Colorado Senator Michael Merrifield

The Peoples Voice

Notable bills to be heard in the Senate this week (March 23 – March 27)

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rotundaDENVER — The Colorado State Senate has scheduled the following noteworthy legislation to be heard this week.  The list is not exhaustive but includes legislation that has typically garnered public input and media attention.  The dates and times may change throughout the week, so please verify before covering.

SB 15-069: “RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE”

Sponsor: Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada

Senate third reading: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

The bill repeals basic protections for workers at businesses with fewer than 15 employees.  It eliminates a way to achieve recourse against intentional discrimination based on sex, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and disability.

SB 15-086: “NO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR FIREARMS”

Sponsor: Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs

Senate second reading hearing: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

The bill erodes public safety by eliminating a requirement for criminal background checks on gun transfers between strangers who met online or through classified ads.

Throughout 2014, 308,908 law-abiding Coloradans passed a criminal background check for a firearm transfer.  During that same period, about 6,068 firearm sales were blocked because the applicant had a record.  In addition, because of background checks, local authorities were able to find and arrest 226 fugitives who tried and failed to obtain a gun.

SB 15-045: “TAXPAYER DOLLARS FOR PRIVATE AND HOME SCHOOLS”

Sponsor: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud

Senate second reading hearing: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

The bill plays financial gymnastics with K-12 education by establishing tax credits, similar to vouchers, for parents who have opted to enroll their kids in home or private schools.

The tax credit is costly; decreasing state general fund revenue by $37 million in FY 2016-17, $63 million in 2017-18, and $318 million in 2028-29, impacting public education funding.

SB 15-091: “REDUCE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS”

Sponsor: Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction

Senate second reading hearing: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

As amended in committee, the bill would reduce the statute of repose from six years to five years in most cases involving single-family homes, impacting homeowner rights.  Also, the bill could reduce the statute of limitations from two years to one year.

HB 15-1072: “KIANA ARELLANO’S LAW”

Sponsor: Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton

Senate second reading hearing: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

Knowing that bullying is different in the twenty-first century, the bill adds electronic harassment to existing harassment law.  It is named for a Colorado victim of electronic harassment.  National studies show that cyber bullying victims are more likely to attempt suicide than even traditional bullying victims.

HB 15-1164: “POSTPONING JURY SERVICE FOR BREAST-FEEDING”

Sponsor: Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood

Senate second reading hearing: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

The bill allows a prospective juror, who is breast-feeding a baby, to be excused from duty.  The postponement can be for 24 months.

HB 15-1130: “PROTECTING MILITARY VOTING RIGHTS”

Sponsors: Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo; Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs

Senate second reading hearing: Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

The bill would help active-duty military personnel deployed overseas and other overseas citizens vote in local municipal elections.

Currently, municipal elections are not conducted like other elections for our men and women in uniform.  With passage of this bill, municipal election code would fall in line with federal, state, and county election code.

SJR 15-019: “COLORADO AEROSPACE DAY”

Sponsors: Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora; Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs

Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber

The resolution acknowledges aerospace activities in Colorado.  It reads, in part: “WHEREAS, 163,000 Coloradans are employed in space-related jobs, generating approximately $3.2 billion in annual payroll.”

HB 15-1204: “DISTILLERY PUBS”

Sponsor: Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood

Senate second reading hearing: Tuesday, March 24 at 9:00 a.m. in Senate Chamber

The bill establishes a distillery pub license with rules like a winery or brew pub license.  The distillery must sell other alcohols and food, as well as have a state and local liquor license.

SJR 15-020: “WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH”

Sponsors: Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora; Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango

Wednesday, March 25 at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber

The resolution designates March Colorado Women’s History Month to coincide with National Women’s History Month.  It reads, in part: “WHEREAS, In 1893, Colorado was the first state to give women the right to vote through popular vote, and a year later Colorado was the first state to elect women to the state legislature.”

SB 15-205: “VETERANS’ FIRE CORPS”

Sponsors: Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo; Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango

Senate Judiciary Committee: Monday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Committee Room 352

The bill promotes the Veterans’ Fire Corps in the Division of Fire Prevention and Control.  It trains post-9/11 veterans in natural resource management and wildland fire control.

HB 15-1104: “OUT-OF-POCKET EDUCATOR EXPENSES”

Sponsor: Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver

Senate Finance Committee: Tuesday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m. in Senate Committee Room 354

The bill establishes the Colorado educator expense tax deduction for tax years 2016-2018.  It allows educators to deduct unreimbursed school supplies.

SB 15-200: “PRIVATE STUDENT LOAN DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS”

Sponsor: Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood

Senate Education Committee: Wednesday, March 25 upon adjournment of the Senate in Senate Committee Room 356

The bill requires student loan lenders be transparent and disclose information like possible adjustments to the interest rate and an estimate of what the total repayment will be, among other disclosures.  It also ensures that lenders do not have unfair agreements with schools.

HB 15-1142: “MODERNIZING FORECLOSURE SALES” 

Sponsor: Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver

Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee: Wednesday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Committee Room 354

The bill allows public trustees to do foreclosure sales on the Internet.

HB 15-1183: “CHILDREN’S STATEMENTS OF ATTEMPTED SEX CRIMES” 

Sponsor: Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver

Senate Judiciary Committee: Wednesday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Committee Room 356

The bill allows children who survive or witness an attempted sexual offense to give a statement outside of the courtroom.

HB 15-1221: “PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION”

Sponsor: Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood

Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee: Wednesday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Committee Room 353

The bill extends and expands the Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act of 2009.  It allows workers to take unpaid leave for parent-teacher conference and other school activities.

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