Colorado Legislature

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.

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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?

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  • 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."

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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

 

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  • Capitol Conversation looking at upcoming session
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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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After five years on the job, Colorado's Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia announced that he is stepping down from the position and as head of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Garcia will leave his dual-role to helm a higher education policy group for the western U.S., the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Colorado is well-known for its outdoor recreation, but Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to take it to the next level - by making it even easier for people to access open space and parks. In addition to a previously unveiled Colorado the Beautiful Initiative, the governor has also pledged $100 million to create and connect bike trails.

"The ultimate goal is connecting everyone from Denver to the foothills and mountains to the west," said Tom Hoby, Jefferson County's director of open space and parks.

Stephen Butler via Flickr (CC-BY)

In the 2016 legislative session, Democratic state Representative Millie Hamner will chair the Joint Budget Committee. Hamner represents House District 61. It covers parts of Delta and Gunnison counties along with Summit, Lake and Pitkin counties. As part of a district tour, she stopped in Paonia over the weekend. KVNF's Laura Palmisano sat down with Hamner in the studio to discuss school funding, the state budget and the upcoming legislative session.

Colorado's ban on collecting rain from residential rooftops has been a contentious topic at the statehouse, and a proposed bill for 2016 means it will likely be debated once again.

"Colorado is the only western state where rain barrels are illegal," said Drew Beckwith, a water policy manager with the nonprofit Western Resource Advocates.

"Every other western state that has our water laws has them legal, and it has not caused the Earth to come crashing to a halt."

So why is there so much controversy over collecting rainwater? The sticking point is whether doing so impacts downstream water users.

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