Area lawmakers push for legislation that could help rural Colorado

    Gov. John Hickenlooper called it the most complex array of legislation that he’s ever seen in seven years as governor. That trio of bills is the state budget, a bill to raise sales taxes for transportation and the hospital provider fee bill sponsored by Sterling Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Rep. Jon Becker of Fort Morgan. And all three are moving through the Colorado Legislature this week.
    The $26.8 billion state budget cleared the state Senate last week on a 30-5 vote, with four Democrats and one Republican — Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs — voting against. Also voting against: Sen. Andy Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat.
    Both sit on the Senate Finance Committee that will be asked to take the first crack at the Sonnenberg/Becker hospital provider fee bill. That hearing, originally scheduled April 4, has been pushed back to April 11.
    That bill was rolled out March 27. But unlike the proposal offered by Democrats in the past two sessions, the measure is about much more than just the hospital provider fee, and much more narrowly focused on who it intends to help: rural Coloradans.

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