Highlights from the Legislature on Tuesday
The Legislature approved a referred measure to ask voters to make it more difficult to propose constitutional amendments. Under the measure (Senate Concurrent Resolution 3), backers of constitutional changes would have to collect 50 percent more signatures than those just seeking a change to state statute.The Legislature approved and sent to the governor: A landmark plan by Gov. Bill Ritter to update the states curriculum standards from preschool through college and add tests to ensure high school graduates are ready for college and work. The measure (Senate Bill 212) is aimed at updating the states curriculum standards to make sure high school graduates are ready for college or the working world. The school finance act (House Bill 1388) which provides $113 million in additional funding for schools than whats required by the state constitution. The school budget will pay for 3,800 more children to go to preschool, renovating or renting facilities for kindergarten classrooms, rewarding good teachers, and hiring more teachers and tutors to create smaller classes with extra support for first and second graders. A measure that would require health insurance firms to get prior approval for rate hikes, punish them for improper denial of claims and encourage efficiencies. The plan has been dubbed the Fair & Accountable Insurance Act (House Bill 1389). A bill that would require landlords to provide basic services like heat and hot and cold running water under a measure (House Bill 1356) and would allow tenants to withhold their rent if landlords fail to fix such problems after giving them two written notices of the problem. A measure that would require lenders to give homeowners at least 30 days notice of any change in interest rate or any other factor affecting their payment amount. The bill (House Bill 1402) is aimed at reducing the number of homeowners facing foreclosure. A bill that says people could take their health insurers to court if the companies deny a legitimate claim (House Bill 1407). If a claim is illegally denied, the company would have to pay an amount equal to twice the benefits. A bill (House Bill 205) that would allow a judge to decide if convicted criminals get a new trial if DNA evidence is destroyed. The measure was inspired by the case of Clarence Moses-EL, who says he was wrongly convicted of a 1987 rape in Denver. Police destroyed evidence in the case after a judge ordered it be tested further. The bill will only apply to future cases and wont help Moses-EL. A bipartisan plan (Senate Bill 218) that changes the formula for how federal energy revenue is distributed. Of the $2.7 billion thats expected in the next 10 years, nearly $2 billion would pay for higher education construction and grants for larger scale projects in oil and gas communities. A proposal (Senate Bill 217) to ask health insurers to come up with no-frills policies for the uninsured. State health officials would then analyze the submissions and make a recommendation to lawmakers by next March on whether to require the uninsured to buy one of the policies with the help of a state subsidy. A bill that requires the state to regulate oil and gas exploration and waste disposal facilities. The measure (House Bill 1414) would require that the sites be at least a half mile from homes, schools and parks and that fabric is used to line pits to prevent waste from getting into groundwater.
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