By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – It was a historic opening day of the 2017 legislative session as Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver became the first Latina speaker of the House in Colorado.
There is new leadership in both chambers this year. Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, took over as president of the Senate.
Lawmakers will take up lots of new issues, including several dealing with schools. There’s a bill to outlaw spanking in schools, and another to allow guns in schools. Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, has a bill to examine school pipes for lead.
“Lead has been outlawed since about 1978 for water pipes, but a lot schools in Colorado, of course, were built before then,” Becker said.
Pocketbook issues are always popular at the state Capitol, but Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, has a new one — a bill to repeal the tax on tampons.
“I think the original thought by the folks who originally taxed them — probably all men — thought that this was luxury and people didn’t absolutely need it,” Lontine said.
On public health, there’s a bill to increase treatment of opioid addiction.
On public safety, there’s a bill to make texting and driving a 5-point, $500 violation.
Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, has legislation to crack down on probation violators.
“We have parolees out there that cut off ankle bracelets … and nothing happens to them,” Cooke said.
Lawmakers are also looking out for privacy. Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Colorado Springs, has a bill requiring the government to get a warrant if it wants access to emails.
“Currently they have to get one … but if it’s 180 days or older they don’t need a warrant,” Landgraf said.
What’s a session without marijuana legislation? There will be bills to license pot clubs and tasting rooms, and Rep. Dan Pabon has a bill to limit the number of plants caregivers can grow.
“Seven-hundred plants in the backyard of a residential home is not what the voters intended,” Pabon said.
Among the first bills introduced on opening day was a bill by Senate Republicans to repeal the state health exchange, and a bill by House Democrats to extend the child care tax credit.
Lawmakers also announced a long-awaited agreement on construction defects that they believe will help with affordable housing.