Updates from the first day of the Colorado Legislature

Posted at 1:52 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 21:33:59-05

DENVER (AP) — 12:40 p.m.

Colorado lawmakers hope to refer a transportation funding measure to voters this November.

That's according to Crisanta Duran, the Democratic House speaker, who said Wednesday that Democrats and Republicans are discussing a bipartisan approach to fixing the state's decaying roads.

How to pay for it remains to be seen. Republicans prefer issuing bonds in order to launch construction of long-delayed roads projects.

To back those bonds — which could total $3.5 billion — lawmakers have discussed asking voters for possible sales or gas tax increases.

Rep. Patrick Neville, the new House Republican minority leader, said transportation funding is his party's top priority this year. He said the state's general fund can be tapped to back bonds.

Colorado has an $8 billion and growing backlog on new construction and repairs.


11:20 am.

Affordable housing is the first order of business for the new Colorado Legislature.

Colorado's new Democratic House speaker says she and the Senate's Republican president are introducing a bill to reduce developer liability and promote affordable housing.

Democratic Rep. Crisanta Duran of Denver says the bill addresses liability insurance rates that make it harder to build condominiums. She did not elaborate.

Homeowners groups have said they fear a bill to change builder liability could give developers too much power.

Duran says she and Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City worked late Tuesday on the bill, which addresses insurance rates that make it harder to build condominiums.

The bill is being introduced Wednesday, the first day of the 2017 legislative session.


10:55 a.m.

Democratic Rep. Crisanta Duran of Denver has been unanimously elected as Colorado's new House speaker.

Duran succeeded Boulder Democrat Dickey Lee Hullinghorst of Boulder as speaker on Wednesday — the first day of Colorado's 2017 legislative session.

Hullinghorst was term-limited and could not seek re-election last year.

Across the hall, Republican Kevin Grantham of Canon City is the new Senate President. He succeeds Republican Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs, who was also term-limited.

Democrats control the House, and Republicans control the Senate. Divided partisan control means that it's difficult to get bills to the governor's desk.

Both sides say Colorado's biggest challenge is finding ways to accommodate new residents by fixing aging roads and adding housing. But the parties disagree on how to accomplish those goals.


2:56 a.m.

Colorado lawmakers are returning to work under a cloud of uncertainty Wednesday.

The Democratic House and Republican Senate are waiting for cues from Washington and from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper about the priorities this year.

Both sides say they want to see big action on transportation, citing a need to address traffic congestion and improve highways. But there is little agreement about how to pay for those transportation improvements.

They also have big questions about health care. President-elect Donald Trump says that he wants to see the federal health care law repealed as soon as next week. Hickenlooper says that would be a mistake.

State lawmakers will have to deal with any health care changes coming from Washington.

They'll also be looking at clean-air proposals coming from new environmental regulators.


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