Peter Marcus

Open records bill also opens Pandora’s box

Opponents claim HB 1041 lacks transparency, but Senate committee passes it on party-line vote
The Colorado Statesman

A well-intentioned bill that aims to make it easier for the public to obtain public documents under the Colorado Open Records Act has caused a kerfuffle. Activists claim that House Bill 1041 secretly seeks to empower dubious records custodians to charge exorbitant fees in order to pad government budgets and block transparency.

Sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, the measure has already cleared the House and made it through the Senate Local Government Committee on Tuesday. The party-line vote was 3-2.

Guv fires off veto threat on firefighters bill

The Colorado Statesman

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday threatened to veto legislation that would ensure statewide collective bargaining rights for Colorado firefighters. But union officials and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, believe the Democratic governor will be spared some of the political battery that his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Bill Ritter, experienced for opposing a similar measure.

House approves gun restrictions in marathon session

The Colorado Statesman

A monumental and at times grueling week under the Gold Dome was filled with marathon public hearings and more than 12 hours of House floor debate on gun control. The conversation saw a lot of love lost between Republicans and Democrats during this Valentine’s Day week. But as the midnight hour passed late Friday night, Democrats walked away victorious, clearing a major hurdle by pushing centerpiece agenda items through the divided lower chamber.

Hick gets flak over swig of flack-aid

Governor says energy industry has become ‘unseen villain’
The Colorado Statesman

One day after the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission passed a statewide 500-foot setback on drilling, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former geologist, sent a shockwave through the environmental community by admitting on Tuesday to literally drinking the frack-aid.

Speaking before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in Washington, D.C., Hickenlooper said he took a sip of hydraulic fracturing fluid produced by Houston-based Halliburton, one of the largest providers of products and services to the energy industry.

Latest effort to expand beer into supermarkets fizzles out

Sponsor acknowledges bill had gone flat
The Colorado Statesman

Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, had hoped that his beer bill this year would ferment into a balanced approach to allow full-strength craft beer in supermarkets and convenience stores, while expanding the number of liquor licenses allowed. But when it became apparent that his measure had gone flat, he simply decided to kill it.

Priola on Tuesday acknowledged that he did not have the support of the 11 members who sit on the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee. Rather than waste the committee’s time on House Bill 1178, he asked to spike it.

Gun debate fires off with legislation

The Colorado Statesman

State Democrats this week unveiled their proposals for gun control just two days before National Rifle Association President David Keene made the rounds at the Capitol, expressing his organization’s concerns to legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Even before the proposals were released, Democrats and Republicans were immersed in a skirmish over the issue.

Democrats unveiled their proposals on Tuesday, and a handful of the measures were introduced later in the week. The agenda includes:

Lawmakers brace for broadband battle

The Colorado Statesman

After a 20-month process to reform the state’s telecommunications laws resulted in the dramatic death of a 71-page comprehensive legislative package last year, lawmakers and the industry are bracing for yet another fight at the Capitol.

The question is whether legislators will introduce piecemeal portions of the legislation from last year that aimed to modernize the state’s telecom laws, or once again go for a larger package. That issue could be left in the hands of newly elected Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

State treasurer wants to tie reform of PERA to education

The Colorado Statesman

The debate over sustaining the state’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) system has surfaced again at the legislature, with proposals aimed at addressing an estimated $23 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton has proposed a different approach, encouraging Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, to include PERA reform in any legislation that seeks to raise additional dollars for education. Stapleton wants to ensure that funds are directed into the classroom and not used to backfill unfunded liabilities.

Legislators fired up about gun bills

The Colorado Statesman

The debate over gun control took center stage at the state legislature this week with controversial bills presented by Republicans seeking to curb efforts by Democrats to limit firearm possession.

The debate follows the July Aurora movie theater shooting, which claimed the lives of 12 and injured 58 others, and it has spilled into the national conversation, gaining momentum after the December Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six staff members dead in Newtown, Conn. On Wednesday, the issue gained more traction after Phoenix police said three people were injured in a morning shooting at an office building there.

SoS Gessler seeks to limit ethics probe

Secretary of state narrowly avoids legislative audit after partyline vote
The Colorado Statesman

Attorneys for Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to limit a probe by the Independent Ethics Commission into whether he misspent public dollars. Just one day earlier, the secretary narrowly escaped an audit of his office’s use of discretionary funds after the Legislative Audit Committee tied on a vote to authorize the investigation.