Highlights from the Legislature on Thursday
The House gave initial approval to a bipartisan package of bills to cut about $300 million from the state budget to avoid major cuts to higher education. The budget faces a third reading before it goes back to the Senate for consideration of House amendments. The House gave tentative approval to a bill (House Bill 1288) that would require the state to post financial details on the Internet. Earlier this month, Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order telling state agencies to post the states revenue and spending records on the Internet, but lawmakers said it should be the law and not an order that can be easily revoked. The bill now goes to the Senate. The House approved a bill that would eliminate the ability of retail stores to keep part of the sales tax to compensate for collecting state sales taxes (Senate Bill 275). The bill now goes back to the Senate for consideration of amendments. The Senate passed a measure (Senate Bill 180) giving firefighters the right to unionize without having to get local approval. It now heads to the House for consideration. The Senate passed a measure (Senate Bill 235) that changes the fees for stamps issued by the Division of Wildlife that allow access to state wildlife areas. A stamp bought with a hunting and fishing license would increase from $5 to $10, but hunters who buy multiple types of licenses would have to buy only one $10 stamp. People who use wildlife areas but dont hunt or fish would no longer have to pay the $10 stamp fee but could voluntarily buy a $25 wildlife passport. Few non-sportsmen have been buying the stamps since the program was created in 2005 to protect wildlife habitat. The bill now goes to the House. The Senate Health & Human Services Committee unanimously backed the governors first two nominees to the Pinnacol Assurance board, R.J. Jolly of Kit Carson and Paul Pettinger of Fort Collins. Senators asked them about executive bonuses and the state-created companys sky box at Invesco Field. Ritter signed 22 bills into law, including a measure (House Bill 1125) that would bar schools from giving students gifts for attendance. He also signed Senate Bill 30, extending the Child Mental Health Treatment Act for another 10 years. The program was first created in 1999. It allows parents to get more intensive treatment for their child without going through a dependency and neglect case in the courts. Ritter also met with three junior telemark skiers who competed in the junior world championships in Austria Lorin Paley, 16, and Ben Paley, 18, of Steamboat Springs and Drew Hauser, 19, of Silverthorne.
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