As this is being written, we have five days left in the session; when the Constitution says 120 days, it means 120 days. The final gavel on the first session of the 72nd General Assembly will come down no later than Friday midnight, May 3.
To a first-time participant, finishing up 200 plus bills in five days looks to be an impossibility, even assuming the early mornings and late nights continue.
One bill in particular that will make it is HB19-1278 (Modifications to the Uniform Election Code). The 59-page bill, otherwise known as “Telling County Clerks How to Do Their Job,” passed the Senate on the first true Saturday session in over 20 years. It will come back for a third and final vote this week, and the Governor will then have 100 days to sign it into law. In all fairness, with over 40 amendments the bill did get better as it progressed through the system.
When the bill was introduced, it appeared to be an excuse to rewrite the election code, making a statewide fix for some localized problems in the Denver area this past election day. As introduced, there was overwhelming opposition from the county clerks from across the political spectrum.
With a 100 percent mail ballot, it was hard to justify forcing the county clerks to spend an estimated five to eight million dollars because of a few lines on election day.
Extending the voting hours at the in-person voting centers was removed. With 94 percent of ballots being cast by mail or drop box, it was hard to justify those additional hours. However, additional drop boxes are required now, targeting institutions of higher education and historically under-represented communities, but not “located at a police station, sheriff’s office or town marshal’s office unless they are located in a multipurpose building.” In El Paso County, where previously 16 drop boxes had been used, 50 were required, but that was amended down to 32.
The Secretary of State did come up with $2.7 million dollars to spread across 64 counties to help offset the capital cost of the new requirements, but nothing towards the ongoing costs which El Paso County estimates to be about $180,000. Additionally, there is a waiver process through the Secretary of State if the voting locations just don’t make sense for a particular county.
Another government overreach bill, SB19-235 (Automatic Voter Registration), requires voter registration and data transfer to the Secretary of State Elections Office. Every user of the Department of Motor Vehicles and every person applying for public assistance will be registered by automatic data transfer unless they request an opt out.
Despite some confidential data having already been made public through these data transfers, it passed the Senate on a party-line vote. Now it’s up to the House.
My office phone 303-866-4877; mobile phone 719-351-2121 or email SenatorHisey@gmail.com. I can also be contacted on Twitter @SenDennisHisey and Facebook Senator Dennis Hisey