Capitol Update: Lawmakers prepare for temporary closure as critical bills move forward
It has been an odd week at the Capitol. While there are certainly things to celebrate like the introduction of the Public Healthcare Option bill and the continued approval of our priority bill to add a cost of living adjustment to the Basic Cash Benefit, the spread of COVID-19 has certainly dominated conversations. It appears that lawmakers are ready to shut down the Colorado legislature, at least temporarily, due to concerns around community spread. On Thursday, leadership introduced a bill, House Bill 1359, that they say must pass before they can go into recess. The bill is on the fast track to becoming law, with it passing two votes on Thursday. The lawmakers are expected to work Saturday to have it fully clear the legislature and get to the Governor’s desk.
That means that the legislature could go into recess as soon as Saturday. What this means for pending bills, including the state budget, is unclear. Our state’s constitution stipulates that the legislature can meet for no more than 120 days. Lawmakers are seeking legal guidance to determine if those 120 days must be consecutive, or if the session can be paused. We do know that there are three bills that the legislature must pass before the end of the fiscal year on June 30: the rule review bill, the School Finance Act, and the state budget. It remains to be seen what will happen to the rest of the bills or when the legislature may reconvene.
We will be sure to keep you all updated as we get more guidance on how the legislature will proceed. Here are some other highlights from this week’s work at the Capitol:
Holocaust & Genocide Studies in Public Schools (Michelson Jenet & Sirota/Fenberg & Hisey)
The bill would require the State Board of Education to adopt standards related to Holocaust and genocide studies. The bill would also require the Colorado Department of Education to create a publicly available resource bank that includes sample academic content, instruction programs, learning resource, professional developments, and case studies related to Holocaust and genocide studies. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Colorado Affordable Health Care Option (Roberts & Kennedy/Donovan)
This bill would create an affordable health care plan in the state of Colorado by requiring all Colorado state health insurance carriers to implement a standardized plan that would:
- allow consumers to easily compare health benefit plans;
- provide predictable coverage for certain services;
- include the essential health benefits package;
In order to ensure the required option is affordable this bill would require carriers to utilize a hospital reimbursement rate formula and require hospital participation. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Secure Storage Of Firearms (Duran & Mullica/Bridges & Hansen)
This bill would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to store a firearm in a way that the firearm owner knows or should know would allow a juvenile to access the firearm without permission from the juvenile’s parent or guardian. It would require licensed firearms dealers to provide a locking device at the time of sale of a firearm. The bill would also require the Department of Public Health and Environment to create a public education campaign about safe firearm storage. Read more here.