Budget reconciliation and new bills


Last updated 5/5/2021 at 12:30pm | View PDF

The budget came back from conference committee this past week, and as always many of the amendments placed on the budget during hearings in the Senate and House had been stripped out. None of mine, because all of my amendments added money to fix roads and those didn't even make it to the conference committee. But what did come out that I particularly cared about was the money to fund body cameras for state patrol.

You may recall a bill that passed late last year requiring body cameras for law enforcement officers at all levels – but it excluded state patrol because the state "couldn't afford it." I pointed out the hypocrisy of that position to no avail. This session a bill passed that required body cameras for state patrol, but no appropriation was included in the bill. A budget amendment to partially fund the body cameras was passed but then only a token was left after conference committee.

This was very much a political decision to defund law enforcement. The funding of the State Patrol is the responsibility of the General Assembly; we required them to use body cameras, as we should have last year when we required it of all other law enforcement. But then we refused to cover any more than a token of what is estimated to be up to a $10 million mandate. All of this at a time when the state has record reserves. That was the tipping point for me; I voted "no" on the conference committee report and changed my earlier position of support to oppose on the final 21/22 budget.

Interesting article by Marianne Goodland in the May 2 Gazette titled "Quadratic voting, or how General Assembly Dems decide what to fund." Interesting voting method being used by the Democrats to determine budget priorities. However, the salient point is only the Democrats are allowed to vote. The majority party is not interested in the input of the minority party, which in the most recent election - using the Senate race as the data point - represents over two and a half million Coloradans.

New bills beginning their journey through the system as we approach the final third of the session include the long-promised transportation bill with its increased fees on gas and diesel. A new gun bill that would reverse the current law of preemption that says gun control is of statewide interest. Also, a strike below (completely new language under the old title and bill number) for Public Option or State-Run Health Insurance. Those all promise to have lots of testimony in committee and debate on the floor.

One thing about it: it won't be boring as the pace picks up and we see more of these last-minute bills that have been talked about behind closed doors come to light.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capitol. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: [email protected], Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey


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