Fracking, marijuana, sex ed and bear hunting on legislative agenda in Colorado

DENVER - One-fourth of the 2015 legislative session is in the books, meaning the niceties are over and longer days await lawmakers. Here's what will be keeping lawmakers busy this week:

-- Fracking

Republicans peeved at cities and counties that have put limits on oil and gas drilling have proposed punishing them by withholding tax revenue they get from drilling, called severance tax. A proposal for punitive action against local governments that put limits on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has its first hearing this week in the House. And a measure awaiting a Senate hearing would force local governments to pay mineral-rights owners affected by fracking limits. Expect fiery debate but slow movement on the measures, as lawmakers await a report later this month aimed at smoothing disputes between local governments and the energy industry.

-- Marijuana

Several marijuana-related bills await legislative action this week. The most controversial is an attempt to increase oversight on caregivers, those designated to grow medical marijuana on behalf of patients. The bill up for its first hearing Thursday also makes it harder to claim "severe pain" as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card. The severe pain designation is by far the most common ailment cited on the medical marijuana registry, and the bill would direct the Health Department to set rules for doctors before recommending pot for severe pain.

-- Housing

Expect to see more attempts to resolve a long-simmering dispute over condo associations and class-action lawsuits against builders for construction defects. Developers say the law stymies development and exacerbates Denver's affordable-housing shortage. But previous attempts to change the law have failed amid squabbling over homeowner protections. A new attempt to settle the dispute is expected to be introduced with bipartisan sponsors. And a Republican proposal on the matter has its first hearing Tuesday.

-- Sex Ed

Education lobbyists will be watching the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, when Republicans may suggest changes to Colorado's sex-education procedures. The changes haven't been made public yet but are widely expected to come as an amendment to a Democratic bill to increase education to prevent child sex abuse and assault.

-- Bears

Changes to bear-hunting season always attract a lot of attention. A bill up for its first hearing Monday would allow bear-hunting in August.
 

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