Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hickenlooper certifies passage of Amendment 64, creates implementation committee

Gov. John Hickenlooper formalized Monday the decriminalization of marijuana use and possession in small quantities by signing an executive order certifying the voters' approval of amendment 64.

Hickenlooper also announced the establishment of a committee to develop plans for implementation of the new constitutional amendment.

"Voters were loud and clear on Election Day," Hickenlooper said. "We will begin working immediately with the General Assembly and state agencies to implement Amendment 64."

The new Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64 will include, among other members, legislators, law enforcement officers, marijuana legalization advocates, and representatives of counties and municipalities. Hickenlooper named 24 individuals to the committee. 

The panel is expected to produce a report by Feb. 28. It will be chaired by the governor's chief lawyer, Jack  Finlaw, and Department of Revenue executive director Barbara Brohl.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

State's appeals courts to move to new Judicial Center this month

Colorado's appellate judges will move to the new Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center this month.

The new state courts complex, which is located across Lincoln Avenue from the state capitol, is a quarter-billion dollar undertaking that will have been more than half of a decade in the making when the shift happens.

No days of business will be lost in the move. Both courts will close for business at their current locations on West Colfax Avenue in Denver on Friday, Dec. 14 and re-open at the new facility at 2 East 14th Avenue in Denver on Monday morning, Dec. 17.

State court administrators and the state law library are also moving to the new building.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Committee chairs, vice chairs named

The Senate's majority Democrats have chosen their slate of committee chairs and vice-chairs for the session starting in January.

Here's the line-up, along with the majority caucus members who will sit on the committees but who do not have leadership roles in them, courtesy of the Senate Majority Caucus communications operation:

Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy:  Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass), chairman; Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo), vice-chairman.

Appropriations:  Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton), chairman; Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), vice-chairman.

Business, Labor, and Technology:  Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton), chairman; Sen. Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge), vice-chairman.

Education:  Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminster), chairman; Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver), vice-chairman.

Finance:  Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver), chairman; Sen.-elect Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood), vice-chairman.

Health and Human Services:  Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver), chairman; Sen. Linda Newell (D-Littleton), vice-chairman.

Judiciary: Sen. Lucia Guzman (D-Denver), chairman; Sen.-elect Jessie Ulibarri (D-Commerce City), vice-chairman.

Local Government:  Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D-Gilpin County), chairman; Sen.-elect John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins), vice-chairman.

State, Veterans, and Military Affairs:  Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo), chairman; Sen.-elect Matt Jones (D-Louisville), vice-chairman.

Transportation:  Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), chairman; Sen.-elect Nancy Todd (D-Aurora), vice-chairman.

House Democrats, newly ascendant to the majority, got their committee assignments last week. Speaker-designate Mark Ferrandino has set up a new committee to deal with implementation of federal health care reform legislation. Here's the list of committee chairs and vice-chairs, as provided by the next General Assembly's House majority caucus on Nov. 28:

Agriculture: Rep. Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins), chairman; Rep. Ed Vigil (D-Fort Garland), vice-chairman.

Appropriations: Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), chairman; Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), vice-chairman.

Business, Labor, & Economic and Workforce Development: Rep. Angela Williams (D-Denver), chairman;  Rep.-elect Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), vice-chairman.

Education: Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon), chairman; Rep. Cherylin Peniston (D-Westminster), vice-chairman.

Finance: Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver), chairman; Rep. Jeanne Labuda (D-Denver), vice-chairman.

Health, Insurance & Environment: Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver), chairman; Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge), vice-chairman.

Judiciary: Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village), chairman; Rep. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs), vice-chairman.

Local Government: Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), chairman; Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), vice-chairman.

Public Health Care & Human Services: Rep. Dianne Primavera (D-Broomfield), chairman; Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley), vice-chairman.

State, Veterans & Military Affairs: Rep. Su Ryden (D-Aurora), chairman; Rep.-elect Joe Salazar (D-Thornton), vice-chairman.

Transportation & Energy: Rep. Max Tyler (D-Lakewood), chairman; Rep.-elect Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), vice-chairman.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Steadman to return to JBC,GOP to lose a member of powerful panel

The membership of the legislature's powerful Joint Budget Committee for the 69th General Assembly is rapidly taking shape.

On Friday Senate Democrats announced that Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, will return as the second of two representatives of his caucus to the committee.

Steadman was the only member of the panel up for re-election on Tuesday. He easily defeated a Republican opponent to return for a second full term in the Senate.

Sens. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, who was also re-elected Tuesday, and Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, who did not face the electorate this month, will also return to the JBC.

Separately, House speaker-designate Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, announced Friday that Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, will join Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, on the panel.

Republicans will have to give up one of the seats they held on the JBC last session. Either Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, or Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, will leave the committee.

Republicans, as the minority party in the Senate and House, are entitled to two of the six seats on the JBC.

All of the members must sit on their respective chambers' appropriations committees, and two of the members must be the chairs of the Senate and House appropriations panels.

The JBC has statutory authority to craft a budget for the state government.

Morse elected Senate president after Democrats keep majority

The state senate will soon have a new president after an election in which the majority Democrats retained control of the chamber.

John Morse, a second-term senator from Colorado Springs who was first elected in 2006, beat fellow Democrat Pat Steadman, D-Denver, for the post in a caucus election held Thursday.

"The time for politics and elections is behind us," Morse said in a statement posted on the website of the senate majority caucus. "Governing is hard, and it takes pulling everyone together - everybody in your caucus, everyone in the building, everyone outside your building. Let's move this state forward."

Morse, a former Fountain police chief, will succeed Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont. Shaffer is term-limited.

The president pro tempore will be Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, will be majority leader. Other members of the majority leadership team in the senate will be Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass.

Sen. Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs will be the minority leader. Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, will be the assistant minority leader, while Scott Renfroe of Greeley and Kevin Grantham of Canon City round out the GOP leadership team.

Democrats retained their 20-15 senate majority in Tuesday's election.

Parties elect new House caucus leaders after Dems re-take chamber majority

Democrats have re-gained the House majority they lost in 2010.

Tuesday's election will bring five new Democrats to the chamber, erasing a thin 33-32 Republican majority.

"As Democrats, we are going to take any idea - Democratic, Republican, Independent - that will move Colorado forward," a statement posted by Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, on the website of the Colorado House Majority Project said. "It was clear on Tuesday night that the people of Colorado rejected the politics of gridlock and hyperpartisanship that brought the business of the people to a halt in this last year."

Ferrandino was chosen by his colleagues Thursday as the new House speaker. He replaces Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

Ferrandino, 35, was appointed to the legislature in 2007. He has since been re-elected three times. A former staffer for the federal Office of Management and Budget, Ferrandino holds a masters degree in public policy analysis.

He became minority leader in November 2011 after his predecessor, Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, resigned that position to focus on a Congressional campaign.

The House majority leader during the 69th General Assembly will be Rep. Dicky Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder. Hullinghorst was first elected in 2008. She previously served as minority whip during the 2011-2012 session and has been a member of the House appropriations and finance committees.

Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, will be the assistant majority leader when the legislative session opens in January. Pabon, who was first elected in 2010, holds engineering and law degrees. 

McNulty, who will commence his last term in the House in January, did not choose to seek a leadership position in his caucus.  Neither did Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, the majority leader during the 68th General Assembly.

Instead, Rep. Mark Waller of Colorado Springs will lead Republicans during the 2013 legislative session.

Waller, who has served in the U.S. Air Force judge advocate general corps, will start his third term at the Capitol in Denver.

Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada will be the assistant minority leader. Reps. Kathleen Conti of Littleton, and Kevin Priola of Henderson were chosen Wednesday as the other members of the GOP leadership team.

The new members of the state House of Representatives, who will be sworn in on Jan. 9, 2013, are Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs; Mike Foote, D-Lafayette; Leroy Garcia, Jr., D-Pueblo; Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins; Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada; Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton; Jenise May, D-Aurora; Mike McLachlan, D-Durango; Diane Mitsch-Bush, D-Steamboat Springs; Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City; Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood; Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver; Joseph Salazar, D-Thornton; Dave Young, D-Greeley; Perry Buck, R-Windsor; Tim Dore, R-Elizabeth; Justin Everett, R-Littleton; Stephen Humphrey, R-Windsor; Lois Landgraf, R-Colorado Springs; Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, R-Las Animas; Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs; Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale; Lori Saine, R-Eaton; Jim Wilson, R-Salida; and Jared Wright, R-Fruita.

Former Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Broomfield, will also return to the House. She was defeated in the Republican wave election of 2010 after serving two terms.