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Assault weapons ban, single-stair development, air-quality bills in the Colorado legislature this week

After last week was disrupted by the snowpocalypse, the Colorado Capitol is back on track this week, and it’s kicking off the latter half of March with what will almost certainly be the longest committee hearing of the session.

A bill to ban the purchase and transfer of so-called assault weapons (HB24-1292) is set for the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Legislators said that hundreds of people have signed up to testify for and against the bill, and the committee is scheduled to start as soon as the House adjourns Tuesday morning (which will likely be by 9:30 or 10 a.m.).

Last year’s hearing for a similar bill lasted more than 12 hours, and the vote to defeat that measure happened well past midnight — which, coincidentally, meant that the bill died on the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

If the length of this year’s hearing likely will mirror last year’s, the outcome will likely be different. Two of the three Democrats who sank the bill last year are off the committee, replaced by two progressive lawmakers who are co-sponsoring the bill. It’s widely expected to clear the committee, which will send it toward the full House floor.

There, it will be met with hours of debate and resistance from Republicans — though Democrats’ sizable majority means the bill is likely to clear the chamber.

Last week’s snowstorm forced legislators to cancel hearings for other gun bills. Those have yet to be rescheduled. This week will see another lengthy firearm-related hearing, though: A bill to limit where guns can be carried (SB24-131) will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Here’s what else is happening this week in the Capitol:

Single-stair development and the return of two housing bills

On Tuesday, the House Transportation, Housing and Local Government committee will hear HB24-1239, which would allow for taller single-stair buildings to be built in Colorado. It’s a somewhat niche policy objective that’s common in Europe and beloved by land-use reformers and some housing advocates in America. The bill would allow for more development on small lots, but it’s also drawn some safety concerns from fire chiefs.

That committee will also hear HB24-1308, which seeks to better regulate how the state operates housing programs and works to bolster housing.

HB24-1175, which would give local governments the first crack at buying for-sale affordable housing, is scheduled for a vote before the full House this week, and the various construction defects bills are all set for consideration across the House and Senate this week.

A “for-cause eviction” bill (HB24-1098), which would require that landlords have cause before evicting a tenant, is also scheduled for a first floor vote this week in the Senate, where it died on the calendar last year. The bill is a progressive and House priority this time around.

Other notable bills

The House is scheduled to hold final votes on two of Rep. David Ortiz’s disability rights bills, concerning motor vehicle access and accessible rental units, on Monday. A measure to ban the use of the term “excited delirium” in training or in law enforcement reports (HB24-1103) cleared a final vote in the Senate on Monday, too. The vote was party-line, 23-12.

HB24-1081, which would ban the sale of a high-potency chemical often used in suicides, is set for its first committee hearing in the Senate’s Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Tuesday.

Two Democrat-backed air quality bills (SB24-165 and SB24-166) will both have their first hearings in the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on Wednesday.

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