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New legislative session begins: healthcare, education among top priorities

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 21:33:42-05

DENVER-  A new legislative session is officially underway, after lawmakers met for the start of the session on Friday.

With Democrats maintaining control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate- today lawmakers noted their top priorities, primarily focusing on areas of health care and combating the opioid epidemic.

‘Too many have died at the hands of opioids, and many more struggle with drug abuse and addiction,’ said newly elected Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo in his opening day speech.

So far a few bills have been introduced addressing treatment options as it relates to the opioid epidemic.

Including, the Senate’s first bill- introduced by President Garcia, which would expand a pilot program created by the legislature in 2017.

The previous program was set up in Pueblo and Routt counties, this bill would expand it to other counties, including those in the San Luis Valley.

Some of the other major topics we can expect this session include family leave, affordable housing, transportation and education funding.

‘Unlike Washington, which has demonstrated a pretty high level of disfunctionality, we get a long pretty well up here,’ said Sen. Pete Lee D- Colorado Springs.

While Democrats hold control of both chambers, lawmakers seem optimistic about passing legislation that includes bipartisan support.

Something both President Garcia and Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert mentioned in their opening day remarks on Friday.

Although not all lawmakers left Friday’s opening session feeling hopeful about the upcoming session.

‘I had hoped for a more collaborative message today and it didn’t seem that way to me,’ said Rep. Lois Landgraf (R- Fountain).

Speaker of the House KC Becker’s speech outlined priorities for the session which among many included affordable housing, funding for K-12 and higher education, and climate change.

‘I could be wrong, I hope I’m wrong because I really liked a more collaborative atmosphere,’ said Rep. Landgraf.

Additionally, Democrats are expected to bring back a Red Flag Law, a bill introduced last year that ultimately failed in a Senate Republican-controlled committee.

News 5 will continue to cover the legislative session and let you know the progress of bills as they are introduced.