Eye on the Legislature

May 21, 2018

   The Governor’s signing of legislation passed this session continues at somewhat of a snail’s pace, but he does have 30 days after adjournment date to do so . . . .

Senate Bill 190 was wisely postponed (killed). The bill would have authorized a board of county commissioners to delegate by resolution any planning powers it has to the county planning commission, except for creating fines and penalties.  Again, in this writer’s opinion, commissioners should never be able to delegate such matters.

 House Bill 18-1301 was killed on April 26th, and would have dealt with the disastrous Gold King Mine blowout. More than a million gallons of mustard yellow waste water was released into the Animas River, a 126-mile long tributary of the San Juan/Colorado River System in August of 2015. The release reportedly contained toxic metals including arsenic, cadmium and lead, as well as aluminum and copper. The damage to the environment – fishing, wildlife, tourism/recreation – is still happening. The EPA reportedly knew the mine had been leaking toxic water at a rate of 50 to 250 gallons a minute for years. (That figure is assuredly fodder for debate.)

The mining lobbyists were just too persuasive with legislators and fought the substantial changes HB 1301 would have made in reporting requirements to the way mining operators must adopt and execute a reclamation plan for land affected by mining operations.

House Bill 18-1311 was killed on April 20th, and would have prohibited the use of a policyholder’s location within the state by health insurers when setting rates for health plans sold on the individual market, and established a single statewide geographic rating area for the state.

House Bill 18-1336 was signed by the Governor on April 30th, and repeals the marijuana grant program effective July 1, 2018. The program was created pursuant to HB 15-1367 to “provide grants to eligible local governments for documented marijuana impacts,” including “law enforcement activities, youth services and to mitigate other impacts on services provided by an eligible local government.”

House Bill 18-1341 was, sadly, killed on April 26th, and would have created the “Colorado State Apprenticeship Resource Directory” with detailed information about apprenticeship programs in the state. The content of HB 1341 was “somewhat” encouraging to read as it shows recognition by the legislators sponsoring it that not all students graduating Colorado’s high schools are cut out to sit at a computer in some office somewhere in the state or the world.

Schools in rural communities of Colorado would benefit from such a program created by the process of developing this directory. The powers that be must start acknowledging that not every student is a potential computer geek, and students who feel that way should not be looked down on and ignored. School counselors should be counseling students on what students need to be equipped to survive in the world and make a living, not just what makes the school’s numbers look good because of reaching the targeted goal for students going on to college. 

Senate Bill 18-226 was killed on May 2nd, and would have prohibited Colorado and its officials from getting involved in a “state-level climate collaboration that attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The bill also contained a provision that if the Governor had entered into or involved Colorado with a state-level climate collaboration, it would be withdrawn from and cease all Executive Branch activities in connection therewith.

State-level climate collaboration is defined in the bill as meaning (1) “organization or alliance of states that attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or to otherwise promote the goals of the Paris Agreement within the United Nations framework convention on climate change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance; and (2) Includes the United States Climate Alliance, Western Climate Initiative, Inc., Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and any analogous or successor organization or alliance.

   House Bill 1399,  killed on May 3rd, would have “required the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to establish rules on the evacuation of surgical smoke during surgery by March 1, 2019.” Further, “health facilities that perform surgery (hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers) must adopt a plan for limiting human exposure to surgical smoke by July 1, 2019.”

House Bill 18-1417 was “Deemed Lost.” Readers have asked many times, what does that mean, how does the legislature “lose” a bill? Here’s what the bill was about, then the explanation of  “Deemed Lost.”

HB 1417 is titled “Concerning Protecting the Constitutional Rights of All Colorado Citizens,” and “prohibits local law enforcement from enforcing civil immigration on behalf of the federal immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) without a federal warrant. It also directs the Department of Human Services (DHS) to develop policies concerning immigration enforcement in public spaces.” The bill also prohibits county law enforcement from detaining a person for ICE or providing non-public personal information about a person to ICE without a federal warrant.

Now to “Deemed Lost.” When the two legislative houses – the House of Representatives and the Senate – cannot agree on amendments made by each, and each house refuses to recede, upon agreement the bill can be sent to a conference committee for each house. If the conference committee report(s) rejects adopting as introduced in the house of introduction, the bill is then “Deemed Lost.” It is a bit of a pull and tug type of situation with amendments that are frequently withdrawn.

House Bill 18-1377 was postponed indefinitely on May 2nd, and would have made questions about earnings history an “unfair employment practice for an employer to seek salary history information, including information about prior compensation and benefits, from an applicant for employment unless an employer has provided a salary range for the open position or the applicant voluntarily agreed to discuss his or her salary with the employer,”

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.