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Opioids, vet benefits, civil rights top Hickenlooper's bill signings this week

May 22, 2018 Updated: May 22, 2018 at 10:54 am
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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is pictured during a Sept. 27 interview in his office at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. Photo by Andy Colwell for the Gazette

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has begun the last round of statewide bill signings for his time in office, with ceremonies starting on the Front Range and ending the week on the Western Slope.

Hickenlooper has until June 8 to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature. The General Assembly sent 432 bills to the governor for signing during the 2018 legislative session.

Monday's bill signings included House Bill 1060, which gives tax breaks to thousands of Colorado military veterans. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge, provides a tax deduction of up to $10,000 for veterans under the age of 55 who get less than $40,000 per year in military retirement benefits.

"This tax break for military retirees honors veterans' service and goes a long way toward making Colorado the most veteran-friendly state in the country," Danielson said.

Following that ceremony at the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden, Hickenlooper headed to Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge to sign into law five bills, four of which deal with the state's opioid crisis.

That included Senate Bill 270, a last-minute measure that sets up crisis intervention teams for those placed on 72-hour mental health holds. The bill was seen as a companion to the failed "red-flag" bill that would have allowed law enforcement to remove firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or to others. House Minority Leader Cole Wist of Centennial sponsored both measures.

Tuesday, Hickenlooper will sign into law House Bill 1256, which reauthorizes the state's Division of Civil Rights and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission with only minor changes in its appointment structure. The bill was the subject of months of battling between House Democrats and Senate Republicans who sought sweeping changes to the commission's authority and in who made appointments to the seven-member body.

On Wednesday, Hickenlooper will visit the Sand Creek Massacre Historical Site in Kiowa County, about an hour and a half south of Burlington. He will then hold several bill signings in Pueblo before returning to Denver.

The bills he plans to sign in Pueblo include:

HB 1008, on the financing of a program to combat the invasion of "aquatic nuisances" to the state's waters, including mussels.

SB 143, to boost revenue for the state's parks and wildlife programs.

HB 1423, authorizing $250,000 in grants to provide equipment to rural fire protection districts.

Thursday and Friday, the governor will be on the Western Slope for bill signings in Durango, Gunnison, Montrose and Grand Junction.

Thursday's signings involved measures extending operation of the state Lottery Division to 2049, providing financial incentives for educators to work in rural areas and creation of an agricultural workforce development program.

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