Under the Dome, Week 8
Highlights of the Week
It was a week of long nights at the capitol, including one night that stretched into morning. The House of Representative debated the Death Penalty Repeal, SB20-100, from Monday midafternoon until 4:00am on Tuesday. The House ultimately passed the bill by a vote of 38-27. The bill heads to Governor Polis, who has indicated that he will sign the bill.
The House Energy and Environment Committee previously heard testimony on HB20-1025, Sales Tax Exemption Industrial and Manufacturing Energy Use, and on Monday the committee took up the bill again to hear amendments and vote on the bill. It passed by a narrow vote of 6-5 with one Democrat, Representative Froelich, joining the Republicans on the committee in opposition to HB20-1025. In order to claim the energy use sales tax exemption—which is in place to ensure that products are not double taxed before they reach the customer—the bill would require businesses to use meters to capture the amount the energy used in manufacturing or preparing goods. An amendment passed in committee adds a requirement that the amounts of energy are verified by a third party. The bill will be heard next in the House Finance Committee on March 9th.
Two bills to limit single use plastics and polystyrene were also heard in the House Energy and Environment Committee on Monday. HB20-1162, Prohibit Food Establishments' Use Of Polystyrene, and HB20-1163, Management of Single Use Plastics, passed out of the Committee on votes of 7-4. HB20-1162 proposes a statewide ban on Styrofoam take-out containers, and it was amended to phase in the prohibition for school cafeterias. As introduced, HB20-1163 proposes to prohibit retail stores from providing customers with a number of single use plastic products to customers. The committee amended HB20-1163 to remove polystyrene (Styrofoam) from the bill since it’s covered in other legislation. HB20-1163 as amended would require retailers to charge consumers 10 cents for using either paper or plastic bags. After 2 years plastic bags would be banned, and paper bags would hold a 10 cent charge. HB20-1162 is now headed to the House Appropriations Committee and HB20-1163 is headed to the House Finance Committee.
After hours of debate on Monday, and several amendments added on second and third reading, SB20-167 passed the Senate 22-12. Senator Hansen and Senator Priola carried the bill through the Senate. As introduced, the bill would have allowed car manufacturers to sell electric vehicles directly to consumers, but as it passed the Senate the bill would allow car manufacturers that sell only electric vehicles—such as Tesla or Rivian—to sell EVs directly to consumers. The amendments brought the auto dealers to neutral on the bill. Now it is headed to the House of Representatives where Speaker Becker is the prime sponsor.
Monday was a turbulent day for Senator Faith Winter, the sponsor of a not-yet-introduced bill to provide paid family and medical leave for employees, as she learned that two of the other prime sponsors on the bill would take their names off of the bill. Senator Angela Williams and Representative Monica Duran, the two legislators who pulled their names from the bill, had concerns that the bill did not include enough protections for employees. This latest turn of events could prove to be a real setback for passing a paid family leave program through the legislature and put more weight on the set of ballot measures brought by paid family leave advocates. The big difference between the bill and the ballot measures in how a FAMLI program would be set up. The ballot measures proposed by advocates would create a state-run FAMLI program, whereas the bill in its most recent draft would require employers to provide a paid family and medical leave benefit to their employees and allows them to purchase private insurance to do so. While it is still possible to see a FAMLI bill be introduced in the legislature this year, it’s future is increasingly uncertain.
SB20-139, County Loans for Public Infrastructure Projects passed the Senate Local Government Committee, with several amendments, on Thursday by a 4-1 vote. The bill would allow county governments to make loans to government agencies within their county for public infrastructure projects such as road maintenance and construction. The amendments added underwriting standards, require that the public is notified before a county government makes such a loan, require that the county government seek out private sector lending options first, and limit the intergovernmental loans to 8% of county reserves. The bill now goes to the full Senate.
SB20-163, School Entry Immunization, passed the Senate this Friday on a vote of 20-14. On second reading the previous day, SB20-163 saw hours of debate on the Senate floor and several amendments added to address concerns raised by opponents during the bill’s committee hearing. The bill would standardize the process for parents to seek a non-medical exemption from immunization requirements for children entering kindergarten. Parents would be able to seek a non-medical exemption by having a standardized form signed by someone who is authorized to give immunizations or by completing an education model that provides information on immunizations. Some of the amendments added to the bill were brought by the bill’s sponsors, Senator Gonzales and Senator Priola, and other amendments were brought by legislators opposing SB20-163. The amendments that passed:
- Clarify the 95% vaccination rate applies only to the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Clarify an exemption so that the bill’s requirements don’t apply if the child is homeschooled
- Limit the demographic and personal information on the standard non-medical exemption form.
- Adds topic of vaccine injury to what must be covered in the online module.
- Clarify that any data parents submit is subject to state and federal confidentiality laws.
- Prohibit regulatory boards and employers from retaliating against a provider, authorized to administer vaccines, who signs a non-medical immunization exemption form.
Several amendments brought by Republicans failed to make it on the bill including amendments that proposed changing the term from “non-medical exemption” to “conscious exemption” and removing Hepatitis B from the list of required vaccinations. Having cleared the Senate, SB20-163 moves to the House where Representative Mullica will carry the bill through that chamber.
This week was relatively light for the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) with the Committee taking up figure setting for the Department of Public Health and Environment, which oversees public health programs, infectious disease prevention, health facilities, wellness programs, air and water quality divisions, and waste management programs. The JBC also considered figure setting for capital construction, the funding that is used to construct and maintain state buildings. During the CDPHE figure setting the committee delayed taking action on HIV/AIDS programs. Committee staff presented recommendations to decrease funding by nearly $5 million for these programs due to revenue projections for Amendment 35 and the Tobacco Master Settlement, existing fund balances, and prior year actions. This item will be presented again during a staff comeback where more information will be presented. The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) met with the Capital Development Committee (CDC) on Thursday to discuss the differences between the CDC’s list of projects prioritized for funding and the Governor’s requested prioritization list. The Capital Development Committee’s list of projects came in $13.7 million higher than the Governor’s request. On Friday, the JBC delayed a decision on the state funded projects. This could be one of the decision items that the JBC waits to act on until after the March General Fund Revenue Forecast, which provides the most accurate estimate of available revenue for the budget. Next week the JBC meets every day for significant figure setting hearings for K-12 funding, the state’s share of Medicaid, behavioral health programs in the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Natural Resources.
Bills of the Week