Bills to watch this week: Budget, 'Dallas Buyers Club', broadband access, punishing cyber bullies

DENVER - Your weekly look at what's coming up at the Colorado Legislature:

-- Budget week

The only bill the Colorado Legislature is required to pass every session is the state budget, and the House takes up the task this week. The aptly named "Long Bill" gets introduced in the House Monday, goes to committee Tuesday, and lawmakers will pour over the details of the budget and come up with dozens of amendments -- usually pet projects for their districts. After a long debate Thursday, the House takes a final vote Friday and the budget goes to the Senate.

-- Dallas Buyers Club

Colorado is among a handful of states where the story line of "Dallas Buyers Club" comes to life through proposed legislation. On Tuesday, a House committee is scheduled to vote on a proposal to allow terminally ill people access to drugs that are still completing clinical trials and haven't been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

-- Struggle over broadband access

For years, lawmakers have tried -- and failed -- to update Colorado's telecommunication laws. They're trying again this year with four bills aimed at rewriting archaic regulations. One of the biggest pieces of the overhaul deals with changing the so-called "high cost fund," a state subsidy from ratepayers that's used to help provide landline telephone service in underserved places. Critics of the fund say it's outdated and the money should be used to expand broadband service in rural areas.

-- Punishing cyber bullies

Bullying through text messages or social media would be a new misdemeanor in Colorado, as lawmakers try to find ways to prosecute crimes that have arisen from technological advances. The Senate takes up the proposal Wednesday in committee. The bill has already cleared the House.

-- Special license plates for lawmakers

Lawmakers who drive with special legislative plates haven't gotten some photo-radar tickets because of a glitch in the state's Department of Motor Vehicles' system. Lawmakers are trying to fix the problem with a bill to connect vehicle-registration numbers to the legislative plates, thus ensuring photo citations. A Republican lawmaker wanted to do away with the special plates altogether, but he shelved his proposal when it was amended against his wishes.


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