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Job Growth Top Priority As State Lawmakers Head Back To Work

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Colorado State Capitol (credit: Jason Hussong)

Colorado State Capitol (credit: Jason Hussong)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado state lawmakers head back to work this week with the top priority of putting more Coloradans back to work, but once again there’s an extremely tight budget.

Coloradans hope state lawmakers can get along better than Congress. They’re vowing to work together. Of course they have to if they want to get anything done.

Republicans again control of the House and Democrats the Senate and job creation is just one of several hot button issues they’ll take up.

“This session is all about helping to spur and start up the economic recovery in Colorado,” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver.

Job creation is job one. Democrats are floating bills that include incentives to hire Colorado workers and invest in startups. Republicans are focused on reducing red tape for businesses. The two sides are at least coming in to the session open minded.

“When they talk about helping entrepreneurs and helping startups, those are all concepts that are very interesting to us,” said House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

“He has some ideas around regulatory reform that I think we can partner with,” Ferrandino said.

The budget will again be a battle. Republicans are fighting for a property tax break for seniors that Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to suspend. While the battle over civil unions for same-sex couples could get interesting because some Republicans are openly supporting it.

“When you see organizations like Colorado for Freedom where conservatives and Republicans coming together and saying, ‘We support civil unions,’ I think we have a better chance of passing it,” Ferrandino said.

There will also be bills around immigration again, including one that would require a photo identification to vote. Another would give in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. Both face uphill battles.

It may be the first session beer and marijuana aren’t hot topics.

“That’s the amazing thing about the legislative session. We start on Wednesday and we have a sprint for 120 days and you never know what’s going to come up,” McNulty said.

This year three lawmakers are running for Congress, including Senate President Brandon Schaffer. And there is a presidential election that could hinge on Colorado. Those two factors alone could make for an interesting dynamic.

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