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Lawmakers Start Weighing Bills At State Capitol

Snow falls at the State Capitol on Friday afternoon.
Scott Franz
Capitol Coverage
Snow falls at the State Capitol on Friday afternoon.

It was a busy week at the State Capitol as lawmakers started debating an initial round of bills at committee hearings and Gov. Jared Polis issued his first executive order to promote electric vehicles.

Here are some highlights, and some things to look for when lawmakers come back on Tuesday.

Lawmaking begins

Some potentially impactful legislation has already passed through committees at the Capitol.

One bill getting early support is a measure that aims to add more transparency to hospital costs. The bill from Democratic Rep. Chris Kennedy would require hospitals to provide the state with a more detailed spending report each year. Proponents say it will allow the state to see and flag any excessive or wasteful spending. The bill passed an initial vote in the House Health and Insurance Committee.

In a Senate committee, a bill that would give the state more resources to combat the problem of drones interrupting firefighting operations passed unanimously.

Polis goes to bat for budget

A lot of buzz surrounded the new governor’s budget proposal headlined by a $227 million request for free full-day kindergarten. The room where the budget hearing took place was completely full 15 minutes before the meeting even began.

Polis entered the hearing facing some skepticism from members of his own party about the budget. Sen. Dominick Moreno, and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger serve on the Joint Budget Committee that writes the state budget. They held a press conference on Tuesday where they raised questions about whether the funding would be sustainable past the first year. Polis, who wants to pay for the kindergarten classes with better-than-expected revenue projections, thinks it will be. He also spent part of his budget presentation telling each specific member of the Joint Budget Committee how many millions of dollars the proposal would bring to their school districts.

Afterward, lawmakers from both parties predicted they’d have to wait until the spring to decide whether to fund the plan. They said they wanted to see what other priorities might come forward in the coming weeks.

Secretary of State lays out priorities

New Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Thursday she wants to look into opening polling centers on Sundays before election days and add more voter registration kiosks in government offices. She is also calling for campaign finance reform that would shine a light on secret political spending.

Listen to Griswold’s remarks here:Secretary of State Jena Griswold outlines her priorities

A big week ahead for health care policy

A proposal to create a state backed public insurance option will be discussed Thursday. Rep. Dylan Roberts proposed legislation that aims to reduce the skyrocketing cost of insurance premiums on the Western Slope. He thinks the state-backed option will lead to more competition and bring down health care costs.

Scott Franz reports on one lawmaker's plan to bring more competition to the heath insurance market for the western slope.

Polis didn’t weigh in on this public option during his State of the State address. He did announce the creation of the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. Lawmakers await more detailed plans for the office.

Impactful legislation ahead

From a proposed ban on all cell phone use while driving to a bill that would let municipalities prohibit tobacco sales to anyone under 21, there are still several pieces of legislation set to be heard in the coming weeks.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Eleven public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

Lawmakers Start Weighing Bills At State Capitol

Copyright 2019 KUNC

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.
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