Hot issues remain for Legislature

DENVER — Lawmakers still have much to do before the 2013 session of the Colorado Legislature ends May 8.

Of the more than 600 bills introduced so far this session — and a handful more may still come — about 60 percent have been killed by lawmakers, or been signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper or are on their way to his desk.

The remainder are still being debated in the House or Senate.

Despite criticism from Republicans over how the majority Democrats have handled the calendar, House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, both Denver Democrats, said they aren’t alarmed by what’s still left to be done in the final 10 days.

“I’m not worried,” Hullinghorst said. “We will have some late nights getting it done, but that’s almost always the case at the end of a session. There are lots of bills out there that aren’t that controversial.”

Lawmakers have had several such nights this year, many of which have threatened to go into the weekends.

Three of the measures that are expected to take much time received their first debates in just the last week. Those are the measures to implement Amendment 64, last year’s ballot question that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Two of the bills call for regulating the weed and a third would call for ballot question this fall to ask for voter approval of a 15 percent excise tax and a 15 percent sales tax on marijuana sales, though there is talk that the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, may reduce that sales tax burden to 10 percent.

One of the bills includes a controversial provision to set a driving-while-too-stoned standard, which was taken from a bill killed last week that had been introduced by Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction.

Another controversial bill working its way through is a measure to revamp the way the state conducts elections.

That measure has attracted some national attention, but not over aspects of the bill itself.

The measure, HB1303, was the brainchild of the Colorado County Clerks Association. Among other things, it calls for allowing voters to register up to Election Day.

It’s gotten national attention from a mailer sent to voters attacking Republican clerks in Mesa and La Plata counties who support the bill.

The mailer included a photograph of people standing in line that was altered by the group that mailed it, Citizens for Free and Fair Elections, to remove the faces of black voters.

Other controversial bills still working their way through the Legislature include a measure to allow workers in small businesses to file discrimination lawsuits in state court, a bill giving firefighters the right to collectively bargain and a measure to allow people who are in the state illegally to receive a state-issued driver’s license.


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