Headlines for May 10, 2022
Colorado Legislature Faces Backlog Of Bills In Final Two Days Of Session
Colorado lawmakers still have 240 bills awaiting resolution as the legislative session is scheduled to draw to a close by midnight Wednesday.
The Denver Gazette reports the backlog is worse in the House as lawmakers there have 150 bills remaining on their agenda as of 3:00 PM Monday.
House Republicans have been contributing to the backlog by filibustering, asking for bills to be read at length, and also seeking amendments for some bills to be sent back to committees.
To shake the gridlock, House Speaker Alec Garnett told Colorado Politics he has threatened the use of a procedural option, which limits debate on any bill to one hour. If used, the House leadership still faces the problem of having more bills than hours left in the legislative session.
As of Monday, among the major bills or issues facing gridlock are felony charges for possessing fentanyl, including unknowingly possessing the substance, a statewide recycling program, and requirements for reporting and monitoring hazardous air pollutants.
Colorado Legislature Passes Legislation Aiming To Ease Property Taxes
Facing pressure from dueling interest groups, Colorado lawmakers quickly passed legislation last week which aims to ease the burden of higher property taxes by capping tax values for the next two years.
Officials project the bill will cut property taxes by $700 million during the 2023 and 2024 tax years, with the state absorbing the revenue loss for schools and local governments that depend on property tax revenue.
Conservative and liberal groups were threatening to pursue a range of ballot initiatives that included asking voters for deepen property tax cuts, caps on property valuations, a new property tax fee for homes worth above $2 million, and blocking revenue loss for schools and local governments.
According to The Colorado Sun, negotiations between lawmakers and interest groups reached a climatic and sensitive peak last week when those involved asked for notarized statements or promises before agreeing to back down.
Fines Threatening Schools With Native American Mascots May Be Halted
Tonight, seven schools are in danger of being added to a Senate-passed bill to remove American Indian mascots from Colorado school districts. If they don’t agree to change their mascot, each school could face a monthly $25 thousand fine.
David Crews, Superintendent of the Sangre de Cristo School district in Mosca, told The Colorado Sun, “If you’re going to put us on there this late in the day, give us a little time to make the changes.”
The bill does not include any language to extend the correction window for schools with “questionable mascots” added after 2021. If the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs adds any of these “thunderbird” schools to this list of offending schools, they would have only two weeks to come into compliance. This would include the removal and replacements of all signage, from jerseys to banners to marquees.
“This puts us between a rock and a hard place,” David Crews told The Colorado Sun. “We’re not on the list now, but do we start making changes? If we don’t respond now and we get on there, we won’t have a lot of time for compliance.”
CCIA Executive Director Kathryn Redhorse will lead a May 19th discussion to determine the outcome of these seven schools and decide whether and when they should have to pay the fines.
Boulder City Council To Hold Its First Reading Today On Gun Control Measures
The Boulder City Council will hold its first reading today on a package of gun control measures which includes reintroducing the ban on assault weapons.
The proposed regulation includes increasing the age limit for possessing a firearm to 21, prohibiting open carry across most of Boulder, and imposing a 10-day waiting period after a gun dealer starts a background check.
According to Boulder Reporting Lab, city lawmakers are hoping other local governments in the region will pass similar measures at the same time to offset pushback from pro-gun activists.
The City Council’s final vote on the gun control package is scheduled for June 7.
Denver North High School Students Planning Walkout In Support Of Popular Teacher Whose Contract Has Not Been Renewed
Students at Denver’s North High School plan on staging a walkout Friday in response to school district officials not renewing the contract of popular Chicano teacher Tim Hernandez.
Hernandez, who grew up on the Northside and lives within two blocks from the high school, teaches English language literature with a focus on Latinx writers.
Hernandez told 9News he dedicates his class to inclusion and making sure Black and brown kids growing up in the school’s gentrified neighborhood can have their voices elevated in the classroom.
Denver Public Schools hired Hernandez during the 2020/2021 academic year but for the current school year, only offered him an associate teaching position with a one-year contract.
Hernandez said he was told in a brief meeting last week he would not be on staff for the next school year – despite high-performance scores – due to interview responses that were deemed unsatisfactory.
DPS told 9News by email that associate positions do not qualify for automatic renewal and the school district would not discuss the matter in depth as it involves a personnel issue.
Hernandez said school officials let him go for retaliatory reasons. Parents and students are lobbying school administrators to keep Hernandez on staff.