Statehouse update: Lawyers, guns and money edition

howzey | Flickr via Creative Commons

Shoot first, ask questions later. That’s apparently the motto of Colorado’s legislature on startup and tech sector issues.

It was a busy week at the capitol with some marathon hearings and five new bills making their debut. We’re now tracking 35 state bills with more expected in the coming weeks.

Here’s how the legislative process shook out during the week of Jan. 30:

BILL OF THE WEEK: MAKE MY DAY, PUNK
HB12-1088 Use of Deadly Force at a Business
Extends the right to use deadly force against intruders in a dwelling or place of business by an owner, manager or employee.
Passed the House Judiciary Committee on a party line 7-5 vote. It moves to the House for a second reading and voice vote.
NOTE: At this writing, there’s a one-vote margin between Democrats and Republicans in the House. There’s some unrelated partisan squabbling that may result in a GOP member leaving the party and declaring herself unaffiliated causing a 32-32-1 split in the House. That could be a big factor in whether this bill moves forward.

NEW BILLS
HB12-1219 CU Medical Discoveries Fund
Establishes a $10 million fund to support the costs of clinical trials, regulatory approvals and product sales from research conducted at the Health Sciences Center at the University of Colorado.
Assigned to the House State, Military and Veterans Committee.
NOTE: This committee is often referred to as the “kill committee” under the dome—or the panel that stops bills before they get too far into the legislative process because they’re unnecessarily partisan, require a hefty amount of money from the state’s cash-strapped budget or are just not supported by the leadership. We’ll let you know how it fares.

SB12-129 Affordable Rural Broadband
Defines “broadband” and directs state agencies to recommend a strategy to increase service to underserved rural broadband markets.
Assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

SB12-133 Diverting Electronics from Landfills
Prohibits the disposal of certain consumer electronics in landfills. Arranges for items to be recycled.
Assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

SB12-143 Local Business Database
Directs the Office of Economic Development to create a publicly accessible database of certified local businesses.
Assigned to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee.

SB12-144 Grow Key Industries
Directs the Office of Economic Development to develop and implement a 3-year plan to grow sectors critical to the state economy.
Assigned to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee.

BILLS IN PROGRESS
HB12-1002 The CLEAR Act & Application Permit Rules
Amends current law to require state agencies to adhere to rules in effect on the date a new or renewed permit is submitted or grandfather them under current law while a pending rule change is under consideration, unless there are compelling health and/or safety issues.
Up for a House roll call vote next week.
NOTE: This has been heavily amended and is getting closer to being a fairly reasonable compromise on making the state permit process more predictable for regulated businesses.

HB12-1007 Regulatory Analysis Requirement For Rules
Amends current law to require state agencies to conduct an analysis for every proposed rule instead of only those requested. The report must also include information on the rule’s potential effect on jobs.
Eeked by the Economic Development and Business Committee on a 7-5 party line vote.
NOTE: Even as amended, this bill is a train wreck. It would grind government business to a halt with unnecessary analysis of minor regulatory modifications. Businesses already have the opportunity to advise agencies on the impact of rule changes. It’s a bill in search of a problem.

HB12-1027 Sale of Nonpotentially Hazardous Foods From Home Kitchen
Allows a person to produce and sell certain kinds if homemade food (no dairy, no meat products) at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
Passed the House on a unanimous 65-0 vote. Moves to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
NOTE: Seems reasonable enough though it still makes me laugh that it excludes foods made with medical marijuana or are otherwise “adulterated.” Can’t let those hippies run a Kool-Aid™ stand.

HB12-1044 Startup Technology Transfer Program
Establishes a program to provide grants of up to $750,000 to accelerate commercialization of technology research and discoveries.
Passed the Economic Development and Business Committee on a 7-5 vote. Moves to the House Appropriations Committee to figure out how to fund it.

HB12-1055 Rename the Registration Dept
Amends the name of the Colorado Division of Registrations to the Division of Professions and Occupations.
Passed the House on a largely party line 41-23 vote though a couple of Republicans crossed over. Moves to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

HB12-1061 Skills for Jobs Act
Requires the Dept. of Higher Education to produce annual report that analyzes degree/certificate production and workforce gaps.
Languishing on the House’s second reading/voice vote docket.
NOTE: This seems like kind of a no-brainer bill but it’s not moving forward after unanimous committee approval. Will look into what’s going on behind the scenes.

HB12-1071 Portable Electronics Insurance
Regulates the sale of insurance and consumer protections for portable electronics.
Sailed through the Economic Development and Business Committee. Moves to the House for second reading/voice vote.

HB12-1127 Eliminate Unemployment Insurance Premium Rate Increase on New Businesses
Amends 2011 law that requires a rate increase once solvency is achieved in the UI fund.
Sailed through the Economic Development and Business Committee. Moves to the House for second reading/voice vote.

SB12-005 Business Retention and Expansion Program
Requires the state Office of Economic Development to develop and administer a program to retain and expand current state-based businesses as part of the Colorado Blueprint Plan.
Passed Business, Labor and Technology 6-1 as amended. Moves to Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB12-085 Venture Capital Advisory Board
Creates a state advisory board to report on venture capital investment activity.
Passed Business, Labor and Technology 5-2. Moves to Senate for second reading/voice vote.

SB12-084 State Sales Tax on Food
Amends definition of non-taxable foods to include those marketed as “convenience” or “prepared” foods.
Smoked the Senate on a unanimous 34-0 vote. Moves to the House Local Government Committee.