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The fury of the last-minute crush

As I wrote this, there were three days left in the legislative session and a ton of bills that had not even been heard in committee much less gone through second and third readings on the floor of the House.?

We worked late on Monday and Tuesday nights, and adjourned the session at midnight on Wednesday, and some bills would die on the calendar. Legislators would be tired and tempers would rage.

My goal was to stay ahead of the game as much as possible, anticipate bills that would be calendared, and be prepared by having proposals already studied. I had advantages over some legislators in that I am an early riser, I live within one-half block of the Capitol, I don’t watch television except for a little news in the mornings as I get ready for the day, I rarely go out in the evening, and my home is 350 miles away so family, business, and civic events are not deterrents from studying. I am well acquainted with the night and early morning cleaning staff.

Two of my bills were still working through the process. HB 1357, which allows the Capital Development Committee to locate and spend left over money from certificates of deposits for controlled maintenance projects, was passed out of the House on Friday, but still had to get through the Senate. I suspected that it would be successful. This bill will help Fort Lewis College and Western State because, even if they don’t get any of this money, it gets some of the other schools that have a higher priority out of the way so that our local schools will move up on the list when other money becomes available.

SB 116, which makes the very addictive drugs commonly called “Bath Salts” illegal to manufacture and distribute, passed out of the final House committee on Friday. I was hopeful it would be heard and adopted in second and third readings on Monday and Tuesday. SB 116 was amended in the House, so it would have only one day to go back to the Senate for approval of the amendment and re-passage. The timing was close on this bill, but I thought it could be done.

A very important bill to southwest Colorado is the annual water projects bill. This bill includes the final payment for Animas La Plata water and state match money for cloud seeding. It was to be in the House Ag Committee on Monday and then go on to the House floor for second and third readings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The bill that puts into law the makeup of the Parks and Wildlife bill, HB 1317, had the same schedule.

The most contentious bill that was still to be decided is SB 2, Civil Unions. It is frustrating and unfortunate that a bill of this magnitude be held up by the Senate leadership until we are pressed for time, fuses are short and our mindset is not at its best.

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