Lawmakers fund hospitals and roads, defund energy office before adjourning

DENVER -- The 2017 General Assembly session ended Wednesday after a dramatic day of last-minute bills.

The most consequential action was perhaps the funding of hospitals and roads.

SB 267 provides $1.8 billion for transportation and eliminates the $500 million cuts to hospitals that once threatened some closures.

Lawmakers did not raise sales taxes as previously proposed, but instead came up with the revenue by reclassifying the hospital provider fee, mortgaging state buildings, raising marijuana taxes and increasing Medicaid co-payments.

"It's not enough but it's a start," Sandra Solin with Fix Colorado Roads said when asked if the money is enough to improve Interstate 25.

Perhaps the most dramatic bill involved defunding the Colorado Energy Office.

Lawmakers could not come to an agreement regarding what the office should prioritize and as a result it will be eliminated July 1. About 20 jobs are expected to be impacted.

"It really stinks," said State Sen. Ray Scott, the Republican who orchestrated the restructuring of the office. "We built a bill that funded them for four years. We built a bill that takes care of lots of issues that they have."

When asked if this was about Donald Trump politics, Scott said there is "always partisan politics."

Democrats were furious at the impasse.

"I can't believe this got blown up on a partisan basis. This is part of our clean brand in the state, our clean energy brand," said State Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat from Boulder County.

Other issues discussed on the final day included restricting how many people could smoke marijuana on front porches in the state, but that bill was defeated.