The culmination of the Joint Budget Committee's annual budget process is at hand. Last week the House of Representatives approved the "Long Bill," the annual appropriations act, with an amazingly strong vote of 64 to 1. In a nod to bipartisanship, observers remarked they've never seen a budget win so many votes on the House floor. This week the Senate gets its turn.
On Monday, the Senate members of the Joint Budget Committee - myself, Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton) and Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs) - will present the budget by department to each of the Senate's committees. Each committee has oversight for various departments, and we'll be briefing them on budget decisions for those departments. For instance, the Senate Education Committee has oversight for the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education, and the Senate Finance Committee has oversight for the Department of Revenue and the State Treasurer's office. These briefings are scheduled to take most of the day, but by the time we're done the members of the various committees will have heard details about the budget for the departments they know best.
On Tuesday, the Senate will caucus on the budget. This means the Democratic senators all will meet together in one room, and our Republican counterparts all will be meeting in another room across the hall. With our caucuses we'll discuss concerns about budget decisions and potential amendments to the bills. All amendments to the Long Bill must be drafted and distributed in advance, and a deadline for requesting these amendments will be established on Tuesday afternoon, after the caucuses have met.
Wednesday will be the main event in the Senate on the Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget: second reading floor debate. The Long Bill, HB 1335, and its companion package of nine other bills will be debated throughout the day. By tradition, the members of the Joint Budget Committee present these bills during the floor debate and attempt to resist any amendments making changes to the proposed budget. But try as we might, the other members of the legislature always seem to amend our handiwork. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the Long Bill will be reconciled in a Conference Committee composed of the JBC. That process could begin as early as Thursday or Friday, and is likely to conclude next week.
WHAT'S LEFT TO GO?
Regular readers of my email updates know the legislative session is drawing towards its close. May 9 is the last day we can meet in regular session this year, and a great deal of unfinished business remains. Here's a partial list of what's to come in the last days and weeks of the session:
Still on Pat's Plate
FY 2012-13 Budget package
SB 2 - Civil Unions
SB 105 & HB 1263 - Collateral Consequences
SB 104 & SB 163 - Drug Treatment Funding and Sentencing Reforms
HB 1281 - Medicaid Provider Payment Reforms
HB 1315 - Colorado Energy Office
Major Topics Still Unresolved
HB 1345 - School Finance Act
HB 1238 - Literacy
SB 15 - ASSET Access to Affordable Tuition
SB 157 - Telecommunications Modernization
HB 1267, SB 155 & SB 135 - Elections legislation
HCR 1001 - Referred Changes to Personnel System in Constitution
HB 1241 - Enterprise Zone Reviews
And a wide variety of bills addressing Jobs & Economic Development
SENATE PASSES KEY BILLS IN JOBS PACKAGE
Last week the Senate moved forward complementary legislation to put state taxes to work in an efficient way: the Hire Colorado Act (SB 1) and the Buy American Act (SB 4). These bills are key parts of our "Colorado Works" jobs package that will get Coloradans back to work and help grow local, small businesses.
Colorado spent a whopping $794 million on out-of-state contracts within the past two years. The Hire Colorado Act (SB 1) helps companies that employ workers in Colorado to bid on and win state contracts, putting our tax dollars to work employing Coloradans. SB 1 was written by Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) to give businesses a boost when applying for state contracts if 90% of their employees are Coloradans. The bill is now pending in the House of Representatives.
In a corresponding move, the Senate voted to move forward the Buy American Act (SB 4). Senator Joyce Foster (D-Denver) crafted this legislation to give businesses that use U.S. materials, provisions, and supplies a boost when applying for state contracts. The legislation promotes U.S.-made goods and will stimulate Colorado's home-grown businesses.
DOG KISSES FOR SIGNING HB 12-1125
On Thursday, April 12, Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law HB 12-1125, a bill I sponsored with Rep. Robert Ramirez (R-Arvada). This bill clarifies procedures for impounding animals in cases of cruelty or neglect, specifying how costs will be
Rep. Robert Ramirez holds Rook the rescue dog, who was on hand to witness the signing of HB 1125 and got to seal it with a kiss! Governor Hickenlooper was a great sport, and we all had a good laugh.
assessed and how owners may assert their due process rights. It should speed up the process and create certainty. I've worked with the Denver Dumb Friends League and other animal shelters for two years on this legislation, and I'm very grateful to Rep. Ramirez for helping to get it passed this year. The Governor must be a dog lover, too, because he wasn't shy about leaning in for a kiss from Rook, the sweetest rescue dog I've ever met.
HD 35 / SD 31 Town Hall Meeting with Rep. Peniston & Sen. Steadman
featuring special guest Insurance Commissioner Jim Riesberg
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10:00 am
Westminster Grange Hall, 73rd & Osceola St., Westminster
STAY IN TOUCH
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