Summary of major legislation in 2008 session
DENVER – Here is a summary of the major legislation passed by the Colorado Legislature in the 2008 session: Education- A landmark plan by Gov. Bill Ritter (Senate Bill 212) to update the state’s curriculum standards from preschool through college and add tests to ensure high school graduates are ready for college and work.- A bill (House Bill 1335) that would leverage up to $1 billion in funds from school trust lands – farms, ranches and commercial property that are owned by the state to provide money for public schools.- The school finance act (House Bill 1388) which provides $113 million in additional funding for schools than what’s 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.- A bipartisan plan (Senate Bill 218) that changes the formula for how federal energy revenue is distributed. Of the $2.7 billion that’s 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. Renewable Energy- A measure (House Bill 1160) that requires rural electric cooperatives and municipal owned utilities to give credit to homeowners who generate their own renewable power.- A bill that would allow communities to help homeowners and businesses finance solar, wind and energy efficiency improvements (House Bill 1350).- A measure (House Bill 1164) to help lure more large scale solar projects to the state by allowing state regulators to consider their longterm economic and environmental benefits. Solar projects are currently more costly to operate than wind farms or coal-fired power plants. Oil and Gas- A measure (House Bill 1083) changing the way severance tax revenues are distributed to counties. Currently it’s based on how many oil and gas employees live in a county even though some of them may work in a different county. The bill would require the state to also consider the county’s share of oil and gas permits and production compared to the state as a whole.- The Senate gave initial backing to requiring 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. Water- A bill requiring developers to prove there is a sufficient water supply before building subdivisions with 50 or more houses (House Bill 1141).- Two bills aimed at increasing water flows in Colorado rivers and streams to help fish flourish and boost kayaking, rafting and fishing. One (House Bill 1280) would protect the water rights of people who agree to leave extra water they don’t need in the river. The other (House Bill 1346) gives $1 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to buy or lease rights to water in order to keep it in a river.- A bill that would prohibit bringing aquatic nuisance species, like zebra mussels, into Colorado and allow authorities to inspect vehicles, boats and trailers for them if they have a “reasonable belief” such a species is present (Senate Bill 226). The mussels are now confined to Lake Pueblo State Park but it could cost millions of dollars to control them if they spread. Economic Development- A proposal (House Bill 1225) to exempt about 30,000 small businesses from paying the business personal property tax on their equipment.- A bill (House Bill 1380) that allows business to pay one tax based on sales rather than multiple factors that required extensive record-keeping.- A bill (House Bill 1001) that will provide $26 million to expand Colorado’s bioscience industry by expediting research from the lab to the marketplace.- Colorado liquor stores will be able to stay open on Sundays starting in July under a bill (Senate Bill 82) signed by Gov. Bill Ritter. Health Care- A bill that would help 50,000 more kids get the health care they need (Senate Bill 160).- A bill to make more low-income children eligible for health care (Senate Bill 161).- A proposal to hold insurance companies accountable (House Bill 1407) if they unreasonably delay or deny benefits.- A bill (House Bill 1228) that allows the insurance commissioner to collect restitution if consumers are misled- A bill (House Bill 1389) that requires prior approval for insurance rate hikes.- 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 to require car insurance companies to offer $5,000 in medical coverage to their customers. Anyone who doesn’t decline it would automatically get the coverage under the measure (Senate Bill 11). Backers said the money is needed to shore up the state’s trauma care system, which hasn’t been getting paid as much or as soon as under the state’s old no-fault system.- A proposal (House Bill 1410) requiring health insurance companies to cover the cost of colorectal cancer screenings.
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