Highlights from the Legislature on Tuesday
” The House initially approved a plan to bar the state Land Board from selling or leasing property to the U.S. Army for expansion in Pinon Canyon. The measure is an attempt to stop the Army from expanding its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado. It drew strong opposition from lawmakers who say the military needs more land to train soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure (House Bill 1317) faces a third reading before it goes to the Senate.
” The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill (House Bill 1039) allowing colleges to decide whether to provide in-state tuition to vets and their dependents. Sponsors wanted to make it mandatory, but opponents said it would cost $2 million a year and the state can’t afford it.
” The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that adds text and instant messages to the list of computer crimes for Internet exploitation of a child (House Bill 1132). The measure faces a third reading before it is sent to the Senate.
” The House approved a bill cracking down on smuggling contraband cigarettes (House Bill 1173). The bill, which now goes to the Senate, provides funding for locating Internet cigarette retailers and making undercover purchases. It also requires tobacco sellers to report sales.
” The Senate Appropriations Committee backed two measures concerning Pinnacol Assurance to help balance next year’s budget. One (Senate Bill 281) would give the state control of Pinnacol Assurance’s assets, and the other (Senate Bill 273) would take $500 million to balance next year’s budget (Senate Bill 273). Business owners opposed the bills, fearing the measures could drive up their insurance premiums.
” Repeal a requirement for the Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct an economic analysis of the cost of air quality regulation every five years (House Bill 1332).
” Allow authorities to combine two or more theft crimes as a single offense (House Bill 1334).
” Eliminate the ability of retail stories to keep part of the sales tax to compensate for collecting state sales taxes (Senate Bill 275).
” Reduce property tax exemptions for seniors (Senate Bill 276).
” Reduce the general fund reserve from 4 percent to 2 percent to cope with the state’s budget crisis (Senate Bill 277).
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