CO lawmakers to debate pot, drones, and snow chains

Lawmakers will step up the pace this week as their first batches of proposed laws head to committee hearings. 9NEWS at 5 p.m. 01/25/16.

DENVER—Lawmakers will step up the pace this week as their first batches of proposed laws head to committee hearings.

As long as lawmakers file them on time, every bill gets a hearing in Colorado's legislature—providing an opportunity for any member of the public to take the microphone and tell lawmakers what they think of the proposed laws.

RELATED: 9NEWS guide to being a citizen lobbyist in Colorado

Here are some of the most interesting bills scheduled for the week of Jan. 25. There are other bills to be heard and sometimes schedules change. You can always check the latest House and Senate calendars here.


Drone restrictions

House Judiciary Committee, 1:30 p.m., Room 0112

HB 1020 would create legal restrictions on the use of drones in Colorado, with a particular focus on prisons and airports. It would spell out a violation for using drones within 5 miles of a prison for the purpose of smuggling contraband. It would also restrict private drones to airspace below 400 feet and require users to get permission from control towers to operate within 5 miles of airports.

Sentencing options

Senate Judiciary Committee, upon adjournment of Senate (late morning,) Room LSB-B (Across 14th Ave from the Capitol)

Colorado law requires a person to serve their sentences consecutively (back-to-back) if convicted of multiple violent crimes in one incident. In the interest of giving judge's more flexibility, SB 51 (which has sponsors from both major parties) would repeal that requirement, allowing judges to decide whether a convict should serve time concurrently or consecutively.


I-70 chain and snow tire law

House Transportation & Energy Committee, 1:30 p.m., Room 0112

Lawmakers debated this issue last year and ultimately decided to create a study of the issue rather than enact a new legal requirement. This year, HB 1039 aims to require passenger vehicles to carry chains or snow tires when snow or ice is present. Currently, this is only required when CDOT declares travel restrictions, usually once a storm is starting to get bad. Sponsors hope a tweak in the law will encourage more people to have the traction they need before storms hit. The requirement would apply only to Interstate 70 between Dotsero and Morrison.

Concealed carry without a permit

Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, 1:30 p.m., Room 356

Republican lawmakers will press once more for the legal right to carry a handgun concealed without the need to obtain a permit.

Since Democrats control the House and Governor's office, the political prospects for SB 17 are dim this year, though the bill will keep the debate over firearms law alive and well.



House Business Affairs & Labor Committee, 1:30 p.m., Room LSB-A (Across 14th Ave from the Capitol)

This bill tweaks the language that legalizes homebrewing in Colorado. As 9NEWS explained in an earlier story, the aim of HB 1084 is to clarify that all adults of legal age can homebrew, not just "a head of a family," as the language written in 1971 states.

Marijuana pesticides

Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee, 1:30 p.m., Room 354

Pesticides have been a hot issue in Colorado's legalized marijuana industry. Due to conflicts with federal law, growers have found themselves in trouble with regulators when applying certain pesticides. SB 15 aims to clear things up by requiring the state to compile a list of pesticides that can be used on crops of pot, rather than a list of banned pesticides. A house bill on the same issue goes up for a hearing next week. It would create an optional "pesticide-free" certification for Colorado pot growers.

Health insurance exchange fees

Senate Health & Human Services Committee, 1:30 p.m., Room LSB-B (Across 14th Avenue from the Capitol)

The politics behind this bill may boil down to a proxy fight of sorts over Obamacare. SB2 would require voter-approval of fees charged on health plans by Connect for Health Colorado, the state health insurance exchange. While the bill's preamble decries a fee imposed on all health policies in the state (even those not sold on the exchange,) that fee is set to expire this year. If this bill were to pass, the voters would really be weighing in on fees that are only paid on health plans sold through the exchange itself.

(© 2016 KUSA)


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