Highlights from the Legislature on Wednesday
April 15, 2009
” The Colorado House gave tentative approval to a plan to eliminate the death penalty and use the money to focus on cold cases after victims’ relatives asked for help finding closure. The legislation (House Bill 1274) would shift funds currently used to prosecute death-penalty cases to deal with the growing backlog of more than 1,400 unsolved homicides that have stymied local investigators since 1970. It faces a third reading before moving to the Senate.
” The Colorado House killed a bill that would have set the stage for a single-payer health care system. State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, said Wednesday he asked his colleagues to kill the bill because he didn’t have the votes to pass it. The measure (House Bill 1273) would have established a health care authority with a 23-member board of directors to create a system in Colorado that would be the administrator and payer for health care services.
” The House approved and sent to the Senate a plan (House Bill 1319) that would allow students to earn a college associate’s degree while getting a high school diploma.
” The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would require companies that hire people to circulate initiative petitions to be licensed in Colorado. House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, says concerns were raised in recent elections about the use of paid petition circulators, some from out of state. The bill (House Bill 1326) also would require that circulators be trained so they can comply with petition laws.
” The Senate Education Committee backed a measure (House Bill 1065) to set up a statewide system aimed at tracking the performance of educators in low-income schools. Education officials want to learn more about how many high-performing teachers are in such schools and how often they move to different schools. Lawmakers hope to use federal stimulus money to pay for the system. The bill faces a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee next.
” The Senate Appropriations Committee backed a proposal (Senate Bill 85) to phase out the business personal property tax over 40 years. The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote. The bill has been amended to exempt the eight counties that rely on the tax the most ” Sedgwick, Moffat, Baca, Morgan, Logan, Rio Blanco, Prowers and Lincoln.
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” Allow state and local government to take advantage financing options available under the federal economic stimulus act (House Bill 1346).
” Roll back sentences for some lower-level felonies, mandate no jail time for first-time offenders caught committing property crimes and make drug use a separate crime from drug dealing (Senate Bill 286).
” Allocate prison beds to each judicial district in the state and allow jurisdictions to go over that limit only if they can borrow beds from another district (Senate Bill 288).