Colorado Legislature

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.

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Colorado is the only state in the country where it is illegal to capture rainwater for use at a later time. State lawmakers are once again debating whether to allow residents to use rain barrels to collect precipitation that falls from their roofs.

"This is really straightforward," said Representative Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge), one of the main sponsor's of House Bill 16-1005 [.pdf]. "You could use that water when you see fit, for your tomato plants or flower gardens."

Colorado lawmakers are divided over whether a hospital provider fee should be reclassified in the state budget so it doesn't count toward the state's revenue limit under the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights.

State legislators discussed a number of law enforcement and criminal justice bills this past week along with some other controversial measures.

State lawmakers are debating whether terminally ill patients with less than six months to live should be allowed to take medication to end their own lives. It's just one of several controversial bills being debated under the gold dome.

A bill to expand a state program to offer driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Colorado will be introduced at the state capitol later in February. The original law [.pdf], which Democrats passed when they controlled both chambers in 2013, allows undocumented immigrants who have lived in Colorado for at least two years and have paid taxes to get a license, if they pay an extra fee.

"I want to know when I'm driving that the people driving next to me know the same rules as I do. Especially when you come from a different country, road signs might look different," said Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), sponsor of a new bill that would expand the program to 32 driver's license offices across the state.

"They deserve the opportunity to show that they are willing to be a part of our community, willing to play by the rules."

Colorado could be the next state to allow hunters to wear florescent pink. A Democratic proposal to give hunters the option of wearing pink – in addition to the traditional safety orange – has passed the Republican controlled Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

"I hunt because it's a treasured time with my dad and my brothers," said Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Vail), a big game hunter and sponsor of Senate Bill 68 [.pdf]. "And the stories that happen in hunting camp are the stories that my family tell over and over again."

Roughly three weeks into Colorado's annual legislative session, a lot of bills are starting to get their first hearings. We've heard the priorities of the leaders and the governor, as well as some of the more interesting bills.

But 2016 is an election year, and a presidential one no less. How will politics impact the bills being heard in committees?

Lawmakers have introduced the first wave of bills as part of the annual legislative session. To learn what's in store, we asked reporters who work daily under the dome at the capitol.

  • Montrose County Jail inmate dies after suicide attempt 
  • High school dropout, graduation rates vary around Western Slope
  • Palisade sued over medical marijuana policy
  • Capitol Conversation: Looking at the first round of bills
  • BLM follows Colorado’s lead on methane rules  

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that the state will prioritize connecting and building 16 hiking and biking trails in all parts of Colorado. The goal is to connect and build missing trail segments to make it easier for people to access open space and parks.

It's part of the governor's Colorado the Beautiful initiative, unveiled in 2015.

Millie Hamner
milliehamner.com

Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillion, is the chair of the state Joint Budget Committee this session. She’s also the vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. The Western Slope lawmaker recently spoke to KVNF about what big budget issues will be debated at the capitol this session. 

The annual legislative session is under way and lawmakers are once again back at the state capitol. Gov. Hicknelooper laid out his priorities – like more bipartisanship and tackling the budget by addressing the hospital provider fee – in his State of the State. But how do those priorities translate for the legislators working under the gold dome for 2016?

  • Missing snowmobilers found in Garfield County
  • Amazon to start charging sales tax in Colorado
  • CPW event will demo ice fishing at Crawford State Park
  • New study shows lethal hazards of diesel fumes
  • A roundtable discussion of this year’s state politics  

Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his sixth State of the State address to the state Legislature Thursday. In his speech he highlighted the need for people from all political stripes to work together to fix the state's big budget problems and discussed Colorado's economic gains and challenges.

"We're one of the top states for economic growth," Hickenlooper said. "One of the best places for business and careers, for quality of life, for health and tourism."

  • Palisade board approves buying land for a regional shooting complex
  • The 2016 Colorado state legislative session kicks off
  • DMEA board member talks about regional broadband efforts 

The Colorado capitol had a back to school vibe Wednesday, with families and friends joining lawmakers in the chamber for the opening of Colorado's annual legislative session. The building hummed with activity — and the usual pomp and ceremony and opening day speeches — after the eight month interim. Isaac Slade, the lead singer of the Denver-based rock band The Fray, sang the national anthem in the Senate.

But it wasn't all fun, the first bills are introduced on opening day, and lawmakers begin to outline their priorities for the next four months.

  • Hickenlooper outlines legislative priorities for 2016 session
  • Paonia resident, horse killed in accident on Hwy 92
  • Environmental activists respond to Arch Coal’s bankruptcy
  • For 2016, Democrats in the Colorado Senate will have a new leader

When Colorado's 2016 legislative session convenes Jan. 13, Democrats will have a one-seat minority in the state Senate. They'll also have a new minority leader for the upcoming session, Lucia Guzman of Denver.

Colorado's annual legislative session begins Jan. 13, 2016. What are the goals of legislative leaders and the big issues they must confront?

For state Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Loveland), who is term limited at the conclusion of the session, it means negotiating an election year, the state budget and his own future in politics.

Heading into the 2016 annual legislative session Colorado lawmakers will debate a host of topics from energy and water, to the budget and schools. For House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland), the session – which begins Jan. 13, 2016 – will be dominated both by the budget and potentially the politics of a presidential election year.

Colorado's Speaker of the House, Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder), is entering her second year as the leader of the chamber; she is also term limited at the end of the 2016 session. What are her priorities in her final year under the recently refurbished gold dome of the capitol?

  • Construction underway to repair erosion in Montrose
  • Commissioners approve backyard chickens in unincorporated Mesa County  
  • With state water plan finalized, ball lands in lawmakers’ court
  • Rep. J. Paul Brown on the 2016 legislative session 
  • Colorado moves away from self-bonding

  • Recreational marijuana may be on Hotchkiss ballot
  • State minimum wage goes up 8 cents an hour
  • State wildlife officials are asking people not to feed big game animals
  • Presidential race may push state issues to back burner
  • Avalanche danger remains after snowfall stops

 

  • Missing woman found
  • Artist residency program in Paonia expands scope
  • Capitol Conversation looking at upcoming session
  • Nucla receives $1M million for sewage treatment

  • Search and rescue operation ends well in San Miguel County
  • A conversation with House Republican leader about Colorado’s next legislative session
  • Parks and Wildlife offer guided hikes on New Year’s Day
  • Poll shows Republican support for fighting climate change

  • DMEA board approves pursing home broadband service
  • Livestock disease still affecting Western Slope animals
  • Democratic state lawmakers could introduce stricter oil, gas legislation
  • More fertilizer plants come online and bring their baggage: CO2

According to state and federal census figures, Colorado's population is expected to grow by an additional 2.3 million people by 2040. That's going to significantly impact the way we live – from traffic congestion, to water, to quality of life.

Most noticeably will be a shift to an older population.

  • Large ranch property in Ouray County now protected
  • Oil rigs shut down across nation in price slump
  • Interview with Colorado Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst

Kerry Donovan
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Last week, state Sen. Kerry Donovan hosted a town hall in Paonia. She talked about her first year at the capitol and bills she's working on for the next legislative session.

  • Guilty plea in Montrose dental clinic theft
  • US Forest Service to hold open house about roadless rule
  • CDOT focuses on I-70 this winter
  • Ute Indian Museum breaks ground on new expansion
  • Lawmakers already planning out next years budget

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