DENVER – There were no committee hearings scheduled Friday at the Colorado Legislature, but a number of bills received second and third readings on the floors of the two chambers.
Perhaps the most important bill addressed was House Bill 1242, which would raise more than $650 million annually for 20 years via a sales tax increase to repair the state’s roads.
HB 1242, which was debated in the House for nearly five hours Thursday, passed Friday on a 41-24 vote, which saw a trio of Republicans who previously voted against the measure join Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, in support.
The Republicans who switched their votes were Reps. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose; Phil Covarrubias, R-Brighton; and Polly Lawrence, R-Parker.
Lawrence, who spoke out against HB 1242 during second reading, explained her change of heart.
Because of the absence of a statewide effort to fix Colorado’s roads, several regions are considering the creation of regional transportation associations to gather revenue for repairs, Lawrence said. As a result, those areas could forgo supporting a statewide funding effort, which could leave rural Colorado without the means to fund road repairs.
“We have to do something. We have to listen to our constituents. We have to actually be the grown-ups in the room and figure out how we’re going to make this work for the entire state of Colorado, and if we don’t act, Colorado will be segregated into the haves and have-nots,” she said.
House HB 1242 now heads to the Senate.
On second reading, the House passed HB 1176, which would allow retired school district employees in rural counties to come back to work for up to six years without losing retirement benefits. This bill has bipartisan sponsorship, including Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango.
Currently, retired employees can return to work for a limited number of days. HB 1176 would remove this limitation if a school district determined there was a critical shortage. The bill will receive a final reading and vote Monday.
HB 1138 was among the bills heard in the Senate. It would require the Department of Public Safety to annually brief the Legislature on the number and locations of bias-motivated crimes that were reported in the state so they could be evaluate d for trends.
The bill was passed 23-12 on second reading and will head back to the House for a final look before being sent to the governor’s office.