Colorado’s coronavirus lawmaking term was supposed to be subdued. But it’s just as wild as ever.
A spate of controversial bills, from tax increases to vaccines, have made the final days frenetic and frustrating to the GOP and business groups.
Three F-words were supposed to define the last three weeks of the legislative session, a down-to-business, do-what’s-necessary lawmaking term that followed a two-month halt because of coronavirus.
Fast. Friendly. Free. That was the vow of House Speaker KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat.
Major controversial policies were set aside, like a statewide paid family-leave program, a public health insurance initiative and stricter gun regulations, so that legislators could focus on helping the state respond to the pandemic, balance the hobbled budget and quickly vacate the Capitol before anyone caught COVID-19. Policies years in the making were abandoned.
And then the past week happened.
As the final hours wind down, Democrats who control the House and Senate are pushing through two major tax bills, a vaccine measure that had emotional constituents shouting from the gallery, and sweeping police accountability policy that will dramatically reshape law enforcement across the state.
One 11th-hour proposal introduced Thursday would put an $86 million tobacco and vaping tax on the November ballot. Meanwhile, a Democratic plan to spend $70 million in federal coronavirus aid did not include input from the GOP.
Frenetic. Frustrating. Definitely not free.
“Fast, free, friendly? That’s never been the motto of the Senate in this session,” Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg said. “We always said we wanted to prioritize things that are directly related to this crisis and this moment. I think for the most part we have. For the most part, we really have focused on things that are about relief for families and small businesses and the state’s budget.”
To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.
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