This week there were two changes to the House of Representatives, one expected and one unexpected. The vacancy committee to replace Senator Court’s vacant Senate seat chose Representative Chris Hansen as the new Senator for the Denver district. Senator Court’s resignation also left an open leadership position, the Speaker Pro Tem, who leads the chamber when the Senate President is not present. Senator Nancy Todd was chosen by her peers to serve in this role for the 2020 session. On Friday, Representative Susan Beckman announced that she will resign effective immediately from the House of Representatives to take a position in the Trump Administration. Expect more turnover in January following the new vacancies for the House District 6, a Denver district, and for House District 38, a Littleton district.
This week various committees of reference heard updates from relevant state agencies during SMART Act hearings. The Department of Education, Department of Higher Education, Public Utilities Commission, Colorado Energy Office, and Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission all presented on progress towards their goals and on implementing legislation approved in prior sessions.
A proposal to repeal the death penalty faces a much higher likelihood of passing this year despite failing in prior sessions. The bill has bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate, with Senator Julie Gonzales (D) and Senator Jack Tate (R) leading the charge. The issue of the death penalty is personal for some members in the chamber including Senator Rhonda Fields. Two of the people currently on death row were convicted for killing her son and his fiancée.
Looking to next week, the General Assembly will be closed on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Bills are calendared for committee of reference hearings beginning next week and it will look like a more typical week during session. On Friday of next week, the Joint Budget Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Public Option and the Reinsurance Program. After a lengthy staff briefing on these health care policy topics, the Committee requested a hearing on these topics.