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Publish Date: 5/7/2005

State session winds down


DENVER — Legislators plodded through dozens of proposals for new state laws Friday as they worked to wrap up a four-month-long session that must end by midnight Wednesday.

Legislative leaders are hoping to complete work Monday, but the Wednesday deadline for ending the 120-calendar-day session gives them a margin to work out any snarls that might occur before they do adjourn.

On the last Friday of this year’s regular annual session of the Colorado General Assembly, lawmakers finished up work on a bill from two Denver Democrats, Rep. Alice Borodkin and Sen. Ken Gordon, that would add a new “breast cancer awareness” license plate to the varieties of special plates available to Colorado vehicle owners.

Gov. Bill Owens must now decide whether that license plate proposal will become law.

Also headed for Owens’ desk after getting final legislative touches Friday is a measure from two Boulder Democrats, Rep. Jack Pommer and Sen. Ron Tupa, that would extend the number of years Colorado offers existing state income tax credits to purchasers of low-polluting motor vehicles, including the hybrid gas-and-electric cars that have been growing in popularity.

Another of the bills gaining final legislative approval Friday was a measure from Pommer and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Jefferson County, that would hand Colorado’s attorney general the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting securities fraud.

Consumers would get some protections from identity theft by a bill allowing them to freeze access to their credit reports, under the final version of a proposed law from Sen. Dan Grossman, D-Denver, and Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, that lawmakers approved Friday.

Not all measures were that successful when the Legislature headed home from the final Friday of work in this year’s session.

House members voted 40-25 to kill a Senate-approved bill from Lakewood Democratic Sen. Deanna Hanna and Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Mark Cloer that would have mandated that at least 50 percent of public schools’ vending-machine snack and beverage offerings meet state-set nutrition standards by the start of the 2007-08 school year.

Another measure, a proposed seat belt law from Denver Democratic Rep. Fran Coleman and Denver Democratic Sen. Peter Groff, got an 18-16 vote of approval in the Senate on Friday morning.

But Coleman reportedly was still struggling later that day to get promises from her House colleagues for the 33 votes she’ll need in that 65-member chamber to advance the latest Senate-approved version of her bill to the governor.

Also in doubt as of Friday was a proposed statewide smoking ban, which the Senate wants limited to restaurants and the House wants expanded to apply to bars and a number of other indoor venues.

Grossman, the sponsor of that Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, said that as of Friday morning, he had only 15 of the 18 votes he needed to get the Senate to go along with the House version of his bill.

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