Join the Douglas County Business Alliance and the Douglas County Delegation
Senator Ted Harvey
Senator Mark Scheffel
Representative Frank McNulty
Representative Carole Murray
Representative Chris Holbert
Representative Polly Lawrence
For a Post-Session Wrap Up
Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 7:30am-9:30am
DCBA Day at the Capitol
2013 Session Sine Die Report
May 08, 2013
2013 Session Facts
Democrat/Republican split in House of Representatives: 37/28
Democrat/Republican split in the Senate: 20/15
Number of bills introduced during the 2013 Legislative Session: 619
Number of bills signed by the Governor as of 5/08/13: 185
Number of bills vetoed as of 5/08/13: 0
Last day for the Governor to act: June 5, 2013
After a tense election that brought in 33 new legislators, and switched the House to Democrat control, expectations were set for a session with a more partisan tone and leadership that sought to win big on issues that failed under Republican leadership. Issues like civil unions and the ASSET bill which were very contentious in past years, garnered a few Republican supporters willing to cross the aisle and took less time to debate. The emergence of new hot button issues such as gun control, immigration, energy policy and changes to the elections process set off tempers and warring headlines, and kept legislators at the Capitol many late evenings.
One issue in particular captivated the Capitol and set the divisive, partisan tone that permeated the rest of the session. After the mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, Connecticut, the Democrats pursued a gun control package that ended up being one of the toughest in the nation. For weeks, gun control legislation garnered protests inside and outside the Capitol building, long committee hearings, lengthy floor work, and heated exchanges among members. The tenor of the debate on gun control led to increased partisanship and divisiveness over bills that in other circumstances may not have been controversial.
The legislature was also put on the spot with the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012. The ballot measure, which legalized recreational marijuana, included a provision that the regulatory framework for the measure had to be established by July 1, 2013. A taskforce appointed by the Governor met for long hours and made recommendations to a legislative committee, which resulted in introduction of a package of legislation that was debated until the final day of the session. All three pieces of marijuana legislation, including a bill to assess a 15% excise and sales tax on marijuana passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support.
FY 2013-14 Budget Process
For the first time since the recession, the Joint Budget Committee had additional revenues available and acted to increase funding for public schools, higher education, safety net programs, state infrastructure, and to increase the state’s reserve. However, one noticeable item that wasn’t initially funded was the Governor’s top priority project, the repurposing of Ft. Lyon into a rehabilitation facility for veterans and homeless persons. After several setbacks, the measure was ultimately funded through an amendment added to another measure in the final week of the session.
Unlike last year, the budget did not receive wide bipartisan support. In the Senate, not one Republican voted in favor of the budget. On the other hand, House Minority Leader Waller worked hard to give members of his caucus a reason to vote for the budget. He worked with Speaker Ferrandino to craft a deal to fully pay off the $142 million FPPA loan the state took out in the 1970’s. The House amended version of the budget received 10 Republican votes. The Governor touted the following items included in the budget or the School Finance Act:
· Increase funding to K-12 education by $210.2M. Funding for an additional 3,200 preschool slots and $3 million for a Governor’s initiative is aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of teachers in hard to serve districts. The state’s contribution to higher education was increased by $31 million, and an additional $5 million added in need-based financial aid.
· A 2% salary survey increase for state employees, representing the first raise for state workers in five years.
· $7.5 million for additional mental health placements and school based mental health services as well as $19.8 million for a statewide mental health crisis system
· Enhancing safety net services by appropriating $5 million for mandatory reporting of elder abuse, $13.5 million to decrease the developmental disabilities waiting list, and an additional $13.3 million for the Governor’s “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy 2.0,”comprehensive child welfare plan that funds strengthening prevention and intervention services, improving public awareness, and enhancing training and technology for child welfare professionals.
· With $188 million in one-time revenues, the JBC used $44.9 million to fund 70 controlled maintenance projects, $93.7 million for new projects including $5 million to complete the Capitol Dome restoration, and $4 million to jumpstart the renovation of the library on the Auraria campus.
· Increased the state reserve from 4% to 5%.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs or an Attack on Business?
For the past two years, when a bill was opposed by either business or consumer interests, it was likely to pass one chamber and be killed in the other chamber due to the majority split. However, with Democrats in the majority in the House and Senate, Colorado’s business community knew they would be playing defense on many bills introduced. A diverse coalition of business organizations put up a formidable defense to the significant number of bills that were seen as anti-business. Organizations including the Colorado Competitive Council, CACI, Colorado Contractors Association, NFIB, Douglas County Business Alliance, and Colorado Concern, were able to successfully amend three anti-business bills to make them more palatable. HB 1292, was this year’s version of a preference bill which required any contractors who bid on state contracts to prove at least 80% of their employees are residents of Colorado. The business community was able to get all of their amendments adopted onto the bill except the amendment addressing radius. SB 018, which disallowed businesses from making hiring decisions based on credit score was amended to the point that many business organizations took a neutral position. The last success was amending the expansion of the family medical leave act in Colorado. As introduced, the bill would have allowed an employee to take up to six months of family medical leave, for a very broad description of family members who weren’t dependents. The bill was ultimately narrowed to include only domestic partners and those in a civil union (the federal FMLA doesn’t cover these categories).
Two pieces of legislation that threatened businesses of all sizes were killed by a combination of effective lobbying and pressure from the Governor’s office. HB 1227, the Wage Theft Act, would have created criminal penalties for those accused and found guilty of wage theft. However, there were lots of holes in the bill so the sponsor killed it in its first committee. Representative Singer did promise to bring the bill back next year after working with all pertinent stakeholders in the interim. In the waning days of session, after the bill passed the House, HB 1304 was laid over by sponsor Senator Guzman. The bill would have allowed union workers in a defensive lock out to collect unemployment benefits. Governor Ritter, considered a labor friendly Governor, vetoed a similar bill in 2009.
Business interests did not prevail on HB 1136, which allows compensatory and punitive damages in cases of discrimination against employers with less than 15 workers. Although an amendment was added in the House to place caps on total compensatory and punitive damages that can be awarded, there is no limit to the total amount of plaintiff’s attorney’s fees. The business community was disappointed that Governor Hickenlooper signed the measure in to law this week.
A New Look at Transportation Priorities
Legislation related to transportation was fairly light this year. HB 1110 was the result of an 18 month stakeholder process facilitated by the Governor’s Energy office. The bill reworks the alternative fuel taxing system, and adding a $50 fee on electric vehicles. The EV fee will be split $30 to the HUTF to pay for road and bridge work and $20 to a fund to build EV charging infrastructure. The legislature also approved an update and extension to the state tax credit available for alternative fuel vehicles.
Another key piece of legislation was SB 048 by Representative Tyler and Senator Todd. The bill allows local governments to use HUTF monies to invest in transit. The construction community was concerned that with so little funding for roads as is, the bill would divert even more money away from it. The House amended the bill to cap the amount of HUTF for operations of a transit project at 15%. This year’s preference bill, HB 1292, was a perfect example of collaboration and cooperation. The business and contracting industry were able to work successfully with the sponsors and proponents to significantly amend the legislation to address contractor’s concerns about the initial proposal.
As it becomes more and more apparent that the current gas tax funding mechanism for the HUTF isn’t sustainable, the legislature was urged this session to explore alternatives. Move Colorado, a non profit transportation advocacy organization, hosted weekly presentations for the Joint Transportation Committees on topics including: Alternative Funding Options/Tolling, VMT, Congestion Pricing, and P3’s; Economic Development Benefits of Transportation; Transit and RTD; and the Farm to Market Movement. The interim Transportation Legislative Review Committee will continue these presentations through the summer and are contemplating a possible ballot measure in 2014 to raise Colorado’s gas tax which has been stagnant since 1992.
Oil – Gas – Energy
The oil and gas industry expected to be the target of far left anti-oil and gas legislation this year, however, rural electric associations and cooperatives were surprised that the environmental industry also pushed a significant increase in the renewable energy portfolio requirements a month before session was set to end.
With the support of the Governor’s office and administration, industry was fairly effective at either defeating or watering down attacks on Colorado’s oil and gas industry and the oversight authority of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC). HB 1273, which created additional funding for local government oil and gas oversight activities, as well as HB 1275 that would require a Front Range oil and gas health study, were both killed in committee due to questions of cost and effectiveness. HB 1316 attempted to direct the commission to adopt uniform statewide groundwater sampling rules as opposed to the mix they have currently. The bill passed the House and its first Senate committee, however, it was killed on the Senate floor with the help of pro-industry Democrats.
One of the biggest threats to industry was HB 1267 by Representative Foote and Senator Jones, which increased maximum penalties for oil and gas violations. Industry agreed that the fines should be higher, however, they didn’t agree with the level of fine. The introduced bill placed a minimum fine of $5,000 a day for gross violations and a $15,000 daily fine for others. Industry was able to strip off the minimum fine on the Senate floor. This was a bill that industry was willing to compromise on, however, the House and Senate couldn’t agree on the elimination of the minimum fine so the bill ended up dying on the calendar. Representative Foote is also sponsoring HB 1269 which as introduced wouldn’t allow those in the oil and gas industry to serve on the OGCC. However, opponents successfully added an amendment that would allow industry representatives to serve on the Commission after disclosing any financial interest in oil and gas operations. The amendment was stripped in a Senate committee though so Republicans and five Democrats voted to kill the bill on the Senate Floor. Another notable bill was SB 202, which originally mandated the addition of 30 oil and gas inspectors so facilities could be inspected annually. The JBC was able to fund 14 inspectors only, and the annual inspection requirement was stripped from the bill. .
Yet, even given the extraordinary slate of controversial issues this session, no bill ignited the passion and length of debate more than SB 252. SB 252 sponsored by Senate President Morse and Speaker Ferrandino, originally required that Rural Electric Associations and Cooperatives reach a 25% renewable energy portfolio by 2020. The bill also imposes new distributed generation requirements on cooperative electric associations that effectively will require utilities to subsidize customer-owned generation through higher rates charged to those who cannot afford their own generation. This action replaces a 2007 agreement which set the standard at 10% by 2020 and treated all electric cooperatives equally. The bill was introduced on April 3rd and passed the House and Senate by May 1st. During this time the Senate and House spent days debating the bill. An amendment was added in the House to lower the required renewable energy portfolio to 20% by 2020 instead of 25%, but was still opposed by rural co-ops, the agriculture community and REA consumers. The bill passed the Senate and House and is expected to be signed.
The legislature also approved a number of measures to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles, including SB 126 ensuring access to electric vehicle charging to apartment and HOA residents, and SB 70 regarding state fleet vehicles.
Colorado’s New School Finance Act
Colorado’s School Finance Act has not been updated in twenty years. Over the past two years, a diverse group of stakeholders, convened by the Colorado Children’s Campaign, has worked to bring ideas to the table on the best way to reform and modernize Colorado’s School Finance Act. It was important to all those involved that any increased funds be coupled with reform measures. SB13-213 sponsored by Senators Johnston and Heath and Representative Hamner was introduced March 8th with a diverse list of supporters including Colorado Succeeds, Together Colorado, Democrats for Education Reform, the Charter School Institute, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Stand for Children, Mile High United Way, various school districts, the Denver Area School Superintendents Council, and many others. The bill did a number of things including: employing a student based budgeting model; replacing the single count date with average daily attendance; investments in ECE and full day kindergarten; greater transparency over school and district budgets; better funding equity among schools to ensure every student; whether in a traditional or charter school, has the resources to succeed; increased funding for special education and gifted and talented services; and additional funding to support successful implementation of recent Colorado reforms and reward outstanding educators. The House and the Senate both passed the bill on party-line votes. The Governor will sign the bill in the coming week. However, this bill will not be enacted without the passage of a ballot measure in November to increase taxes to fund public education.
After last year’s attempt to reform telecommunications policy was killed, industry stakeholders returned this year with a more narrowly targeted effort in HB 1255. The bill, which enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship, sought to codify the exemption of certain internet protocol enabled services from oversight by the Public Utilities Commission. There were amendments in the House to further clarify that the PUC retained authority over 9-1-1 services. The bill had overwhelming support in the House, passing committee unanimously and the House floor with 62 yes votes, 0 against and 3 excused. However, the Senate President didn’t allow the bill to be read over the desk of the Senate because he was preparing his own telecom bill. SB 287 was introduced on April 29th, heard in its first committee on Wednesday May 1st, and on the Senate floor Friday May 3rd. The bill was an attempt to divert funds from the high cost fund to subsidize rural broadband services throughout the state. The bill was opposed by a majority of industry and business stakeholders including AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon Wireless, Comcast, CACI, Colorado Competitive Council, Club 20, Action 22, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. After the bill passed second reading in the Senate on Friday evening, Senator Steadman called for a roll call vote on SB 287 during the committee of the whole report. The bill died on the roll call vote although President Morse voted on the prevailing side and requested the committee of the whole report, including SB 287 be reconsidered at another time. On Monday morning, President Morse asked that SB 287 lay over until May 10th. On the last day of session, President Morse read HB 1255 across the desk and it was heard at the microphone and killed by the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
A New Focus on Mental Health and Human Services
From the beginning of this year, Governor Hickenlooper made it clear that two of his main priorities would be directing resources towards strengthening Colorado’s child welfare and mental health services. The Governor’s mental health initiatives were drafted into the following pieces of legislation:
· HB13-1181: Tobacco Cash Fund Programs (Increased funding to certain mental health programs in DHS)
· HB13-1296: Civil Commitments and Taskforce
· HB13-1306: Mental Health Taskforce
· SB13-007: Eliminate Repeal of CCJJ
· SB13-244: Substance Abuse Trend and Response Taskforce
· SB13-266: Coordinated Behavioral Health Crisis Response
HB13-1296 created a Civil Commitment Statute Review Committee in the Department of Human Services which will study and prepare recommendations about consolidation of mental health and alcohol and substance abuse disorder statutes concerning civil commitments. The Governor’s office originally floated a significant rewrite of the civil commitment statutes earlier in the session in response to the Aurora movie theater shooting, but stakeholders balked at the 100 + page rewrite and asked for a formal process to review these critical issues. One priority, HB 1306, the Mental Health Taskforce, was killed in the Senate. The bill would have created a mental health and fire arms taskforce that was set to advise the legislature on issues related to the loss and restoration of the right to purchase and possess firearms by persons who struggle with mental illness and substance abuse, and are therefore considered dangerous to the health and safety of the community. Many legislators were concerned that the taskforce was too overreaching. The last piece of the Governor’s mental health package was SB 266 by Representatives Kraft-Tharp and Young and Senators Aguilar and Nicholson, which approves the development of a statewide behavioral health crisis response system. The system will have five pieces: a 24 hours crisis hotline, walk-in crisis services and stabilization units, a mobile crisis service, a public information campaign, and residential and respite crisis services.
Various pieces of legislation to strengthen services, prevention, and treatment for neglected and abused children in the state were passed this session with bipartisan support. Collaboration of stakeholders was key to making sure the spotlighted child welfare legislation was passed. HB 1271 by Representative Singer and May will create a committee to develop an implementation plan for a statewide child abuse reporting hotline. SB 255 by Senators Newell and Kefalas will make changes to the current Child Fatality Review process. It requires CDPHE and CDHS to review individual child fatality cases and coordinate trends and make recommendation to prevent future fatalities. The JBC also made child welfare services a funding priority. The JBC also ran a bill, which passed, to implement the Title IV-E waiver in DHS. It will allow the department to use funds from the waiver to pay for certain child abuse and neglect interventions in Colorado’s counties. Lastly, in response to the passage of Amendment 64, Senators Newell and Kerr introduced SB 278 to create a definition for a “drug endangered child” and create a nexus with the child abuse and neglect statutes. The bill was the subject of some controversy because of the updated definitions. However, various amendments alleviated concerns.
Medicaid Expansion in Colorado
In the last three years the nation and the state have undergone huge changes in healthcare and insurance. Colorado acted to create the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange previously, and this year, Senator Aguilar and Speaker Ferrandino introduced SB 200 to increase Medicaid eligibility in Colorado as allowed under the ACA. The bill increased Medicaid eligibility for Coloradans with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty line (up from 100% FPL previously). The expansion is expected to provide coverage to an additional 189,000 Coloradans, and enjoyed unanimous support from stakeholders at the Capitol, from business groups and Chambers to those who advocate for consumers. The bill passed the House and Senate on nearly party-line votes, with freshman Republican Larry Crowder joining the Democrats to support the bill.
From January 9th to May 8th
During opening day speeches, Speaker Ferrandino and the Senate President promised to work hard to deliver on their agenda. The Speaker made it clear that his priorities were economic development, child welfare reform, access to mental health services, gun control, and oil and gas regulation. President Morse encouraged his members to aggressively pursue their priorities. The pronouncements seemed lofty at the time, however, the 69th General Assembly delved into all of those issues and more during the 120-day session with lots of determination. Minority Leaders Waller and Cadman outlined their desire for collaboration, bipartisanship, and civility; unfortunately, that didn’t come to fruition this session. Divisiveness and heated tempers seemed to rule more often than not.
Capitol regulars are already pondering what this year’s hard-hitting agenda signals for the 2014 session. A non-election year will give legislators a chance to relax a bit during the interim and start putting together bill proposals much earlier than last year, and the 33 freshman legislators might face a smoother road with more experience working with their colleagues, Capitol staff and stakeholders. It is likely that pieces of legislation pushed in 2013 without success will be back, including increased regulation on oil and gas, repeal of the death penalty, foreclosure reform, the wage theft act, and marijuana regulation clean up.
Governor Hickenlooper’s State of the State Address
2013 State of the State
Halfway through his term as Governor, Governor Hickenlooper looked out over a crowd that was quite different than the year before. The presence of a new and wide democrat majority had many people wondering if the Governor would be more decisive about his specific priorities this year than in the previous state of the state addresses. However, Governor Hickenlooper’s speech followed much of the same tone as the two previous years. Like President Morse and Minority Leader Cadman the day before, Governor Hickenlooper spent the beginning of his speech reflecting on the tough summer Colorado faced with over ten wildfires and a horrific theatre shooting. He honored Aurora’s mayor, police chief, fire chief along with the first responders to Colorado’s fires. The Governor breezed over the election results, promising strong regulation and protection under amendment 64 and congratulating Colorado for updating its antiquated employment laws so Colorado can now attract the best and the brightest employees to state government.
He countered the claim that “he had it easy,” the last two years with a split chamber by replying that every Coloradan and legislator, despite beliefs or philosophy, share the common goal of doing what is best for the state. For this reason, not because of a split chamber, has Colorado been successful. The economy has recovered because Colorado is the best state for entrepreneurship in the nation. Governor Hickenlooper listed off his administrations devotion to rules review, cutting red tape, implementation of the LEAN process, and smart business incentives that have led to an economic rebound in Colorado. Governor Hickenlooper will remain focused on business development through the bipartisan advanced industries bill, reform of enterprise zones, and funding for business development investment. After touting Colorado’s economic success the Governor turned his focus to his priorities for the 2013 legislative session.
The continuation of Colorado’s economic success will only come with increased investment in education. Governor Hickenlooper applauded his budget proposal that will fully fund K-12 education with inflation and also encouraged efforts to rework the current school funding formula. He also said that early literacy and the increase in spots of early childhood education will increase the economic potential of Coloradans statewide. He highlighted the importance of working on a strong quality teacher pipeline so the state trains and retains the best teachers in the nation. Colorado needs to be a leader in “not just reform but results.” The Governor stressed that results weren’t just necessary in K-12 education but higher education as well. He hopes the roll out of “pay for performance,” for higher education institutions will inspire hard work and top-tier outcomes. A world class healthcare system will also attract the businesses Colorado wants. Expanding health insurance for all will happen in a cost effective way that will end up in savings and no general fund spent in expanding access to all. The Governor wants the health industry to focus in on quality of care instead of volume of care and really hone in on measures to prevent emergency room visits. Another achievement in the last year is the Colorado Benefits Management System is now meeting compliance and performance benchmarks.
Economic development in the state is closely tied with energy development and water conservation. This includes utilizing and developing all types of natural and renewable resources while also protecting the publics’ health and the pristine environment. Governor Hickenlooper strongly said that a patchwork of oil and gas regulations throughout the state was not acceptable. The United States is on the verge of being energy independent and Colorado can greatly contribute to that independence. In terms of water conservation, the state will implement a State Water Plan by 2015, ensuring the word “drought” doesn’t create the same panicked reaction as it has in years past. Beyond business, education, healthcare, and energy, Governor Hickenlooper touched on the need to begin a debate about gun control in Colorado expressing a desire for universal gun purchase background checks. He also wants to expand mental health services for those who may hurt others or themselves, and make sure child welfare in the state is a top priority. Like last year he called for the passage of civil unions and the ASSET bill because every Coloradan deserves to live the American dream. Lastly, the Governor pressed the need to untangle the stronghold of TABOR, Gallagher, and amendment 23. The combination of those three measures make it impossible for the state to ever be fiscally sound.
Although his speech began on a somber note, he was able to energize Republicans and Democrats with his past successes and future hopes. There was no doubt in his mind that with continued collaboration the families of Colorado will continue on the road to achieving economic prosperity.
The 2013 Legislative Session Begins!
The excitement in the Senate and House gallery was palatable as the 69th general assembly, with 37 democrats, 28 republicans in the House and 20 Democrats, 15 Republicans in the Senate convened after a long election during the interim. The new session brings a Democrat majority in the House and Senate, 27 brand new freshman legislators and one of the most diverse general assemblies in the nation. Although both the House and Senate saw a huge influx of brand new legislators, 5 of the 9 new senators previously served in the House. The House and Senate galleries were packed with friends and family members waiting to see the legislators sworn in. Former speakers Terrance Carroll, Andrew Romanoff, and Ruben Valdez as well as Congress members Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, and Doug Lamborn, joined the House for their swearing in. The pomp and circumstance began with the Gay Men’s Chorus performing for the guests followed by the morning prayer, and the traditional presentation of the colors. After Speaker-designee Ferrandino’s niece and nephew led the House in the pledge, outgoing Republican Speaker Frank McNulty handed over the gavel to new Speaker Mark Ferrandino and his hard fought democrat majority. In the Senate both the incoming President John Morse and the Minority Leader Bill Cadman hail from Colorado Springs. The morning prayer, pledge, national anthem, and presentation of the colors were all done by Colorado Springs community members.
Opening day speeches in the House and the Senate continued to focus on the economy and bipartisanship for the citizens of Colorado. Speaker Ferrandino spent a large portion of his speech highlighting the benefits of government; including its role during crisis, to maintain our roads, keep neighborhoods safe, and students highly educated. He quoted former Congressman Barney Frank, “Government is the name we give to the things we chose to do together.” However, Speaker Ferrandino cautioned that while blindly condemning government is ignorant, blindly defending government is also ignorance of the reality that it can be improved. The Democrats top priority will continue to be job creation through their promotion of the small business development centers, renewable energies, the clean tech industry, and the aerospace industry. As well as adjustment to enterprise zones and increased funds for education in Colorado. Receiving large cheers in the gallery, Speaker Ferrandino called for equality before the law for all committed couples and support to undocumented students so they can live the American dream. He also stressed that the highest obligation of the general assembly is to protect quality of life and health of Coloradans. He made it clear that his caucus would support Medicaid expansion because it will result in a healthier and more cost efficient way to provide insurance to Coloradans. Speaker Ferrandino touched on his caucuses willingness to address concerns about the child welfare system, gun control, mental health service access, and oil and gas regulation. The new Speaker wrapped up by promising a tireless and persistent working session with real results at the end of the 120 days.
The new Minority Leader Mark Waller followed with a gracious and shortened speech. He congratulated his friend and colleague Mark Ferrandino for taking over the Speaker position. In typical fashion, Minority Leader Waller joked with the Speaker about not more evenly sharing the seats on the House floor. His speech focused on increasing opportunity for all Coloradans whether in the job market or in education. He applauded the bipartisan work accomplished last session with near unanimous passage of the state budget. He hopes that in the coming year, the savings seen in the budget through the drop in crime will go to increasing opportunities and resources for Colorado’s traditional and non-traditional students. Minority Leader Waller expressed his intent to end political grand standing and hit the ground running with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what is best for Colorado. He ended with a quote that “Opportunity is what made this country great and it is what all citizens deserve, because at the end of the day Coloradans want a paycheck, not an unemployment check.”
The Senate switched up the speaking order allowing Minority Leader Bill Cadman take the podium first and reflect on 2012 in Colorado. Minority Leader Cadman spoke of the tragedies Colorado dealt with in 2012. From the three deadly and destructive fires to the Aurora shooting in July. Colorado faced on of its toughest summers in a while. Yet Minority Leader Cadman brought attention to the hero’s and generosity that arose from the events. He retold stories of ordinary people who were faced with challenging situations and instead of cowering in defeat chose to put their lives on the line to help others. The Minority Leader wanted to remind the Senate that despite political and ideological differences, the events Colorado faced this summer should keep everything in perspective. He refrained from setting his policy agenda for the year but urged the whole Senate chamber to stay civil and work together to promote what is best for Colorado and its citizens. President Morse followed a similar tone as Minority Leader Cadman. He told a story of when he was a first responder in 1975 and had to work to save a young man’s life from a serious car accident. President Morse was making the comparison that during the incident in 1975 and today people from all walks of life come together for a common goal. The whole general assembly at times need to put aside their ideologies, goals, and selfish objectives to get the job in front of them done for the people. He highlighted that the legislature did have lofty issues in front of them this year and he asked that all of the Senators embrace and meet the standards that Coloradans set for the legislatures when they elected them to serve in the Senate. President Morse concluded that he wanted all senators to take on each issue with drive and determination.
Today the State House introduced 69 bills and the State Senate introduced 32 bills. Both chambers have a fairly light schedule for the rest of the week. Tomorrow, Governor Hickenlooper will give his state of the state address to the whole legislature on the House floor at 11am.
Full text of Speaker Mark Ferrandino’s speech: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22339837/house-speaker-mark-ferrandinos-prepared-remarks
Full text of Minority Leader Mark Waller’s speech: http://coloradohousegop.com/2013/01/minority-leader-mark-waller-delivers-opening-day-speech/
Full text of President John Morse’s speech: No prepared remarks available
Full text of Minority Leader Bill Cadman’s Speech: http://www.coloradosenatenews.com/?q=content/senate-minority-leader-bill-l-cadmans-opening-day-speech
Despite the pre-session coverage that the 2012 legislation session was going to resemble a bloodbath, both the Senate and House Republicans and Democrats pledged to be partners and not partisan for the next 120 days. Both chambers kept a sharp focus on job creation and economic development. Speeches from President Shaffer, Speaker McNulty, House Minority Leader Ferrandino, and Senate Minority Leader Cadman all promised that 2012 would be about putting Coloradans to work and decreasing unemployment throughout the state. All speeches repeated the need for bipartisan work. However, the reality is the upcoming 2012 session faces many obstacles that may prevent success or productivity. The slow economic recovery, the recent redistricting process, various general assembly members running for Congress, and the upcoming 2012 elections, may likely result in strong partisanship during the 120 days.
In his opening day remarks, Speaker McNulty promised to continue to support responsible oil and gas development which will bring jobs and economic growth to Colorado. Speaker McNulty said his caucus will continue to ensure that government gets out of the way so small businesses can thrive. He highlighted various pieces of pro-business legislation the House Republicans are running such as the CLEAR Act, which will ensure that the rules in place for a permit application will remain in place for the entire reviewing process of that application. The SUCCESS Act, a bipartisan bill, will emphasize compliance over punishment for businesses’ interactions with state department rules and regulations. In his remarks, Minority Leader Ferrandino touted the House Democrats Start Up Colorado jobs package as bills that will cut red tape while also protecting consumers and investors. One of the bills in the Democrats package would provide small business development centers with a 24% to 40% increase in funding. Another bill, the “Angel Investor” program would provide funding for the Innovation Investment Tax Credit. Over in the Senate, President Shaffer used his speech as an opportunity to highlight on SB 001, which is a measure aimed at encouraging Colorado businesses to hire Coloradans. Senate Minority Leader Cadman stated his dedication to increasing private sector jobs in Colorado and cutting red tape.
Crafting the budget for FY2012-13 will likely be a contentious process due to ballooning Medicaid costs and caseload increases, disagreement on whether or not to suspend the senior homestead tax exemption, and the outcome of the Lobato case. Possible tax increases to raise state revenues in 2011 were soundly defeated at the polls and Speaker McNulty didn’t let that fact go unnoticed in his speech. He also strongly stated that “federal government entitlement programs” were stealing money from the state of Colorado’s K-12 education budget. Speaker McNulty proposed finding Colorado specific solutions because “we cannot continue to put the health and safety of Coloradans into the hands of a bloated bureaucracy in Washington DC.” He made it clear his priority was to reinstate the senior homestead exemption act because that demographic is one of the most needy during this period of recession. Minority Leader Ferrandino, a former member of the Joint Budget Committee, responded that there were no “sacred cows” in the state’s budget and everything must be looked at for prioritization and possible cuts. He thought that Governor Hickenlooper’s budget proposal was a good place to start but more work must be done in a bipartisan manner to pass a responsible budget. Since the December revenue forecast came in higher than expected, the expected $89 million reduction to K-12 education and $30 million from Higher Education financial aid programs may not have to occur.
Although all speeches stayed positive and expressed hope for a productive 2012 legislative session, it remains to be seen if this will be the case. The outcome of the reapportionment process was particularly displeasing to the House Republicans, as various members of the House Republican leadership were placed in districts with fellow caucus members. Majority Leader Amy Stephens was put in the same district as Representative Marsha Looper, Majority Whip BJ Nikkel and Representative DelGrosso are both in HD 51, and JBC Member Representative Jon Becker was redrawn into Representative Sonnenberg’s district. Senator Keith King, who decided not to run again because he was drawn into the same district as Senator Minority Leader Cadman, voiced his disappointment with the reapportionment process in a speech he gave after President Shaffer and Minority Leader Cadman spoke. In addition, both parties have their eyes on holding the chamber they control and retaking the other. Thus, although both the Democrats and Republicans state they want to work together and spend the session focusing on creating jobs for Coloradans, the combination of all these variables creates the perfect storm for partisan politicking and disagreement during the 2012 session.
Full Text of Today’s Speeches
Senate President Brandon Shaffer: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19720506
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19721368
House Speaker Frank McNulty: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19720431
House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19720437
DOUGLAS COUNTY BUSINESS ALLIANCE
The Douglas County Business Alliance (DCBA) is an unincorporated organization consisting of 2 or more members joined by mutual consent for a common, lawful nonprofit purpose pursuant to the “Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit
Association Act” as adopted by the state of Colorado under C.R.S. 7-30-101 and as may be amended. As such, DCBA is considered a nonprofit association.
The Douglas County Business Alliance is comprised of representatives from the following organizations:
Castle Pines Chamber of Commerce
Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce
Castle Rock Economic Development Council
Denver South Economic Development Partnership
Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce
Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce
Northwest Douglas County Economic Development Commission
Parker Chamber of Commerce
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