DENVER (AP) — The mad dash to the end of the Colorado legislative session is on and major proposals hang in the balance on the final day Wednesday, including reducing statewide student testing and banning red-light cameras.
Lawmakers also have hours left to pass felony penalties for habitual DUI offenders, a measure that has repeatedly failed in recent years because of concerns about increased costs to courts and prisons. This year, the proposal has a good chance of passing but it’s time, not cost, that’s the biggest hurdle.
Eliminating some student testing has been a major theme of the session and lawmakers are struggling to find a compromise. On Monday, the Democrat-led House advanced a possible resolution to the debate, with a bill to require annual tests in math and language arts in grades 3 through 9.
Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to keep 9th-grade tests, but some lawmakers want to ax them. The testing critics lost out in a late-night debate Tuesday, setting up agreement on a testing bill compatible with Hickenlooper’s wishes.
Legislators are also still debating whether to restrict the use of cameras that catch drivers who speed or run red lights. Two pending proposals would require municipalities to get voter approval to use the devices. Supporters of the bills say the cameras are overused and call them revenue generators. But law enforcement officials say they’re important traffic-safety tools.
The bills dealing with repeat DUI offenders, testing, and cameras have been in discussion for most of the session. But other measures have arrived in the final weeks.
One of them would increase annual salaries for future lawmakers, the governor, and other members of the executive branch. State lawmakers would get pay raises of 27 percent, from $30,000 a year to about $38,000 a year. The governor would get a 30 percent pay hike, from $90,000 a year to about $117,000 a year.
The idea has its detractors, including lawmakers who say they can’t justify the increases so soon after the economy has begun to improve. But supporters point out that pay for the offices cited in the bill haven’t increased in nearly 20 years.
Other measures still pending:
— A marijuana tax measure needs final agreement before appearing on ballots this fall. Lawmakers also need to renew a sweeping slate of expiring rules for the medical marijuana industry, including closing times for pot shops and a divisive change to allow some drug felons to work in the business.
— A bill to encourage the use of officer-worn cameras by creating a grant program for departments that want to use them. Another law enforcement bill revamps police training by adding classes aimed at improving community relations.
By KRISTEN WYATT and IVAN MORENO, Associated Press
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