Highlights of the Week 
 
This Wednesday the second session of the 73rd General Assembly was called to order. With the expiration of the emergency public health order, the legislature’s Joint Rule 44 is no longer in effect, which means the legislature is restricted to meeting for 120 consecutive days. This morning, the House and Senate commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, and they will return to floor and committee business next Tuesday. Next week’s schedule mostly includes the Joint Budget Committee and kicking off SMART Act hearings. 
 
While Democrats maintain the majority in both the House (41D/24R) and Senate (20D/15R) with Democrat Governor Jared Polis leading the Executive branch, it was clear by opening day speeches that both parties have an eye towards reelection in November. The once-every-ten-year redistricting process was completed last month, increasing the competitiveness of numerous seats in the General Assembly. Opening day speeches from Senate President Leroy GarciaSenate Minority Leader Chris HolbertSpeaker of the House Alec Garnett, House Minority Leader Hugh McKean and Governor Polis’s State of the State Address were unusually aligned on three main priorities: saving Coloradans money, ensuring public safety, and increasing access to strong public education. Each of the speakers also acknowledged the challenges Coloradans faced this year including the pandemic, unimaginable wildfires, and gun violence.
 
With redistricting complete and the recent announcement of Congressman Perlmutter (CD-7) not seeking reelection, we have already seen a lot of movement towards different seats for General Assembly members. Senator Brittany Pettersen (D) has announced her bid for CD-7 and we anticipate Representative Colin Larson’s (R) announcement for the competitive congressional seat next Tuesday. Rep. Caraveo (D) and Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R) are two of many who have thrown their name in the hat for the newly created 8th congressional district. We will also see a handful of current state Representatives running for open Senate seats next year – Rep. Dylan Roberts (D), Rep. Tonya Van Beber (R), Rep. Tony Exum (D), Rep. Kyle Mullica (D) to name a few – and at least one who will seek a seat in the lower chamber, Sen. Tammy Story (D). 
 
As the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country and COVID-19 cases remain high in Colorado, opening day wasn’t quite the return to normal some had hoped. Many members of the General Assembly joined remotely this week and others participated in COVID testing when entering the building. While the halls are busier than they looked in March of 2020, members of the public are encouraged to participate remotely in committee proceedings. More than 110 bills have dropped this week with a focus on education, tax breaks for small business, water, transportation and wildfire protection and recovery.
 
Bills of the Week
 
 
HB22-1064 Prohibit Flavored Tobacco Regulate Synthetic Nicotine
 
  • Representative Mullica (D), Representative Bacon (D), Senator Priola (R), Senator Fields (D)
 
  • The bill prohibits the sale or marketing of any flavored cigarette, tobacco product or nicotine product in the state, imposes the same penalties as selling tobacco or nicotine products to minors and directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to convene a working group to develop a grant program to providers of evidence-informed, individualized wrap-around services in communities with high tobacco or nicotine use. The bill appropriates $10 million for the program.
 
 
SB22-016 Modifying Department Of Transportation Governance
 
  • Senator Scott (R)
 
  • The bill proposes to the voters on the Nov. 2022 ballot a repeal of the current Governor appointed transportation commission and replaces the current the commission with 9 members elected at the November 2024 general election, one from each congressional district of the state and one from the state at large. The bill states that the Commission, rather than the Governor, would appoint the Executive Director of the Department no later than July 1, 2025.
 
 
HB22-1026 Alternative Transportation Options Tax Credit
 
  • Representative Bird (D), Representative Woog (R), Senator Hansen (D), Senator Liston (R)
 
  • The bill, from the Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning Tax Policy, replaces an existing income tax deduction for expenses incurred by employers when providing alternative transportation options to employees with a refundable income tax credit of 50% of such expenses for such employers. The bill specifies a ten-year period for the tax credit.