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Legislative Year: 2018 Change
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Colorado Eyes & Ears »

The big bills, as usual, have to wait until the big pieces of the state's budget are decided.  The Long Bill has passed through the House and Senate, and the many ideas from both sides have to be reconciled.

Meanwhile, several session-making issues are outstanding.  It's clear that the swiss replica watches Department of Transportation will get a big shot in the arm, but without help for an initiative from the legislature.  If an initiative gets on a ballot, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce will carry that water.

PERA needs somewhere between $32 billion and $50 billion, according to the PERA board.  The difference depends on accounting methods.  The legislature has three sources for new money:  employees, employers, and the state.  PERA recipients will no doubt be hit with reduced benefits.  Part of the equation is how fast the legislature decides the money needs to pour in.

School finance remains a disaster, even with some extra funds.  The state owes school districts a lot of money.  Even if the state gives schools additional dollars, they are likely to get eaten up by higher employer expenses into PERA.  It's a dog's world for schools.

These reports provide how legislators voted on all 2018 bills.  It's updated daily.  Go to the bottom of the reports for totals by individual.  House Vote Report: All Bills.  Senate Vote Report:  All Bills.

coastoptics.online

Reclaimed domestic wastewater receives attention among the first bills introduced at the Capitol.  Dog and cat owners should note that HB18-1069 allows toilet flushing with reclaimed water up to category three standards. 

Category three water gets secondary treatment with filtration and disinfection and meets standard three e coli and turbidity measures.  Category three water receives more treatment than water used for zoo operations (category one) and commercial laundries (category two).

Marijuana is added to category two wastewater compliance in HB18-1053 and hemp is added to category one wastewater compliance in SB18-038.

Colorado’s beef industry will benefit from a new regulation coming from anti-regulation Republican lawmakers Rep. Kimmi Lewis (HD-64) from eastern Colorado and Sen. Vicki Marble (SD-23) from the more rural side of the north I-25 corridor.  US born, bred, and slaughtered meat will receive a USA MEAT designation.  Others get the IMPORTED label.

A bipartisan bill, SB18-009, sponsored by Sens. Kevin Priola (R-25) and Stephen Fenberg (D-18), both in districts north of the metro area, allows utility customers to install residence-based electricity storage units.  The bill will help electric car owners and solar energy users mitigate energy black or brown-outs.

Guns get the usual election year mulligans.  Two bills to repeal ammunition magazine prohibitions, HB18-1015 and SB18-052, will put House committee members and all Senate Democrats on the record as voting to oppose unlimited ammunition magazines.  They are already on the record with HB17-1097 and SB17-007, defeated in the previous session.

HB17-1036, Concealed Carry in Public Schools has a recycle in 2018 with HB18-1037, Concealed Carry on School Grounds.  SB18-051, Prohibit Multi-burst Trigger Activators, sponsored by Sen. Mike Merrifield from SD-11 in Manitou Springs, is new and will prevent automatic weapon firing of semi-automatic weapons.  These bills will lose in State, Veteran, and Military Affairs committees.

Democrats and Republicans are running various taxes up and taxes down bills. 

Plastic bags may end up funding affordable housing if Democrats Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Court can pass a bill for an initiative to charge 25 cents for plastic bags used at stores.  The tax covers any number of bags used in a single purchase.

Democratic Sen. Andy Kerr has resurrected Funding for Full Day Kindergarten, SB18-004, so far without Rep. Brittany Pettersen, who sponsored the same bill, SB17-29, with Kerr in 2017.  Pettersen is running for Kerr’s Senate seat in 2018.  The bill asks the Secretary of State to run an initiative that will allow state government to retain TABOR tax money for kindergarten.

On the other side, Republican leadership in the Senate wants to reduce the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.43 percent.  Another bill, SB-070 sponsored by incumbent Republican candidate Sen. Tim Neville, SD-16, will free up more church property from taxation.  HB18-1036, another Neville-sponsored bill, brings back the annual legislation to reduce business personal property tax. 

Republican leadership in the Senate also wants to improve broadband coverage to rural areas.  Rather than using tax dollars, the bill uses PUC regulated funds and surcharges from local exchange carriers to cover additional costs. 

Four Republican legislators, two from the House and two from the Senate, are asking for a funding initiative for transportation that will not raise taxes but will move money around, exclude certain funds from spending limits, and push 10 percent of sales taxes to the transportation budget.

So much of this legislation shows how little has been accomplished in previous years to resolve education and transportation funding needs.  With the legislature divided, gun bills will go down. 

There is good news for the sake industry.  SB18-019 will classify sake as wine in the Colorado Liquor Code.

Governor John Hickenlooper faces his last General Assembly in 2018, with his speech to the Joint House and Senate chambers tomorrow. 

Numerous accounts from various pundits across the nation, including the New York Times, say that he may run for president in 2020. A successful 2018 swiss replica watches of lawmaking may make him competitive with the current Democratic front-runner, Oprah Winfrey.  This means heavy lifting on problems that haven’t been resolved over seven years of his terms as governor.

First, credit due:  Hickenlooper should get many kudos for his health care policies that have successfully increased the number of Coloradans with insurance.  He set in place the insurance exchange that, in some cases, makes individual insurance cheaper for Coloradans than employer-sponsored health care.  The Exchange is running smoothly and doing the job envisioned by the Affordable Care Act, which, apparently, does work well when it’s supported properly.

Outstanding Issue No. 1:  Others say PERA or transportation.  But for the long term, the biggest problem is k-12 education funding.  This state will not have kids well prepared for their future in this state at current funding levels.  This fact has been true at least since 2008 with the recession, and has not improved under Gov. Hickenlooper’s watch.

The overly complicated 2013 initiative, written mostly by current candidate for governor Michael Johnston, got pounded by voters.  Hickenlooper delegated that project to Johnston, and then was lukewarm in his support. 

The Governor owes the children of this state an initiative in 2018 that can gain voter support.  He should expend maximum political capital to get a funding measure passed.  That would be the ultimate distinction for his record.

Outstanding Issue No. 2:  Everyday Coloradans are affected most by the transportation pretzel they experience all day long.  Somehow, Gov. Hickenlooper has to explain to Republican Senators that mortgaging Colorado’s taxpayer owned buildings is insufficient. To get millennial voters behind a substantial transportation investment, the Governor must do more for non-auto travel. 

As an aside, in case the pro-auto, libertarian Independence Institute hasn’t noticed, the acres of light rail parking at the Mineral Station on the Santa Fe line are packed by 7:30 am.  The Institute’s prediction that light rail wouldn’t work was wrong.  Other FrontRange cities need alternatives to cars too.  It’s time for the Governor and legislators and the Department of Transportation to get imaginative beyond mortgaging state assets.

Outstanding Issue No. 3:  Oil and gas drilling/fracking is roiling FrontRange communities.  Where are the pipes, cry Front Range home owners and city planners.  Too much regulation, cries the drilling industry.  The Governor and the legislature face hard questions as to their priorities:  the risks to the health and safety of citizens from drilling v. the environmental impacts v. the economic benefits.  Unless the oil and gas industry turns softer, the Governor will be forced to make decisions that will make a bunch of people unhappy.  Isn’t that why he’s governor and may want to run for president?

Outstanding Issue No. 4:  PERA – the state employee and public teacher pension funds.  The problems here are arcane at the micro level but easy to understand at the macro:  there’s not enough money to cover long-term expenses.  The Governor could try to work with educators on an education funding initiative that would solve problems with current low teacher salaries (see outstanding issue 1) and high pension costs. The largest question related to PERA and teachers remains:  how can teachers with a decade or less of employment in public education continue to afford their jobs? 

If the Governor succeeds in any one of these ongoing issues, it’s not enough.  He must succeed in all four.  That’s the cost of kicking the can down our potholed roads.

The 2018 general election is 15 months away, but more than 100 people already have filed candidacy papers for the House or Senate.

And some of those candidates already are raising big money. As of the most recent filing deadline on July 17, more than $558,000 had been raised by 78 registered House candidates and more than $363,000 by 26 Senate hopefuls. Twenty House candidates have five-digit war chests.

Those totals are likely low. Depending on when they filed their affidavits, some candidates didn’t have to report financial information in July. The next reporting deadline is in mid-October.

A lot of that money is being raised in some developing primary races, particularly among Democrats.

There are 10 intra-party contests shaping up in the House, eight of them on the Democratic side. There are four potential primaries in Senate districts, all involving Democrats.

The hot Democratic House contests are in Denver, in the 4th District being vacated by Rep. Dan Pabon and in the 5th District of Speaker Crisanta Duran, who’s also term limited. Four candidates are seeking Pabon’s seat, including lawyer Amy Beatie, social worker and activist Serena Gonzales-Gutierres, community organizer Michael Kiley and a William Britt.

Contenders in the 5th District are corporate executive Meghan Nutting, businessman Alex Valdez and political organizer Nicky Yollick.

Beatie is the top fundraiser among all House candidates, reporting contributions of $43,644 so far.

Democratic primaries also are shaping up in the 18th, 24th, 26th, 28th, 34th and 50th districts.

Five Democrats are vying in Senate District 32, which stretches across south Denver. Current Sen. Irene Aguilar is term limited.

The candidates are entrepreneur Zach Neumann, activist Robert Rodriguez, lawyer Alan Kennedy-Shaffer and two other political activists, Peter Smith and Lance Wright.

Neumann has reported raised $55,230.  

Expect a lot more candidates to file affidavits in the coming months – there typically are about 250 legislative candidates in any given statewide election. And also expect a lot of individuals to drop by the wayside, particularly when party selection processes start next spring.

But here’s a look at the situation of as Aug. 9:

House

  • All 65 House seats are up
  • So far at least one candidate has registered in 43 districts
  • There are 78 candidates who’ve filed with the secretary of state, including two unaffiliated, two Libertarians and one from the new Unity Party
  • Thirty-seven incumbents have filed their paperwork; 13 others haven’t done so yet. The other 15 representatives are either term-limited and/or running for other offices.

Senate

  • Because senators serve four-year terms, there are only 17 races in 2018.
  • Some 26 people have filed Senate candidacies
  • At least one candidate has filed in 15 districts
  • Four incumbents who are eligible to run haven’t yet filed

Learn about all current House candidates in this spreadsheet. You can sort columns by clicking the small triangles at the top of each column. Learn more about a candidate by clicking his or her name.

Announced House Candidates 2018

Here’s the spreadsheet listing current Senate candidates.

Announced Senate Candidates 2018

But wait, there’s more

We’ve also built a spreadsheet of current candidates for statewide office. It works like the House and Senate databases.

Announced Candidates for Statewide Offices

-- Todd Engdahl

 

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