Capitol Coverage


The Democratic controlled House passed the state budget on Friday with five Republicans backing it. The bill now heads to the Republican controlled Senate.  As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reports about the debate and what to expect going forward.

Colorado lawmakers are only required to do one thing during their annual legislative session: pass a balanced budget. After several days of discussion, members of the Democratic-controlled House did just that. It had bipartisan support with four Western Slope Republicans and one Colorado Springs Republican joining the Democratic majority.

"It looked like the task would be daunting, but I think we just ended up with a really harmonic convergence of budget forecasts and certain events that occurred that allowed us to not to face as many dramatic cuts as we thought we were going to have to face," said Representative Dave Young (D-Greeley), a member of the bi-partisan joint budget committee that wrote the budget bill.



State lawmakers are set to debate the annual budget, which funds everything from roads and schools, to healthcare and parks. This year Colorado has a shortfall, so that means making budget cuts. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about some of the major budget issues.

Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr/Creative Commons

A bill that would allow people to collect rain that falls from their rooftops remains hung up in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee after the chair said he wasn't comfortable with the measure. It's not clear when the committee will vote on it.

The same thing happened last year when the rain barrel bill vote was delayed. And while the bill eventually cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee over the objections of the Republican chair, it failed on the final day of the 2015 legislative session when time ran out.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Colorado's next Lieutenant Governor is poised to be Donna Lynne, a top executive at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. Governor John Hickenlooper made the nomination on Wednesday, and he said Lynne, an Executive Vice President at Kaiser, would be very capable filling his shoes if he doesn't end up finishing his second term as Governor. Hickenlooper has long been rumored as a possible cabinet pick for a Democratic President.


Several police reform measures are making their way through the statehouse, and lawmakers are also looking at how best to address the problem of sexting among teenagers.


Colorado's four-month long legislative session is half way over. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about some of the surprises so far, and what lies ahead.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Voters in eleven states went to the polls or caucused on Super Tuesday. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won Colorado's Democratic caucuses. He also grabbed victories in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and in his home state.

On the GOP side, Colorado Republicans did not take a preference poll for the presidential race.


Colorado is on the road to becoming the final state in the country to legalize rain barrels, after Democrats reached an agreement on Monday with several Republicans who opposed previous versions of the measure.

Another attempt in Colorado to allow terminally ill patients to take medication to end their own lives recently failed for the second straight year in the Democratic controlled House.

With strong words for opponents and members of their own party, the sponsors of the End-of-Life Options Bill, known as House Bill 16-1054 [.pdf], pulled it before debate could begin on the floor. The reason behind the withdrawal was a lack of votes and proposed amendments for the bill.

A bill that would have allowed terminally ill patients to take medication to end their own lives has failed in the Colorado Legislature. The main sponsors asked lawmakers to defeat the bill before it could be debated by the full House.

"The choice we made today, was to give you the relief from having to have this conversation because we know many of you have deeply held convictions that make you uncomfortable with this bill," said state Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver). "We are doing you this favor, to not have this debate, but make no mistake the voice of the people of this state will be heard."

Colorado residents have vastly different health outcomes, based in part on where they live in the state. Rocky Mountain PBS News analyzed health data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to rank each of the state's 64 counties based on a variety of health indicators from obesity, to amount of exercise, to smoking and premature deaths.

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.


Colorado is the only state in the country where it is illegal to capture rainwater for use at a later time. State lawmakers are once again debating whether to allow residents to use rain barrels to collect precipitation that falls from their roofs.

"This is really straightforward," said Representative Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge), one of the main sponsor's of House Bill 16-1005 [.pdf]. "You could use that water when you see fit, for your tomato plants or flower gardens."

Colorado lawmakers are divided over whether a hospital provider fee should be reclassified in the state budget so it doesn't count toward the state's revenue limit under the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights.


State legislators discussed a number of law enforcement and criminal justice bills this week along with some other controversial measures.

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State lawmakers are debating whether terminally ill patients with less than six months to live should be allowed to take medication to end their own lives. It's just one of several controversial bills being debated under the gold dome. 

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Dennis McKinney / CO Division of Wildlife

Colorado could be the next state to allow hunters to wear florescent pink. A Democratic proposal to give hunters the option of wearing pink, in addition to orange, passed the Republican controlled Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Thursday.

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Roughly three weeks into Colorado's annual legislative session, a lot of bills are starting to get their first hearings.

Capitol reporter Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about the upcoming week and how politics impacts the bills being heard in committees. 


Lawmakers have introduced the first wave of bills as part of the annual legislative session. Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters about some of the most interesting pieces of legislation as part of our Capitol Conversation series.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Governor John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that the state will prioritize connecting and building 16 hiking and biking trails in all parts of Colorado. The goal is to connect and build missing trail segments to make it easier for people to access open space and parks.

It's part of the governor's Colorado the Beautiful initiative, unveiled in 2015.


Colorado lawmakers are back at the state capitol for the annual legislative session. Bente Birkeland discussed priorities from the Governor and legislative leaders as part of our capitol conversation series.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

On Thursday Governor John Hickenlooper delivered his 6th State of the State address to the state legislature. In his speech, he highlighted the need for people from all political stripes to work together to fix the state's big budget problems and discussed Colorado's economic gains and challenges.