Legislative session goes radioactive in final weeks


About to share a vengeful “sext”? Don’t. 

The House gave initial approval to HB 1378 today, a bill which makes posting a nudie pic of your ex online, aka “revenge porn,” a class 1 misdemeanor with a $10,000 fine.

dicturesSponsored by Representatives Amy Stevens, R-Monument, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, the bill closely resembles legislation that 14 other states are taking up.

Even so, the measure was a heavy lift, meaning it took a lot of wrangling to strike the right note between protecting people who share intimate photos of themselves in supposed confidence and infringing on everyone’s first amendment right to retweet that regrettable, albeit newsworthy, Anthony Weiner “selfie.”

After many amendments and a long House Judiciary Committee meeting, the bill got hearty bipartisan approval today, with legislators on both sides of the aisle congratulating the sponsors for dealing with a timely critical issue.

“If we allow this kind of behavior to perpetuate, we get sleazier and sleazier and more and more scum bags participate,” said Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver. “We’re not going to let that happen in Colorado.”


Uranium clean-up bill heads to Senate floor

In 1984 the Environmental Protection Agency declared the Cotter Corporation uranium milling site outside Cañon City an environmental disaster in need of cleanup. Radioactive contamination from the operation had seeped into the earth and water surrounding the area. The cleanup didn’t go so well. Thirty years later, with the mill long closed, residents of the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Cañon City still cannot use their well water.

SB 192, which heads to the floor on Monday, would mandate that the cleanup be completed. It would also place new mining technology that shoots water into the ground to make a pump-able uranium slurry under the regulation of the Department of Public Health and the Environment. Lastly, the bill would require that the state make the process public whenever it moves to license new uranium mines.

The bill was initially sponsored by Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham of Cañon City, He later pulled his support for the bill altogether, explaining that he could not support more environmental regulation. Co-sponsor Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, is still carrying the bill.

“Uranium exposure can lead to poisoning, cancer, and other serious health risks,” said Hodge in a release. “It’s critical that we put new protection and reporting standards in place to make sure Coloradans are protected from the dangers of radioactive materials, without harming mining and production that is done safely and cleanly.”

Even so, the mining lobby opposes the bill and appears to have taken bipartisan support for the measure with it.


Paint it black (again)

After a bitter fight in the Senate, SB 29 saw another heated debate before it passed out of the House on a party-line vote today. The bill, sponsored by Fort Collins Democrat Rep. Randy Fischer, adds a small fee to the cost of paint in order to pay for a statewide recycling program.

Republicans called the “paint tax” a subsidy looking for a problem, pointing out that there’s already a bustling used-paint industry in Colorado complete with specialists who re-mix and re-sell the stuff.

“There’s other ways to do this than to add $10 million to $15 million to the cost of paint in Colorado,” said Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso of Loveland. He noted that there’s no set cap on the up-front fee consumers will have to pay to fund the program, so while it could be just a few cents, the fee could theoretically increase to much more.

Fischer stood by his bill saying that the paint industry asked for it because they consider having a uniform recycling program to be a best practice. He added that seven other states have adopted similar legislation.

As the bill heads to the Governor’s desk, the “paint tax” has swiftly become a partisan flashpoint in an otherwise sleepy pre-election session.

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Personhood slams into House

HB 1388 is intended to give a pregnant woman the right to sue if someone else intentionally or recklessly causes her to lose her pregnancy. The otherwise popular bill turned into a serious partisan debate because it contains language specifically saying the bill does not confer personhood to the fetus at any point prior to birth.

“I’ll let you in on a little secret here. There are some of us who believe, very passionately, that an unborn child at 36 weeks of gestation might actually be a person. I know that this is a revolutionary notation, that a full-term baby who’s still in utero might be a person,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.

Gardner asked to amend the bill’s language so that instead of explicitly saying it doesn’t confer personhood, it would say the bill should not be construed to weigh in on the contentious issue at all.

Many Republicans came to the well in support of that amendment, saying it would allow them to vote for what they otherwise agreed should be a bipartisan bill.

The bill’s Democratic sponsors, Representatives Mike Foote of Lafayette and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood opposed the amendment, adding that a similar bill to protect pregnant women passed in 2011 with the same language around personhood and that having two formulations would be confusing.

The amendment failed. Gardner offered several other versions, several of which were ruled beyond the scope of the bill, causing something of a floor fight between Republicans in the well and the sitting chair, Daniel Kagan, D-Englewood.

Things got heated. Gardner ended up saying the bill wasn’t about giving pregnant women more protection at all but instead adding anti-personhood language to state law.

Ultimately, the bill won initial approval. The final vote will come next week.


College affordability bill also heads to Governor’s desk

The House passed SB 1 today on a bipartisan vote. Sponsored by Representatives Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, the bill restricts how much state institutions can raise tuition each year to 6 percent and puts $100 million toward various scholarship funds.

“When you consider that a college degree will be required for two-thirds of Colorado jobs, this bill will help to ensure our state’s prosperity,” said McLachlan in a release after the bill passed by a vote of 48-16.