DENVER — Coloradans can expect to hear a lot about housing, affordability, energy, and education during this legislative session.
The topics took center stage in Governor Jared Polis’ first state of the state speech of his second term, Governor Jared Polis outlined some of his key policy priorities for the upcoming year.
Those priorities included a packed agenda with issues like housing and water policy, energy, and education.
The governor painted a theme of working to move the state forward ahead of the state's 150th anniversary in 2026. Affordability, specifically affordable housing a recurring theme throughout the speech.
“Let’s start with housing,” Polis said in his address “many are struggling to find a place where they can afford to live.”
The question remains, how can the state become a more affordable place to live and what will lawmakers do to make it happen?
Some of the solutions the governor brought up included taking a look at "flexible zoning" laws for communities, reducing property taxes, and looking at programs currently underway to build affordable housing.
"It's more of just keeping everything on the table," Representative Marc Snyder (D-Manitou Springs) said, "these are all going to be tough negotiating points but I think that’s what the governor is talking about, let’s open it up and have those conversations."
Republican lawmakers say the decisions on zoning laws shouldn't be left up to the state.
"Let’s not usurp local government control, everybody has a lane, and we should stay in that lane," Representative Rose Pugliese (Colorado Springs-R) said.
Another solution Polis proposed in his address, making the senior homestead property tax exemption "portable." Currently, seniors in Colorado are eligible for an exemption on property tax if they've lived in a property for 10 years. Seniors have to apply for the exemption which exempts them from taxes up to 50 percent of the first $200,000 in market value.
Senator Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) said he's working on a bipartisan piece of legislation to expand the senior homestead property tax exemption.
"I hope that the governor will support action to his words and support my legislation,” Liston said, “if there’s anybody that needs tax relief, from property tax, it’s the good seniors that have been paying property tax for 20,30,40 years that are going to see their property taxes raise again."
The governor also discussed priorities like education funding, the rise in auto thefts in Colorado, as well as ways to move the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
One big topic the legislature is expected to look at this session is gun laws, the governor's speech didn't focus heavily on changes at the state level when it comes to guns. He did mention a need for cracking down on "ghost guns" which are guns that do not have a serial number and are untraceable.
The governor also paid respects to the victims of the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, honoring those who lost their lives as well as some of the survivors, who were guests of the governor on Tuesday.
The house gave a standing ovation as Polis recognized the heroes of the shooting, Richard Fierro, who attended the address with his wife Jessica and daughter Kassy who were both in the club the night of the shooting.
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