Colorado’s 2019 legislative sessions ends Friday at midnight and state lawmakers are rushing to resolve roughly 200 bills in the final days of the term.
Below is a running tally of important measures that either passed on to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk, were voted down or simply ran out of time to be heard.
Once a measure goes before Polis, he can either sign it, veto it or send it along to the Colorado secretary of state without his signature, but which would still make the legislation law.
Check back at this page for periodic updates from The Colorado Sun politics team.
The Colorado House adjourns for 2019, meaning the legislative session is over
The Colorado House adjourned for 2019 about 6:45 p.m.
That means the lawmaking term is over until 2020.
— Jesse Paul, 6:43 p.m. on May 3, 2019.
The Colorado Senate adjourns for 2019
The Colorado Senate adjourned for 2019 a little after 5 p.m.
— Jesse Paul, 5:06 p.m. on May 3, 2019.
Colorado legislature passes bill to monitor state greenhouse gas emissions annually
The Colorado General Assembly has approved a bill that would require the state to draft an annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and levels.
The state Senate on Friday morning approved House changes to Senate Bill 96 by a 21-13 vote, sending the measure to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.
Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat, said the legislation aims to help the state make better decisions on reaching emissions reductions goals to battle climate change.
The program would cost $340,000 annualy, Donovan says, and does not have a repeal date.
— Jesse Paul, 1:44 p.m. on May 3, 2019.
Once near collapse, Colorado reinsurance bill clears the General Assembly
After a rollercoaster journey through the Capitol, a bill to create a reinsurance program to lower health care premiums finally finished its ride. Next stop: the governor’s desk, and then a trip to Washington, D.C.
The House on Friday morning agreed with Senate amendments to the bill, its last needed vote in the legislature.
The bill seeks to lower premiums in the individual insurance market — where people buy coverage on their own and which covers about 8 percent of Coloradans — by creating a pool of money to help insurers pay their most expensive claims. After two versions of how to fund the bill hit major roadblocks, lawmakers settled on a planthat draws a little from hospitals, a little from a health insurance tax and a little from money that was originally earmarked entirely for affordable housing.
All told, the state is expected to pull together about $150 million over the initial 2-year life of the program, according to a fiscal analysis. If the proposal wins approval from the federal government, the state can also expect to receive about $280 million in federal dollars to fund the program during that time.
That is less than what supporters had initially expected, leaving them to believe the program would have to be scaled back with its final funding model. But Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said this week that a new analysis shows the program can still achieve its goals of cutting health care prices by up to 30% in the state’s most expensive areas.
Once Polis signs the bill — it has been perhaps his biggest health care priority this session — Conway said he will submit the request for federal approval by mid-May. His hope is that the reduced insurance prices will kick in next year.
— John Ingold, 12:33 p.m. on May 3, 2019
A lawmaking flurry and not a lot of debate as major bills head to finish line
A handful of last-minute changes forced the House and Senate to trade legislation back and forth Friday, including a number of major bills.
In the House, a handful of the final votes fell along partisan lines, including on legislation to collect data on greenhouse gas emissions data (Senate Bill 96) and addressing youth suicide risks by allowing minors between the ages of 12 and 14 to access psychotherapy services (House Bill 1120.)
The Democrats in the chamber broke party ranks to vote against final approval of a bill to allow local governments to enact their own minimum wage (House Bill 1210); limit a tax break for companies to remit sales taxes in order to pay for affordable housing (House Bill 1245); and spend $156,000 to generate a report about how to transition the state away from coal-based electrical energy economy (House Bill 1314).
Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, voted against the affordable housing measure, saying the discount vendors get to remit the tax “is not corporate welfare.”
“While this is an absolutely amazing cause, the funding source is not OK,” she said.
Other legislation that won final approval in the House included measures to fund public schools (Senate Bill 246); continue the public utilities commission (Senate Bill 236); implement a reinsurance program designed to address high-cost patients (House Bill 1168); toughen the state’s consumer protection laws (House Bill 1289); new rules on campaign finance disclosure (House Bill 1318); and improve victim notification for legal proceedings (House Bill 1064).
— John Frank, 12 p.m. on May 3, 2019
Bill to create fine for people who park in electric-vehicle charging spots but aren’t charging has one more hurdle
A bill that would create a fine for motorists who park in electric-vehicle charging parking spots but aren’t charging their cars has one more hurdle to clear before landing on the governor’s desk.
House Bill 1298 passed the Colorado Senate on Friday morning by a 20-15 vote with a technical amendment clarifying the measure’s language around signage for electric-vehicle charging parking spots.
Violators of the law would be subject to a $150 fine and a $32 surcharge.
The bill now heads back to the House for approval of Senate changes. If signed into law, the measure would go into effect on Aug. 2.
— Jesse Paul, 11:22 a.m. on May 3, 2019.
Effort to remove felony charges for drug possession in Colorado clears Senate — with changes
An effort to remove felony charges for drug possession has passed the Colorado Senate after being heavily amended.
House Bill 1263 would reduce drug possession crimes to a misdemeanor in most cases, with exceptions for certain amounts of some drugs and if someone has four or more convictions of a misdemeanor possession charge. The measure would go into effect in March 2020.
The legislation now heads back to the House for approval of Senate changes.
This drug defelonization bill is one of the prominent pieces of a large criminal justice reform package in the Colorado legislature this year.
The measure passed the Senate on a 20-15 vote.
— Jesse Paul, 11:11 a.m. on May 3, 2019.
Immigration bill that created tension with Gov. Polis passes the legislature
A bill seeking to limit Colorado law enforcement’s ability to assist in enforcing federal immigration law has cleared the state legislature after a series of cuts to the policy were made to appease Gov. Polis.
House Bill 1124 was approved by a 19-16 vote in the Colorado Senate Friday morning, sending it to Polis’ desk.
The legislation started as a sweeping measure that essentially prevented state police and sheriffs from working with immigration agents in any capacity. Polis’ office threatened to veto the measure if there were not significant changes, which were made in the House.
As passed, the legislation prevents Colorado probation officials from sharing personal information about people with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It also codifies a court ruling preventing jails from holding people for immigration purposes past when they are released on criminal charges.
It also includes a clause saying “the authority of law enforcement is limited to the express authority granted in state law.” Proponents say since state law doesn’t let police and sheriffs enforce federal immigration law, the provision should harden that policy.
Republicans in the House called the legislation a “sanctuary” bill.
— Jesse Paul, 10:38 a.m. on May 3, 2019.
It’s silly time at the state Capitol, as lawmakers end term
The 120-day pressure cooker known as the legislative session leads to plenty of silliness on the final day — not unlike the last day of school.
In the House, lawmakers and staff started with breakfast on the balcony that included liqueur for coffee, and Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, handed out mini puzzles.
“This has been a puzzling session,” she quipped, explaining that lawmakers had trouble figuring out how to get bills between chambers.
Two other lawmakers read a poem to ask their colleagues to support a reinsurance bill, and another tried to rename legislation about about the Public Utilities Commission the “Turducken Act of 2019 (With a Slice of PUC-in Pie).”
The new name is a reference to how Democrats slammed parts of two different energy bills into a must-pass measure renewing the state’s Public Utilities Commission to avoid prolonged debate in the state Senate.
— John Frank, 10:15 a.m. on May 3, 2019
Colorado legislature passes bill that would make sharing images of a child’s suicide a crime
The Colorado legislature has passed a measure that would make sharing images of a child’s attempted or completed suicide a crime.
House Bill 1334 quickly cleared the General Assembly after being introduced in the final days of the 2019 legislative session.
The legislation creates a misdemeanor crime for those who share such images on social media, on a website or through any other means with the intent to harass, intimidate or coerce someone. It is also a crime if sharing the images create any serious emotional distress.
The bill heads to the governor’s desk after being approved by the Colorado Senate on Friday morning by a near-unanimous vote.
— Jesse Paul, 9:32 a.m. on May 3, 2019.
THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2019
Colorado Senate leadership says vaccination bill was killed because of limited time
Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg says a bill to make it harder for parents to receive a religious or personal-belief exemption from immunizations that are required to enroll children in school was killed because of limited time.
“Republicans were not willing to let the vaccine bill come to a vote without hours and hours of debate, which would have prevented us from delivering on priority bills regarding health care, education and economic security,” the Boulder Democrat said in a written statement.
On Thursday afternoon, House Bill 1312 was laid over until Friday in the Colorado Senate, meaning there won’t be enough time to finish debating the legislation before the 2019 lawmaking term ends at midnight Friday.
(Read more on the decision to shelve the measure below.)
— Jesse Paul, 7:56 p.m. on May 2, 2019.
Colorado legislature OKs pushing $2.3 billion transportation bonding question to 2020
The Colorado legislature has approved a bill that would delay asking voters to approve a $2.3 billion bonding question to pay for transportation needs until 2020.
The House passed Senate Bill 261 on Thursday afternoon by a vote of 49-14.
It’s a one-year timeout on a measure referred by the 2018 General Assembly to appear on the November ballot. Proponents were worried the measure would clash with other spending questions already on the ballot.
In addition, the delay allows the state to continue using lease-purchase agreements on state-owned property to generate money for roads, which was part of the original 2018 legislation.
“I feel like it’s a smart move so we don’t sink any kind of future progress on transportation,” state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger told The Colorado Sun earlier. “We don’t want to stop the progress, and it just makes sense to take stock of reality.”
— Jesse Paul, 4:55 p.m. on May 2, 2019.
House passes bill that would allow prescription drugs to be imported from Canada
The Colorado House has passed a measure that would allow for the wholesale importation of prescription drugs from Canada.
Senate Bill 5 cleared the chamber Thursday afternoon by a 41-22 vote.
The legislation now heads back to the Senate for approval of changes made in the House.
Even if Senate Bill 5 clears the legislature and is signed into law by the governor, it would still require a federal waiver from the Trump administration to go into effect. In the 16 years since Congress authorized the practice in 2003, no state has ever obtained that permission.
— Jesse Paul, 4:49 p.m. on May 2, 2019.
Colorado drivers, Medicaid recipients would be registered to vote under bill heading to Polis
Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill making it so that any eligible Coloradan who gets a driver’s license or identification card, or who registers for Medicaid would automatically be registered to vote.
Senate Bill 235 passed the House on Thursday morning by a vote of 40-23.
The measure requires county clerks to send people a notice of their voter registration and allow 20 days for them to opt out. Currently, when people get a driver’s license they are asked on a form if they wish to opt out of voter registration.
— Jesse Paul, 2:58 p.m. on May 2, 2019.
Vaccine bill is shelved by Democrats in the Colorado Senate, preventing long debate around measure
A measure seeking to make it harder for parents to receive a religious or personal-belief exemption from immunizations that are required to enroll children in school was shelved by the Colorado Senate on Thursday afternoon.
House Bill 1312 was laid over for debate in the chamber until Friday, meaning there won’t be enough time left to pass it before the 2019 session ends. The bill is now effectively dead.
The measure was one of the most contentious brought by Democrats in the Capitol this session, drawing mass opposition from parents who didn’t want their children to be vaccinated. The debate also drew concern from Polis, who was against requiring vaccinations.
Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat and Polis’ ally, was the one who laid over the measure.
The approach was designed to address Colorado’s lowest-in-the-nation immunization rate amid warnings from public health officials about measles and mumps outbreaks in the state and across the nation.
The bill would have required parents seeking an exemption to complete a standardized form and get it certified by a state or local public health agency. Parents would then file the certification with the school. Right now, a standardized form and public health approval is not required.
For a medical exemption, parents would have needed to get a certified form from a physician, physician assistant or advanced registered nurse, but not a signature from a public health agency.
The demise of House Bill 1312 likely free more time for debate on other measures in the Senate, where Republicans have slowed lawmaking to the point where legislation is at risk of running out of time to pass before the legislative session ends Friday at midnight.
The Senate advanced another contentious measure, House Bill 1032, dealing with sexual education in schools, after making a series of significant amendments. Aspects of the measure kept in place included discussion of consent and healthy relationships.
Charter schools still would be allowed to opt out of the law.
“I’m hopeful we will get it across the finish line,” Fenberg said Wednesday.
— Jesse Paul, 2:27 p.m. on May 2, 2019.
Colorado colleges, universities would have uniform sex assault response policies under measure
An effort to standardize how Colorado colleges and universities respond to campus sexual assault accusations has passed the legislature.
Senate Bill 7 requires higher education institutions to develop policies and procedures on sexual assault training and response. It also mandates that schools have confidential and non-confidential ways to report accusations, ensure that complainants are protected from disciplinary action and have an appeals processes for both accusers and the accused.
A similar bill failed at the Colorado Capitol last year.
Senate Bill 7, which cleared the House on Thursday by a 54-9 vote, now heads to Polis’ desk.
— Jesse Paul, 10:23 a.m. on May 2, 2019.
Bill rewriting sexual harassment policies at the Colorado legislature passes
A measure changing how accusations of sexual harassment are handled in the Colorado legislature has cleared the Capitol.
Senate Bill 244 passed 63-0 out of the House on Thursday morning.
The legislation changes the reporting process for accusers and mandates that an annual report of allegations filed be released.
The bill is in response to a sexual harassment scandal that embroiled the Colorado Capitol in 2018.
— Jesse Paul, 10:oo a.m. on May 2, 2019.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2019
Senate sends Polis bills allowing medical marijuana to be used in lieu of opioids, reforming juvenile justice system
The Colorado Senate on Wednesday afternoon approved House changes to legislation allowing doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition in which they would prescribe opioids and reforming the state’s juvenile justice system.
Senate Bill 108, another bipartisan measure, recommends a series of changes to how youth offenders are treated. The legislation, specifically, seeks to increase treatment, revise how deferred sentences are handled and reduce the number of children who are ultimately locked up.
Both bills now head to Polis’ desk.
— Jesse Paul, 5:44 p.m. on May 1, 2019.
Effort to ban Styrofoam cups and to-go containers runs out of time
An effort to ban restaurants and stores from using Styrofoam cups and to-go containers has been effectively killed for the year.
Senate Bill 243 was laid over for a hearing before the full Senate until Thursday, meaning it won’t have enough time to get the required hearings in the House.
Those opposing the bill argued that Styrofoam is recyclable and banning foam containers that excel at keeping soup warm will cost restaurants more.
— Jesse Paul, 2:31 p.m. on May 1, 2019.
Marijuana delivery bill heads to Polis’ desk; tasting rooms measure has one more vote
A measure to allow regulated Colorado marijuana sellers to deliver their product to customers’ homes is heading to the governor’s desk.
The Senate passed House Bill 1234 on Wednesday morning by a vote of 20-14. The measure would allow medical and eventually retail marijuana to be delivered directly to customers.
The legislation is one of the most impactful among the slate of cannabis bills considered by Colorado lawmakers this year.
Also on Thursday the Senate passed House Bill 1230, which would allow so-called marijuana tasting rooms, by a vote of 23-12. A similar measure was vetoed last year by then-Gov. John Hickenlooper.
House Bill 1230 still needs to clear one more hurdle back in the House — to approve Senate changes — before heading to Gov. Polis.
The measure bill would allow people to smoke pot or consume marijuana edibles at “tasting rooms” attached to dispensaries where marijuana is sold. People could also bring their own and consume it at specially licensed hospitality establishments. And it would create an exception to the Colorado Indoor Clean Air Act, allowing people to smoke inside.
— Jesse Paul, 12:55 p.m. on May 1, 2019.
Emissions goal bill clears Senate, awaits final vote in House before heading to governor
House Bill 1261, Democrats effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, has cleared the Senate and has one final step before it lands on Polis’ desk.
The measure was approved by an 20-15 vote. It now heads back to the House to approve Senate changes.
The legislation sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide from levels recorded in 2005 by at least 26% by 2025; by at least 50% by 2030; and by at least 90% by 2050.
Republicans opposed the bill, with some senators raising questions about the science behind climate change and warning about the legislation’s impacts on fossil fuel industries in Colorado.
— Jesse Paul, 12:48 p.m. on May 1, 2019.
Nicotine tax bill just barely clears House, heads to Senate where vote count is uncertain
The effort by Polis and Democrats to ask voters to pass a uniform nicotine tax in November barely cleared the Colorado House on Wednesday morning.
House Bill 1333 cleared the chamber by a 34-31 vote, with seven Democrats voting against the measure.
The legislation would ask voters to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $2.49 from 84 cents and set a standard 62% tax on all nicotine products, including vaping fuel for the first time. An estimated $300 million in annual revenue from the tax would be split between early childhood education efforts and health care under the proposal.
Big tobacco has hired big-name lobbyists and launched a social media campaign to kill the bill.
It’s unclear if there are enough votes to pass it in the Colorado Senate, where the measure now heads. At least one Democratic senator is opposed and another has strong reservations.
— Jesse Paul, 11:38 a.m. on May 1, 2019.
Effort to find drones buzzing over wildfires clears legislature
Senate Bill 20, which would give the state permission to buy and study equipment that can identify drones buzzing over wildfires, has passed the Colorado legislature.
The measure now heads to the governor.
The bill aims to address the growing problem of drones interfering with firefighting aircraft.
— Jesse Paul, 11:02 a.m. on May 1, 2019.
Overhaul for troubled $231 million READ Act program heads to governor
The Colorado House on Wednesday morning unanimously approved a fix to the READ Act program that has failed to improve the reading deficiencies of young students despite costing the state more than $231 million over the past five years.
Senate Bill 199 would add significant state oversight into how schools teach kindergarten through third grade students who are struggling to learn to read at grade level. It gives specific direction to local education providers, including that reading instruction must focus on areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension.
The bill now heads to Polis’ desk.
— Jesse Paul, 10:52 a.m. on May 1, 2019.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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