All quiet on the eastern front: Military Appreciation Day
All quiet in the east wing of the Capitol today. Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, is out for surgery, leaving the Senate with an even 17-17 partisan split. Members of the Senate adjourned until Monday and joined their counterparts in the House for Military Appreciation Day.
Amid resolutions honoring all aspects of the state’s military efforts from veterans and active duty in the Global War on Terror to the families of service members, some lawmakers also took the opportunity to sell military personnel-oriented bills.
“While I certainly support this resolution, members in both chambers, I would pose to you that resolutions are not enough, they’re not enough,” said Rep. John Keyser, R- Centennial. “There are some things we don’t like to see in society … things like long waits for medical care for our veterans, things like homelessness, physical and behavioral health issues, high rates of suicide and high unemployment rates.”
Take a close look at a new bill, he said, HB 1181, which would expand state tax exemptions for active duty military.
Other military-related measures working their way through the building include a bill that would make it easier for overseas voters to participate in local elections, one that would expand military tax credits and relief funds, and one that would offer service members free admission to state parks throughout Veterans Day weekend.
Notes on the
culture chamber wars
Increasing sound and fury in the Capitol as partisanship rises.
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Last week Senate Republicans voted to disband the state’s Pay Equity Commission. This week House Democrats introduced a bill to reinstate it.
“Today the House is starting down the road of giving the Senate a second chance to side with Colorado women,” said Rep. Jessie Danielson, D- Wheat Ridge, introducing her reinstatement bill, which includes some changes to how the commission would be appointed.
Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, won backing in a Republican-controlled committee on Thursday for a proposal that would slash Colorado’s 2013 rural renewable energy standard, despite testimony that most rural areas are more or less on track to meet the existing standards due to rapidly decreasing solar and wind costs. The reduction is expected to fail in the Democrat-controlled House. Pictured, Scott sits next to Sam Masias of Colorado Springs, who works in the solar industry.
Across the hall, in a Senate Education Committee meeting, lawmakers listened to hours of intense emotional testimony about sexual assault on children before laying over an “Erin’s Law” bill introduced by Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton. Her proposal would offer schools more resources to educate kids about body boundaries and adults about reporting mechanisms. Word in the building is that the layover is intended to give Republicans on the committee enough time to attach an amendment to the bill that would prevent educators from interpreting it as a mandate to offer so-called comprehensive sex-ed instruction. update: There is some discussion of amending the bill in such a way that would ban comprehensive sex-ed altogether.
Things ran so late in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday that they laid over two potentially controversial measures: a proposal from Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, to restrict admissions practices at Metro State University; and a bill that Republicans have long held in the wings introduced by Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, to create a tax credit for parents who send their kids to private schools or who home school their kids.
Back in the House, fashion accessories foreshadow introduction of a bill that would extend and offer state funding for the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. The program offers free, long-acting reversible birth control (like IUDs) to low-income teens in the state. The program has proven extremely successful at reducing teen pregnancy rates, and the politics at play are little more complex on this particular measure. At least one Republican, Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, plans to add his name to the bill because it would reduce abortions. The AP’s Ivan Moreno has the details.
Last but certainly not least, next Monday = gun day, with hearings on a Senate-side effort to repeal some background checks and open up conceal carry to anyone who legally owns a hand gun. As Charles Ashby at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel points out, this will also be the first time in state history that lawmakers will open up “remote testimony,” from a test sight on the Western Slope.
correction: A previous version of the Monday gun day entry mentioned the wrong bills. The Monday gun day bills are a repeal of the gun private transfer background check requirement and a broadening of CO concealed carry law.