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Under the Dome, Week 5

 

Highlights of the Week

 

cid:image005.png@01D5DDDA.98BD9CF0The vacancy for House District 6, a Denver district seat left vacant after now-Senator Chris Hansen moved from the House to the Senate, was filled this week when new member Steven Woodrow was chosen for the position by a vacancy committee.  Representative Woodrow is a consumer rights attorney.  In another change this week, Representative Janice Rich, a Republican from Grand Junction became a member of the Capital Development Committee—the committee that reviews and makes decisions related to state and higher education buildings.  

 

SB20-010 was heard in the Senate Local Government Committee on Tuesday this week.   The bill proposed to remove a state prohibition on local government plastics regulations.  Recently there has been a push at the local level to place restrictions on plastic bags and other single use plastics.  Local elected officials from Denver, Boulder, Telluride, Avon, and other jurisdictions testified in support of the bill, making their case that removing the state preemption would allow local communities to decide what regulations on plastics would be best for their community.   Several environmental groups also testified in support of the bill, arguing that the bill would lead to less plastic waste.  Opposition to the bill brought up that the bill could lead to a patchwork of regulations that would be burdensome for businesses and that medical supplies were not exempted from the bill, which could compromise sanitation and safety standards for patients.  The bill died on a 2-3 vote with Democrat Senator Angela Williams joining the Republicans on the committee in opposition. 

  

HB20-1093, County Authority License and Regulate Businesses, passed the House Transportation and Local Government Committee on a 9-2 vote on Wednesday.  The bill as introduced would have granted counties the ability to regulate businesses in the same way that cities do, through business licenses and setting regulations for issuance and revocation of licenses.   An amendment passed to limit the scope of the bill to allow counties the ability to regulate short term rentals through a business license, and to clarify that this does not impact county assessors’ ability to reclassify short term rentals as non-residential property.  Several county commissioners testified in support of the bill, including Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson.  Commissioner Davidson explained that Summit County was forced to set up regulations through the land use code. Regulating through a business license structure would allow the County to more quickly respond to complaints about noise, trash, or septic system issues by revoking a license on a short term rental, rather than going through a complicated zoning code complaint process. The bill now moves to the full House and could be up for a vote as early as Monday, February 10. 

 

The high cost of health care has been a focus at the capitol in recent years.  SB20-107 is another bill aimed at bringing transparency to the prices of prescription drugs.   The bill would require manufacturers of the top 20 most expensive prescription drugs per treatment and the top 20 most expensive drugs by volume purchased by the state’s Medicaid program to report on various components that went into the cost of the drug.  These components include research and development, marketing, clinical trials, cost of manufacturing, etc.  There were many questions from Senate Health and Human Services Committee members about how SB20-107 differed from another pharmaceutical price transparency bill, HB20-1160.  SB20-107 is targeted at increasing transparency on the cost components of new prescription drugs and HB20-1160 focuses on increasing transparency of price changes for existing drugs. Kim Bimestefer, the Executive Director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, testified in support of the bill, stating that she believes the bill would provide necessary information to the state’s Medicaid program in negotiating the cost of prescription drugs, allowing them to better control costs. Industry representatives testified that the information required to be reported by the bill would provide an inaccurate picture of the costs of research and development.  They spoke to the complicated nature of research and development of pharmaceuticals with many drugs being developed that never make it to market. The Committee heard testimony on Thursday and SB20-107 was laid over for action only on Wednesday, February 12. 

 

On Tuesday, five early childhood bills passed the House Education Committee.  HB20-1128, Educator Education Requirements Special Education, would require teachers to have 10 hours of professional development training on laws and practices related to special education in order to renew their teaching license.  The bill passed unanimously.  HB20-1016, Increase Quality in Early Childhood Education Programs, proposes to provide incentives to increase the quality of early childhood programs.  The incentives would be aimed to help first and second levels of the state’s quality rating system for early childhood programs make improvements in their programs to bring them up to a level 3 or higher.  HB20-1053, Supports for Early Childhood Educator Workforce, proposes a series of solutions to increase the number of early childhood educators.  Demand for early childhood educators is expected to increase in the next decade and the state faces a shortage of individuals working in this sector.  One of the areas of the bill is a scholarship program for people seeking credentials in early childhood education, this was changed in Committee slightly so that grants are given to institutions and non-profits who will then award scholarships to individuals.  HB20-1011, Helping Other Manage Early Childhood Act, would create workshops around the state to provide information on the best practices in early childhood education and what children are expected to know and be prepared for when they enter kindergarten.  HB20-1043, Income Tax Credit for Early Childhood Education Fix, is a technical fix to a bill passed in 2019 to create a refundable income tax credit for early childhood educators.  HB19-1005 never took effect because of a mistake with the effective date and HB20-1043 fixes this error. 

 

Bills of the Week

 

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