In this Capitol Report:
This Capitol Report is brought to you by:
State Policy News
House Approves State Budget, Sends the “Long Bill” to the Senate
This morning, the House gave final, Third Reading approval to the state’s budget, which sends it to the Senate. The vote was 37 to 27, with one representative excused. Only one Republican, Representative Cheri Gerou (Evergreen), a member of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, voted for the Long Bill.
HB-1336, which is the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year beginning July 1st, was introduced Monday in the House. On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee referred the bill to the House Floor for Second Reading. Last night, the House gave a preliminary, Second Reading OK to the budget after arguing over several dozen amendments.
Among other things, the $23 billion budget bill (a) increases state budget reserves from 5 percent to 6.5 percent with an infusion of $130 million, (b) increases spending on K-12 education by $275 million, (c) adds $100 million for higher education to slow tuition hikes and increase financial assistance and (d) increases funding for flood recovery and wildfire prevention.
The author of the Long Bill is the Joint Budget Committee. Colorado is a state in which a legislative committee—not the Governor–takes the lead in writing the budget. Here’s how the legislature describes its budget-approval process:
“The Long Bill is introduced for consideration by both houses, as a House Bill when the JBC Chairman is a Representative, and as a Senate Bill when the JBC Chairman is a Senator. Legislative consideration begins in the party caucuses, where JBC members explain decisions and answer questions from their colleagues with help from the staff. The staff drafts all changes adopted by a caucus or requested by a legislator as amendments for consideration during floor debate. After both houses pass the Long Bill, the JBC members act as the conference committee to resolve differences between them. After both houses adopt the conference committee report, the bill is sent to the Governor. The Governor has line item veto power in acting on the bill.”
Meanwhile, a couple of hundred bills, which require funding or have some kind of fiscal impact, are parked in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Once the Long Bill is passed, the two Committee will then prioritize the bills, winnowing out those that are to be killed and those that are to be sent on to the House or Senate Floor for Second Reading debate. The House Appropriations Committee will tackle its log-jam of bills on Wednesday and Friday mornings of next week.
For more on the proposed state budget, read:
“House passes Colorado budget with GOP opposition,” by The Associated Press, The Denver Post, March 28th.
“Colorado House gives initial OK to budget proposal,” by Kurtis Lee, The Denver Post, March 27th.
“Increases in flood recovery, fire prevention highlight 2014-2015 budget,” by Anthony Cotton, The Denver Post, March 25th.
High Action Agenda at CACI HealthCare Council
Yesterday, Katherine Blair (right), from the Governor’s Office of Policy, Research and Legislative Affairs, discussed with the CACI HealthCare Council various issues concerning health-care policy in Colorado, the state’s health-benefit exchange and the implementation of the Federal Affordable Care Act. To Katherine’s right are Cindy Sovine-Miller, Chair of CACI HealthCare Council; Carly West, CACI Governmental Affairs Representative; and Dan Pilcher, CACI Executive Vice President.
The Council then discussed potential state action regarding continuation of health insurance plans that are not ACA-compliant and the following bills: HB 1281 – Terminal Patients Investigative Drugs; HB 1126 – Dense Breast Tissue Notification; HB 1108 – Copays for PT/OT Services; SB 160 – Transitional Living Program for Brain Injured; SB 159 – Implement Clean Claims Recommendations; and SB 16 – Freestanding ERs.
News Media Coverage
Below is recent news-media coverage of business, political, policy and governmental issues of interest to CACI:
“’Cleaning up “brownfield’ sites is a win for the economy and the environment,” commentary by Senator Cheri Jahn, The Denver Post, March 25th.
“New legislative take on old telecommunications laws,” by Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman, March 28th.
“Hickenlooper signs three business bills into law,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 27th.
“Worst-case scenario study: Frack ban could cost 68,000 Colorado jobs,” by Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post, March 26th.
“University of Colorado study suggests major job loss from proposed fracking ban,” by Neil Westergaard and Heather Draper, The Denver Business Journal, March 26th.
“Colorado telecom reform package breezes through House committee,” by Andy Vuong, The Denver Post, March 25th.
“Telecom reform package finds plenty of supporters in Colorado House,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 25th.
“Gov. Hickenlooper urges support for expanding broadband to rural communities,” Office of the Governor, March 24th.
“Legislature declares Colorado Aerospace Day, criticizes feds for NASA cuts,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 24th.
“Timely study of Colorado oil and gas drilling,” editorial, The Denver Post, March 23rd.
“Bipartisanship in the second half of Colorado legislature? No so much,” by Anthony Cotton, The Denver Post, March 23rd.