Peter Marcus

Legislators energized for new session

The Colorado Statesman

State lawmakers on Thursday outlined an extensive legislative agenda related to energy for the upcoming session that begins on Jan. 9. The legislature is likely to address establishing a renewable thermal standard, incentivizing so-called “green” construction and capturing methane gas, increasing the value for diseased trees to be used as fuel, accelerating the use of alternative fuels for state fleets, and establishing a clean energy commercial building program.

Another beer bill on tap at the Legislature

Priola crafting legislation for craft beer at grocery, convenience stores
The Colorado Statesman

Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, is crafting legislation that would allow some small-batch microbreweries to sell full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores in Colorado. But the craft beer industry isn’t quite sure it’s ready to toast the measure quite yet.

Priola points to skyrocketing demand for micro beers in Colorado, with the state having become known as the sort of “Napa Valley of craft beer” for its burgeoning microbrewery scene.

Immigration reporting law has high cost for the state

The Colorado Statesman

Six years after state lawmakers backed a measure that instituted a strict immigration-reporting law in Colorado, critics say enforcement by local communities has cost $13 million statewide.

Senate Bill 90, passed in 2006, requires a police officer who has probable cause to believe that an arrestee is an undocumented immigrant to report the incident to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE).

Scaled back telecom reform may be on table

PUC will play major role with its rule-making
The Colorado Statesman

State lawmakers may look at a more narrow focus for telecommunications reform in the upcoming legislative session after a massive undertaking by the legislature earlier this year ended in political gridlock and inter-party fights over subsidies and deregulating telephone service. But legislators are first watching steps being taken by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to adopt rules that will serve as a framework for similar efforts.

U.S. Sen. Bennet to head Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

The Colorado Statesman

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet on Tuesday accepted a position to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, bringing to an end several weeks of speculation as to whether the moderate Coloradan would thrust himself into such a partisan spotlight.

Bennet’s role — which he was asked to take on by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada shortly after the November election — earns Colorado a Senatorial leadership position for the first time in more than 20 years. The last time was in the mid-1980s when Sen. Bill Armstrong chaired the then-Republican Policy Committee.

Fired up about new gun control legislation

Governor’s office working with legislators, gun control activists
The Colorado Statesman

A group of gun control activists have been working with the governor’s office and lawmakers on a package of bills for the upcoming legislative session. The measures take aim at curbing firearm possession by the mentally ill, statewide bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips purchased online, and prohibiting handguns on college campuses.

DU panel tackles complex campaign finance reform issue

Regulation of campaign donations and spending proves thorny issue even for election lawyers
The Colorado Statesman

A University of Denver panel that is attempting to provide recommendations for campaign finance reform heard from Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, prominent Democratic election law attorney Mark Grueskin and Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call on Wednesday. The four-hour circuitous presentation by the three experts left panel members walking away shaking their heads at the overwhelmingly complex system that regulates campaign donations and spending.

Rookies learn the ropes from legislative leadership

The Colorado Statesman

Leadership made one thing very clear to new lawmakers on Tuesday at a welcome luncheon at the Brown Palace Hotel where they received a briefing on the tone of the legislature: “The battle here… is between the House and the Senate.”

The tongue-in-cheek remark from Senate President-designee John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, came as new legislators were told that there is much more of a bipartisan atmosphere at the Capitol than the general public believes. But while Republicans and Democrats may sing “Kumbaya” together more than they bicker over policy proposals, the war between the House and the Senate wages on, joked Morse.

Colorado ASSET may see new life in new legislature

The Colorado Statesman

Those who support offering reduced tuition rates to undocumented students are gearing up for the 2013 legislative session, optimistic that with Democrats controlling both chambers, so-called Colorado ASSET legislation will finally pass this year.

On six separate occasions the legislature has denied Colorado Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow (ASSET). The proposal has taken many different forms over the years, including offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented students, as well as simply creating a new reduced tuition rate category. The latter was the version introduced in the last legislative session.

Cannabis community braces for regulatory fix

Rules must be set in place after passage of Amendment 64
The Colorado Statesman

Medical marijuana advocates are considering pushing their own bill to establish penalties for driving while under the influence of cannabis in an attempt to fight off a proposal by Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, which would establish much stricter guidelines.

Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, told The Colorado Statesman that if King goes through with his driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) bill, then the trade association might find sympathetic lawmakers to introduce their own version, although they did not identify specific lawmakers to work with in the upcoming legislative session that begins Jan. 9.