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Highlights of the Week   

As of today, the General Assembly has introduced 446 bills, 248 House bills and 198 Senate bills.  

The Joint Budget Committee has been busy this week making final decisions as they approach the deadline to close the Long Bill. They are aiming to close the budget on Monday or Tuesday, and the budget and its orbital bills are scheduled to be introduced in the Senate on March 27. The JBC heard the quarterly revenue forecast from Legislative Council Staff and the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting on Thursday and yesterday elected to budget to more conservative OSPB forecast. The committee worked late in to the evening on Friday. Final decisions on higher education funding, K-12 funding, capital projects and the reserve are big-ticket items that remain to be decided.  

Appropriations Committees in both chambers have begun to meet, approving bills with smaller fiscal notes. The committees will take up bills with a larger fiscal note once the budget has worked its way through the process and the General Assembly has a final understanding of the funds available to spend on legislative priorities. The Long Bill is required under the state Constitution to be passed in the Senate on or before March 31 and in the House on or before April 7 with a final deadline of April 14 to adopt the final budget.  

In accord with the Governor’s press conference on Tuesday, HB23-1246 Support In-demand Career Workforce was introduced and we expect the complimentary Senate bill to be introduced next week. The first would provide zero-cost credentials to an estimated 20,0000 students who enroll in short term programs to address the state’s current workforce shortage areas in elementary and early childhood education, nursing, construction trades, fire fighting, law enforcement, and forest management. The second would support approximately 15,000 graduating high school students who pursue an in demand or high priority post secondary pathway with $1,500 scholarships. HB23-1246 is scheduled for a hearing in House Education on Wednesday.  

HB23-1231 Math In Pre-kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade a comprehensive K-12 approach to evidence-informed practices in mathematics passed unanimously out of House Education on Thursday afternoon. A broad swath of education advocates testified in support of the bill, which is a priority of the Polis Administration.  

HB23-1248 Executive Committee’s Investigatory Authority, concerning the executive committee of the legislative council’s investigatory authority, and authorizing the executive committee to create an ad hoc investigatory committee and issue subpoenas, raised eye brows upon introduction. The Colorado Sun dug into it.   

HB23-1215 Limits On Hospital Facility Fees is being heavily lobbied and continues to attract media attention. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Insurance Committee on Friday, March 24.  

Next week we expect the General Assembly to take up a number of other contentious debates as well. House committees of reference will have long nights as the Senate’s gun safety package has cleared that chamber and SB23-169 Increasing Minimum Age To Purchase Firearms will be heard on Monday and SB23-170 Extreme Risk Protection Order Petitions and SB23-168 Gun Violence Victims’ Access To Judicial System will be heard on Wednesday. We expect the package to be debated on the floor on Friday or Saturday. Atypical convenings on Saturdays and Sunday are threatened for the remainder of session as the House Republican caucus in particular continues to filibuster, slowing the progress of all of the bills pending. HB 23-1219 Waiting Period To Deliver A Firearm cleared the Senate committee of reference this week and is expected to be debated on the Senate floor early next week alongside the Democrat-led reproductive and gender affirming health care package of three bills. SB23-188 Protections For Accessing Reproductive Health Care, SB23-189 Increasing Access To Reproductive Health Care, and SB23-190 Deceptive Trade Practice Pregnancy-related Service all cleared Senate committees of reference on Wednesday, with only one bill, SB23-189, clearing Appropriations on Friday morning.
Bills of the Week
HB23-1241 Task Force To Study K-12 Accountability System  
Representative Bird (D), Senator Zenzinger (D)  

Introduced March 11, scheduled to be heard in House Education March 29  

The bill creates the accountability, accreditation, student performance, and resource inequity task force to study academic opportunities, inequities, promising practices in schools, and improvements to the accountability and accreditation system. The task force is required to submit an interim report by March 1, 2024, and a final report by November 15, 2024.
HB23-1243 Hospital Community Benefit  
Representative Amabile (D), Senator Moreno (D)  

Introduced March 11  

The bill makes changes to the hospital community benefit definition and imposes requirements on the public presentation of each hospital’s community implementation plan. The bill requires HCPF to include in its annual report a summary of the estimated federal and state tax exemptions for each hospital, establish a minimum annual community investment target based on certain calculation standards, and set requirements for compliance and remedial action.