 3-2.

SB 12-093 would have required hospitals in Colorado to provide patients a list of services that the institution does not provide for moral or religious reasons, including their right to obtain those services from another provider.  As we discussed last update, the government has no business forcing hospitals to advertise services to which they have moral objections.  I am pleased to report that the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee killed it on a party-line vote of 5-4.

HB 12-1159 was carried in the Senate by Senator Roberts of Durango and would have altered the method of election for county commissioners for counties with populations under 70,000.  Under current law, counties with populations under that benchmark are prohibited from electing their commissioners on a pure district basis, rather than the current district-at-large hybrid method.  This bill would have given voters the ability to change to a pure district method, an option for which counties with populations above 70,000 have the right to opt.  The bill passed the House with near unanimous support, only 3 Democrats and 1 Republican dissented.  It was assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee in the Senate where it was killed on a party-line vote of 3-2, Democrats supporting postponing it indefinitely and Republicans opposing killing it.


Good Democrat Bills Killed by . . . Fellow Democrats

HB 12-1115 was carried in the House by Representative Liston, a Republican, and in the Senate by Senator Jahn, a Democrat.  This bill would have required the legislative council to designate a 5-day waiting period after the introduction of new legislation in order to allow Colorado businesses the opportunity to submit comments on the bill’s impact on them.  After that period, the council would have compiled the comments into a summary sheet to accompany the bill’s fiscal note.  When the bill was in the House, 8 Democrats voted for it along with all the Republicans.  However, when it came to the Senate, it was assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee where it was postponed indefinitely on a party-line vote of 3-2.

HB 12-1123, sponsored by Senator Williams, a Democrat, would have required the public utilities commission to report annually to the joint house and senate transportation committees regarding matters discussed on the record in energy rate case hearings that were decided by the commission during the immediately preceding 2 years.  The bill passed the House with unanimous Republican AND Democrat support. However, Senate President Shaffer assigned it to the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee where it died yesterday on a party-line vote of 3-2.


Up and Coming

SB 12-157 is certainly one of the most important pieces of legislation this session and probably of the decade.  It reforms the state’s outdated telecommunications services laws.  Among the reforms is the gradual reduction and eventual elimination of the “high cost support mechanism,” a subsidy awarded for building telecommunications infrastructure in areas where the cost would have proven prohibitive.  An example of how this works is that companies are still receiving subsidies for infrastructure they installed in Front Range communities when the areas were still rural.  The bill reduces the subsidy and applies some of the savings to investments in a broadband fund.  It was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee from the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee on a 5-1 vote.

Thank you for taking time to review some of what has gone on at the Capitol.  As always, feel free to contact me, if you have any questions or feedback.

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