The legislative session has less than a month left and as the saying goes: “It’s all uphill from here!” Thanks for your continued interest. Here’s a brief recap of a few recent high points.
Three Budget Solutions for Colorado, All Rejected by the Dem House Majority
The state budget is making its way through the Capitol. This year the state budget general fund will grow by 6.7%. That far exceeds the 2.1% personal income growth in 2016 for the people of Colorado reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
That's upside down. Growth of Colorado family budgets should exceed the growth in the state budget. When the budgets families are dividing up on the kitchen table are so substantially outpaced by the state budget, we need a change.
And it gets worse. The over-sized state budget applies no general fund money to solving the problem of our decaying and overcrowded roads and bridges.
So I offered three amendments to the the budget.
The first would have restrained the growth in state departments and used the money for roads and bridges. It would have raised $213 Million by cutting state department budgets by 2%. Most departments would still get an increase--just smaller, like family budgets.
The second would have aligned our reserve requirement with historical norms (33 year average) and directed $106 Million to improve our roads and bridges.
The third would have redirected $117 Million in pot tax revenue to public education. My argument was simple. When the voters were asked to approve recreational marijuana, they were told the taxes would help fund education. Today more than 15 state departments have their hands in that cookie jar. Redirecting that tax revenue would have amounted to the largest per pupil increase in funding, when coupled with the existing education budget increase, in the history of the state. The Democrat controlled House killed the amendment.
We need to make better use of the tax dollars Colorado families are sacrificing to provide. These amendments make clear that money is available within existing resources to get at proper state priorities like improving our roads and bridges.
Why HB17-1242 is Not a Solution to Our State’s Transportation Needs
The "taxing transportation bill" is headed to the Senate floor. It got out of committee by one vote. Here's what's wrong with The Speaker's transportation legislation, HB 1242. We start in agreement, the roads and bridges of Colorado are a mess. But, she immediately starts hitting bad Off Ramps. Off ramp's like lack of transparency, off ramps like too much money for bike paths, off ramps like added bureaucracy, off ramps like uncertainty of which projects will be funded, and a massive tax increase. Click on the video nearby for the broader explanation I gave on the House floor.
To refocus on the conversation on roads and bridges as priority, a bill with my name on it as cosponsor, crafted in discussions with Prime Sponsor Representative Dan Nordberg, was held by the Speaker in the House last week. The bill would authorize bonds to build roads with tax dollars already collected in the FASTER Transportation Fund. It is a perfect example of how to build roads with existing money--a stark contrast to the taxing bill. Watch the video below for my comments on 1242 during its third reading in the House, which passed out of the House and has been assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.
Two of Our Bills Voted Out of Committee: Changes for Coloradans in Civil Courts & A Reserve Training Academy for Colorado Mounted Rangers
This week we presented two bills before the House Judiciary Committee, both of which passed out of the committee, one is headed to the appropriations committee of the House and the other to second readings before the entire House. Read more about each bill below.
HB17-1132: Judicial Disqualification in Civil Actions
As Co-Prime Sponsors on HB17-1132, I and Senator Bob Gardner carried this bill to create a more accessible means for parties in civil cases to request disqualification of the judge presiding over their case. A judge’s disqualification is generally requested when there is strong belief from one party that the judge is conflicted, and should therefore recuse himself from presiding over the case. Currently, the process to request such a disqualification is outlined only in the state’s judicial code. HB17-1132 would establish the procedure in statute and provide a second set of eyes through the process. On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill to the Committee of the Whole for second readings and continued discussion.
SB17-096: Reserve Peace Officer Academy Grant Program
SB96 is the result of a bill that we carried last session, SB16-111--which created a Study Task Force to determine whether it is appropriate for the Colorado Mounted Rangers (CMR) to receive Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification and authority as peace officers. This question is important because CMR servers as the state’s assigned law enforcement auxiliary reserve that assists more than 50 government agencies across Colorado. Through several meetings during the interim, the Task Force unanimously agreed upon a strategy and recommendations for the Legislature moving forward. SB17-96 embodies those three recommendations:
Form an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that provides governmental oversight for CMR
Create a POST Reserve Academy in order to provide the 209 hours of required Peace Officer training for all Colorado Mounted Rangers
- Create a state-funded grant program to fund initial start-up costs for the Reserve Academy
The Reserve Academy that the bill will/does create should serve as an effective transition of the state’s largest auxiliary into uniform standards of training, and will ultimately benefit several communities and the entire state of Colorado. The bill passed from Judiciary with unanimous support and will move to the Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Join Us at the Next Town Hall -- April 22nd
We are co-hosting our third town hall of the legislative session. More information below. We’ll discuss legislative priorities, ongoing policy issues and will look forward to hearing from all of you. Let us know if we can expect to see you there!
Date: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Location: The Classical Academy, EAST CAMPUS - Gymnasium, 12201 Cross Peak View, COS