Last week the General Assembly returned to a different work space at the capitol—temperature checks, glass protective shields, spreading out on the House and Senate floor, and other changes due to the coronavirus. This week, the ground shifted again. Today legislators returned to the capitol covered in graffiti after a turbulent weekend of protests and riots. The turmoil of the weekend weighed on the legislators, made apparent by several impassioned speeches on the House and Senate floor. Denver Mayor Hancock announced today that a 9pm-5am curfew would remain in place from Monday-Friday morning this week because additional protests are expected. State legislators were advised to vacate the capitol prior to 5p.
Debate on HB20-1153, Colorado Partnership for Quality Jobs and Services Act, took up much of the afternoon in the Senate as Republican lawmakers tried to amend the bill. The bill would allow state employees to collectively bargain. Senate Democrats defended the policy, arguing that now is a critical time to provide additional protection for state employees. Senate Republicans raised concerns over the effects collective bargaining over salaries could have on the state budget and political contributions made by labor unions. Ultimately the bill passed on Second Reading in the Senate. As a result of the long debate, the rest of the calendar was laid over and the Senate Finance Committee, scheduled to hear SB20-207 Unemployment Insurance was canceled until tomorrow.
The House spent today working through the orbital bills during second reading and then met for caucuses to discuss the budget amendments released today. Tomorrow the House will debate the budget on second reading, and then conduct a recorded vote on Wednesday. The majority of the 70 amendments were brought by House Republicans. Some of the amendments proposed to decrease overall General Fund appropriations by varying degrees to fund the Senior Homestead Exemption, pulling funds from the Healthy Kids Survey, immunization programs, family planning, and state employee compensation. Some of the amendments proposed by Democrats would put more money to the Colorado Health Disparities Grant Program, domestic violence prevention, and immunizations programs. There is also a bipartisan amendment that would increase funding for Adult Pretrial Diversion Programs.
Several new bills were introduced today:
- HB20-1405 Funding for Eviction Legal Defense Fund
- The bill proposes to add a $30 fee to support grants for the Eviction Legal Defense Fund.
- Sponsors: Rep. Woodrow
- HB20-1406 Cash Fund Transfers to the General Fund
- The bill proposes to transfer money from a number of cash funds to the General Fund
- Sponsors: Rep. Arndt
- SB20-211 Limitations on Extraordinary Collection Actions
- The bill proposes a 180-day prohibition on new debt collections.
- Sponsors: Sen. Winter and Sen. Gonzales
- SB20-212 Reimbursement for Telehealth Services
- The bill proposes to prohibit insurance carriers from restricting telehealth services, requiring a patient provider relationship to receive telehealth, or imposing requirements to reimburse for telehealth services.
- Sponsors: Sen. Winter, Sen. Tate, Rep. Lontine, and Rep. Soper
- SCR20-001 Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates
- Proposes to submit a ballot question to voters for the 2020 ballot to repeal the Gallagher Amendment. The Gallagher Amendment requires the residential assessment rate to be set to maintain a ratio between assessed commercial and residential property.
- Sponsors: Sen. Tate, Sen. Hansen, Rep. Esgar, Rep Soper
Today Governor Polis extended and revised the Safer at Home order until July 1. Executive Order 091 loosens restrictions on travel and allows for more parts of the economy to open. The Executive Order still directs older Coloradans and vulnerable individuals to stay at home as much as possible. It requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to issue a new Public Health Order that will:
- Advise Coloradans to limit social interactions
- Limit groups of people to less than 10 individuals
- Encourage workers to continue teleworking
- Require businesses to make accommodations for vulnerable individuals
- Allow for flexibility for businesses to provide delivery, walk up, drive through, curbside services
- Allow restaurants to continue to operate, to use outside dining, provide take out, and limit indoor seating
- Establish protocols for businesses with over 50 people at one location
- Guidance governing restaurants, personal services, childcare, houses of worship, life cycle events, short-term rentals, summer camps, team sports, State parks, and personal and outdoor recreation activities. CDPHE may authorize public gatherings of groups in these settings that exceed the limits, if justified by public health conditions; and
In addition to these requirements, CDPHE will identify any industries or sectors that must remain closed for the month of June. The Civil Rights Division and CDPHE will work together to provide anti-discrimination guidance related to COVID-19 in the workplace.
The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council met and heard an update on the damage done to state property at and around the capitol building. The Executive Committee also set the date to review Blue Book language to September 3 and the date to start the 2021 legislative session for January 13, 2021.