Apr 21, 2023 - Politics

Capitol Pulse: Big bills debut as session approaches its end

Illustration of the Colorado State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ’¬ Capitol Pulse is a weekly feature to catch up quick on what's happening at the Legislature.

With a few weeks remaining in the legislative session, the Democratic majority is advancing a litany of late bills with far-reaching impacts.

Why it matters: The delayed introduction means lawmakers plan to rush the legislation through the process and leave less time for debate and scrutiny.

What's new: A measure introduced Tuesday would take aim at Xcel Energy and other investor-owned utilities by prohibiting them from passing along to customers the costs of lobbying, political contributions, brand promotions and attorney's fees.

  • Other new language would allow them to spread out over months spikes in natural gas commodity costs to avoid seasonal spikes in rates.
  • "What we are trying to do is insulate consumers from volatile spikes in the commodity market," said Senate President Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder), the bill sponsor.
  • The legislation comes after customers saw record-high bills this winter.

What to watch: Another major bill heard for the first time Thursday is designed to improve air quality by tightening rules on the oil and gas industry. But industry leaders called it a "backdoor ban."

  • House lawmakers pared it back to improve its chances of passage but it still includes provisions to make it harder to permit new drilling operations and easier to pursue pollution complaints.

The intrigue: A bill implementing legal "magic mushrooms" and other psychedelics β€” which voters approved in 2022 β€” debuted Wednesday and sets fees of at least $2,116 for operators, in part to cover the roughly $4 million cost to the state to regulate the substances.

Of note: One of the most controversial bills this session, a sweeping land-use bill that usurps local authority, received a major rewrite Tuesday. Some of the controversial elements were stripped from the bill backed by Gov. Jared Polis, but fierce opposition remains ahead of an expected Senate vote next week.

What to watch: The Legislature adjourns May 8.


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