December 11, 2006

Democrats Riding High After Election

"A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there" says the Rocky Mountain News--translation: higher taxes, more burdensome legislation:
Three Democratic lawmakers want to undo a state ban on foreign flags in schools.

A flag flap erupted at a metro middle school this year even though a 2002 law outlawing flags in state buildings provides an exception for "instructional matters."

The proposal to lift the ban - sure to raise the ire of Republicans - is one of at least 500 bills expected to be introduced in the 2007 General Assembly, which begins Jan. 10.

In addition, lawmakers are expected to tweak bills they passed this year - including the cornerstone immigration measure and an indoor smoking ban - to correct problems uncovered when they became law. Both bills passed with bipartisan support, and were signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Owens.

And some lawmakers plan to bring back measures Owens vetoed, including a proposal to add sexual orientation as a category of workplace discrimination.
In other words, you get what you voted for--and in this case, purple Colorado will see purple as they are squeezed by a Democratic monopoly in the governor's mansion and at the capitol.

Goodbye veto, hello taxpayer-subsidized spending spree.

The upcoming legislative agenda includes:
Here's a sampling of measures expected to be introduced in the legislature in 2007:

Vetoed before

• Adds sexual orientation to existing employment civil rights laws, by Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver. Vetoed by Gov. Bill Owens two years ago.

• Simpliflies contracts between health plans and providers, by Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins. Vetoed by Owens this year despite, as Johnson likes to note, 83 of 100 lawmakers having voted for it.

• Studies factors driving health care costs in Pueblo County, by Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo. Vetoed by Owens this year.

Business and labor

• Allows injured workers the right to choose their own doctor, by Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. Killed by lawmakers during the past two sessions.

Ritter has said he would compromise by allowing injured workers the choice of two doctors.

• Requires businesses that believe they are entitled to an exemption from the indoor smoking ban because of the volume of their tobacco sales to apply for a permit from the local health department, by Rep.-elect Ellen Roberts, R-Durango.

Education

• Adjusts the per-pupil funding base rate for the lowest-funded 10 percent of districts in the state to ensure that they stay within a certain percent of statewide average funding, by Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park.

• Allows charter schools in good standing for seven years to purchase the public school building they are located in for fair market value, by Butcher.

Elections

• Increases transparency for so-called 527 political committees responsible for attack ads, by Carroll.

• Outlaws automated calls with political messages, by Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial.

Immigration

• Requires employers to sign up for a federal program to assess the legal status of newly hired employees, by Rep. Dave Schulthies, R-Colorado Springs, a senator-elect. Killed by lawmakers this year.

Law and order

• Makes not wearing a seat belt a primary offense, meaning a driver can be stopped solely for that reason, by Rep.-elect Joe Rice, D-Littleton. Killed by lawmakers the past two sessions.

• Doubles the fine for any traffic infraction when the driver is on a cell phone, by Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville.

Miscellaneous

• Expands Amber Alerts to include the developmentally disabled, by Rep. John Soper, D-Thornton.

• Provides GPS tracking devices for Alzheimer's patients, by Rep.-elect Victor Mitchell, R-Castle Rock.

• Changes vehicle registration to allow citizens and small businesses to change their registrations to the same month, by Rice.

• Recognizes certain wildlife hunting rights of the Southern Ute tribe, by Rep.-elect Ellen Roberts, D-Durango.

Taxes/money

• Creates a rainy-day fund for state emergencies, by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.

• Changes severance tax collection to monthly instead of quarterly, allowing the state to use interest earned from that switch for public school grants for energy and water conservation, by Weissmann.

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