Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Post by ParkBull » Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:11 am

January 19, 2022 - Straight >From the Senate

The Opening Gavel

This first report from the Senate is a bit behind schedule, but it’s been that kind of a session so far. Opening day was pretty much as expected, speeches from leaders in both parties, first readings on a few bills to get committees to work, press conference and some finalizing of language by members on bills yet to be introduced.

Up early on day two it was immediately apparent that with a raging sore throat I should avoid human contact. Heading south I arrived home in time to attend the session virtually. The next 48 hours were mostly miserable as Omicron assailed me with an array of symptoms. With early treatment the turnaround was amazingly quick. Then it became a matter of following CDC guidelines to get back out in public.

Affordability and inflation being on voters’ minds, the Governor’s State of the State speech made is sound like he is wanting to postpone some of the fees his party passed last session until after the election this fall. And strangely enough, not defunding the police and arresting people that commit crimes has suddenly become a rallying point for legislators. Including those whose votes the past few years would make you question which side of that line they really stand on.

Early bills show the legislature will be wading into numerous tax issues, including one of mine that eliminates the tax on all food items. Multiple school and education bills are on tap. Of course, our voting system will warrant a few bills and one of our more unusual bills presumes we are wildlife biologists and qualified to put wildlife management decisions into law. Let’s not get those kinds of decisions locked in state law, let the true biologist with decades of data and experience set policy that can be modified as situations and populations change. All of this in the first 100 bills, can’t wait to see what the next 500 or so will bring.

It’s a long road for every bill, three readings in each chamber, at least two committee hearings, no less than 33 votes in the House, 18 in the Senate and the signature of the Governor before a bill becomes a law. 33, 18 and 1, the magic formula we all live by until the gavel comes down on the Second Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly, sometime in May.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Jan 31, 2022 8:34 am

January 30, 2022

SMART Act Hearings Wrap Up

It is appropriate that the same week we wrap up our SMART Act hearings I have a committee hearing on my bill to add “The Office of Saving People Money on Health Care” to that list. In this case, SMART stands for State Measurement for Accountable Responsive and Transparent Government Act. These hearings happen in joint committee meetings with the appropriate Senate and House committees – Colorado Department of Transportation presenting to the Joint Transportation Committee, the Treasurer’s Office presenting to the Joint Finance Committee etcetera.

The bill that created the SMART Act outlines what information needs to be presented but the hearing starts out with a report from the Audit Committee on any audits conducted the preceding year, including deficiencies and whether those have been corrected. Next comes a report from the Joint Budget Committee on the agency’s budget request and then the agency itself gets the mic to give their report.

To some degree these reports sound like the annual Christmas letter from your old college friend that sounds suspiciously like a brag sheet. You know the one, little Johnny is growing up and made varsity on the football team as a freshman and his older sister is entertaining acceptance letters from three Ivy League schools. They might mention that Dad lost his job due to COVID cutbacks but has accepted a position with another company with lots of potential for advancement.

Smart act reports tend to follow that format, however, on the plus side this a legislator’s chance to ask any question they like. Could be in response to constituent interaction with the agency, a media report or any lingering question that they are still waiting for a satisfactory response.

So, I would like to add “The Office of Saving People Money on Health Care” to the list of agencies that basically have to justify their existence. Created in 2019 by executive order of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor is the Executive Director, which was worth $30,000 raise three weeks into the job. Other than that, about all I can find is the office is administering a couple of bills the legislature passed. Looking further into the state budget as opposed to the agency website I can’t find how many employees they have, what the budget might be or any other details. Staff in the budget office is working on ferreting out that information. They said it would take a few days. That would be a combination of their regular work load which is very high right now and the fact those details will have to be mined from the larger Governor’s budget.

I really hope to get this bill out of committee, if we can get to “Transparent” maybe everything else will be fine.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Feb 14, 2022 7:51 am

February 13, 2022

Half a Loaf and Some Good Bills This Week

Straight From the Senate

Passed my Catalytic Convertor Bill out of committee this past week but not before the supply side portion of the bill was amended out. Still a good bill but does not give any relief to 400 or so Coloradans getting their catalytic convertors stolen every month. Hence the title “Half a Loaf”.

If you were one of the thirteen people listening online you heard me lament the fact that as a duly elected Senator in the Sovereign State of Colorado it galls me to have to ask another state permission to solve a problem for my constituents. By Gubernatorial order Colorado is under the California Emission Standards; we have no room to deviate.

Several of us are still working on the supply problem but we have to find a way get past the 19 million dollar price tag the Department of Health and Environment put on the last bill before supply side was stripped out.

Thursday will be the first hearing for my Fire Suppression Ponds Bill. This is another one of my “simple concept – complicated implementation” bills. Anytime you touch water, particularly water that belongs to someone else, it gets complicated. But the importance of stopping small fires from becoming big fires is not lost on water districts. Several water districts are lining up in support and it looks like others will take a neutral position leaving, hopefully, very little opposition.

Remember this bill only saves those ponds that qualify for firefighting potential and make the list supplied by the county commissioners and are subsequently approved by the state water engineer. So, if you are looking a nice getaway retreat with a pond be sure it is a legal pond before you sit down at the closing table.

Couple of good bills coming up in Judiciary as well, Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program with Lundeen in the Senate and Bradfield in the House as well as a Restitution Services for Victims by Senator Cooke. Hope they make it to the floor this time. Maybe this is the year public safety and victim’s rights take top billing.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Feb 21, 2022 5:40 pm

February 20,2022

Consumer Debt Protection Bill

Interesting bill came through the Finance Committee last week. SB22-086, The Homestead Exemption and Consumer Debt Protection Act. Basically, this bill is for the protection of people who find themselves dealing with debt collectors and/or looking at bankruptcy. We all understand that bad things can happen to good people that can put them in hard times financially. At the same time debt collectors are our friends and neighbors whose job it is to collect money rightfully owed to a person or business.

Currently if someone finds themselves in a position where they may be losing their home to creditors other than the mortgage holder (they have protected themselves in the loan documents), the creditors can take all of the equity in in your home except for $75,000. For example, if a family had medical bills, bills from a failed business or just personal debt that they could not pay but had a $200,000 in equity in their home, very doable given the appreciation of homes the past several years, those creditors could force the sale of the home taking $125,000 and leaving the homeowner with $75,000 to start over. Presumably this was put in place to keep people from becoming homeless.

The bill we heard in committee will raise that limit to $250,000, $300,000 if the owner is elderly or disabled. That’s not the price of the home, that’s the equity in the home. So, a homeowner in a $900,000 home that owes more than $750,000 is safe from having their home touched at all by unsecured debt.

I found that excessive, using the example that if someone owed me $5,000 for goods or services that I had provided and I could not collect while they had $250,000 equity in their home, I would feel like I was subsidizing their life style at the expense of my own business.

The second part of the bill has to do with freezing money in bank accounts. Presumably the goal here is keep people from going hungry. Just like keeping people from being homeless these are compassionate goals that most of us would agree with.

The new limit on freezing cash in the bank will go to $2,500. Unknown to me until the hearing, 80% of earned income (paycheck), child support, social security and a few other sources of income are currently off limits. So, often most of what is in checking account and possibly savings accounts is already protected.

I’m a little murky on the mechanics of how attaching a bank account works but I tend to be a little more sympathetic toward the bank account exemption. If someone owing money has to prove which money in the checking account is exempt and which is not to gain access to protected money there could be a lot of bounced checks before that gets sorted out. Realizing that on the other hand debt collection is heavily regulated and reasonable collection efforts had to have been made before an account can be frozen or seized.

Doesn’t matter if you are WalMart or the local furniture store, everything that leaves the store and doesn’t get paid for means every other customer has to pay more for that business to stay open.


I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Feb 28, 2022 9:56 am

February 27, 2022

Clean Slate Bill

My bill, SB22-099, called the Clean Slate bill is about how we deal with people that have a nonviolent crime in their past, paid all fines, fees, restitution, completed all required sentencing and parole requirements. Also, the required number of years have lapsed with no subsequent violations to be eligible for record sealing, just as current Colorado law does.

SB-99 is a limited government bill, it removes governmental barriers to economic participation by automating the clearing of records. It frees people to participate fully in our economic system without undue regulations or interference.

This bill does not change what crimes are eligible for sealing or the length of time that a person must be offense free – usually 4 to 10 years. What changes is they no longer would have to pay filing fees and hire an attorney to seal their record. The process would be automated.

Sealing is not to be confused with expungement. Expungement effectively erases all record of the crime, sealing makes it unavailable for all to see except law enforcement - including judges and the D.A.’s who will still have the ability to block sealing if there are overriding concerns.

So why now? Many people are being held back from meaningful employment and housing because of old records. Research shows that after one year of record clearance people are 11% more likely to be employed and are earning 25% higher wages. Proper housing and good jobs are an important step in building strong, healthy families, giving children a better chance of living in stable nurturing homes.

Over 30 businesses supported this bill as diverse as J.P. Morgan and Home Depot. They recognize the need to revitalize the workforce with people that are ready and willing to work. Many people representing a variety of organizations testified in favor of the bill, many testified in support of the amendments and no one testified against it. It came out of committee with unanimous bipartisan support.

Let me end by saying I tend to avoid complicated bills, not out of trepidation but because I believe most issues can be distilled down to a root cause that can be addressed. The Clean Slate concept is easy to understand. However, it touches so many statutes in Colorado law that we went to committee with a 29-page bill and several amendments. This bill not only simplifies the process for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans but makes the law easier to understand.
I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Mar 14, 2022 8:09 am

March 13, 2022

Halfway and the Pace Picks Up

The Legislature is more than halfway through the Second Session of the 73rd General Assembly. What that means with the bill count approaching 500 is more time in committee meetings as the bills become more numerous as well as longer. It’s a fair assumption that the longer the bill the longer the hearing if for no other reason than it takes longer to explain and that’s before we factor in additional public testimony. Which I encourage, we, the legislators can learn a lot from the people whose lives we touch with our bills.

On the bill front: we sent to the Governor’s desk a bill Amending the Elements of Sexual Assault Prohibiting Sexual Conduct Without Consent. This is one of my bills that changes about a dozen words in the law books. It updates some 50-year-old language around rape and makes it clearer to the jury what findings need to be met to render a guilty conviction.

The bill doesn’t change any standards, make it easier or harder to prosecute or defend but it tells the jury what the boundaries are. We also believe that with the clearer language more victims will be less hesitant in coming forward as they too will understand in plain language what “Without Consent” means. Rape is believed to be one of the most under-reported crimes.

Five bills are currently scheduled this week in Transportation & Energy. The one that looks to be the most controversial is SB 138. I wrote about and thought we would hear 138 a couple of weeks ago, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emission in Colorado. I haven’t seen any amendments yet but assume the delay was to give more time to refine the bill. If the section about eliminating the sale of gas leaf blowers, lawnmowers and garden tractors is still in the bill I expect a lot of landscapers and lawn care company owners to be in the audience.

Budget is still a couple of weeks out so many bills are backing up in the Appropriations Committee awaiting final numbers. That’s when we go from busy to slammed right on through the end of the session.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Mar 21, 2022 7:29 am

March 20, 2022

Updates on Elections & Bills

While I usually don’t discuss politics in these updates getting on the ballot and then winning matters or there won’t be any more updates “Straight From the Senate”. County assembly this last Saturday proved to have its share of drama but that’s pretty common for El Paso County. It feels a little different with redistricting having split up the current SD-2, which becomes effective after the next election, and parceled it out to other districts and moved me into SD11 which is completely in El Paso County.

Fortunately, the Senate District 11 meeting was drama free and I was placed on the primary ballot by acclimation. With that behind me it’s back to work under the gold dome.

Senate Bill 153, which originally had a prohibition on selling gas lawn and garden tools like lawnmowers and leaf blowers in certain parts of the state was amended in committee to use the carrot and no stick approach with electric garden tools receiving tax credits at the time of purchase to make them more affordable and attractive to buyers. The bill still has to pass the Appropriations Committee and full Senate before going to the House so who knows, more changes are still possible.

1279, the Abortion Bill was good for a 14-hour hearing in committee with hundreds of people testifying. Not my committee but sounds like 2 to 1 opposed to the bill. We are scheduled to hear that bill on the Senate Floor this week. Expect lots of passion on both sides.

My bill, SB 114, that preserves certain ponds for fire fighting to prevent small fires from becoming wildfires should be debated on the floor this week. It seems that it takes a quite complicated bill to implement a very simple concept when water is involved. We’re negotiating with one more water district to see if we can allay their concerns before we bring it to a vote.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Apr 04, 2022 7:28 am

April 3, 2022

A Win and A Loss for Coloradans

My Fire Suppression Ponds bill passed out of the Senate this past week with overwhelming bipartisan support. It’s been a long road trying to address the concerns of the many water districts, users and owners as well as delivering something to the State Water Engineer’s office that is workable and still accomplishes what we set out to do. It is critical that we have water available to put out small fires before they become raging wildfires. Thank you to everyone that participated and was willing to see both sides of the issue. Like most simple bills that become complicated no one got everything they wanted. Now it’s off to the House for their approval – you have to be an optimist to do this job.

This past week we debated HB22-1286 The Payment Of Expenses Of The Legislative Department. Let me start by saying the Legislators are supported by very talented hardworking people that, during the session put in very long days including weekends to keep the process flowing. This is the bill that funds everyone that provides support to the Legislature. People like the attorneys and bill writers that ensure what we do is legal and constitutional. Or at least they try to since the final wording in the bill is up to the legislator.

This also includes partisan staff in the Majority and Minority offices, our aides, supplies, tech support and everything else it takes to keep any office functioning.

The primary issue I had with this particular proposal was the significant expansion in the number of employees. This is with no additional days in the session and no more bills than normal. For each employee there is an associated cost of office space, furniture, computers, etc. etc. but by far the largest expense with every additional employee is their salary, benefits, retirement contributions and all of those overhead costs that every employer deals with.

Justification was of course given by the department which is working to lower the amount of comp time accrued by employees during our 120-day session. Amendments were offered to reduce the cost, none of which passed and the final outcome was the bill passed on a party line vote.

Offices are not required to spend their entire budget and underspending goes back to the general fund. The Republican caucus routinely turns back money at the end of each fiscal year. Perhaps the Democratic caucus does as well. However, both of those combined are a pittance compared with the cost of hiring, training and outfitting everyone the department has requested and received funding for. Just one more expansion of the state budget and spending of revenue that won’t go to Public Safety, Education or Roads and Bridges.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Apr 11, 2022 9:19 am

April 9, 2022

2022/23 Budget

The state operates on a fiscal year so our just approved budget of something over $36 million will kick in July 1. You may see or hear other amounts like the $37.2 that the Senate passed last Thursday after we added our wish list to the budget where at least a majority of the Senators thought they were worthy causes.

A quick review of the process; the Joint Budget Committee has been working since early November to present the legislature with a balanced budget. Which was $36.4 million for fiscal year 2022/23. The budget started in the House this year where they added their mark ups and sent it over to the Senate. We promptly stripped off their amendments and added our own mark ups taking it to the 37.2 million number. Now the budget goes back to the Joint Budget Committee which acts as the conference committee, so you can guess what is going to happen to the markups the legislature spent two days debating. It’s a safe bet that the final number will be back around that 36 plus number.

Some of the legislature’s wish list could be funded out of an all-time high reserve of 15%. However, a smart legislator will have low expectations for any additional funds for their favorite cause. While the final, final budget is not quite done we are within a stone’s throw.

Besides the record reserves here are a few other salient points. *With 3 billion in federal ARPA funding the state has more money than it has ever seen. *This budget added over 1,200 full time equivalent employees to favored programs. *The citizens will receive a TABOR refund, but only after a couple of other programs that have been ruled to qualify as “refunds” are fully funded.

In the serious problem category. * Undeniably accelerating growth of government is a huge concern. *The expansion in departments that have clearly overgrown and overreached their mission needs to be looked at on a line-by-line basis. *The use of some, fortunately not all, of the onetime dollars to create or expand programs that will exist well beyond the four-year lifetime of those funds is not sustainable.

This all sets up what we call the structural deficit. Which basically means at some point in the future, sooner rather than later, there will not be enough revenue coming in to fund past and current commitments. This is what led me to another “no” vote on the budget this year.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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 Apr 18, 2022 7:32 am

April 17, 2022

Numbers Update and Veterans Resolution

Three weeks until the end of the session, yes, we are all counting and for good reason. The bill count changes daily but as of last Thursday a total of 574 bills had been introduced and eight of them were new that day. 99 had been postponed indefinitely (killed), 87 signed by the Governor. Of the 388 left a few of them are now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. A bit of trivia just in case someone is curious, 145 had only Democrat sponsors and 84 had only GOP sponsors.

Every year we have a few bills that pass in the required three days that it takes to check all the boxes but those are the exception not the rule. Logistically speaking, acting on 350 or so bills in 15 working days is going to be a challenge but nothing that some late nights and perhaps Saturday work won’t take care of.

A few of the bills still on the calendar have the potential to provoke some serious debate, both in committee and on the floor. HB22-1326 to recriminalize the possession of fentanyl is one of those. The House spent 15 hours on the bill. Typically, the hearing in the second chamber is shorter but nobody is happy with this bill yet so there is much more to be said and hopefully done.

The introduced version of this bill was pretty worthless. It only made intent to distribute fentanyl a felony. After all of the testimony and debate in the House, 49 amendments being written with 6 of them passing, possession of more than one gram would now be a felony. Which means a person is only allowed to have enough fentanyl in their possession to kill 500 people instead of 2000 that the 2019 bill allowed. Which, by the way, I voted against. There is no reason ever for a non-medical professional to have one gram of fentanyl in their possession. We’ll see what we can do with the bill in the Senate.

Among all the bills that will become laws regulating people’s lives we have a few like the resolution the Penrose VFW requested. SJR22-012 designating Colorado State Highway 115 from mile marker 15 to mile marker 27 as the “Veterans of Foreign Wars Warriors Memorial Highway”. I’m always happy to carry a resolution honoring our veterans and the sacrifices they and their families have made allowing us the privilege of self-governance and the enjoyment of the freedoms we so often take for granted.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. 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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