Thursday, April 10, 2008


Schwartz Steers Landmark
Measure Through Committee

DENVER—Today the Senate Education Committee approved a measure to create a rainy day fund and ongoing funds dedicated to higher education and local communities most impacted by oil and gas drilling in Colorado.

Sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) and Representative Bernie Buescher (D-Grand Junction), the bill would set aside money from the state’s energy boom to create lasting funds for Colorado’s future.

The proposed measure:
Directs more than $1 billion to communities impacted by oil and gas drilling over the next 10 years.
Designates more than $650 million in future Federal Mineral Lease revenue to capital construction projects at colleges and universities.
Creates a rainy day fund by depositing half of any future lease bonus payments into a newly created Higher Education Maintenance and Reserve Fund. Interest from this fund will pay for higher education projects. In the case of a recession, this fund could be tapped to ensure higher education operating budgets are protected.
Deposits the other half of any future bonus payments into local government permanent fund for impacted communities.
Directs more than $700 million to K-12 education and more than $150 million to the Colorado Water Conservation.

“We are standing on the cusp of an enormous opportunity to set aside money from our state's energy boom and to create lasting funds to address Colorado’s future needs in the event of an economic downturn,” said Schwartz. “We have worked hard on this bill to ensure that the outcomes will be beneficial to all stakeholders.”

The bill moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.


DENVER—Today the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee passed a measure that would help bring broadband internet service to rural areas in Colorado.

Sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass), the bill would direct Colorado’s Chief Information Officer to identify broadband telecommunications service areas within Colorado and to develop a map of those areas, with the goal of using the map to help plan the deployment of broadband service to unserved areas of the state.

“This bill is a huge step into the 21st century for Colorado,” said Schwartz. “Many parts of rural Colorado have fallen behind Front Range areas in access to broadband communications. Broadband communication is crucial for economic development, and extending this technology will dramatically improve health care and educational services and strengthen local businesses in rural Colorado.”

SB08-215 next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Landmark Public-Private
Health Care Proposal Advances

DENVER—Today the Senate Health and Human Services approved Centennial Care Choices, a proposal that aims to decrease Colorado’s uninsured population by helping individuals and businesses obtain affordable health insurance through balanced public-private partnerships.

Sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Senator Bob Hagedorn (D-Aurora), the plan is targeted at Coloradans who earn too much to receive Medicaid but don't buy insurance.

“Colorado’s uninsured population is having a serious impact on the cost of health insurance and to the health care delivery system in our state,” said Hagedorn. “The majority of Americans do not want a big government health program, but something they can have faith in and something that gives them choices. Centennial Care Choices will get us there.”

The proposal includes:
A request for health insurers to create a menu of “Value Benefit Plans” (VBPs) that would be evaluated and endorsed by the state and would be made available to all Coloradans.
Assistance to low income individuals and employees of businesses through a state subsidy of a portion of the VBP premium for those who do not qualify for government programs and cannot afford health insurance.
Assurance that this program builds upon the existing employer-based health insurance system, does not encourage businesses currently offering coverage to discontinue it, and promotes administrative efficiencies.

Supported by Representative Anne McGihon (D-Denver), Senator Steve Johnson (R-Ft Collins), Representative Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs) and Representative Ellen Roberts (R-Durango), Centennial Care Choices next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Hagedorn Seeks to Make Carbon Monoxide
Detectors Mandatory in Colorado Homes

DENVER—Today the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee approved a bill to require carbon monoxide detectors in new or resold Colorado homes.

Sponsored by Senator Bob Hagedorn (D-Aurora), the bill would require all single and multi-family dwellings sold after July 1, 2008 to be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms near bedrooms if the dwelling has a fuel burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, and/or an attached garage.

The bill would also require that any building permit issued for new construction of a single or multi-family dwelling, including rental properties, be subject to the same provisions.

“Carbon monoxide is called ‘the silent killer’ because it’s odorless and colorless,” said Hagedorn. “A cracked furnace box can be fatal to a family. A $20 carbon monoxide monitor can prevent long-term health complications or death caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a common sense safety measure to save lives in Colorado.”

The bill would establish requirements for the maintenance and installation of alarms in rental properties, and requires that prior to renting to a new tenant a landlord must replace or repair an existing alarm as needed. A multi-family rental building may be installed with an alarm near the central heating unit in the building, if the alarm is able to notify a responsible person. The bill permits a local government to set more stringent requirements for the installation of alarms.

SB08-187 next heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Bacon Moves Major Economic
Development Package Forward

DENVER—Today the Senate gave final approval to HB08-1001, which would extend the Bioscience Research Grant Program to make $26.5 million available to universities and start-up companies to energize one of Colorado’s most promising industries.

Sponsored by Senator Bob Bacon (D-Ft Collins) and Representative Jim Riesberg (D-Greeley), the bill would build on the award-winning grant program created in 2006 and re-authorized last year. The bill could provide as much as $150,000 per project to Colorado research institutions, accelerating the development of new technologies and new Colorado-based companies. It will also make up to $250,000 available to startup companies in Colorado.

“Passing this bill today means great progress for economic development in Colorado,” Bacon said. “Fort Collins is one of the top cities in the nation recognized for its strides in improving entrepreneurship development, which is a key part in retaining and growing local bioscience companies.”

The grant program is a major part of the economic development package announced last fall. A key economic driver for Colorado, estimates suggest the biosciences industry already contributes $415 million in state revenues each year. To date, the program has provided funding for 27 projects at institutions across the state, including CU, CSU, UNC, National Jewish Medical & Research Center and the University of Denver.

Research from the program has led to potential new treatments for schizophrenia, HIV, cancer, lung disease, and technologies that can be applied to environmental pollution, gait problems from chronic illness, optical microscopy and several other diagnostic tools and medical devices.

HB08-1001 next heads back to the House for concurrence.