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Lawmakers hurry to pass bills in the final days of 2022 session

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The Colorado General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session is set to conclude next Wednesday, which means lawmakers are scurrying to pass key legislative priorities before it's too late.

Both the majority Democrats and minority Republicans this session prioritized providing economic relief from continuing inflation, as well as addressing increasing crime and improving the education system. 

What’s passed so far:

Budget bill

Gov. Jared Polis last month signed the state’s budget bill for the next fiscal year, which included a record-high $36.5 billion in spending.

“Colorado’s thriving economy is the reason we were able to put away record reserves for a rainy day, and make record investments in education to reduce class size and improve teacher pay,” the governor said at the time.

Fee delays

Democrats made it a point to pass House Bill 22-1351, delaying implementation of some of the new transportation fees established under Senate Bill 21-260, which they passed last session.  

The conservative advocacy groups Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Advance Colorado Institute (ACI) announced a lawsuit last month targeting SB 21-260.

Universal preschool

Last month, Polis signed House Bill 22-1295, which implements a new statewide ​​universal preschool program. The program will provide 10 hours of preschooling per week for kids in the state, building on the governor’s election promises to expand early childhood education.

What’s yet to be passed: 

Property taxes

The Senate this week gave its final approval to a bill seeking to provide $700 million in tax relief for property owners in the state. 

The bill, which was first introduced on Monday, has already been approved by the House Appropriations Committee and is being considered by the full chamber. 

Fentanyl bill

On Friday, the Senate passed a controversial bill that would crack down on fentanyl-related offenses. Under House Bill 22-1326 possession of one gram of a fentanyl compound would result in a felony.

The House must now approve the Senate’s amendments.

Unemployment fund

plan introduced last week by lawmakers would spend $600 million to stabilize Colorado’s unemployment insurance trust fund, which is over $1 billion in the red.

Senate Bill 22-234, which passed the Senate on Thursday and is being considered by the House, has split the state’s business community. 

Early TABOR refunds

Last week, Democrats announced a plan to provide Colorado taxpayers with $400 checks to provide financial relief. 

The plan advances payments – which for fiscal year 2021-22  are required under Taxpayer's Bill of Rights – to before the November election rather than being paid out in spring 2023.

Republicans have criticized the plan for being an election-year ploy.

The legislation has already passed the Senate and is awaiting final passage by the House.

Collective bargaining bill 

Colorado Democrats hope to provide collective bargaining rights to county workers across the state. Some counties, however, say the plan would cost them millions, and it's being opposed by the Colorado Municipal League.  

The plan was passed by the Senate this week and is working its way through the House.

Flavored nicotine ban 

Democrats in the House this week passed a bill that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products in the state. Health groups and doctors have pushed for the legislation to pass, while business owners said it would hurt their sales.

According to the most recent fiscal note, the legislation would decrease the state’s revenue by $15.7 million in fiscal year 2023-24 and $31 million the next year.

The bill is not yet scheduled to be heard by the Senate.