Legislative Update: And they’re baaa…ck!

Legislators will not see much of their offices until January 5 when those newly elected report at 8:00 am for the last scheduled phase of Orientation. But things start moving after that. The Joint Budget Committee will hear from programs under the Governor’s Office, including the Energy Office on January 6. Both Republicans and Democrats will hold fundraisers prior to the January 9 opening day, and oversight hearings for the different state agencies begin January 10 with the House and Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Water committees meeting. House and Senate Business and Labor committees will also hold oversight hearings on January 10. The Tax Policy Committee’s Task Force will meet January 12 to review its final report and recommendations which included studying the taxing of services in addition to sales of goods. On Friday, January 13, the legislature will ignore its practice of not holding Friday committee meetings to consider legislation from the Commission on Uniform State Laws. Also, on the afternoon of Friday the 13th, the joint committees addressing energy matters (House Energy & Environment, Senate Transportation & Energy) will hold oversight hearings, while the JBC hears the Governor’s supplemental budget requests which was submitted January 3. These are funding requests in addition to the budget presently before the JBC and which increase incentives for electric vehicles, clean energy such as green hydrogen, and geothermal.

Leadership predicts that major policy bills may be unveiled more slowly due to the large numbers of new legislators, particularly in the House. Among the newly elected (and appointed) legislators are at least 32 who have never served in the body, including Representative-designate Lorena Garcia who was selected by a vacancy committee on January 4 to fill the seat of Rep. Adrienne Benavidez who recently resigned. An empty Senate position formerly held by Sen. Bob Rankin will be filled by a vacancy committee meeting in the next few days with Rep. Perry Will reportedly the front-runner for that seat.

Committee Assignments finally announced. Shortly following the previous issue of Rock & Coal, both House and Senate leaders announced committee chairs and members. Of particular interest to the mining industry is the House Ag, Water, and Natural Resources chaired again by Rep. Karen McCormick, a Democrat from Longmont. Her vice-chair will be Rep. Marc Catlin, a Republican from Montrose. This unusual bi-partisan appointment follows a practice first established in 2021 by Speaker Alec Garnett. The committee, however, is solidly in Democrat hands, with a 9-4 Dem majority with members representing various areas of the state including:

Representative Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora
Representative-Elect Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs
Representative-Elect Matthew Martinez, D-Monte Vista
Representative Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango
Representative-Elect Jennifer Parenti, D-Erie
Representative-Elect Tammy Story, D-Conifer
Representative Brianna Titone, D-Arvada
Representative-Elect Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs
Representative Richard Holtorf, R (HD 63)
Representative Stephanie Luck, R (HD 60)
Representative-Elect Ty Winter, R (47)

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will be chaired by Sen. Dylan Roberts (SD 8) a Democrat representing NW Colorado with Sen. Nick Hinrichsen from Pueblo serving as Vice Chair. Other committee members are:

Senator-Elect Janice Marchman, D-Larimer County
Senator Kevin Priola, D-Brighton
Senator Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa [Ranking Member]
Senator-Elect Rod Pelton, R-Cheyenne Wells
Senator-Elect Byron Pelton, R-Sterling

Other legislative committees of importance to mining are Business, Labor & Technology; Health & Human Services (environmental legislation); Energy & Environment; Transportation & Energy; Finance; and of course, the Joint Budget Committee.

Organizations Seek Opportunities to Connect. And, lest we forget the social side of the General Assembly, CMA will sponsor its annual legislative reception January 12. On that same evening, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce will hold a legislative reception at the same venue (the Brown Palace). Other organizations hosting the legislature during the first weeks of the session are the Colorado Restaurant Association; the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association; the Colorado Oil and Gas Association/API; Building Jobs 4 Colorado; Professional Firefighters and State Fire Chiefs Association; as well as higher ed institutions and medical societies.