Friday, April 11, 2008

Ritter to Sign Sunday Liquor Sales Bill

Gov. Bill Ritter will sign Monday a bill allowing liquor stores to remain open on Sundays, according to a report in the Rocky Mountain News.

The governor has held meetings with proponents and opponents of the measure in recent weeks. Grocery and convenience store owners have urged a veto of SB 82.

Colorado has banned Sunday liquor sales, except for 3.2 beer, since the Prohibition era. If Ritter signs the measure, the state will become the 35th in the nation to allow Sunday liquor sales.

Sen. Wiens Won't Seek Re-Election

Sen. Tom Wiens, R-Castle Rock, announced this week that he won't seek re-election to the District 4 seat he's held since 2004.

Wiens, who previously considered a run for the open Congressional district 6 seat now held by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton, said he wants to return to the private sector.

"Over the last six years I have gained a great deal of experience and understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing Colorado," Wiens wrote in a letter to GOP colleagues Thursday. "I remain committed to working with you to help make Colorado the best possible place to live, work and raise a family. I also know that there are many ways to contribute to the future of Colorado as a private citizen."

Wiens, who served in the House between 2002-2004, would have faced Democrat Joseph Alsup, a Larkspur architect, this autumn.

According to a report posted at PolitickerCO, possible GOP candidates include Castle Rock mayor Randy Reed, senate district 4 GOP chair John Peterson, Colorado State Shooting Association vice-president Dave Gill, and Douglas County Planning Commission member Roger Partridge.

Wiens follows minority leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton, and Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, out of the Senate GOP caucus at the end of this legislative session. McElhany and Taylor are term-limited and Ward is a candidate to replace Tancredo in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In addition, Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, and Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, may not return. Harvey is also running for Congress and Johnson is seeking a seat on the Larimer County commission.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

House Committee Kills Bill Giving Free Tuition to Purple Heart Recipients

The House Appropriations Committee killed Wednesday morning a bill that would have given Armed Forces veterans who received the Purple Heart or a higher-ranked medal in combat since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks free college tuition.

The decision by the committee came after a fierce lobbying barrage against the measure by higher education advocates, despite efforts by sponsor Rep. Rafael Lorenzo Gallegos, D-Antonito, to find ways to reduce the financial impact to the state's universities.

Gallegos offered to amend the measure to cap recipients, for the first year of the program, at 25, with five from each institution covered.

HB 1068 had been approved by the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee in February.

Senate Says “Yes” to Uniform Health Insurance Card Requirement

The Senate approved Wednesday a bill that would require health insurers and providers to use a standardized card containing information about the a patient's coverage.

The aim of SB 135 is to force use of electronic cards that can be easily read at hospitals, clinics, physician and nurse practitioner offices and pharmacies. The bill sponsor, Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, says such uniformity would reduce mistakes and consequently lower costs.

The measure, which is supported by the Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Association of Health Plans, and Gov. Bill Ritter's administration, now moves on to the House.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ritter Signs Breastfeeding at Work, Textbook Bills

Gov. Bill Ritter signed Monday a bill that requires employers to provide time and space for nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump milk.

HB 1276 says that an employer cannot meet the requirement by forcing an employee to use a toilet stall. It also requires an employee who believes she has not been accommodated to submit to mediation before suing her employer.

The "Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act" was sponsored by Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne.

Today the governor signed a bill that will force textbook publishers to "unbundle" CDs and DVDs from textbooks, disclose revisions from prior editions of textbooks, and publicly disclose the textbook prices.

SB 73, sponsored by Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, and Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, was lauded by the governor as a pro-consumer measure.

"This is a consumer right-to-know bill for students and educators alike,” Ritter said. “It represents an important step toward transparency and will help students and their families plan their budgets. Textbooks cost students hundreds of dollars a semester, and with two students in college myself, I know that every dollar counts.”