Here are a look at some major bills that became state statutes as of 12:01 a.m.:
• Senate Bill 108, sponsored by Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, increases vehicle-registration fees by an average of $41 per year in order to raise some $265 million annually to repair state highways and bridges.
• House Bill 1293, sponsored by Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, creates hospital patient fees that will be used to put as much as $600 million toward public health insurance, a figure that will let the state insure about 100,000 new residents.
• Senate Bill 228, sponsored by Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, removes the annual cap on general-fund spending increases, a move proponents say will allow the state to address needs like higher education more easily.
• House Bill 1012, sponsored by Reps. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, and Amy Stephens, R-Monument, allows health insurance companies to offer incentives for participation in wellness and prevention programs.
• Senate Bill 247, sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, expands unemployment insurance benefits to residents relocating because of a spouse’s new job and increases benefits to residents participating in job-training programs.
• Senate Bill 80, sponsored by former Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, creates a pilot program to allow some developments to collect rainwater from residence roofs and use it for household purposes.
• House Bill 1091, sponsored by Reps. John Soper, D-Thornton, and Lois Court, D-Denver, requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in every home or apartment that is being sold or rented to a new tenant.
• Senate Bill 251, sponsored by Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, permits optometrists and physicians to prescribe and sell new drug-releasing contact lenses.]]>
But today, all that work is worth it, although nothing eases the pain of the deaths of the Lofgren family, Lauren Johnson, and the hundreds more killed by CO poisoning in Colorado each year. As of today, all new homes and apartments are required to have CO detectors.
Rep. Soper said, “I am proud to see this bill finally become law. We have lost far too many Colorado lives. As an electrician, I know that the installation of carbon monoxide detectors is a reasonable addition to new homes that will prevent senseless deaths and injuries.”
Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) was a co-sponsor on HB 1091. “It’s with deep regret that the Lofgren family lost their lives in my community and I hope that as a result of the passage of this bill, we will prevent tragedies like this in the future. It’s a very simple concept that will save lives. By requiring carbon monoxide alarms in residential properties we will keep people safe and impact everyone’s lives in Colorado. We cannot allow another unnecessary death from carbon monoxide.”
Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver) said, “I applaud the Johnson’s and the Lofgren’s many family and friends for their activism and commitment to passage of this law. They raised the awareness of this danger and have helped many others avoid the tragedy they’ve experienced.”
A CO alarm costs $15-$30; consumers should place one on each floor of existing homes. For more information on CO poisoning visit www.knowaboutco.com
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DENVER— Fraud, underaged petitioners, fake addresses. Thanks to a law which goes into effect today, July 1, these unethical practices on ballot- initiative petitions will be a thing of the past.
Last session Colorado’s legislative leaders passed House Bill 1326 which reforms and restores integrity to the state’s ballot-initiative petition process. It was sponsored by House Speaker Terrance Carroll (D-Denver), Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) and Rep. Lois Court and supported by Secretary of State Bernie Buescher and business and labor leaders.
HB 1326 will strengthen identity requirements; require petition circulators to provide specific forms of I.D. and have the option of enrolling in training provided by the secretary of state’s office; strengthen laws against using third-party circulators; and require paid circulators to receive hourly wages or salaries instead of being paid per signature they gather.
“We cannot allow our citizen petitioning efforts to be tainted by the unethical practices of a few people,” said Pres. Brandon Shaffer. “House Bill 1326 will prevent petition fraud, ensure the integrity of our ballot initiatives, and strengthen our direct democracy. This is something we can be proud of. We are ready for 2010.”
“As we have seen in past campaigns, some paid petitioning is ripe for abuse. We must hold everyone to the highest standard when we are attempting to change our Constitution or statutes,” stated Speaker Carroll. “This new law will help end the fraud and abuse we witnessed in 2008.”
DENVER— Today Senator Jim Isgar (D-Hesperus) announced he is leaving the Colorado Senate to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Colorado State Director for Rural Development. Senator Isgar is one of the longest serving Senators and his resignation will take effect when Isgar starts his new position with the USDA in a couple of weeks.
“After many years working for Colorado, I’m excited at the opportunity to continue that work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said Sen. Isgar. “As a resident of a rural area these issues touch me very deeply. I’m happy that I will be able to continue to work for Colorado, rebuild and revitalize our rural economy, and improve the lives of every American every day. I want to maintain the vitality of rural America– that’s where the strength of this country has always been and that’s where our strength will continue to be.”
“I’m so proud of Senator Isgar and his new position in the Department of Agriculture,” said Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont). “With the loss of Senator Isgar we are losing a great mind, a wonderful representative of the people, and an expert in many areas of state government, including water issues. While we are happy for his new endeavors, he will be greatly missed in the Senate.”
A lifelong rancher, Sen. Isgar represented the Western Slope well. He is the Chair of the Agriculture Committee on Agriculture, Chairs the Permanent Legislative Water Review Committee, and was known as the Capitol’s senior authority on water issues. Senator Isgar’s term was up in 2010.
Senator Isgar’s resignation follows the resignations of two other Democratic Senators. In May, Senate President Peter Groff accepted a position with President Obama’s administration as the Director for the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center in the Office of the Secretary of Education. Senator Jennifer Veiga also left the Senate in May for personal reasons.
USDA press release:
Forwarding Release from USDA sent June 30, 2009
Contact: USDA Office of Communication 202-720-4623
Obama Administration Names Jim Isgar to Serve as State Director for Rural Development in Colorado
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2009 – The Obama Administration today announced that Jim Isgar will serve as Colorado State Director for Rural Development at the USDA.
“Jim Isgar will be an important advocate on behalf of rural communities throughout the state and help administer the valuable programs and services provided by the USDA that can enhance their economic success,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Isgar is currently a Colorado State Senator and chairs the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee. He served as President of the Board of Agriculture for the State of Colorado and has policy experience on energy, healthcare, water research and rural economic issues. Isgar has worked on water conservancy efforts for Colorado and is currently a member of several local boards that focus on the issue. Since 1976, he has managed his family farm with his son.
Rural Development administers and manages over 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of over $114 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources and touches the life of every American. Reflecting President Obama’s commitment to expanding economic opportunities in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA are working to enhance availability of broadband, promote the development of renewable energy, to conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment, and promote a sustainable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply.
Senator John Morse (se’-nə-tər jän’ mȯrs’) n.
1. Democratic Senator from Colorado Springs who is leading Colorado to a faster economic recovery thanks to his leadership and courage in passing SB 228.
2. Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate elected by the Colorado Democratic Caucus on April 17, 2009.
3. Quote: “Colorado is no longer facing a recession with our hands tied behind our backs. Getting rid of the 6 percent will help untie the knot—giving us the tools to maximize federal recovery dollars, avoid making these current budget cuts permanent. We are positioning Colorado for a fast and strong economic recovery and Colorado now has greater flexibility to make wiser investments with existing resources.”
Gordian knot (gôr’dē-ən nät) n.
Arveschoug- Bird (är’ves-scow bərd)—n.
1. A spending provision enacted in 1991 which dictates how Colorado can spend its General Fund dollars. Any revenues below the 6% are spent on operating expenses, such as educating students or paying for medical care. Any revenues collected above the 6% are still spent by the state and are largely used to fund transportation and capital construction needs.
2. A spending provision which ratchets down any appropriations which do not reach 6% above the prior year’s level. The un-appropriated amount is lost forever. It reduces the size of the base against which all future increases apply.
Sources: Colorado’s Fiscal Policy Institute, www.coloradosenate.org , The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved June 29, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gordian knot]]>
DENVER— What business owner wouldn’t want to have more productive workers? What employee wouldn’t want lower insurance premiums and a healthier lifestyle? Thanks to House Bill 1012, sponsored by Littleton lawmakers Rep. Joe Rice and Sen. Linda Newell, all of that will be a whole lot easier.
Wednesday, July 1, House Bill 1012 goes into effect. It allows insurance companies to offer discounts and incentives to small business and their employees who participate in health and wellness programs. Insurers are currently prohibited from offering incentives even to small businesses that want access to health plans with financial and health rewards. This will also promote both personal responsibility and lower insurance premiums.
“Providing incentives for wellness is a common sense idea that benefits our health and our pocketbooks. Employees will be healthier and employers can increase productivity, all while reducing health care costs. Now that’s a win-win,” Rep. Rice said.
“This wellness and prevention bill will help the employer minimize absenteeism, increase productivity and reduce health care costs,” Sen. Newell said. “It will also help the employee control his or her own health care costs and have a better chance of better health. Healthy communities mean healthy workers and a healthy economy.”
“This legislation will help employers maintain a healthy workforce, and it will encourage employees to take personal responsibility for their health by participating in wellness programs,” Gov. Ritter said at the signing ceremony in April. “It also comes at a time when we need our workforce to be healthy and strong to lead Colorado forward.”
Senator Newell sponsored Senate Bill 47 which also goes into effect Wednesday. SB 47 will establish Crime Victim Services Advisory Board in the Division of Criminal Justice. It had unanimous, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate this year.
“Thanks to SB 47 we will be able to improve services to victims with less bureaucracy,” said Sen. Newell. “That is the best way to deliver help to those who need it.”
SB 47 provides a strengthened crimes victim advisory system and a greater community around those who have been a victim of crime. It combines several existing crime-victim-related boards into a single advisory board. The consolidation will streamline the process of applying for funding for crime victims by reducing the number of entities to which applicants must submit documentation, simplify the process overall, and gain better consistency of grant recipients.
DENVER – Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) announced the Colorado Senate will return $627,000 from its operating budget to the State’s General Fund on June 30. That’s more than twice the usual amount reverted in past years. In January Shaffer froze all funds for legislative out-of-state travel. Since then he has reduced the average staff salaries by 17% in the President’s office, for a total savings of $74,000, and barred the practice of giving staff bonuses.
Shaffer’s freeze on travel resulted in the return of $38,600 to the state. Savings on Interim Committees, lower operating costs and no special session provided the balance of the funds returned.
“The cuts start here. We must be first in line to demonstrate fiscal restraint,” said Pres. Shaffer. Shaffer intends to make further reductions in legislative operating expense in next year’s budget. Shaffer will ask the Legislative Management Team to review next year’s budget to seek a 10% reduction in the cost of running the legislature.
Shaffer said he supports the Governor’s call to reduce the cost of government by ten percent. A former naval officer, he said he intends to bring military rigor to the budget process, and will work with Governor’s staff to cut every unnecessary expense from state government.
Senator Shaffer was re-elected to a second four-year term in November, and was voted President of the Senate by a unanimous vote of the full Senate on April 20, 2009.
Note: At this time, $627,000 is an estimated amount of fund reverted. The exact amount reverted will be available in August after all the accounting has been completed.]]>
From Governor Ritter’s press release:
Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (NYSE: ACS), a Fortune 500 company, announced today it will be expanding operations in Colorado and adding 600 jobs at a new facility near Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
“ACS’ decision to locate these jobs in Colorado Springs proves yet again that this is a great state to do business,” Gov. Bill Ritter said. “This announcement is a testament to our efforts to create a business climate that fosters growth and expansion throughout Colorado, even in these tough times. We thank ACS for its decision to expand in Colorado and will continue to support its growth in the state.”
Texas-based ACS has been a leader in the customer care industry for more than 20 years, with more than 34,000 agents in 142 customer care centers around the world. The company is investing $3 million in a new 34,000-square-foot customer-care center and is hiring customer care agents, trainers, managers, and supervisors. Candidates can apply online at www.acs-inc.com.
ACS’ decision follows other recent job-creation announcements, including by DaVita Inc. in Denver, Hexcel Corp. in Windsor, Charles Schwab Corp. in Centennial, Leitner-Poma in Grand Junction, Abound Solar in Longmont and Ascent Solar in Thornton.
According to the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., ACS’ expansion and hiring is the eighth job-creation announcement for the community this year, and the largest for the area since 2006.
“Colorado Springs has a highly skilled workforce, some of whom are experiencing the downside of the current economy,” said Mike Kazmierski, president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation. “This is excellent news for a large number of our workforce and for our city.”
ACS, a global FORTUNE 500 company with approximately 74,000 people supporting client operations reaching more than 100 countries, provides business process and information technology solutions to world-class commercial and government clients. The company’s Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ACS.”
Learn more about ACS at http://www.acs-inc.com.
(DENVER) - July 1 marks the day that a number of new laws spearheaded by Democrats go into effect. While some bills help consumers, others aim to jump-start the economy and create jobs. A number of others provide support for laid-off workers and aim to make healthcare more affordable.
Economy and Jobs:
Before he left for a tour in Iraq with the Army Reserve, Rep. Joe Rice (D-Littleton) sponsored Senate Bill 91 (with Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver) to make sure that auto dealers, often small business owners, are protected if their parent company terminates their franchise agreement. This bill became especially relevant when Chrysler and General Motors suddenly sent termination notices to a number of their franchisees.
And the Democrats have prepared Colorado to rebound when the economy recovers by passing Senate Bill 228. Sen. John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) made sure this important bipartisan bill was passed so Colorado can untie a knot of outdated and conflicting fiscal mandates and doubles the state’s rainy day reserve fund.
The Democrats introduced the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act is the most significant health reform legislation in Colorado in four decades. HB 1293 (Rep. Jim Riesberg, Sen. Moe Keller and Sen Betty Boyd) will provide health coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans and reduce uncompensated care and cost shifting. The bill goes into effect on Wednesday and after applying for federal approval, the first patients will be added to the list next spring. This bill was a key piece in Governor Ritter’s legislative agenda.
Rep. Rice and Senator Linda Newell (D-Littleton) predict that House Bill 1012, which allows healthcare companies to provide incentives for participation in wellness and prevention programs, will promote both personal responsibility and lower insurance premiums.
Senator Betty Boyd (D-Lakewood), Sen. Lois Tochtrop, and nurse and lawmaker Sara Gagliardi (D-Arvada) are committed to making healthcare more accessible and affordable by expanding the care that nurses are able to provide. Now, nurses, nurse aides and advanced practice nurses can provide more care, in more communities, for less money.
Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) worked to pass House Bill 1141 to better protect consumers by updating consumer lease regulations and the availability of free credit reports as well as freeing up debt-management services to help those facing foreclosure.
Two laws will protect Coloradoans from identity theft. Rep. Debbie Benefield’s (D-Westminster) SB 025 provides for anti-fraud features on driver’s licenses and verifies legal qualifications for entitlement programs.
It’s not illegal in Colorado to possess someone else’s passport. It’s not illegal to possess ten people’s Social Security cards without their permission.
Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Sen. Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora) will go into effect on Wednesday and all that will change. SB 93 would make it illegal for individuals to knowingly possess another person’s passport, drivers’ license or Social Security card without permission.
No more “sexting.” HB 1132, sponsored by Sen. Rollie Heath (D- Boulder) and Rep. Murray adds text messaging and IM’ing to the list of internet crimes against a child.
And Democratic leadership (Speaker Terrance Carroll and President Brandon Shaffer) passed House Bill 1326 which will protect citizens from crooked petition-gatherers.
The Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act (SB 247), sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Sal Pace, makes more Coloradans eligible for unemployment insurance. It also provides funding to cover 13,000 unemployed Coloradans with 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits, and extends benefits to people in job training programs.
As of Wednesday, House Bill 1091 requires all new homes and apartments to be built with carbon-monoxide detectors.]]>
Members of the Pinnacol Interim Committee:
Chair: Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora)
Members: Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton)
Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton)
Sen. Ted Harvey (R- Highlands Ranch)
Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield)
Rep. Su Ryden (D-Aurora)
Rep. Joe Miklosi (D-Denver)
Rep. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo)
Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-Jefferson)
Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs)
Gary Johnson, Board Chair, Pinnacol Assurance
Pete Meersman, Pinnacol stockholder
Marcy Morrison, Division of Insurance
Dr. Lynn Parry, fmr President CO Medical Society and Pinnacol policyholder
Ken Ross, CEO, Pinnacol Assurance
Mark Simon, injured worker
Purpose: The purpose of this interim committee is to ensure Colorado policyholders are paying the lowest premiums possible, that injured workers are getting the medical care and benefits they need to get back to work, and that Colorado’s “workers compensation insurer of last resort” is stable, successful and solvent.
Hearing dates: August 4, 14, 31; September 4, 18 and October 16
We’d like to hear from you!
All hearings are open to the public. Click here for times and locations of the hearings.
Agendas and meeting summaries can be accessed using the Meeting Date links located below. An agenda will be available prior to each meeting. If you can’t make a meeting, the meeting summary, upon completion, will be available through the same Meeting Date link after the meeting has been held.
If you have any ideas or input you can also email the chair of the committee, Senator Morgan Carroll, at email@example.com.]]>