Boulder-area Lawmakers’ Proposals Among First Batch of Bills
Boulder County lawmakers’ ideas for new state laws or the revisions of existing laws were among the more than 100 bills introduced Friday — the opening day of the Legislature’s four-month-long 2019 regular session — and assigned to committees for hearings.
Their bills address issues like changing the way the state’s electoral votes will be cast in presidential elections, regulating student loan servicers, licensing alcohol and substance abuse facilities and expanding the conditions that officially can be treated by marijuana.
State Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, wants Colorado to join an agreement that could lead to all 50 states and the District of Columbia awarding their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall national popular vote.
His Senate Bill 42 would have Colorado join a coalition of states declaring that they will award all their respective Electoral College votes to the candidate winning the overall national popular vote in a presidential election — an agreement that would only take effect when enough participating states’ electoral votes total at least 270.
Had that been in effect in 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency after getting more popular votes nationwide than Republican Donald Trump, even though Trump had a higher Electoral College tally as the result of most states’ current requirement that a state’s electors must vote for the presidential candidate that got the most votes in that specific state’s popular vote.
Democrat Al Gore won more votes nationally than Republican George W. Bush in 2000 but Bush won the presidency after getting more electors’ votes than Gore.
“Once 270 electors join the compact, it will make sure our president is elected by a majority of all Americans,” Foote said.
With the states that have already joined the national popular-vote agreement, “we’re about 89 short,” he said.
If his Senate Bill 42 becomes law, Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes would reduce that shortfall.
“It would be good for Colorado because it would be good for the country. The compact will ensure the winner of the national popular vote becomes our president, which means every vote across the country is truly equal and the winner with the most votes prevails,” Foote said.
“I believe it will also change the character of presidential campaigns to be truly national rather than just paying attention to people in a dozen battleground states at the expense of the rest of the country,” he said.
Foote’s bill is at least the fifth time since 2006 that a national popular vote bill has been introduced in this state’s Legislature. None of the first four bills successfully became Colorado law.
Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, is proposing a law to require companies operating in Colorado that service college student loans be licensed under the Uniform Consumer Credit Code — and that the state create a student loan ombudsperson to assist student loan borrowers.
His Senate Bill 2 to regulate student education loan servicers — co-sponsored by Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster — cites data from the Institute for College Access and Success that there are about 761,000 student loan borrowers in Colorado and that Coloradans’ total outstanding student loan debt is about $26 billion.
Fenberg’s bill would have the Legislature declare that enacting the licensing of loan servicing companies and the creation of a student loan ombudsperson’s position would promote “meaningful access to federal affordable repayment and loan forgiveness benefits; reliable information about student loans and loan repayment options; and quality customer service and fair treatment.”
Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, is sponsoring a proposed law that would require each residential alcohol or substance abuse recovery facility operating in the state to be licensed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
His House Bill 1014, which he is co-sponsoring with Lakewood Democratic Rep. Chris Kennedy, emerged from a special “Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee” that met in 2017 and again last year.
In addition to requiring that recovery residences be state licensed, the bill would expand a Colorado Department of Local Affairs housing assistance voucher program to include vouchers for individuals with substance abuse disorders and appropriate $4.3 million annually to support that program.
Under a bill sponsored by Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder,
autism spectrum disorders would be added to a number of other medical conditions that already qualify people to be eligible for Colorado’s medical marijuana patient registry cards — joining cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia wasting syndrome, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, severe pain and post traumatic stress disorder.
Her House Bill 1028 would also encourage the State Board of Health, when it awards marijuana study grants, to prioritize grants about the efficacy and safety of administering medical marijuana for such pediatric conditions as autism spectrum disorder.
A separate medical-marijuana bill introduced on Friday — Senate Bill 13, a measure sponsored by Sen. Vicki Marble, a Fort Collins Republican whose district extends through southwest Weld County into Broomfield — would make people eligible for the medical marijuana registry if they have been diagnosed with “a condition for which a physician could prescribe an opiate.”
Hooton would be the chief House sponsor of Marble’s medical-marijuana bill if it clears the Senate.
A third medical-marijuana measure — House Bill 1031, from Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, would amend a current law that now limits a medical marijuana patient to one primary caregiver at a time.
Gray, whose district extends into Boulder County, would make an exception to that single-caregiver requirement by allowing a patient under age 18 to have each of that patient’s parents or guardians to serve as a primary caregiver with the ability to cultivate, purchase or transport the marijuana for the minor.
Among other bills sponsored by area lawmakers that were introduced on the session’s opening day:
• Senate Bill 39 from Sen. Tammy Story, D-Conifer, whose district extends into southern Boulder County, a measure that would allow a school district to furnish transportation — or to reimburse parents for the costs of transportation — to and from that district’s schools for students who are residents of an adjacent school district.
• House Bill 1023 from Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, which would exempt a foster child from being required to have a foster parent sign a liability affidavit in order to be issued a driver’s license, if the child has evidence of financial responsibility in his or her own name.
More bills, including measures sponsored by area legislators, are to be formally introduced and assigned to committees this week. Bills are posted on the Colorado General Assembly’s website — at leg.colorado.gov/bills — along with their status.
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jfryartc