Top issues to watch at Colorado Capitol: Abortion, spending and air quality
Expect Colorado lawmakers to file hundreds of bills this session and for hundreds to win approval.
For the record: Most will have limited impact, but a handful of major issues will face fierce debate.
What to watch:
- The budget: Colorado lawmakers will have roughly $4 billion in state and federal dollars to spend this year, about 10 times the typical year, and face the prospect of issuing refunds under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Democrats are looking to use accounting maneuvers to lower the TABOR refund totals, but Republicans say people need the money as cost of living increases.
- Abortion: Democrats want to secure the right to an abortion in state law — which is currently silent on the issue — as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs cases that could weaken the protections of Roe v. Wade.
- Air quality: Gov. Jared Polis said putting in new regulations and programs to reduce air pollution along the Front Range is a top goal this year. Democrats are looking at how to incentivize companies to encourage workers to leave their cars at home. Republicans say Colorado residents shouldn't bear the burden of wildfire smoke drifting into the state from outside its borders and plan to oppose new rules.
- Unemployment insurance: Colorado businesses are facing two surcharges to cover the debt in the state's unemployment insurance trust fund. Democrats are considering using about $600 million in available dollars to shore up the fund, but Republicans want to go even further to erase the cost to businesses.
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