Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Post by ParkBull » Mon May 18, 2020 6:57 am

May 17, 2020 Business
The Key To The Budget

It’s official we’re looking to cut 3.3 million dollars out of the budget. Pretty safe to say the pain will be spread throughout the budget. The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) is still at work taking a second and third look at every department and every program.

The JBC has a couple of lists going, first one is a definitely cut list and that is about $1.7 billion, roughly half of what we need. Second list is smaller but is filled with things that would get a “second look” if they didn’t come up with the right amount by the time they finished this pass through the budget.

No one’s said it out loud but I have to wonder if that “second look” list is setting there hoping the federal government will come through with another round of stimulus funding, this one aimed at bailing out the states. I have some reservations about that.

To start with the states are required to balance their budgets with real money, they can’t print money or increase their dept by billions or trillions of dollars. A budget that uses schemes putting future generations on the hook to pay current bills is not balanced.

Furthermore, it is not the Federal Governments job to bail out the states. The states are sovereign, they retain all powers except those specifically delegated to the Federal Government. Colorado’s budget authority has never been delegated to the federal government. However, one thing will be true if a bailout comes, “the borrower will the servant of the lender be”. If we want to be under the control of Washington D.C. all we have to do is become dependent on their handouts.

There will be many budget related debates but what I really hope for is some good open discussion about how to get businesses open and not just “essential businesses”. It’s main street America and the people that work in those businesses that are taking it on the chin right now.

Expect to hear a lot of rural legislators make the point one size does not fit all. There is more to this state than the metro area. Denver needs do what Denver needs to do but rural and even some not so rural areas need to be able to do what they need to do.

The best way to get a handle on that budget problem is to get commerce flowing again. COVID 19 is with us, it will be with us for some time, we can’t hunker down and wish it away. We need to chart a course within this current reality that protects our basic freedoms and rights. That is the debate we need to be having.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings at the Capital or back in the district. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: SenatorHisey@gmail.com, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Post by ParkBull » Mon May 25, 2020 6:56 am

May 23, 2020
Back In Session, Finally

I have high hopes for Part II of the Second Regular Session of the Seventy-second General Assembly. Word on the street is we’re going to wrap everything up in three weeks as opposed to the 58 days we have remaining of our 120 day constitutional limit. No reason why we shouldn’t be able to take care of what is important to the people of Colorado in three weeks.

What we won’t be debating - any bill that that carries a fiscal note – those will be killed in their next committee hearing or so the story goes. Will be curious to see how big of a priority a few bills like SB 163, the mandatory vaccination bill is to the majority party and see if they find the money to keep it alive.

So, here’s what should be on the calendar – noncontroversial bills that have made it through one chamber and are awaiting approval in the other chamber, sunset bills that authorize the rules under which agencies and government entities operate (like my Seed Potato bill last year) and any bill that saves the state money.

The big obvious bill of course is the budget, otherwise known as the long bill. But that’s a process that will require many separate bills to make the one big budget bill work. Some are good and necessary and some not so much.

That work is expected to take a week in the House and then a week in the Senate. We’ll take another full week because we strip all the House amendments off and add our own. It’s the way the process works, you can count on it every year just like spring follows winter. Then it goes back to the Joint Budget Committee which acts as the conference committee, which is why they are sometimes referred to as the “all powerful budget committee”.

Still a part of the budget, we need to see some bills getting the parts of Colorado open for business that can safely open for business. The way that stands right now that would be most of the state but especially rural Colorado.

Expect to see bills limiting liability for businesses in regards to COVID outbreaks - as long as the business is observing safety protocols. Might see some bills making permanent the loosening of regulations during the emergency declaration, those could apply to telemedicine, restaurant service, notary signatures or any number of subjects. I say that’s still part of the budget because the only way we’re going to fix the state’s budget woes is to get the Colorado economic machine running on all cylinders again and that means open businesses and employed people.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings at the Capital or back in the district. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: SenatorHisey@gmail.com, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Post by ParkBull » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:43 am

May 31, 2020
Was A Strange Week At The Capital

Session got off to a good start after the Memorial Day weekend. The Senate spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in committees or in session on the floor basically clearing the calendar to pave the way for all things budget and some prioritized bills. We killed by one means or another the majority of the bills that had been sitting there waiting for the General Assembly to reconvene. Lost some good ones but killed a bunch of bad ones. Would suspect every legislator feels the same, there could be some disagreement on which were good and which were bad.

Early Thursday evening the protests began and turned violent fairly quickly with gunshots at the capital and before the evening was out the glass in over a dozen windows and doors had been smashed and graffiti had defaced granite columns. A state patrol car and Senate President Leroy Garcia’s truck had their windows smashed and tires slashed. Pictures are available at https://coleg.box.com/s/po1mx6hgwb3mn9s ... b8rui9nwhf

A little after midnight we received a text informing us that due to the violence and more protests scheduled over the next several days that Friday and Saturday sessions and committee work had been canceled. Makes sense to me, it’s a lot easier for the state patrol to protect an empty large granite building than a large granite building with a 100 legislators and assorted staff inside.

Friday night did bring more vandalism, this time it appears to have been with a proliferation of graffiti on any flat surface, sidewalks, the base of monuments, light standards and even a corner of the capital building became the canvases of the spray paint crowd. Don’t know that those pictures are available on line. I have to show identification to purchase spray paint, beginning to wonder why.

It was back to work Monday morning, I suspect the 3 week time line we had at the beginning of last week may have to flex as the House is still working on the budget and likely won’t send it to the Senate until midweek at the earliest. With some diligence the Senate might could get it wrapped up by Saturday night but no promises, there’s still some serious budget discussions that need to be had in both the House and Senate, would hope we don’t rush it for expediency’s sake.

One thing we did pass on Wednesday was the ability of members to participate remotely if they didn’t feel safe at the Capital. Of course that discussion was all about the coronavirus, amazing how quickly things can change.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings at the Capital or back in the district. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: SenatorHisey@gmail.com, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Post by ParkBull » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:07 am

June 7, 2020
Progress and Surprises

Budget approved by both chambers! It took a Saturday session but the budget is on its way back to the Joint Budget Committee to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions. Hearings don’t take as long when there’s no money to argue over for pet projects. We did see several amendments trying to preserve various pots of money including the Senior and Disabled Veterans Homestead Act but amendments introduced by the minority party didn’t fare well, including that one.

One surprise this past week has been the number and scope of bills allowed to be introduced. The rule was any bill not related to the budget had to be “Fast, Free and Friendly”. Turns out there are some exceptions.

The mandatory vaccination bill, left from the pre-COVID portion of this session, was heard in committee Sunday afternoon following a protest on the steps of the Capital attended by several hundred people. That bill is not fast, free and especially not friendly – meaning non-controversial.

My bill SB20-220 to Freeze the Non-Metro Legislators Per-Diem was given late bill status. The law setting the per-diem for us rural legislators as a percentage of the federal rate was set to go up a few percent and that just didn’t seem right given we had held expenses as flat as possible everywhere else. Expect it to pass easily as Metro legislators vote to support a budget cut that doesn’t affect them.

Couple of bills limiting the liability of businesses and health providers should a customer or employee come down with the coronavirus were not allowed to go forward. However, one that is moving ahead presumes that if you are working from home and contract the coronavirus it is the employer’s fault - regardless of where you might have been exposed.

The big surprise bill is SB20-217 Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity. This arose from the tragic, needless and senseless death of George Floyd while being restrained by law enforcement. That never should have happened and I would hope and pray that we can put an end to that type of behavior now and forever. This bill has a wonderful title and make no mistake there are several points in this bill worth supporting.

However, at this time it is a prime example of 15 pages of rushed, poorly thought out legislation with multiple expensive unworkable provisions and unanticipated consequences. The sponsors of the bill admit it needs work but until Saturday afternoon they had been unable or unwilling to set aside the time needed to work with both parties on how it can be made palatable. I look forward to seeing what amendments will be brought forward – and passed - to make this something that truly deals with the problem, helps heal the community and can be an example for other states.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings at the Capital or back in the district. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: SenatorHisey@gmail.com, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Post by ParkBull » Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:09 am

June 21, 2020
Now It Is Up To The Voter

With the session over the decision-making shifts to the voters who will decide at the ballot box. The legislature referred three measures to ballot, two constitutional changes and one tax increase. None of which does the legislature have the authority to implement on its own.

Charitable Bingo and Raffles Amendment is the working title to an amendment that allows charitable organizations to obtain a charitable gaming license after three years as opposed to the current five-year rule and to hire a manager so long as they are paid no more than minimum wage. Yes, bingo is regulated in the Colorado Constitution.

Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates Amendment, while the word Gallagher is not in the working title or the full ballot title you will hear this referred to as “Repeal of the Gallagher Amendment”.

The Gallagher amendment, passed in 1982, requires non-residential property, which includes not just business property but vacant and agriculture land, to pay 55% of total property taxes collected. This would repeal that provision and a companion bill passed by the legislature would freeze the property tax at its current rate. This rate could only be raised by a vote of the people, courtesy of the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights.

Explaining the impacts is fairly complicated but in broad strokes the 1982 amendment had a cumulative negative impact on the funding for rural taxing districts with little commercial property. Fire districts, school districts, water districts, ambulance districts and even counties fall into that category. On the other hand, urban districts typically with more commercial property feel little impact and may even see increased revenue. As home values rise, homeowners can expect to see marginal increases in their annual tax bill. Pay attention to this one, government services including schools come with a cost and this is your chance to have a say in how those costs are paid.

Colorado Tobacco and E-Cigarette Tax Increase for Health and Education Program Measures, this working title is pretty self-explanatory. As a tax increase, the actual title on the ballot reflects the wording required in the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights. This statute (not an amendment since it is not in the constitution) would add nicotine vaping products to the tobacco tax and increase the tax on tobacco products, raising an estimated 294 million dollars annually. Funding would be dedicated to health and education programs.

Rural schools would receive 90 million dollars over the first three years, the general education fund would receive much of the balance in the early years as an offset to the current COVID related revenue decline, a portion would go to funding voluntary pre-school programs as well as maintaining the funding for programs that currently receive money from tobacco taxes.

With parades and other events canceled we may not see each other this summer, but as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings at the Capital or back in the district. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: SenatorHisey@gmail.com, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

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