Saving the most contentious bill for last

As I write this, there are three days left in the legislative session and a ton of bills that have not even been heard in committee, much less gone through second and third readings on the floor of the House. We will work late on Monday and Tuesday nights, will adjourn the session at midnight on Wednesday, and some bills will die on the calendar. Legislators will be tired and tempers will rage. My goal will be to stay ahead of the game as much as possible, anticipate bills that will be calendared, and be prepared by having proposals already studied. I have an advantage over some legislators in that I am an early riser, I live within one half block of the Capitol, I donít 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 a deterrent from studying. I am well acquainted with the night and early-morning cleaning staff.

Two of my bills are still working through the process. HB 1357, which allows the Capital Development Committee to locate and spend leftover money from certificates of deposits for controlled maintenance projects, was passed out of the House on Friday but still has to get through the Senate. I suspect that it will be successful. This bill will help Fort Lewis College and Western State because, even if they donít get any of this money, it gets some of the other schools that have a higher prioritization 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 ďbath saltsĒ illegal to manufacture and distribute, passed out of the final House committee on Friday and Iím hopeful will be heard and adopted in second and third readings on Monday and Tuesday. SB 116 was amended in the House so it will have only one day to go back to the Senate for approval of the amendment and re-passage. The timing may be very close on this bill, but it can be done.

A very important bill to Southwest Colorado is the annual water projects bill. This bill includes the final payment for the Animas-La Plata water and state match money for cloud seeding. It will 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 parks and wildlife bill, HB 1317, has the same schedule.

The most contentious bill that is 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.

J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Coloradoís General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Rep. Brown by e-mail at jpaul.brown.house@state.co.us.

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