Legislative Update: After a Slow Start, They Are Off and Running

Vacancy committees met to select representatives for House District 31 and 37 following the resignations of Ruby Dickson (HD 37) and Said Sharbini (HD 31). Both lawmakers cited the “toxic environment” at the Capitol as reasons for leaving, with Sharbini also stating frustration with trying to raise a family on a legislator’s salary. On January 3, a vacancy committee for HD 37 selected Chad Clifford, a police reservist and government operations lead for the American Red Cross in emergency management. The vacancy committee for HD 31 selected Juia Marvin, a former Thornton city council member, to fill that seat. She will be sworn into office at 8 a.m. January 23. In all, four new members will have taken office since the legislature adjourned in May. The new legislators have not been assigned to committees except for Rep. Manny Rutinal in House district 32 who will join the House Energy and Environment and State Affairs committees. Committee membership also saw changes in the fall following election of a new Senate Majority Leader, and in both chambers signaling leadership’s displeasure with votes and conduct resulting in some legislators being removed from preferred committees.

Since convening on January 10, the General Assembly has worked for seven days, having taken off to observe Martin Luther King Day (a state holiday), and closing for weather the following day. In those seven days, committees have been busy with general oversight hearings for state agencies and programs, pursuant to the “State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent Government Act” (SMART Government Act). The act requires executive agencies to annually present specific information to joint legislative committees during the first two weeks of the legislative session. This provides the committees an opportunity to question performance and priorities, anticipated funding sources for agency programs as well as suggesting “corrective” measures. During the week of January 22 committees will begin to hear introduced bills, starting off with the many bills recommended by Interim Committees.

CMA’s Government Affairs Committee continues its regular weekly meeting schedule to discuss both introduced and “rumored” bills for potential impact to CMA members. One of the first bills for engagement is Senate Bill 24-039 which declares nuclear energy to be a “clean energy resource” under the statutes. CMA believes that such a definition can open the door to opportunity for our uranium members. Bills not yet introduced but on the “watch” list include a bill to provide additional authority to the Attorney General to prosecute environmental violations, a bill to establish a state dredge and fill permit program, and a bill authorizing the state to reintroduce wolverines. Several controversial bills are also in the works including potential changes to the Colorado Air Quality Control Act and measures to implement Environmental Justice Task Force recommendations.

Dianna Orf
CMA Lobbyist