Despite announcing they were in the last three days of the session on Wednesday, the Colorado General Assembly is meeting this Saturday and will be back on Monday.
What's keeping lawmakers from heading home, with most running for elections in the fall:
Bills in the Senate
- House Bill 1420 is waiting for second reading in the Senate. The bill that would eliminate or change tax exemptions on business has been controversial since Day One. But Democrats may have forgotten that old rule of 33-18-1: a bill needs 33 votes in the House and 18 in the Senate to pass, plus the signature of the governor, and Gov. Jared Polis has twice in the past week hinted at a veto. The bill is currently awaiting second reading in the Senate and has been in negotiations for more than 24 hours. While the governor has not said what he wants in the measure, sponsored by Sens. Chris Hansen of Denver and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, he has twice said in State of the State addresses that he favors an income tax rate reduction, which HB1420 doesn't have.
- House Bill 1410, waiting for a final vote in the Senate.The bill sets up housing grants with CARES Act funding, and also sets aside $350,000 for an eviction defense fund. HB 1410 has been in the Senate since Tuesday, but its movement toward a final vote is on hold while Democrats wait to see if Polis extends a moratorium on evictions, which is set to expire Saturday. Should that executive order expire, Democrats could amend the bill to do that.
Update: as of noon, Senate Democrats have reportedly dropped plans to amend HB1410 to add an eviction moratorium.
- House Bill 1427, which as of Saturday morning is awaiting Senate second reading. The last bill introduced in the 2020 session is a proposed ballot measure for November, hiking the tax on cigarette and tobacco products.
- House Bill 1415, a bill that provides protections to whistleblowers during a public health emergency. It passed the Senate Saturday morning on a 20-15 vote and now heads back to the House for concurrence on amendments.
Bills in the House
- Senate Bill 222, which provides grants to small businesses, with a preference to those that didn't qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program. It passed unanimously Saturday morning.
- Senate Bill 213, which allows restaurants to sell take-out alcohol, among the most popular changes resulting from the pandemic. Polis issued an executive order; this bill continues it permanently. It also passed unanimously.
- Senate Bill 205, on requiring businesses to offer six days of paid sick leave, beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The bill picks up when the federal requirement for sick leave due to the pandemic ends in December. The bill passed 38-27, including a "no" vote from Democratic Rep. Matt Gray of Broomfield, who had been a proposed sponsor of an earlier paid leave bill. Gray told Colorado Politics he is a 100% supporter of paid leave but believed a law should cover all workers. The bill was amended in the House to exempt businesses with fewer than 15 employees and to require employees in the ski industry to show a medical note if they are out for more than one day.
- Senate Bill 215, which extends the state's reinsurance program for an additional four years and requires health insurance carriers to pay the bulk of the cost. It passed Saturday on a 40-25 vote.
- There are also a handful of bills tied to the recently-completed budget that still need final House concurrence on amendments adopted by the Senate. These include the temporary reduction in the general fund reserve (HB 1383), and a bill to transfer cash funds from a laundry list of sources to the general fund (HB 1406).
There's also the small matter of House amendments to the vaccination bill, SB 163, and House amendments to the police accountability bill, SB 217, both which required concurrence from the Senate in the closing days.
As of press time, the Senate is also having a lengthy debate about reducing the number of bills that can be drafted by an interim committee. Legislative leaders from the executive committee say it's an effort to better manage staff time.
Lawmakers, however, are objecting on grounds that the proposed limit could impact the fact-finding abilities of the committees or that it could an effort by the majority to suppress the voice of the minority. Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail jokingly offered what she called a bipartisan solution: setting up an interim committee to investigate the issue.