What Colorado lawmakers did and did not accomplish in 2016 session

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DENVER – The General Assembly’s 2016 session ended Wednesday night. The Latin phrase Sine Die has never been so popular in the Mile High City. So what passed and what didn’t?

Budget

Lawmakers avoided most of the major budget cuts called for in the beginning of session. While lawmakers did give out more cash for K-12 education, higher education did not see any increase. The Colorado Department of Transportation also saw about $50 million less than expected and no taxpayer refunds will be handed out.

Transportation

While CDOT is getting about $150 million more than last year, all parties believe that is not enough to drastically change the state of transportation in Colorado.

Republicans had proposed a bond initiative of about $3.5 billion, but Democrats rejected that measure. Democrats wanted to use hospital provider fee cash for infrastructure improvements. Republicans had no interest in giving Democrats that victory.

Liquor

Without question, the biggest issue the legislature addressed this session is a historic liquor compromise. It allows grocery chains beginning next year to add four new locations where full-strength beer and liquor can be sold.

By 2037, there would be no limit on how many stores can sell liquor. In order to sell more alcohol products, chains must purchase at least two licenses from current liquor stores. By 2019, 3.2 beer will be eliminated in the state.

Primary bill

After a Super Tuesday full of caucus chaos, lawmakers said they wanted to make Colorado a presidential primary state. That bill failed over debate regarding whether independents should participate.

Marijuana

Lawmakers made legal for tourists to be able to purchase the same amount of marijuana as residents. They also passed a measure requiring medical marijuana in schools and placed a ban on marijuana that looks like fruit or gummy bears. Pot club legislation failed.

Juvenile parole

Lawmakers approved a measure allowing convicted murders who committed crimes when they were juveniles the ability to receive a parole hearing.

Hunting and rain barrels

Lawmakers passed measures allowing hunters to hunt in fluorescent pink. They also -- after years of debate -- freed the rain barrel and legalized it.

New lieutenant governor

The General Assembly approved Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pick to be the next lieutenant governor. Donna Lynne will be sworn in Thursday.

Red light cameras

Lawmakers passed a ban, but the governor is expected to veto it

Sexting

This session included several hearings trying to create new sexting charges for teens. That legislation failed.

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