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The Latest: Colorado Legislature convenes 2019 session

January 4, 2019
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Colorado state Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, confers with another lawmaker as the House convenes for the new session in the chamber in the State Capitol Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on Colorado’s 2019 legislative session (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

A Colorado state senator who survived an expulsion vote last year following sexual harassment allegations was absent on the Legislature’s first working day of 2019.

Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner was listed as “excused” Friday.

Baumgardner was accused of groping a former legislative aide in 2016. An independent investigator found the claims were credible. Baumgardner denied it, and an expulsion vote failed in April.

Democrats seized control of the Senate in November’s elections.

In December, Baumgardner announced he would resign effective Jan. 21 to spend more time with his family.

A vacancy committee chose GOP Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale to replace Baumgardner.

Rankin sits on the powerful Joint Budget Committee.

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2:45 p.m.

Colorado’s new state Senate Democratic majority has introduced bills on health care, drug addiction and education in rural schools.

The bills were introduced Friday, the Legislature’s opening day. The first would promote treatment centers for opioid addiction.

Another would create a pilot program in which residents facing high health insurance premiums in a rural area could get state employee health benefits instead.

A third would promote imports of cheaper prescription drugs manufactured in Canada.

Rural schoolteachers could get some student loan forgiveness and other financial incentives under Democrats’ proposals.

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2:30 p.m.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert says his party wants to use most of an estimated $1 billion revenue windfall on roads and K-12 schools.

Holbert said on the Colorado Legislature’s opening day Friday the proposal would allocate $336 million for roads and an equal amount for K-12 schools.

State analysts cite a healthy economy for the extra revenue.

Republicans and Democrats have feuded in recent years over how to pay for roads and schools.

In November, voters defeated proposed tax increases for both — and a bonding proposal for highways.

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10:25 a.m.

Colorado’s legislative leaders have gaveled in their 2019 lawmaking session.

Democrats control both chambers in the four-month session that began Friday.

Republicans lost control of the state Senate in the November election, which also saw U.S. Rep. Jared Polis easily become the nation’s first openly gay governor.

Constitutional restrictions on taxes and spending could curb the Democrats’ ambitions to bolster educational and health care investment and fix aging roads.

Minority Republicans vow to oppose legislation they say will increase the cost of living for families.

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9:15 p.m.

Colorado lawmakers are convening their new session, with Democrats firmly in control of the House, Senate and governor’s office.

The session beginning Friday marks the first time Democrats control both chambers since 2014.

Republicans lost control of the state Senate in the November election, which also saw U.S. Rep. Jared Polis easily become the nation’s first openly gay governor.

There are limits, however, to Democrats’ power.

Constitutional controls on taxes and spending could curb their ambitions to bolster educational spending and fix aging roads.

Minority Republicans vow to oppose legislation they say will increase the cost of living for families.

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