DENVER (AP) — After two weeks of formalities, Colorado lawmakers will get down to work this week. Five things to watch for in a week shortened by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday:
The Senate is headed for a showdown over same-sex unions.
A Democratic senator has proposed a bill to smooth Colorado’s transition from civil unions to same-sex marriage equality. The measure would answer questions like: Do couples currently in a civil union now need to marry?
The measure seems pretty mundane, but the GOP-controlled Senate is expected to reject it. That’s because the nation’s highest court hasn’t ruled on same-sex unions, leaving opponents to gay marriage hoping that a lower federal ruling granting Colorado couples marriage rights will be overturned. A Republican committee takes up the bill Wednesday.
The first Republican plan to chip away at Colorado renewable-energy mandates gets a hearing Thursday in the Senate. The bill would give electricity providers more credit for rooftop solar panels, a move that would make it easier for them to reach the standards. It will likely get a friendly reception in the Republican chamber. But the Democratic House is almost certain to reject the idea.
Another Republican priority — to order a new audit for the state’s health insurance exchange — gets going this week. The Senate Health & Human Services committee is likely to approve the bill Wednesday.
Democrats have made middle-class safeguards the meat of their agenda this year. Their first item up for a hearing is a measure to make permanent a 6 percent tuition hike cap for most public college and universities. The measure does before the Senate Education Committee Thursday.
While legislative business heats up, folks at the statehouse will be keeping one eye on the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court could act this week on whether a legal challenge to Colorado’s constitutional spending restrictions should move forward.
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