CBA Weekly Media Summary

Each Friday, the CBA brings you our weekly media summary of what is happening in the Colorado Legislature. Questions, comments, concerns? Email us at socialmedia@cobar.org.

Week of April 16 - 20

Teacher pay and funding education in Colorado were top issues facing legislators at the State Capitol this week. Dozens of Colorado teachers converged on the Capitol on Monday to demand changes in school funding and to lobby for higher teacher pay.

 

The demonstration came amid questions over Senate Bill 1 — Republicans' effort to pay for a chunk of the billions of dollars in needed fixes to Colorado's roads with $495 million this year.

 

Outside of education, law makers in both houses took on bills that addressed immigration issues, legalized marijuana, PERA and health care costs. Several of the bills that received the most media coverage included:

 

·         Immigrant driver’s license bill advances in Colorado Legislature

·         Legislature advances bill to let Colorado cities raise minimum wage

·         Amended PERA bill would worsen Colorado’s public pension problems

·         Colorado sides with parents over doctors on medical marijuana for autism

·         Hunting, fishing fees will increase in Colorado

·         Legislature eyes ways to rein in health care costs

 

Finally, in what could attract the most local and national media attention… A Colorado lawmaker introduced a bill Thursday to rename a portion of Interstate 25 in honor of former President Obama.

 

State Rep. Dan Pabon’s bill, HJR18-1016, was presented to the House Transportation Committee on Thursday morning. If it passes, the portion of Interstate 25 that passes through Denver County would be designated as the Barack Obama Highway.

 

“If successful, Colorado would be the first city to honor President Obama in this way,” Mr. Pabon, a Democrat, wrote on his website.

 

 

 

Education

 

Apparently inspired by teachers in other states, Colorado educators brought their demands for more funding to the state Capitol on Monday while others gathered in districts across the state -- and organizers say they are just getting started.

 

Hundreds of educators gathered outside lawmakers' offices in Denver, many of them dressed in red T-shirts from the #RedForEd campaign that started in Arizona. They waved signs touting Colorado's nationwide rank in average teacher salary - 46 - and chanted "this is what Democracy looks like."

 

Senate Bill 200 will modify the Public Employees’ Retirement Association – PERA – due to a financial shortfall. PERA, an alternative to Social Security, is the sole retirement benefit for state employees and more than 53,000 public school teachers.

 

Colorado has a teacher shortage, and some educators believe that’s partly a result of chronic low pay. Strong PERA benefits are a plus to teachers who have decided to work in the state -- and advocates say reducing them could negatively impact the profession, as reported by FOX31.

 

Teachers want to get Initiative 93 on the November ballot to increase public school funding, according to KUNC. The initiative would receive revenue from a tax increase that is exempt from TABOR and would be used to supplement money from the General Fund.

 

Other media this week focusing on Colorado education includes:

 

·         Northern Colorado Teachers 'Walk-in' To Support Public Education

·         School Finance introduced to General Assembly

·         Colorado teachers walk out of classes, stage rally at statehouse

·         School canceled as hundreds of Colorado teachers plan to walk out Monday

·         At Capitol rally, Colorado teachers demand higher pay

·         As Oklahoma teachers declare victory, Colorado educators walk out of class

·         Colorado teachers rally for more funding

·         Democrats put out the unwelcome mat for education reform at state assembly

 

 

 

Immigration

 

On Wednesday, the Colorado House voted in favor of the Eligibility Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, which expands access to driver's licenses for undocumented residents. Since the state senate approved the measure last month, it will become law with Governor John Hickenlooper's signature.

 

The introduction to the legislation, formally known as Senate Bill 18-108, spells out the basics:

 

"Currently, a person who is not lawfully present in the United States may obtain a driver's license or identification card if certain requirements are met. One of the requirements is that the person present a taxpayer identification card. The bill allows a person to present a Social Security number as an alternative to a taxpayer identification card. The bill allows the license or identification card to be reissued or renewed in accordance with the process used for other licenses and identification cards. A person whose license is lost or stolen may obtain a replacement without renewing the license."

 

The new bill doesn't resolve every issue surrounding SB-251. As the Denver Post has reported, the program is paid for by higher driver's license fees for participants, but more money is coming in than running the program actually costs. The result is a pool of cash that's expected to hit the $2.9 million mark by this June.

 

Other media this week focusing on immigration includes:

 

·         Expanded Access to Undocumented Driver's Licenses Passes

·         Colorado’s immigrant driver’s license program would be streamlined

·         Immigrant driver’s license bill advances in Colorado Legislature

·         Immigrant driver’s bill advances to aid Colorado farm labor

 

 

 

Marijuana

 

A bill in the Colorado Legislature and passed in the Colorado House last week would allow school nurses to dispense medical marijuana to students.

 

Colorado House Bill HB18-1286 would extend existing Colorado law, commonly known as Jack's Law, that only allows parents and caregivers to administer medical marijuana to their child at school. The bill has now been introduced in the Colorado Senate

 

Allowing school nurses to administer the drug would remove the often burdensome task of a parent having to go to the school to give their child the drug in the amount and frequency prescribed.

 

The bill has specific and strict rules for the delivery, storage, and dispensing of marijuana at a school. Also, the most recent version of the bill does not require a school nurse to administer marijuana giving them the choice to decline if they choose.

 

Other media this week focusing on medical and recreational marijuana includes:

 

·         Colorado marijuana delivery bill snuffed

·         Waiting to exhale

·         Here's Where Your Colorado Marijuana Tax Dollars Go

·         Colorado sides with parents over doctors on medical marijuana for autism

·         With Three Weeks Left, Here Are the Bills to Watch at the Capitol

 

 

 

Health Care

 

A bill that would require full transparency in medical pricing for providers and insurers is to get its first committee hearing this week.

 

The measure, HB1358, is nearly identical to a proposed ballot measure whose proponents say would end the secrecy in what medical procedures cost, creating a true free-market system in the health care industry.

 

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, is sponsoring the bipartisan bill with GOP Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton and two Democrats, Rep. Mike Foote of Lafayette, and Sen. Irene Aguilar of Denver. Other bills addressing this issue includes:

 

Senate Bill 146: Addresses cost transparency in freestanding emergency rooms.

House Bill 1384: Calls on the state to study the costs, benefits and feasibility of implementing a Medicaid buy-in option, a public-private partnership option, or a community- or regionally based option for health care coverage.

 

Other media this week focusing on health care includes:

 

·         As Freestanding ERs Proliferate Lawmakers look at Regulation

·         Medical Transparency Bill Dies In Colorado Legislature

·         Why Colorado's proposed assisted-living regulations worry facility owners

·         Legislature eyes ways to rein in health care costs

 

 

 

PERA

 

A Colorado House committee stripped an expanded defined-contribution plan from a major public-pension reform bill Monday and replaced proposed increased contributions from both employees and state government with payments made from the state budget’s surplus funding, setting the House and Senate versions of the measure up for a collision course in the closing weeks of the 2018 legislative session.

 

Senate Bill 200 attempts to close a $32 billion unfunded liability in the Public Employees’ Retirement Association plan that threatens to lower the state’s bond ratings and eat up more of the general-fund budget that business leaders would like to put to transportation and education. It attacks an issue that unnerves business groups, fiscal watchdogs and public-employee groups — and seeks to do so despite a significant ideological gulf between ruling House Democrats and Senate Republicans on who should pay for a gap that has built steadily over the past 18 years.

 

As sponsored by Republican Sens. Jack Tate of Centennial and Kevin Priola of Henderson, SB 200 came out of the Senate in late March on a largely partisan vote, taking steps that GOP leaders called necessary to shore up the problematic fund.

 

Other media this week focusing on PERA reform includes:

 

·         Colorado House rearranges public-pension reform plan

·         Amended PERA bill would worsen Colorado’s public pension problems

·         EDITORIAL: A wrong turn on PERA reform

 

 

 

Miscellaneous Legislation

 

·         Legislature advances bill to let Colorado cities raise minimum wage

·         Hunting, fishing fees will increase in Colorado

·         Legislature should think twice about passing a net neutrality law

·         Bill would allow out-of-state property owners to vote in elections

·         Senate committee shoots down efforts to increase arbitration oversight

·         Colorado Senate set to kill conversion therapy ban… again

·         Fire chiefs: Colorado tax law will cause deaths

·         I-25 through Denver the “Barack Obama Highway?”

·         Garcia wants committee to look at sluggish rural economies

·         Non-partisan group wants to eliminate gerrymandering

·         Study finds lack of police transparency

 

 

These issues will have a profound impact on the Colorado and many areas of law. The Legislative Policy Team of the Colorado Bar Association is your resource and connection to the State Legislature.  As we work on the issues and bills these coming 6 months we are working to improve Colorado Law and the practice of law.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out should you have a question or comment on a bill, or issue under the dome.