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Big Week for Big Ticket Colorado Legislation

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Colorado lawmakers have tackled several high-profile items during this year’s session. Two of the more notable pieces of legislation are in the spotlight this week.

Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill on Monday that allows students who are in the country illegally to pay the lower, in-state tuition rate for Colorado colleges. Students must have graduated from High School and apply for citizenship.

Interview Highlights…

On the bill’s seven trips through the legislature and Monday’s signing.

“The Governor did sign the bill amidst a lot of cheers from students but also a different kind of coalition, I would say, than in the past. There were more faith-based groups that were supporting this measure, more business community members – the chambers of commerce to some extent and also some more Republican support.”

On the partisan divide that exists at the State Capitol over passage of the tuition bill.

Credit Colorado Statesman

“A lot of Republicans tried to make amendments to the bill and they also said it would interfere with other immigrant regulations that the state have passed and they were also up in arms over the potential cost to Colorado – they said that was not accurately outlined in the bill and that its going to be a lot more expensive to Colorado to afford this program.”

On civil unions becoming legal on May 1st and how that fits in with the larger debate on gay marriage.

“I think there were enough legislators who thought this was a great interim step of course this was not the first time that it’s come up in the Colorado legislature either. In fact last year it had a very controversial death because Republicans were holding up the calendar, the Governor had to come back into special session and the bill was eventually killed in a committee. This year it has come through, partially I think, because Democrats control the house. But also they did have a few Republican supporters and I think a lot of people recognize that people’s attitudes – at least nationally – have seemed to have changed more in favor of gay marriage. This is something that Colorado voters rejected in 2006 but I think the passage of the civil unions bill gives a lot of opportunities to people to reintroduce some kind of a measure to put it back in the constitution that gay marriage is okay in Colorado.”

Jody Hope Strogoff is the publisher of the Colorado Statesman.

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