Highlights from the Legislature on Tuesday
April 28, 2009
A bill allowing partners of gay and lesbian state workers to get health insurance coverage is headed to the governor. Senate Bill 88 would add domestic partners to the list of dependents eligible for coverage. Same-sex partners who have been in a committed relationship with a state employee for at least a year would qualify. It won final approval in the House. The Colorado House has approved a proposal by Gov. Bill Ritter and Democratic lawmakers to remove a 6 percent limit on growth in general fund spending and replace it with limits based on personal income growth. Senate Bill 228 now goes back to the Senate for consideration of amendments. The Colorado Senate passed House Bill 1170, which would allow locked-out workers to collect unemployment benefits. It now heads back to the House because the Senate wants the change to take effect July 1 but the House wants to delay it a year. The Senate Appropriations Committee backed changing a bill to phase out the business personal property tax into a study of the issue instead. Senate Bill 85 now goes to the full Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee backed House Bill 1094 requiring drivers to use handsfree devices while talking on their cell phones after exempting some state workers. State corrections and transportation workers were excluded so the state wont have to spend an estimated $83,000 to outfit them with headsets. The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote. The Senate passed House Bill 1303 giving energy companies a year to apply for water well permits and submit to water-replacement plans. The legislation was negotiated by parties in a recent lawsuit over water use in energy production. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that energy producers must obtain water well permits or replace the water they use if other water supplies are affected. The bill goes back to the House to consider Senate amendments. The Senate passed Senate Bill 291, which would cut state funding to school districts that lower property taxes. The bill is the latest round in a fight over a controversial property tax change passed by Democrats and Gov. Bill Ritter two years ago. The House State Veterans & Military Affairs Committee backed Senate Bill 180, giving firefighters the right to unionize without having to get local approval. It now heads to the House.