DENVER (AP) — On the last day of their 2022 session, Colorado’s Democratic-led Legislature scrambled Wednesday to pass key bills to secure election equipment, attack the fentanyl crisis and promote more affordable housing after overcoming a stonewalling effort by House minority Republicans that put dozens of bills in limbo earlier this week.

Gov. Jared Polis and fellow Democrats had pledged at the start of the four-month session to tackle rising crime and soaring inflation — key issues highlighted by minority Republicans heading into this year’s midterm elections.

A number of crime-related measures and bills to lower fees on services for residents and businesses passed the Statehouse earlier in the session. Lawmakers also prioritized bills to spend nearly $2.6 billion in federal pandemic aid for Colorado at the risk of losing it.

But after achieving landmark passage earlier this session of a law enshrining the right to abortion in state statute, expand pre-school education and expedite constitutionally-mandated tax refunds to residents this year instead of next, efforts to increase penalties for users and dealers of the lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl and other issues continued after being delayed earlier this week by minority Republicans, The Colorado Sun reports.

Still pending was a bill designed to promote and finance affordable workforce housing — one of several measures addressing the state’s increasing housing affordability.

Also pending Wednesday was an elections security bill, backed by the state county clerks association, to tighten procedures and training for county employees with access to voting equipment. It was inspired by allegations that Mesa County’s Republican clerk Tina Peters played a role in stealing election data from that county’s voting machines.

Peters, a candidate this year for Secretary of State, denies the allegations. The bill was fiercely opposed by Republicans, who successfully deleted a provision, on free-speech grounds, that would have banned elections officials from spreading “disinformation” about elections.

The Sun reports that House Republican stall tactics, including the reading of legislation at length prior to debate, frustrated Democrats’ plans to speed through dozens of late-session bills.

The impasse was resolved following a 20-hour session that ended Tuesday in which Democrats offered key concessions, including modifying a bill to grant collective bargaining rights — but not the right to strike — to thousands of county public employees. The Colorado Municipal League strongly opposed the bill, citing its potential cost to localities.

With fentanyl overdose deaths skyrocketing nationwide, Colorado lawmakers struggled for weeks to fashion a bill lowering the possession threshold to merit felony charges, expand prosecutors’ ability to pursue those charges, and provide certain defendants opportunities for treatment in jails and upon release.

Lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday to pay $600 million of Colorado’s $1 billion debt to the federal government after its unemployment trust fund was exhausted during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans unsuccessfully sought to pay the entire amount, mindful of the increased cost to employers who pay into the fund and, as with other Democratic spending, warning that Colorado’s record $36.4 billion budget for the coming fiscal year is a one-time bonanza fed by federal pandemic aid.

Following December’s Boulder County wildfire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses, lawmakers passed several bills boosting the state’s firefighting resources and mitigation planning for fires that, owing to climate change and the West’s megadrought, have become a year-round threat in Colorado.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday abandoned a last-minute proposal, backed by Polis, to pursue tougher statewide building codes for urban areas abutting wildland to deal with that threat. Republicans, long defenders of local control by municipalities, objected to the surprise proposal being added to fire mitigation legislation.

An ambitious bill to grant new authority to state regulators to tighten industry compliance with greenhouse gas emissions standards was abandoned this week. But lawmakers passed other climate-related bills to tighten industry reporting of toxic air contaminant emissions, increase surveillance of methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, and electrify school bus fleets, among others.

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