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KOAA Survey: What should lawmakers' top priority be in final days of Colorado General Assembly?

Survey General Assembly final week
Posted at 10:50 AM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 07:27:09-04

It is now down to the wire for Colorado lawmakers as we enter the final week of the General Assembly.

News5 would like to know your opinion on what should lawmakers make their top priority in the final days of the 2022 Colorado General Assembly?

Results:
50% Affordability
27% Wildfire Mitigation
18% Fentanyl
4% Air Quality

We're following this survey throughout the day and into tomorrow. Tune in to News5 at 4 p.m. as we review the results!
Editor's note: This survey is not based on scientific, representative samples and is solely for KOAA purposes.

During the last two weeks in particular, there is a noticeable shift in the energy around the Colorado Capitol. The hallways are more crowded, the whispered negotiations become a little louder and the debates can drag out as some try to delay bills to their death. No matter what happens in the last two weeks, though, the session stops at 120 days.

“It seems like, you know, the legislature kind of always procrastinates till the end, and all of the work ends up getting piled up towards the end of session,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno.

With hundreds of bills still making their way through the process, including some big legislation that will inevitably lead to long debates, both the majority and minority in the Senate agree some of the lower priority bills will need to wait until a future session.

Here’s a snapshot of what is left:

Fentanyl bill: After some very long committee discussions in the House, House Bill 22-1326 is now in the Senate, where once again it could undergo some serious changes. The bill aims to curb the prevalence of fentanyl in the state by cracking down on distribution networks while also offering more rehabilitative service. The biggest fight over the bill to date is whether possession should be a felony. Republicans, law enforcement and some district attorneys want a zero-tolerance policy. Many Democrats, however, have argued that penalizing addicts won’t fix the problem.

The House compromised and brought felony possession levels down to one gram. The Senate will now take a closer look at whether the House version of the bill is something they want to move forward with.

Unemployment trust fund replenishment: Colorado lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan bill Wednesday that aims to put $600 million toward the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to pay off more than half the debt Colorado owes to the federal government for supporting its unemployment payments during the pandemic-induced recession. The bill still needs to make it through both chambers to pass. However, both Republicans and Democrats agree that this is important to take care of this session.

“We need to restore that unemployment trust fund before we leave here, and we need to do it in a significant way. We also believe in the Republican Party that we shouldn't do that just by increasing fees or taxes on businesses. We are swimming in money, federal relief dollars should be used in a very significant way for that,” Holbert said.

Producer responsibility bill: House Bill 22-1355 would create a producer responsibility program in the state. It would require companies that sell products in the state to pay into the program for the amount of goods they sell in the state and the waste they contribute. The money would then be used towards a statewide recycling program that would establish a clear, uniform list of what’s recyclable and educate the public on it. The bill passed two House committees but still needs two more votes in that chamber before heading over to the Senate.

"Forever chemicals" in consumer products bill: House Bill 22-1345 would prohibit the sale of carpets, cosmetics, cookware, fabric treatments, food packaging, children’s products, furniture and other items that have PFAS chemicals in them starting in 2024. The bill passed three House committees but still needs the chamber’s final approval before debate can begin in the Senate.

Climate bills: Colorado Democrats continued their work this session to work on a series of bills aimed at cleaning up the state’s air and water. One of the bills, Senate Bill 22-138, would, among other things, incentivize people to buy electric lawn equipment by offering them a tax credit. Others would offer free transit during high ozone months or set up several grant programs in the state to help businesses and families cut down on pollution. All are at various stages in the legislative process.

With so many debates left to be had and so little time, lawmakers will likely be called in on at least one weekend to finish up some work.

The only constitutionally-mandated bill legislators must pass each year is a budget. Gov. Jared Polis signed that bill into law this week. However, both Republicans and Democrats say there’s still a lot of work they’re hoping to wrap up in the next 13 days, whether it’s constitutionally mandated or not.

Reporting by Denver7's Meghan Lopez

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