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Highlights of the Week   

The General Assembly had a very busy week under the dome. The Joint Budget Committee closed the long bill, the Senate passed the reproductive rights and gender affirming care package, and the House continues to debate the Senate gun violence prevention package on second reading. The House adjourned a little before 11 pm last night and will come back to continue second reading at 9 am today. They remain on the first of three bills: SB23-168 Gun Violence Victims’ Access To Judicial System, SB23-170 Extreme Risk Protection Order Petitions, and SB23-169 Increasing Minimum Age To Purchase Firearms.  

Governor Polis, Majority Leader Moreno, and Representatives Woodrow and Jodeh, held a press conference Wednesday to announce the introduction of the administration’s top priority bill this legislative session, sweeping land use reform. SB23-213 Land Use gained significant media attention as the bill would make some matters of local land use policy a matter of statewide concern in order to remove barriers to affordable housing, specifically by setting model codes and minimum standards while limiting local government’s ability to be more restrictive in the areas of accessory dwelling units, transit oriented development, middle housing, multifamily housing, and key development corridors. The Governor was surrounded by supporters on Wednesday ranging from teachers and affordable housing advocates to his hometown Mayor from Boulder. The bill is facing fierce opposition from many other municipalities however, with the Colorado Municipal League leading the charge.   

That very same day, there was a tragic shooting at East High School just east of the Capitol building. Students from East came down to the Capitol in droves on Thursday and Friday calling on the state legislature to ensure their safety while in school.   

Housing is a top priority this session with many proposals being debated from renter’s rights to metropolitan districts. This week, SB23-110 Transparency For Metropolitan Districts, passed the House on a vote of 40 to 24 after a flurry of unfriendly amendments were rejected on second reading. The bill makes changes to the service plan submission process for a proposed metropolitan district. The bill also makes adjustments to public transparency and engagement practices required by the metropolitan district.  

HB23-1192 Additional Protections in Consumer Code, was laid over for action only in Senate Judiciary Committee this week to allow the sponsors time to continue work on amendments. The bill creates additional protections in the consumer code – making changes to the deceptive trade practices provisions, repealing the “Colorado Antitrust Act of 1992” and reenacting the “Colorado State Act of 2023” with new requirements. Many in the business community are working to ensure additional amendments are adopted in the Senate. The bill has been scheduled for action only on April 5.   

An unsuspecting bill has brought a lot of passion and media coverage to the building.  SB23-060 Consumer Protection In Event Ticketing Sales outlaws speculative ticketing, requires all-in pricing, exempts select tickets from sale limitations, and outlines a civil penalty structure for violations. In House Business & Labor Affairs on Thursday afternoon an amendment was added to require primary ticket sellers and venues to disclose how many tickets they “hold back” from consumers when they put tickets up for sale. This amendment moved several consumer organizations including Sports Fans Coalition, National Consumer League, and Consumer Federation of America to a support position. The bill is expected to be heard on second reading in the House next week.   

The House Health and Insurance Committee considered HB23-1215 Limits On Hospital Facility Fees on Friday morning. Originally an outright prohibition on facilities fees, the bill was heavily amended by the sponsors, including an exemption for Denver Health and critical access and sole community hospitals in rural and frontier areas, and a change in the scope of the prohibition of fees to preventative and primary care in outpatient settings and telehealth. The sponsors included another amendment to set up a one-time study on facility fees in Colorado, and committed to continuing to work with the Colorado Hospital Association and their members on additional amendments for second reading.The bill passed on a party-line vote after support and opposition testimony was limited to one hour each side. HB23-1226 Hospital Transparency And Reporting Requirements and HB23-1243 Hospital Community Benefit are both scheduled for next week, and are also expected to be significantly amended.   

Currently, local governments are prohibited from providing cable television, telecommunications or high-speed internet of certain speeds unless voters approve the provision of these services. SB23-183 Local Government Provision Of Communications Services removes this voter approval requirement, allowing local governments to provide these services or enter into public-private partnerships with service providers without holding an election. The bill cleared its first committee this week and has been placed on the consent calendar in the Senate.   

The Joint Budget Committee closed the long bill on Monday night, allowing the staff time this week to prepare the Long Bill for introduction in the Senate on Monday, March 27. A few of the last minute decisions included: 
Higher Education funding with an 11% increase, an appropriation of $33.6M for Step 1 of the funding formula, $85M for Step 2 of the formula and $27.3M for financial aid for a total appropriation of $145.9M, the committee also set a tuition cap of 5% for instate students,

$4.23B for K-12 Education, State Share of Districts’ Total Program Fund, holding last year’s appropriation constant,

$103M one-time general fund placeholder for workforce related legislation including free credentials, math, scholarships, adult education and concurrent enrollment,

$221M placeholder for housing-related legislation including property tax relief, land use and public private partnerships,

$16M general fund placeholder for legislation related to topics other than housing and workforce including rural opportunity, line of duty loss and Prop 122 implementation,

For preschool, sufficient funding to cover all populations contemplated in the enabling legislation plus 15 hours (rather than 10 hours) for children in the year prior to kindergarten, assuming 30,000 of these children enroll,

And, a legislative set aside in the amount of $30M General Fund for the General Assembly to spend on bills moving through the process.  

The Long Bill package will be introduced in the Senate on Monday, accompanied by the orbital bills that relate to the Long Bill. The bills will be up in Appropriations on Tuesday morning and the Senate will likely break for caucus on the Long Bill on Tuesday, reconvening in caucus on Wednesday to discuss proposed amendments before debating the budget on second reading. Third reading is planned for Thursday. The budget would then move to the House the following week. 
Bill of the Week
SB23-205 Universal High School Scholarship Program  
Senator Bridges (D), Senator Lundeen (R), Representative Martinez (D), Representative Wilson (R)  

Introduced March 20, scheduled to be heard in Senate Education April 3  

The bill establishes the universal high school scholarship program in the office of economic development to provide $1,500 scholarships for the 2024-25 academic year to students who pursue an in-demand or high-priority postsecondary pathway, including degrees, certificates, and registered apprenticeships, with a provider on the eligible training provider lists disseminated by the department of labor and employment, a provider in the Colorado state apprenticeship resource directory, a public or private institution of higher education operating in Colorado, or an organization approved by the office.