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Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:41 pm
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate
January 1 2019

Meet the New Guy

By way of introduction, my name is Dennis Hisey and by the time you read this I will be your newly minted and freshly sworn in state senator from Senate District 2 (SD2). It’s fair to expect this to be the first of many columns bringing you updates on the happenings under the gold dome – the gold coming from Teller County – one of the five counties that make up Senate District 2. Park, Fremont, Clear Creek and the rural portions of El Paso rounding out the list.

I would be remiss without thanking my predecessor Senate President Kevin Grantham for his eight years of dedicated, principled leadership in representing SD2. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I have big shoes/boots to fill. You would have been hard pressed to find a harder working or more committed legislator during his tenure and I have no doubt his finger prints are all over my election to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) by my fellow caucus members.

The six-member Joint Budget Committee is the only committee of reference (standing committee) that includes both House and Senate members. We began meeting shortly after the election in November and wrapped up our pre-session meetings on December 21st. It is also the only committee that requires all members to vote in the affirmative to advance a JBC bill – the budget of course being the most critical.

With counties being an arm of the state my tenure as a county commissioner was good preparation for this role and thus far it has absolutely been a great learning experience. For those of you wondering how a Senator-elect or Representative-elect can cast votes prior to taking office the solution was previous legislation allowing the “elect” to be a full participating member in pre-session JBC business.

For those of you I haven’t met, the last name (Hisey) is pronounced Hi-Zee or Hi-C depending on which family member you ask. With either or any pronunciation, I would just like to hear from you. So, feel free to visit – we are in session from now through May 3rd or call the office (303) 866-4877, you can also call or text the mobile phone (719) 351-2121 – if you text please include your name. Email is also good Might even be able to get you onto the Senate floor if let me know you are in the building or when you plan to be there.

I appreciate that every resident of SD2 is a constituent for me to represent and I take that responsibility seriously. It is truly humbling and an honor to represent you at the state capital.

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:30 pm
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate
January 12, 2019

The real news coming out of the Capital this week was the Governors State of the State address. From my point of view it was a mixed bag. So here we go – kind of in the order they came up in the speech.

Free Full Day Kindergarten – it’s not really free, the taxpayers will foot the bill. Secondly full day kindergarten will not solve the very real and well documented problem of third grade reading deficiencies that continue to haunt those students for most of their school years. On the plus side it will simplify the lives of working parents who will know their youngsters are in a safe learning environment.

The Office of Saving People Money on Health Care – yes that state office now exists and I really hope it lives up to its name. The Governor and I agree that hospital stays, treatment and prescription drugs cost too much. We also agree that transparency in costs will be a good thing but in talking to hospital administrators it’s going take a lot more than that. Just the in network – out of network discussion takes an excel spread sheet to keep track of all the professionals and what insurance they accept for a relatively simple surgery. On the prescription drug front the Governor is expecting imports from Canada to make a pretty immediate impact. - It did for my mother when her medication got caught up the price escalation that resulted in congressional hearings.

Rural vs Urban Health Insurance Costs – I was glad to hear the Governor state “a family in Glenwood Springs or Gunnison should not pay twice as much for health care as a family in Denver”. He has hopes that the State Division of Insurance can get involved to solve that problem. I think if they could have they would have but this Governor expects results so I don’t think he is going let this one go easily but my guess is he will have to revisit this issue throughout his term.

Climate Change - he said its real “and there’ll be no pretending otherwise in this administration”. I’m not going to wade into that in this limited space but what I do know is that it is a fact that our fire seasons are longer and I have introduced a bill to create a state fire commission to make recommendations on how to mitigate and deal with the increase in and larger fires. More about that later.

Tax Code in Need of a Face lift – his take was “too much power to special interests that can hire expensive lobbyist”. That’s one way to look at it but I don’t blame the “special interests”. You don’t see me volunteering to pay more taxes than I absolutely have to. I agree with him that we need to look at the tax code some of which has been on autopilot since the 1930s. My hope is we look at the tax code to simplify and reduce taxes not to figure out what we are not taxing so we can fund more expensive government programs.

All in all it was a good week at the Capital, work with the Joint Budget Committee continued every afternoon but I am looking forward to seeing the full Senate in action as bills start coming out of committee and onto the floor.

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:11 pm
by ParkBull
Straight from the Senate

Budget Meeting with the Governor

During a media interview Governor Polis stated “Basically a budget is a statement of your values”. The household version of that is you spend money on what is important to you.
The Governor courteously met with the Joint Budget Committee a couple of days before his budget was formally presented. I appreciated the opportunity for an open and candid conversation, good questions and good answers even if the values were not completely in alignment.
For the most part he left Governor Hickenlooper’s budget alone and used the new money in the latest forecast to fund his values. To his credit, none of which were new if you had been paying attention during the campaign.
Full day kindergarten was the big-ticket item along with funding reserves to bring those up to 8%. Several other items, much smaller by comparison but still significant, Teacher Debt Forgiveness for teaching in rural districts, Freshman Succeeds Fund as well as Concurrent Enrollment. That last one allowing students to obtain college credits while still in high school were all part of the education piece.
On the health care side, we saw the Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare, prescription drug relief, paid parental leave for state employees, a reinsurance program and a state-wide health care study.
What was missing that would benefit all school districts was any additional funding to buy down the negative factor. This is the amount owed schools under Amendment 23, now called the Budget Stabilization Factor. That IOU is now sitting at $700 million. Additional funds in that line item would have given relief to every school district in the state.
But the real gaping hole in the proposal was the lack of any mention of additional funding for transportation. With a projected $1.2 billion dollar increase from last years revenue it seems that we could earmark several hundred million dollars for transportation. Maybe even the $336 million the Minority Leader called for in his opening day speech. Back to the values statement, if transportation is the last thing we look at I can promise there will never be any additional General Fund money for roads.

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:59 am
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate

Squatter Bill 2.0

Assume everyone is aware of the “squatter” problem. Here are a couple of scenarios on how you could find yourself dealing with a squatter in your house or rental property.

1. You are being a good Samaritan – you invite someone(s) into your home during a time of need. Could be when they have been displaced by a fire or even a family member that finds themselves in need – doesn’t matter. Either way when you ask them to leave, they can insist you go through the eviction process just as if you had a valid rental agreement.

2. You have been away from your home, 2nd home or vacant rental property and you arrive back at the residence only to find someone has taken up residence and won’t let you in. You call law enforcement and now they have to decide who is telling the truth and you are back to a full-blown eviction process.

Last year a bill was passed that expedited the process for scenario #2 from weeks to days and increased the penalties for the squatter. For rural Colorado here’s another scenario.

3. You own acreage, small or large, it may be where your home is located, vacant land or perhaps your summer getaway, it all gets treated the same. You discover someone is camping on your property - tent, motor home or something in between, doesn’t matter. You ask them to leave, they refuse and now you are required to start the eviction process and dig in for the long haul.

My bill, SB19-047, proposes what I view as a small tweak to include all of your property in the expedited eviction process. Seemed to be a pretty common-sense solution to me. After all, who wants to drive 800 miles to your mountain cabin or with your motor home on your summer vacation and upon arrival finding uninvited guests and you discover it will take longer to remove them from your property than your vacation lasts.

Turns out the first group of people I riled were the homeless advocates, got that tamped down by assuring them this had nothing to do with the homeless. I gave the two examples where this type of squatting had actually happened within the senate district and that seemed to help.

Thinking I’m back on track, the next group I hear from are the attorneys. They are adamantly opposed, after all, they pointed out, there are already remedies in place. I pointed out those remedies take longer than most people’s vacations. Furthermore, people didn’t buy and drive to their land in Colorado to spend their vacation hiring local attorneys and hanging out at the court house. They acknowledged that was true but sometimes that just can’t be helped.

Well, I think it can be helped. With a committee hearing coming up soon I’ll need 4 of the 7 members to agree it can be helped and then we can move on for a vote on the Senate floor.

I’ll keep you posted.

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:58 am
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate

One Month In

A quarter of the way through my first legislative session and I’ve had a bill killed in committee, one pass unanimously out of a committee, led the Pledge of Allegiance for a week and offered an amendment to a bad bill – the amendment failed, the bill passed.

Let’s start with the fun part. Leading the Pledge of Allegiance to open the session in that storied and historic chamber really was an honor. It helps you remember that this is important work and at the same time you are just one cog on the wheel at this moment in time.

The Veterans Preference bill that was killed in committee was a good bill. We had the testimony of a couple of veterans regarding transitioning out of the military into the civilian job market. The reactions of the committee members gave me hope I will be able to bring something back for our Vets yet this session.

The Fire Commission bill was the product of a couple of summers of interim committee meetings with stakeholders from around the state on how we address more, larger and costlier fires. It’s a big task that affects both sides of the Continental Divide, forest and grasslands alike. With balanced representation of agencies that get involved in a wildfire either before, during or after we should be able to get some good practical recommendations, it has a five year sunset clause.

Now to the bad bill, and there are more in the pipeline. This one was SB19-042, called the National Popular Vote bill. It gave away the right of Colorado voters voices to be heard when electing our delegates to the Electoral College. What it says is the Colorado Delegates will cast their presidential votes for the person that receives the most popular votes in the nation, not necessarily in Colorado.

In essence we will agree to cast our electoral votes for the same person the people in California, New York and Illinois choose. We just took up permanent residency in the family of fly over states because now to get Colorado’s 9 delegates all you need to do is campaign in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

There was a reason why the original 13 sovereign states (formerly colonies) came up with this formula. Even then, the north eastern states held the people and the power and the agriculture states like Virginia, and the Carolinas needed a mechanism to ensure they were part of the decision-making process. We won’t be anymore.

If you want to change the U.S. Constitution there are procedures in place to do that, an end run around the Constitution is not acceptable.

I’ve received emails from many of you on one bill or another, keep them coming. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Email: , Office phone: 303-866-4877 Mobile phone: 719-351-2121

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:14 pm
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate

February 11, 2019

Moving to the Transportation and Energy Committee

The first several weeks of the session saw vacancies occurring in the Senate mainly caused by senators leaving to assume other elected and appointed positions. New faces appeared as those positions were filled by local vacancy committees, many moving up from the House. By the time the dust settled the Senate Republican Caucus had been joined by former House member Bob Rankin of Carbondale who brings multiple years of experience on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC).

With the minority party in each chamber only having one seat on the JBC we needed the most knowledgeable and experienced person available to carry our message. So, I resigned my seat on the JBC and supported Senator Bob Rankin for that position. With that change I was looking for a new committee and leadership was able to make a spot for me on the Transportation and Energy Committee, another committee that deals with bills that are important to our district. Thus far, we’ve only heard bills related to transportation but rumor has it there will be some significant energy legislation headed our way.

An interesting bill that I supported in committee and is awaiting a vote in the Senate that would currently affect only the northern front range drivers but could have implications for all of us eventually. SB19-092 would prohibit the use of an illuminated check engine light as the sole criterion for failure of an emissions test.

When it comes to ozone and automobile emissions, we care about what is coming out of the tail pipe not the light on the dash and check engine lights can come on for a variety of reasons not related to emissions.

While most of SD2 is not in an area that requires annual automobile emission testing a previously proposed federal air quality attainment standard would have forced most us into yearly emissions tests. In fact, Park County with virtually no industrial emissions and very few cars per square mile is bumping up against the current attainment standards simply from pollutants being blown in from cities and factories 100s of miles away.

In an interesting twist of irony, even with bipartisan support from Republican Sen. Marble and Democrat Rep. Buentello a bill died on a party line vote in committee that would have kept medical marijuana users from being deprived of their right to own and carry firearms. The irony is many of the same Democrats that argued you couldn’t set standards for impaired driving for THC decided it wasn’t safe to allow those same people to carry a gun. I used to say the most dangerous projectile out there is a car full of teenagers. If carrying a medical marijuana card has that big of an effect, I’d better add their cars to the most dangerous list as well.

I’ve received emails from many of you on one bill or another, keep them coming. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Email: , Twitter: @SenDennisHisey Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey Office: 303-866-4877 Mobilee: 719-351-2121

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:34 pm
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate

February 25, 2019

Popular Vote, Sex Ed, Red Flag and Holidays

Starting to see a few more controversial bills making their way through the labyrinth called the Legislature. I’m not complaining, more testimony and discussion should make for a better bill and a better law – but not always.

SB 42 – The National Popular Vote bill kept the House in session until 8:00 one evening. With 6 Democrats joining Republicans in opposition they still fell short of stopping it. All that stands between California, New York and Illinois from deciding who the Colorado Electors will vote for in future presidential elections is our Governor’s signature.

The House also passed HB 1032 – The Comprehensive Sex Ed. Bill, sending it over to the Senate where it will be heard in committee before moving to the floor. I can’t imagine there could be enough amendments on that bill to entice me to vote for it.

The real news is HB 1177 – The Red Flag bill is now officially under discussion. If you are searching for it on the internet it is titled “Extreme Risk Protection Orders”. Several changes from last year’s bill, in fact the language on this bill seems to be the Rhode Island version with the obligatory tweak here and there.

There are the same constitutional concerns we had last year, 2nd Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms, 4th Amendment Due Process and Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizure, 14th Amendment Due Process again, in case we wondered how important that right is.

Then there is the inconvenient fact for the proponents that law enforcement already has the ability to place a person in a 72-hour psychiatric hold for evaluation. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also seems to have concerns, perhaps they’re getting back to their roots and are actually concerned about the infringement of our civil liberties.

Shifting gears, HB 1185 – Removes Columbus Day as a State Holiday and replaces it with Colorado Day to be celebrated the first Monday in August. The Sponsors are careful to state this does not take away from the Italian-American community’s contributions to the state.

I believe them. I also believe it has everything to do with the activities (atrocities) of the sailors towards the native population after they landed in the West Indies.

What no one has explained to me is why on a Spanish War Ship manned by Spanish Sailors under the control of a Spanish Captain on an expedition financed by Queen Isabella of Spain who history and the church regard warmly, a civilian Italian gets the blame for the conduct of men not under his control – just saying.

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:, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

Senator, District 2

Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:23 am
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate 
March 4, 2019

The Oil and Gas Bill

We heard it was coming and with the Oil and Gas bill - SB 181, having been introduced late Friday and already scheduled for a committee hearing four days later it’s pretty obvious Leadership has decided to fast track this bill. As a member of the Transportation and Energy committee I’ll be studying up, but here’s what stands out so far.

There are several proposed changes like monitoring and fees that someone will have to explain the need, but if they’re not necessary they just grow government and stifle the free market.

There are, however, big changes; moving oil and gas regulations from state control to local control, changing the number one mission of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation (COGCC) as well as changing the makeup of the 9-member COGCC board.
To the Local Control issue, Colorado is a sovereign state and we have the responsibility to regulate according to the needs of our citizens within the constraints of the Colorado and U.S. Constitution. There are many good reasons why some issues should be regulated on a state-wide basis. As a trucking company you wouldn’t want the weight limit on the state highways to change every time it enters another county or city. Same can be said for many industries that operate multiple locations throughout our state.
Giving the authority to set regulations, conduct inspections and levy fines to 64 counties, 269 municipalities on an industry that is already functioning under some of the most stringent regulations in the country looks like a way to create confusion. If the state needs to review best practices, safety and environmental concerns we can and should do it.

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) which is charged with fostering oil and gas development in the state will receive new marching orders that prioritize regulations that protect “public health, safety and welfare” including protection of the environment and wildlife resources. All laudable goals as long as that is not code for shutting down the oil and gas industry which you have to wonder about since the board is no longer allowed to take into consideration cost-effectiveness and feasibility.
As for changing the makeup of the Board, it would go from 3 to 1 member of the board with substantial experience in the oil and gas industry, add one member for wildlife protection and one member for public health. We’ll know more after the first hearing!
I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capitol. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email:, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

Senator Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:09 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate

March 11, 2019

Repeal the Death Penalty, Paid Family Leave, Oil & Gas

SB-182 - Repeal of the Death Penalty has been introduced, it appears to be pretty straight forward. Colorado has been back and forth on this issue. In 1859 we had the first legal execution, in 1897 the death penalty was abolished, in 1901 it was reinstated, in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court halted all executions nationwide, in 1979 Colorado voters reinstated the death penalty. However, Colorado has not put anyone to death in 22 years and currently there are 3 people on death row.

A much promised and often tried Family Leave bill has been introduced, SB-188. It proposes 12 weeks of paid family leave. Employees and employers would pay equal amounts, based on a percentage of the gross pay, into a state-controlled fund. Someone making $50,000 a year would contribute about $150 per year with the employer matching that. Employees using the paid time off would collect a percentage of their base pay, the less you make the higher the percentage of your benefit.

We will undoubtedly hear from the business community on this and the mandatory deduction looks a lot like a payroll tax and that brings TABOR into play. One thing I am figuring out is it is never simple under the gold dome.

After a 12 hour hearing last Tuesday and into the early hours of Wednesday we have a pretty good idea on the impacts of SB-181, the Oil and Gas bill. Lots of details in a 27 page bill but the biggest impact is setting a state mandated floor and then allowing local counties, cities, and towns to add their own more restrictive fees, regulations, permitting and inspections. That paragraph alone would allow the Boulders and Broomfields of the world to enact requirements that would make drilling completely unfeasible.

Even without additional local requirements there are new state regulations in this bill that are expected to make it no longer feasible to operate the thousands of low volume wells commonly called stripper wells. These wells are low volume/low profit but contribute significantly to the total volume simply by virtue of the sheer number of them. Without them we would need to drill more wells to offset the loss.

Lots more in the bill and not all of it unreasonable but we could sure accomplish those changes without passing a bill that that drives oil and gas exploration from the state. However,+ that may be the goal of this bill - in which case the phrase “Recession by Legislation” is pretty accurate.

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

Senator Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:06 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate

March 18, 2019

What’s on the Agenda?

While the marquee (controversial) bills get the attention, the majority of the bills going through the Legislature focus more on some detail or clarification that should or perhaps should not be added to existing legislation. Most have bipartisan sponsors and virtually all pass or fail on bipartisan votes.

Looking at just a couple of days on the calendar we have;

HB-1180 “the clarification of the definition of a police working horse for the purposes cruelty to animals”. The current law prohibits cruelty to certain animals including a certified police working horse, there is not certification process for a police working horse so the word “certified” is being removed.

HB-1155 “concerning adding certain conduct to the definition of sexual conduct” in the interest of keeping my G rating I won’t go into detail but you can expect this amendment to pass unanimously.

Allowing local district colleges to serve more students, a subsidy for adoption of certain children, reclaiming domestic water, special districts, farm stands and school boundaries all have a bill that would make adjustments to current regulations. Probably another 10 or so in this category that are not partisan and this in the span of two days. Some may warrant discussion and possibly even an amendment. Most likely they will pass and probably with votes from both sides of the aisle, and if there is opposition that too could come from either side of the aisle.

Just to keep it interesting though, also on the calendar is the SB-182 “Concerning the repeal of the death penalty”. There will be quality time spent debating that bill. But it has been sitting there the past several days and has been moved to the following day everyday - so maybe today, maybe not.

Then there is the anticipation of what is coming, HB-1177 “the Red Flag bill” which just passed out of the State and Veterans Affairs committee. Leadership in the House and Senate picked this as one of the bills they wanted to fast-track so it will likely pop up quickly. This will be last stop where the bill could be amended. At the end of debate this bill will either be killed, or sent to the Governor for his signature – not optimistic that we can get enough amendments on it to fix what is wrong with it but also not optimistic that it will be killed.

Bill numbers are included for your convenience should you decide to contact any or all of the legislators or to look up the full text of a bill at

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:, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey