This Week in the Legislature, April 17, 2017

DENVER — Debate over the state’s proposed $26.8 billion budget was delayed last week because of ongoing negotiations over two measures designed to bring more money into play. One is HB1242, introduced by House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, as a compromise measure to raise sales taxes to fund transportations projects and simultaneously lower vehicle registration fees used for the same purpose.

The other is SB267, introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and House Majority Leader KC Becker, D-Boulder. That bill, meant for some to be an alternative to the sales tax increase measure, would leverage state-owned buildings to fund transportation bonds and take the state’s hospital provider fee out from under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, freeing more money for other uses. The Joint Budget Committee is waiting to see what happens with one or both of those bills before meeting again to finalize the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

• Today: The House Finance Committee is to debate HB1328, a measure introduced by four Democrats that would require a presidential candidate to file five years’ worth of their federal income tax returns to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to qualify for the state’s ballot. The bill is aimed at Republican President Donald Trump, who didn’t release his tax returns as presidential candidates traditionally do, while they are not legally required to do so.

• Tuesday: The Senate Appropriations Committee is to discuss HB1088, a bill sponsored by the father-and-son team of Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock. The bill, which won near unanimous approval in the House last month, calls for changes to how signatures are verified in petitions for candidates. It requires the actual signatures, and not merely a signer’s registration status, to be visually verified by the Secretary of State’s Office.

• Wednesday: The House Local Government Committee is to hear HB1314, a measure that would allow homeless people to “rest” in certain areas. The bill, sponsored by Democrats, is designed to protect homeless people from being indiscriminately removed from public spaces.

• Thursday: The House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee is to debate House Concurrent Resolution 1001, a proposed ballot measure for 2018 that calls for reducing the current 120-day legislative session to 90 days during even-numbered years and 60 days on off-years, establishing a biennial budget process and limiting the number of bills and resolutions the 100 legislators can introduce. Currently, lawmakers can introduce up to five bills. The measure would reduce that to two bills and two resolutions, not including bills recommended by interim committees or appropriations measures.

• Friday: This day is reserved for floor debate on bills that reach that stage in the House and Senate.

• Next week: The 2017 legislation session is nearing its end. With less then three weeks to go, the Legislature still has many issues facing it, not the least of which is the budget, transportation funding, construction defects and a slew of resolutions and partisan “statement” measures that always make for long days at the end of a session.

Scheduled committee hearings are subject to change. All floor action and committees can be watched or heard on the Legislature’s website, leg.colorado.gov. Check that website to see which measures are available for remote testimony, and how to register to speak.

— Charles Ashby


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