Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR MAY 9, 2022
Apologies for an even more abbreviated report than usual this week – final three days of the2022 session. We are in a mad scramble to keep up with the furious late-session pace and deal-cutting occurring on nearly every remaining controversial bill.
Our Gold Star Spouse , bill has passed both chambers and will be on the November ballot. Thank you to all who helped make this happen. SB190 Space Force License Plate also passed both chambers and moves to the Governor for signature.
The End is in Sight. Thankfully, both chambers decided not to work this weekend. This leaves 3 days remaining to conduct business, with sine die adjournment scheduled for midnight Wednesday May 11, 2022. In these few days, the minority party hopes to use their filibuster tools to help broker compromises on a few key, onerous bills for the business community. There are lots of private huddles, meetings behind closed doors, and moving pieces of the puzzle on remaining issues. There is no chance they legislature will adjourn early. As per usual, lots of time will be squandered in the final days with tributes and goodbyes to legislators who will not be returning next year.
Bill status. As of Friday morning, 252 bills still needed action. Both the House and Senate worked late nights and processed bills in record speed. This is in stark contrast which to the tortoise-like first half of the session during which Governor Polis signed only 1 bill in January and 0 in February. Six new bills were introduced this week (4 House, 2 Senate), including a property tax reduction bill designed to get 2 related ballot titles removed from the November ballot.
Colorado Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert Resigns his seat. In somewhat odd timing, on Monday Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Douglas County) announced that he will resign his Senate District 30 seat at the end of May. He is planning to move to Florida with his family. Holbert began his legislative career in 2010, when he was elected to represent House District 44. He served four years in the House before being elected to represent Senate District 30. He would have been term-limited at the end of 2022. He served two years as majority leader, in 2017 and 2018, and has been the Senate’s minority leader since the 2019 session. Senator John Cooke (R-Greeley) will serve as Minority Leader for the rest of 2022. Cooke is also term limited this year.
Thanks- Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR April 24, 2022
Today is day 101 of 120 – 19 calendar days remain, but in reality something more like 12-14 legislative days. Leadership in both the House and Senate advised members this week to avoid making plans on afternoons, evenings and weekends for remainder of the session. Calendar management (or mismanagement) is described well in this Denver Post article: www.denverpost.com/2022/04/22/colorado-legislature-2022-gop-leverage/
Despite the looming adjournment date, 34 new bills were introduced just this week! In total, 614 bills have been introduced (392 House, 222 Senate). Of these, 395 remain in play (117 have been signed by the Governor and 102 have been killed (“postponed indefinitely” in Colorado legislative parlance).
In other news:
- Daylight Savings Time. A bipartisan bill that to make daylight saving time permanent in Colorado is headed to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk for signature. However, the bill has several stipulations: Congress must pass a federal law to allow states to remain on daylight saving time year-round, and at least four states that are currently in mountain standard time also have to adopt legislation making daylight saving time the standard time throughout the year in the mountain region.
- Polis opposes Flavored Tobacco ban. The governor said this week he strongly opposes a bipartisan bill to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products statewide. If passed, House Bill 1064 would siphon as much as $25.2 million in annual tax revenue from the Governor’s signature universal preschool program. Polis says that prefers a local regulatory approach. This proposal is one of the most-lobbied bills before the legislature this year, with more than 140 lobbyists and lobbying firms representing more than 85 clients supporting, opposing or monitoring the measure.
Legislative mayhem has descended upon us. We are available to discuss legislation and answer your questions, but beg your patience as we scramble to stay on top of the late session mischief. In the meantime, you will find the link to your legislative tracking report here:
As always, thank you for the honor of representing your interests before the Colorado General Assembly.
Thank You- Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR April 17, 2022
April 18 is day 97 of 120 (for anyone counting… we are!). With the end clearly in sight, the pace is picking up, new bills continue to surface, and rumors abound that the Senate will reduce the committees to just 3 sometime late next week (Appropriations, Finance and State Affairs). Shudder the thought, but we have also heard unsubstantiated rumors of a special session to pass more bills distributing federal recovery money.
This week’s highlights:
- Marathon hearings.House committee meetings went the distance again this week. On Tuesday, more than 150 witnesses testified in House Judiciary Committee on Speaker Garnett’s fentanyl bill, HB22-1326 “Fentanyl Accountability and Prevention”. Then on Wednesday, after three more hours of debate on amendments, the bill passed on an 8-3 vote and makes possession of more than 1 gram of a substance containing fentanyl a felony in Colorado, undoing part of a bipartisan 2019 law that made possession of up to 4 grams of a controlled substance a misdemeanor. The bill still has opposition from all sides – with law enforcement arguing for a harsher penalty, while others want to refrain from further criminalizing drug and provide more resources for substance use treatment.
On Thursday, the House Energy and Environment Committee burned more midnight oil, with another 12-hour hearing that ended Friday morning at 100AM. The committee chair scheduled 4 controversial environmental bills on the same afternoon despite knowing there would be hundreds of witnesses testifying. To no one’s surprise, the four bills all passed on strict party-line votes (oil and gas chemicals transparency, environmental buildings codes, PFAS prohibition, EV charging requirements).
- Budget passes.On Thursday, the General Assembly accomplished the one thing they must do every year – pass the State’s budget. The final FY 2022-2023 budget remained close to the original amount that legislators introduced – roughly $36.4 billion. The only two Republicans to vote for the final budget were the Joint Budget Committee Members. The Long Bill now goes to Gov. Jared Polis, who has 10 days to act on it.
- Unemployment insurance trust fund.Legislators have reached an agreement to provide the Governor’s requested $600 million infusion into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund with some additional reform proposals. Rates are still expected to increase next year, but this assistance should reduce the expected premium increases.
Thank You-Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR April 4, 2022
Today is day 80 of 120; with 40 days remaining, the legislature is at the 2/3 mark of the 2022 session. To date, 549 bills have been introduced (356 House, 193 Senate), and 67 bills have been signed into law by the Governor (only 1 sponsored by a Republican).
In other news:
- Colorado’s budget This week, the House passed the largest budget in Colorado history. Unique to Colorado, state law requires a balanced budget, meaning deficit spending (borrowing) is strictly prohibited. Proposed spending for 2022-23 amounts to $36.4 billion, including hiking general fund expenditure by $1.5 billion or 12.1%. This does not include nearly $4 billion in federal stimulus funds the legislature is also distributing this year. The budget also does not include $700 million that has been set aside for pending legislation and $200 million for potential property tax relief. The Joint Budget Committee set aside $20 million in so-called “sprinkles”, money that each Chamber can spend on bills working their way through the legislature.
Much of the budget discussion revolved around some of the 800 new full-time employee positions in the budget plan. House Republicans focused on the growth of state government, including 75 more employees requested by the Governor to help implement the collective bargaining agreement negotiated with Colorado WINS, the state employee union. The budget also funds 65.7 new full-time employees in the Department of Public Health and Environment to increase air quality monitoring and programming following the USEPA’s downgrading of Colorado air quality from “serious” to “severe.”
Health Care Policy and Financing will receive $14.19 billion, K-12 education $7.18 billion, Higher education $5.4 billion (with a 2% limit on tuition increases except at CU), Transportation receives $1.78 billion. K-12 funding represents a 7.6% increase and higher education represents a 4.3% increase. Under the proposed budget, all state employees would also receive a 3% raise.
Unlike most previous years, budget debate on the House floor was surprisingly collegial and quick. That said, the budget was passed in the House on a strictly party-line vote. Next week the Senate will consider the budget for more debate after all the amendments adopted by the House are stripped out, as is standard practice. After the Senate changes the spending bill, the Joint Budget Committee will meet to decide the final budget and how to balance the budget.
- Most lobbied bills. The most lobbied bills so far this session are the climate-related measures, but the health care industry still ranks at the top for lobbying spending. Health care interests, including associations, hospitals and insurance companies, spent nearly $5.2 million on lobbying from July 2021 through February 2022. They are followed by education clients, both K-12 and higher education, which spent nearly $3.1 million. Government entities — cities, counties and special districts and the associations representing them —came in third at nearly $1.6 million.
- Ballot initiatives. Nearly 150 proposals for this November’s ballot passed were submitted prior to the filing deadline last week. Many of these are duplicates, as proponents often file several proposals with slightly different wording to see which one meets the requisite standards for approval. 29 proposals will not move forward either because the time expired, the title was denied, or title was withdrawn.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss any or all of this! And a hearty, sincere thank you from us for the opportunity to represent your interests in Colorado.
Thank You – Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR March 28, 2022
Today is day 73 of 120. The pace of legislative activity is picking up and with just 499 bills introduced so far we expect many and more controversial bills to surface in coming days and weeks. Once the budget is complete, the sprint to adjournment will begin in earnest.
In other interesting news:
- Emissions tampering. SB22-179 was introduced today. It is not yet available electronically.
- Long Bill (Budget). The Joint Budget Committee has completed its work on the 2022-23 budget and will soon send it and accompanying “orbital” bills to the House for introduction on Monday. We expect dozens of amendments to be proposed. Some possible amendments may add funding for mental health programs, K-12 education, air quality regulation, public safety programs, and decreased energy costs. After passage in the House late next week, the Long Bill will move to the Senate for consideration the following week.
- Abortion rights. After more than 60 hours of debate HB 1279, “The Reproductive Health Equity Act”, is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature. The legislation codifies Coloradans’ right to abortion in case the U.S. Supreme Court potentially weakens or overturns Roe v. Wade.
- Marijuana in the workplace. HB1152 proposed to limit an employer’s ability to fire or discipline workers for the use of medical or recreational marijuana, including the use of medical marijuana on the job. The focus of intense lobbying, the bill died 11-1 Thursday in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. Colorado’s business community fiercely opposed the bill and testified in opposition.
- Lobbyist spending. Spending on lobbying during the first eight months of the State’s 2022 fiscal year increased 12% from the prior year. Lobbying spending totaled $29.4 million in the first eight months of the 2021-22 fiscal year, from July through February. That’s an increase over the $26.2 million spent during the same time frame in the 2020-21 fiscal year (and $25.4 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year). There are more than 600 lobbyists registered with the Secretary of State, but fewer than one-third of these are active on an ongoing basis.
- Does anyone really know what time it is? Competing bills in the House and Senate propose to eliminate Coloradan’s seasonal adjustment of their clocks by keeping the State on one time throughout the year. HB1297 seeks to make daylight saving time year-round if federal law is changed to allow states to do so. SB135 aims to create a statewide ballot measure to exempt Colorado from recognizing daylight saving time, creating a Mountain Standard Time year-round. So far efforts to end daylight saving time have been met with fierce push back from the ski industry and broadcasters who said it would disrupt their scheduling and operations. HB 1297 has not official registered opposition and is scheduled for a vote in House committee next week. Rumor has it a compromise is in the works: the House bill will be amended to say that once Congress adopts a national law and at least four other adjacent states adopt the standard, Colorado would go forward.
- Ballot initiatives. March 25 was the final deadline for ballot initiatives to be proposed for the November 2022 election. Next week will briefly summarize what issues are in play and what decisions voters are likely to consider.
Thanks- Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR March 7, 2022
The 2022 Colorado General Assembly has reached the halfway mark of the session! It’s all downhill from here… sort of, this usually means about 90-percent of the work remains!
- On Monday Senate President Fenberg was sworn into office and new SD3 State Senator Nick Hinrichsen arived to fill out the remainder of the term vacated by Senate President Leroy Garcia. Garcia’s departure results in several Senate Committee reassignments. Effected committees include Agriculture and Natural Resources, Finance, Transportation and Energy, State Veterans and Military Affairs, Education and Joint Budget Committee.
- At the proverbial halfway mark of the 2022 session, the number of bills introduced and under consideration is interesting. As of March 4, a total of 424 bills have been introduced – 279 House and 145 Senate. Of these, 120 bills have only Democrat sponsors; 90 bills have only Republican sponsors. To date, fewer bills have been introduced at this point than in prior sessions.
- Based on prior session statistics (see chart below) we expect at least 150-200 more bills to be introduced. Among others, beginning mid-March we expect a series of bills directing the expenditure of the federal ARPA dollars. The state budget, or the “Long Bill” as it is known, is also scheduled to be introduced on March 28.
- As Covid-19 cases decrease across Colorado, most areas have lifted mask mandates, including the State Capitol. Colorado recorded 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, with nearly 60,000 people hospitalized, and over 12,000 deaths attributed to the virus.
- The Joint Budget Committee is fully engrossed in making funding decisions for the upcoming fiscal year. Known as “Figure Setting” the JBC analysts present each department’s budget request and make recommendations for the Committee’s consideration in a figure setting document. These recommendations include the amounts and sources of funding for each budget line item, assumptions about the associated number of state employees, and footnotes to be included in the Long Bill to explain the purpose of certain appropriations. The Committee votes on each staff recommendation, and the JBC analyst recalculates appropriations based on the Committee’s actions.
Thanks- Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR FEB 28, 2022
A short legislative week due to President’s Day on Monday. However, the pace is picking up and everyone working the Capitol is now juggling multiple spinning plates!
- On Wednesday, Senator Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) was sworn in as the new Senate President, with Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) now serving as Majority Leader, and Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D-Arvada) moving from the Education committee to the Joint Budget Committee. Nick Hinrichsen, a Pueblo transit supervisor, was elected by the Senate District 3 vacancy committee to fill the remainder of Garcia’s term. He will be sworn into office this Monday and plans to run for the seat at the November general election. President Fenberg is expected to re-arrange committee assignments. It is anticipated that Senator Tammy Story (D-Jefferson County) will be appointed as Chair of the Senate Education committee.
- On the budget front, the Department of Personnel has a budget request to hire 5.0 FTE to support the hiring of an estimated 4,000 temporary employees who will be necessary as a result of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. ARPA provided significant funding to assist state and local governments in addressing the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This included $3.8 billion awarded to the Colorado state government from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Colorado’s Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund money is subject to appropriation by the General Assembly. The State may use the funds for costs incurred from March 3, 2021 through December 31, 2024. A cost is considered to be incurred if the state has an obligation for the cost by December 31, 2024. Obligations must be expended by December 31, 2026.
Next Wednesday, March 2, is the session’s 50th day and the deadline for final passage of Senate bills in the Senate and House bills in the House. Despite this, deadlines are treated more like suggestions and there does not seem to be any sense of urgency as the session days tick away). As of Friday morning, only 395 bills have been introduced which means we anticipate another 200-300 bills to be introduced and considered in the remaining 70 days of the session.
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR FEB 22, 2022
Busy week at the Colorado Capitol – lots of new bills, committee hearings, and interest on who will replace Senator Leroy Garcia in Senate District 3.
- The Colorado General Assembly did not meet this Monday, President’s Day, February 21st, which will be day 40 of the 120-day session.
- Next Thursday the full Senate will vote to seat Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) as the new Senate President. Senator Garcia will then depart for his new appointment at the Pentagon in Washington DC. Fenberg was elected by the Democratic Caucus last week but must be formally selected by the entire Senate. In the interim, a vacancy committee will meet to select the new District 3 senator. Whomever is chosen will fill the remainder of Garcia’s term until November when the seat will be up for election.
- On Tuesday, Governor Polis, a Democrat, officially announced his re-election campaign for a second (and final) 4-year term. His reelection announcement was part of a statewide tour starting in Pueblo and including Denver and the Western Slope. In a campaign video, Polis touted his successes: creating free preschool in the state, reducing insurance costs and cutting taxes. Colorado’s last Republican Governor was Bill Owens who served from 1999 to 2007.
- Senator Bridges (D-Arapahoe County) introduced a bill this week to ask voters to eliminate Daylight Savings Time in 2023, with Colorado observing “United States Mountain Standard Time” year-round. The bill has bi-partisan support. If the bill passes, it will be referred to the November 2022 general election for the voters to decide what time it is in Colorado. A crowd favorite, this bill has been introduced in nearly every recent legislative session but has never garnered the votes to pass. Among others, Colorado Ski Country vehemently opposes the bill each year because they believe it unfairly reduces their revenue by reducing the number of hours in a ski day!.
- While bill introductions are picking up, several of the more controversial issues have not yet been introduced. Potential upcoming bills to watch for include a new Air Toxics bill and a new collective bargaining bill for all 250,000 Colorado public employees.
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR FEB 13, 2022
Leadership changes in Colorado’s General Assembly!
On Wednesday the Senate Democrats selected Senator Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) to serve the chamber’s President for the balance of this session. Fenberg had been serving as the Senate Majority Leader, the No. 2 position in leadership. Fenberg was elected president unanimously, without a formal vote, of his 20-member caucus, and was the only candidate nominated.
Fenberg’s selection still must be approved by the full Senate. He replaces outgoing President Leroy Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat who is leaving the legislature on February 23 to take a Biden administration appointment at the Pentagon. A vacancy committee will appoint Garcia’s replacement.
Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) will become Majority Leader, leaving his position as Vice Chair of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D-Arvada) was appointed to fill Moreno’s seat on the powerful Joint Budget Committee (JBC). Fenberg will appoint a replacement for Zenzinger, current chair of the Senate Education Committee.
This week the House got down to regular business and adopted 16 supplemental appropriations bills for the current fiscal year. The Senate will review the supplemental bills next week. This will put the focus on the FY 2022-23 budget process, with the JBC beginning its “figure setting.” The state budget, called the “Long Bill” is scheduled to be introduced on March 28, starting in the House.
Finally, at the end of the week Governor Polis and various legislators unveiled a package of bills to address rising crime and public safety. Colorado currently ranks first national in car theft and is experiencing dramatic increases in nearly every other category of criminal activity to the alarm of everyone.
Thanks- Dan Jablan
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR FEB 7, 2022
An eventful week in Colorado and we aren’t just reporting on the biggest snow and coldest temperatures Denver has seen in 2+ years!
- The stunning news of the week came on Thursday with Senate President Leroy Garcia announcing his resignation from the Senate effective February 23. In an unusual twist in our political times, this resignation is not related to any scandal! Instead, Garcia has accepted an appointment with the Biden administration and will work at the Pentagon as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs. He is former U.S. Marine with six years active duty service who served in Iraq in 2003. The Senate Democratic caucus will now vote to replace him in the top leadership spot. A vacancy committee will choose his replacement to serve out his term. Garcia was term limited. Although his announcement is not a total surprise as it had been rumored he was seeking a Presidential appointment, the timing 3 weeks into a new session throws a bit of a kink into the process.
Democratic caucus elections will set off a series of dominoes for other leadership and committee chair positions. Current Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) and Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) have both expressed interest in the President’s role. Should Fenberg become President, a new majority leader will be necessary. If Donovan wins, she will give up Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Donovan is also term limited. Senator Dominick Moreno (Commerce City) may also be interested in succeeding Fenberg as Majority Leader, but will have to leave the Joint Budget Committee vice chair for a leadership position. We expect other candidates to emerge in coming days. Ultimately the Senate President is chosen by the entire chamber, but tradition allows the majority party to pick its own leader.
- With a snow day on Wednesday, committee hearings were delayed. Introductions of bills continues to be abnormally slow and fiscal notes have not been prepared for many introduced bills. Some of this backlog is being blamed on legislative staff shortages. Also, leadership is prioritizing bills that address spending federal dollars.
- On Tuesday, the Joint Budget Committee received a report on recommendations to allocate ARPA Coronavirus State Fiscal funds. These dollars may be used to respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits or to aid impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality; respond to workers performing essential work; for the provision of government services and the reduction in revenues; or to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
Colorado received $3.8 billion in federal funds which is subject to appropriation by the General Assembly. Based on legislative action during the 2021 legislative session, $2.6 billion remains available to be spent during the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions. Several task forces were created during the interim last summer and fall to make recommendations on the allocation of these funds, including:
- The Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force’s mission was to systematically re-examine the operations and interactions of higher education institutions and how they can most effectively and efficiently meet workforce needs. The Task Force supported a report which discussed the weaknesses in Colorado’s current educational structure, including low levels of funding and fragmentation. The report did not attach dollar amounts to recommendations, but the Governor has proposed the $95 million be spent on activities similar to their recommendations.
- The Behavioral Health Task Force proposed using $450.7 million to create transformational changes, including:
- $5-$10 million for Behavioral Health needs of Native American Tribes
- $110-$141 million for youth and residential care, community services and school and pediatric behavioral care
- $65-$71 million for increase adult and residential care
- $65-$70 million for ensuring people aren’t arrested and jailed for behavioral health conditions
- $80-$83 million for expanding and supporting Colorado’s behavioral health workforce
- The Affordable Housing Task Force proposed $400 million in programs, including
- $150-$227 million for a revolving loan fund
- $150-$227 million for nonprofit and local govt grants
- $350-$51 million for resident owned communities, mobile home parks and land grants
- $40-48 million for innovative housing incentives
- $25 million to CO Housing and Financing Authority for middle-income borrowers
In summary, Colorado government is awash in money like never before! This spending package is expected to be introduced in coming weeks.
Next week, committees have full hearing schedules. The Joint Budget Committee will begin figure setting recommendations for all departments. And with just over 90+ days left in the session, the legislature has so far accomplished very little, leaving the bulk of the work for the next 3 ½ months. As per usual!
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR JAN. 28, 2022
Dan Jablan’s Big Picture for Jan 29
A slow week in Colorado with little to report!
With just about 100 days left in the legislative session, the pace of business at the Capitol remains slow. Agency oversight hearings, required in Colorado under the so-called SMART ACT, concluded today. Next week House and Senate committee work will finally begin in earnest.
The introduction of bills has also been slow. Thus far there are only 225 bills published – 133 in the House and 92 in the Senate. Today is the final deadline for Senate bill introductions. The House bill introduction deadline is next Wednesday, February 2d. importantly, these deadlines largely apply only to members of the minority party and are considered suggestions or guidelines for majority Democrats. Legislators in Colorado are permitted 5 bills each per session and anecdotally we have heard many legislators are seeking “late bill” status from leadership for some of their 5 deadline bills because the bill drafts are not in final form. We expect many more bills – and especially the controversial and party base messaging bills – well after the official introduction deadlines have passed.
For example, the Democrats have yet to introduce many of their platform bills – including one proposed by Majority Leaders Senator Fenberg (D-Boulder) and Representative Esgar (D-Pueblo) to allow public employees at all levels of government to join a union and enjoy collective bargaining rights. Interestingly, this proposal may have already encountered a major roadblock – Governor Polis. Earlier this week, Polis publicly announced his opposition to the idea in its current construct. Currently, only certain public employees may unionize, but not employees of cities, counties and universities. Polis said he could support more narrowly drafted legislation to expand collective bargaining and engage local governments much earlier in the process, but not full unionization. Polis often uses his media appearances to influence legislative proposals.
So, starting next week expect a wave of new bills and increasingly busy committee hearing schedules.
Dan Jablan’s “BIG PICTURE” REPORT FOR JAN. 22, 2022
The second week of the session has been completed. The hearing of bills in the chambers and committees is off to a slow start. Please see a summary of the week below:
· The Capitol is still in its “new normal” operating mode – social distancing, testing protocols, and remote or in-person participation. Several legislators still chose this week to participate virtually, and at least six members of the legislators and multiple lobbyists were home with a positive covid diagnoses.
· 222 bills have been introduced as of 01/23/2022. 133 in the House and 89 Senate bills. What is interesting, is that 74 have Democrat only sponsors, and 63 have Republican only sponsorship. So much for the bi-partisan talk on opening day.
· Although the bills have not reached committee hearings yet, the behind-the-scenes negotiations on the bills’ language is moving full steam ahead.
· SMART Act hearings are still taking center stage at the Capitol. We anticipate these hearings will consume much of the next several weeks and committees will begin hearings on introduced legislation sometime after that.
Dan Jablan’s “Big Picture” Report for Jan. 17, 2022
Greetings from Colorado. The 2d session of the 73rd General Assembly convened on Wednesday and we are underway! Please see a summary of the week below:
- The Colorado General Assembly convened Wednesday, in its “new normal” operating mode – masks required, social distancing, testing protocols, and remote or in-person participation. Several legislators chose this week to participate virtually, and at least one member was home with a positive covid diagnoses.
- House and Senate Democrats rolled out their legislative agenda in opening day speeches. Not surprisingly, both parties’ priorities are similar and differ only in their methods/approaches: cost of living/affordability, crime, education. The Democrats agenda “Moving Colorado Forward” promises to save people money, create a safer and healthier Colorado and set students up for success. This includes proposals to fund behavioral health programs to cut down on crime rates and recidivism, boosting education funding to increase teacher pay and reduce classroom sizes and fee relief. Meanwhile, the Republicans see the 2022 session as an opportunity to demonstrate that they can best govern the State. They laid out their “Commitment to Colorado” which outlines their agenda, including 44 specific bills that focus on policies aimed at reducing the cost of living, decrease crime and improve student outcomes, most of this by rolling back Democratic policies and cutting taxes and fees.
- Governor Polis delivered his State of the State address on Thursday, sticking to the very same themes of saving people money, public safety, clean air, and investing in the future. The Governor even distributed a list of 50 ways the Polis Administration is saving Coloradans money. Polis’ priorities include additional funding for behavioral health, public safety programs and education; reducing fees; funding the Unemployment Trust Fund; affordable housing and reducing homelessness; investing in clean air programs; and protecting Colorado’s water rights.
- SMART Act hearings scheduled the next two weeks for state agencies. Much like congressional oversight hearings each year, Colorado Executive Branch agencies present a SMART Act performance plan which identifies meaningful performance objectives, and strategies to achieve same. Progress on the agency’s goals is reported monthly on the Governor’s Dashboard. Departments present performance plans, regulatory and legislative agendas, and budget requests to Joint House and Senate Committees of Reference. We anticipate these hearings will consume much of the next several weeks and committees will begin hearings on introduced legislation sometime after that.
- In the political realm there was a seismic event this week with longtime Democratic U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CD7) announcing that he will not seek reelection in November 2022. Perlmutter is moderate Democrat, former state legislator, and longtime member of Congress who is beloved by all. His announcement was a shock to the political world, but quickly followed by State Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-SD22) announcing that she will seek the Democratic nomination to replace Perlmutter in CD7. Republican State Representative Colin Larson (R-HD22) is considering entering the race on the Republican side.
- Two other political dynamics to watch this session. (1) Several legislators are rumored to be preparing to run for Denver Mayor in the April 2023 election. This includes Speaker Alec Garnett, Senator Chris Hansen, and Representatives Leslie Herod and Alex Valdez. They will be moving legislation and voting in ways that help ensure their viability as Denver’s next Mayor. (2) the Governor is exhibiting characteristics of an elected official who is seeking reelection in November and his relationship with the more progressive Democratic members of the legislature is strained and likely to become more so. We will be watching and working these dynamics carefully as the session develops.
Nearly 100 new bills were introduced this week. None of our bill dropped last week.
Thanks- Dan Jablan