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Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:00 am
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate

March 25, 2019

Judge’s Ruling and Red Flag

To set the first issue up – all bills are to be read in their entirety twice in each chamber, unless “by unanimous consent” they may be read by title only. This has become the common practice and makes sense. If you aren’t familiar with a bill by the time it comes to the floor there is little chance you can cast an informed vote by having someone read it to you.

So, to “ask that a bill be read at length” is a rare thing and when it happens everyone is paying attention. The longer the bill the more it gets everyone’s attention. However, once the reading begins no one is actually paying attention because what this has become is a tool used by the minority to slow things down when they feel their voice is not being heard. In Washington D.C. this could be called filibustering.

The minority asked for a 2,000 page bill to be read at length in protest over the speed at which the majority was rushing through some very high profile, controversial and impactful bills. Majority leadership, through the magic of technology, found a way to have 5 computers read different parts of the bill at 625 words per minute. One computer reading at that speed is incomprehensible - 5 at the same time was just noise.

Republicans sued and on Tuesday the judge ruled that a bill being read at length must be read by one reader (human or computer) at a speed that is comprehensible to the human ear. The winner here was not one or both parties but the Colorado Constitution, as the intent of the Constitution was upheld.

On Friday the first 10 hours of the session were spent on the Extreme Risk Protection Order, otherwise known as the Red Flag Bill. Lots of amendments, some to shift the focus back to the underlying problem of mental health. However, when one of the sponsors of the bill said, at the microphone, “this bill is not about mental health but about removing guns” that kind of set the tone for the day.

It passed on a party line vote. It goes to a conference committee to iron out the differences between the House version and the Senate version. From there to the Governor who has indicated he will sign. I predict the next stop after that will be the courts as it is challenged for being unconstitutional. I haven’t talked to anyone that wants people with the serious mental health issues to have access to guns, but let’s do it without violating the Constitution.

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, Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:09 am
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate

April 1, 2019

Budget and ERPO Passed

The Senate passed the Budget this past week - the one thing we are required to do by law. This was the most collegial process the Senate has enjoyed on any major piece of legislation this year.

The bill now goes to the House where they generally strip all of the Senate amendments off and put on their own. From there the Budget goes back to the Joint Budget Committee where they look at all of the amendments and act as the Conference Committee to reconcile all the versions of the bill and bring it back into balance.

42 amendments were printed this year – a light year from what I was told. Some were to fund projects or programs important to a Senator, some were to defund or reduce funding to projects or programs. 13 of those amendments passed.

The most significant amendment was a Republican amendment that moved money around to make Transportation a priority that resulted in 106 million more dollars available for roads and bridges, bringing the total transportation funding to $336 million, fulfilling the goal put forward on opening day by the Minority Leader.

Thank you to the many Democrats that supported this amendment. We hope the entire amount makes it through the rest of the process but even a significant portion of that will be a win for Coloradans. So, with all that praise and hope I should explain why I voted against the budget.

The latest revenue forecast a week earlier showed about 200 million less coming in this next fiscal than had been projected. That meant the glide path the budget had been on for the past several months needed to scaled back. It was to some degree but in order to not make as significant of cuts, one time money and reserves were used to balance the budget. So what we did was increase the base budget going forward with no way to sustain it in future years. I just could not support that making one of 6 no votes.

You’ve read more about the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill than is fair but the final reading of this bill was heard the day after the budget. I have included excerpts from the closing remarks I made on the floor.

“Starting with what I believe is the infringement of our constitutional rights there are many reasons why I will not be able to support this bill...”
“Now that 1177 has been debated at length and found wanting, let’s get together with concerned legislators from both sides that want to produce a meaningful, constitutionally compliant bill that will have bipartisan support because we addressed the root of the problem - the mentally unstable person.”

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 Apr 08, 2019 7:23 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate

April 8, 2019

Fire Fighting Foam and Equal Pay for Equal Work

As the only legislator drinking from the aquifer contaminated by PFAS it seemed fitting that I’d be part of HB19-1259, the bill trying to bring some transparency to their use. PFAS is short hand for a manmade family of chemicals with about a 6-syllable name that is or was found in everything from Teflon to Scotch Guard to Firefighting Foam. So, the truth is it can be found in almost every human and has even been found in polar bears.

There is more antidotal than scientific evidence about its effects on humans but it is generally agreed in the scientific and medical community it is not good for the body and in high enough concentrations can lead to serious ailments including cancer and tumors.

As a firefighting foam it is used primarily on liquid fuel fires, jet fuel and diesel being the two most common applications. What this bill does is prohibit the use of PFAS for training purposes. It also requires an inventory of PFAS materials on hand as well as requiring manufacturers of fire-retardant materials such as the protective gear firefighters wear to disclose whether the personal protective gear they sell contains PFAS chemicals.

What this bill does not do – it does not ban the use of PFAS foam in the case of an actual fire. If a plane full of passengers catches fire, the firefighters will extinguish it in the most expedient manner possible and then we’ll deal with any contamination issues.

Most if not all fire departments have or are transitioning away from PFAS foam but an inventory of what’s in storage will let us know what kind of disposal issues we may be facing.

Shifting to an absolutely great sounding bill, Equal Pay for Equal Work (SB19-085), it actually takes away one of the simplest tools workers now have to deal with discrimination.

What this bill takes away is the ability to start with the Department of Labor and Employment. Currently, a simple phone call starts an investigation and that leads to a decision. If you don’t like the decision then you go to court.

With this bill your first step is to file a complaint in District Court. When your only tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail, when your only tool is the courts everything looks like lawsuit. The courts have always been an option.

By implication, SB-085 has the potential to open an employer up to lawsuits if they wish to reward top performers that make the company more profitable. The more we restrict employer’s flexibility to reward exemplary work the more we encourage mediocracy – not a good combination for recruiting companies that are looking for the best and brightest. Hated to vote against something that sounds so good but it’s the details and not the title that matter.

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 Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:08 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate
April 15, 2019

Bill Signings and Rule Changes

As we enter the final weeks of the session the flurry of bill signings will only intensify. Some bills are signed into law amid much fanfare and hoopla, others quietly in the governor’s office with no audience or cameras. Not to worry about something nefarious being made into law in the dark of the night without proper scrutiny. Every bill, before it gets to the governor’s desk, has 3 hearings in each chamber and two to six committee hearings. The proponents and opponents have had ample time to cuss and discuss the merits of the bill and by a majority vote in both chambers it has moved on to the governor.

The same cannot be said for executive orders or rule making but that’s a topic for a different day.

Last Friday the rules changed – as they do every year about this time. It was the last day the governor had 10 days to sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature – a tool that has actually been used occasionally. For the remainder of the session the governor has 100 days to take those same actions. Not sure the history of this rule but it appears to have two practical effects.

First, this allows the governor to have bill signings around the state after the session has ended. For example, if a bill that affected mining operations found its way to the governor’s desk in the last three weeks of the session he could make the trip to Clear Creek or Teller County in May or June to hold a bill signing ceremony. This would allow local officials and mine operators and employees to attend. It is more than a good photo-op, it gives locals the ability to highlight their region to the governor and his staff.

Second, and this is why we made sure we passed the budget last Friday. Since a veto or line item change by the governor can be overturned by a 2/3 vote in both chambers we needed to ensure the budget would have to be dealt with while we are still in session. No one expects the governor to play games with the budget, particularly since he got everything he asked for but why tempt fate.

As to the status of my bills that are still alive, I admit to a little concern over whether they will all make it through the legislative maze before we adjourn on May 3rd.

With a few weeks to go it is easy to be philosophical and say “Oh well, there is always next year”. It remains to be seen if I will still have that attitude one minute after midnight on May 3.
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

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:23 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate

April 22, 2019

Up This Week

Mixed bag of bills coming up early in the week, I have a few on third reading that I would expect to pass with little discussion.

One, a transparency bill, requiring a referral agency make disclosures to a prospective resident of an assisted living facility if they receive compensation for making the recommendation. Nothing wrong with being compensated for providing a service but everyone needs to know who is paying whom.

The second is a prohibition on discrimination against a living organ donor in certain insurance policies. Given the battery of tests you have to take to become a living organ donor they are probably some of the healthiest people around and this bill states that unless there is actuarial evidence to the contrary the donor cannot be discriminated against solely on the basis of the donation.

Not my bill but might as well put it out there that I will be supporting the bill that deals with waste tire management. There are over 6 million tires on the road in Colorado and the second largest waste tire disposal site in Colorado is right here in Senate District 2 with tens of millions of tires pushed into gullies and pits. Also, the District is home to one of the primary users of waste tires so it’s an issue of local importance.

The good news – the bill requires that for every new waste tire that comes into the disposal site they are required to send five out. Typically, in the form of chipped rubber to be used for fuel to generate cement. There are other uses as well but rubberized roads have not exactly become common place and playgrounds only need to be about so deep in granulated rubber.

The bad news is the fee goes from 55 cents per new tire that you are now paying to $2.00 per tire. It does sunset in 5 years which should give us time to make a sizeable dent in those tire piles. When you pay that additional $1.45 the next time you buy a tire it’s OK to blame me but also know this is a user funded solution.

More controversial than an extra buck forty-five is the Family Leave Act. This is funded through a payroll deduction with the employee paying 60% of the “fee” and the employer paying the other 40%. Fee versus tax controversy is handled by using the definition of an enterprise in the Tax Payers Bill of Rights and creating a program that fits within that definition. There are other details that are particularly troubling to small business but what is most concerning to me is the usage numbers they use to compute the costs are among the lowest in the country. Which leads me to believe the true cost to fund this program as promised could easily double the almost one-billion-dollar fiscal note that is currently projected.

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

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:28 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate

April 29, 2019

Election and Voter Bills

As this is being written we have five days left in the session, when the Constitution says 120 days it means 120 days. The final gavel on the first session of the 72nd General Assembly will come down no later than Friday midnight May 3rd. To a first-time participant, finishing up 200 plus bills in 5 days looks to be an impossibility – even assuming the early mornings and late nights continue.

One bill in particular that will make it is HB19-1278 “Modifications to the Uniform Election Code” – the 59 page bill otherwise known as “Telling County Clerks How to Do Their Job” passed the Senate on the first true Saturday session in over 20 years. It will come back for a 3rd and final vote this week and the Governor would then have 100 days to sign it into law. In all fairness, with over 40 amendments the bill did get better as it progressed through the system.

When the bill was introduced it appeared to be an excuse to rewrite the Election Code making a statewide fix for some localized problems in the Denver area this past election day. As introduced, there was overwhelming opposition from the County Clerks from across the political spectrum. With a 100% mail ballot it was hard to justify forcing the County Clerks to spend an estimated five to eight million dollars because of a few lines on election day.

Extending the voting hours at the in person voting centers was removed – with 94% of ballots being cast by mail or drop box it was hard to justify those additional hours. However, additional drop boxes are required now, targeting institutions of higher education and historically under-represented communities, but not “located at a police station, sheriff’s office or town marshal’s office unless they are located in a multipurpose building”. In El Paso County where previously 16 drop boxes had been used 50 were required but that was amended down to 32.

The Secretary of State did come up with $2.7 million dollars to spread across 64 counties to help offset the capital cost of the new requirements but nothing towards the ongoing costs which El Paso County estimates to be about $180,000. Additionally, there is a waiver process though the Secretary of State if the voting locations just don’t make sense for a particular county.

Another government overreach bill - SB19-235, “Automatic Voter Registration” requires voter registration and data transfer to the Secretary of State Elections Office. Every user of the of the Department of Motor Vehicles and every person applying for Public Assistance will be registered by automatic data transfer unless they request an opt out. Despite some confidential data having already been made public through these data transfers it passed the Senate on a party line vote. Now it’s up to the House.

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

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon May 06, 2019 8:09 am
by ParkBull
Straight >From the Senate

2019 Wrap Up

In broad strokes here’s what the First Session of the 72 General Assembly looked like. Democrats held a majority in both chambers, the Governor’s Office and all of the statewide offices. They took very little time in showing they were going make hay while the sun shined.

Environmental bills were everywhere and passing with regularity, at first glance the environmental legislation may have appeared random given the number of bills and various sponsors but they all work together for the same common goal. Even the PUC Sunset bill, which was renewed for 11 more years, more than doubled in length with the addition of a huge carbon and environmental piece.

That combined with the Governor’s appointments, which were more than normal due to his willingness to remove Governor Hickenlooper’s more moderate appointees to install his green agenda people, will change the face of industry in Colorado, reduce employment in many rural counties and add millions of dollars to the budget in new programs and regulations.

Attempts were made, and we hope successfully, to reduce the cost of health care and the cost of health insurance particularly in rural Colorado where rural folks can pay twice as much for health insurance as their urban counterparts. Criminal justice was also worthy of much legislation. Penalties were lowered for minor drug possession, bail can be waived for some offenses and it is much easier to seal a criminal record for many offenses than it used to be.

Free full day kindergarten was passed at a cost of about $178 million, the IOU to education was paid down another $100 million and so many grant programs were approved for the education system than you can’t keep track of them without an excel spread sheet. Sex education was approved in a much amended form on the last day, one of those cases where you vote for the amendment but against the final version of the bill. Most of the education bills were a case of 100 legislators deciding they will impose their will on 178 locally elected school boards around the state.

Good news that transportation ended up with $300 million, $36 million less than the stated goal of the Republicans on opening day but still a substantial amount.

Unions won big, except for unionizing state employees, which was killed in the House Appropriations Committee. The unions were able to add language to existing bills that favored their members by narrowing the definition of qualifications to perform any number of tasks from solar panel installation to plumbing inspections and include apprenticeship requirements in others.

I welcome your thoughts and comments and will try to stay in touch while we are not in session. Feel free to contact me; Office phone: 303-866-4877 – won’t be checked much since I’ll be in district most of the time and not in Denver, the rest of these would work better. Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email:, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 9:25 am
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate
May 13, 2019
Apprenticeship Bill

Now that things are not moving quite so fast, we have time to do a little deeper dive in to a bill that passed and was sent to the Governor. First let me say I support apprenticeship programs, there is nothing like hands on training under a good qualified mentor to learn a skill or a trade.

SB19-196, Concerning the Modification of Procurement Requirements for State Contracts or Public Projects. Pretty broad title but the short title really says it all “Colorado Quality Apprenticeship Training Act of 2019”.

What the bill is about is requiring apprenticeships and paying prevailing wage on state construction contracts. CDOT would be exempt from the apprenticeship portion but would be required to pay the prevailing wage.

The bill lays out the details of how this would be implemented and documented, even specifying that the contractor must pay every week. However, the most interesting part of this bill, which the governor may have signed into law by now, is found in the Fiscal Note.

In the Fiscal Note we find that “No appropriation is required”. However, when you look at State Fiscal Impacts we find that including institutions of higher education, the state currently has about $2.8 billion in ongoing construction contracts – excluding CDOT projects. It is estimated this bill will increase construction costs by 5 to 10 percent. Drop a zero and divide by 2 and that impact comes in at $280 to $140 million, but the final revised State Impact only has about $16 million on the bottom line.

There is just over $1 million for the 6 or so new employees that must be hired to track the new requirements. There is another $700,000 called out in the Fiscal Note for the 10 additional software licenses required to track compliance.

In a concession to common sense, there is a waiver request process based on the likely unavailability of qualified apprenticeship programs in some parts of the state.

The most accurate statement in the Fiscal Note is repeated a couple of times “However, it should be noted that although the cost of individual projects may increase as a result of the bill, the amount of revenue available to projects is not anticipated in increase. Rather than increasing overall spending on the public projects the bill may instead lead to fewer public projects.”

If you are looking for a good example on how to grow the cost and size of government while actually receiving less for your money, feel free to use SB196 as an example.

I welcome your thoughts and comments and will try to stay in touch while we are not in session. Feel free to contact me; Office phone: 303-866-4877 – won’t be checked much since I’ll be in district most of the time and not in Denver, the rest of these would work better. Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email:, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:24 pm
by ParkBull
Straight From the Senate
Jan 10, 2020
So It Begins

As the Second Regular session of the 72nd General Assembly begins let’s take a moment to review what’s been happening since adjournment last May.
Lot of churn and more than a few meetings almost immediately about a special session to deal with more revenue being collected than was expected. That was finally tamped down and with CC failing at the ballot box expect a refund in the form of a tax credit on your property tax.
The Governor has 30 days to sign or veto bills after they are delivered to his desk or they become law without his signature. So, the first 30 days of the interim were punctuated by bill signings. While able to attend a few signings for some of my bills, unfortunately not the Fire Fighting Commission bill which was signed on day 28 as I was on my way to Oregon to help get Mom’s home of 55 years ready for sale. (Finally sold in December, a relief but still hard for mom).
My committees didn’t start their meeting schedule until August so June and July were fairly light with some substituting on other committees and taking in as many meetings as possible in the district. August started with multiday meetings for Tourism and Transportation which included stops in Park and Clear Creek Counties. Then the regular meetings began including a special interim committee on Energy. Those were all pretty well wrapped up by November with various bills coming out of them – some good, some not so much.
In August with the business community and local elected officials in the southern part of the district we hosted a mix of legislators and business leaders from around the state to highlight what’s happening in Senate District 2 and let them know we are open for business. A shout out to everyone that made that tour a success.
Tagged along with the Colorado Office of Economic Development when they visited Fremont County in November. It was a two-day emersion into some of the economic activity and revitalization in the area. There was an emphasis on the emerging Tech sector which is working hard to lose their status as the best kept secret in town.
Which brings us to the first week of the session, we opened on Wednesday with pomp, invocations and speeches. All of which were unnecessarily partisan. Listened to the Governor’s State of the State on Thursday. Memorable for me is he wants to add preschool to last years full day kindergarten, I’m thinking we need to pay the schools the $400 million or so we owe them which they can spend on what they need before we tell them what they need to add. Secondly, he wants to cut the income tax rate, not a bad thing to leave the people with more of their own money to spend.
Based on what I saw and heard those first three days we better make sure the cinch is tight because it’s going to be another wild ride.

Re: Straight From the Senate - Dennis Hisey SD2

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:04 am
by ParkBull
January 19, 2020
Session Starting to Shape Up.

With 270 bills introduced in the first eight days of the session it sounds like we left the starting gate at full sprint but in reality, this is how it is supposed to work. By design bills are introduced early and often. This gets them into the committees where they can be debated and the public has a chance to have input. Where some of us get a little testy, which resulted in a lawsuit last year, was when major bills were introduced and then pushed though the required committees and three readings in less than a week.

In an effort to give bills the due process they deserve legislators had bill deadlines every few weeks in December to ensure that staff had time to get those ideas into bill form by the time the opening gavel came down. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, deadlines come and go and can be waived by leadership, presumably with good reason. There are several bills out there that have received some extra time to hash out some thorny details, a couple that I am aware of are important bills that if done properly could pass handily and make a real difference but with the wrong wording will accomplish little and be divisive. Back to what I heard years ago, “the placement of the comma matters” – true statement.

So, what’s in those first 270 bills? A little cleanup on last years’ legislation - think “unintended consequences”. Some streamlining of processes – which include a couple of mine. They don’t change the world but they would reduce time spent by both industry and government. Quite a few that have been assigned to the “kill committees” – including one of mine. More than a few school related bills that run the gamut from protecting students to what they should be taught to increasing teacher pay. And what’s a legislative session without being able to vote on license plates, health, drugs, prisons, water, energy, and guns. Plus, one of the marquee bills that we knew was coming, Repeal of the Death Penalty.

Every one of those bills has to have a sponsor to be introduced and the ones that pass on to the next chamber need a sponsor there as well. 65 House members and 35 Senators, it’s easy to see how you can get your name on a bunch of bills, especially if you are in the Senate with fewer of us to pick from.

In deciding which bills to put my name on it obviously has to be something my conscience will allow me to vote for, it also has to be good for the state of Colorado and Senate District 2. In addition, it helps if it’s a topic I am at least somewhat versed in and the outcome is a common sense solution. Don’t always get those last two but they can sure help keep you out of trouble.